It has indeed been a long, busy, productive, interesting and frankly disappointing (to say the least) week at City Hall. There has been both substantive work done at Council along with very embarrassing fighting by some members of council during the public meeting. However, there were some very good decisions made along with an exciting transit announcement by Metrolinx this week (please see below) and the launch of the 2013 City of Toronto budget process.
As always, I deeply appreciate the feedback that I've recieved from you and your ongoing interest in, and engagement with, our city and community.
As we move forward, I will continue to advocate for a mayor and council that will focus on Toronto's priorities, that unites its residents, and that is fiscally responsible while investing in its people and neighbourhoods.
While we may be going through some uncertainty with respect to certain aspects of our municipal governance, I can reassure you that the wheels of our democracy continue to turn (as admittedly imperfect as it has before) and we can be comforted by the fact that we truly live in one of the best and livable cities on earth.
Let's resolve to stay focused on making it even better with setting a clear agenda that reflects our priorities including transit, curbing gridlock, infrastructure, fiscal responsibility, recreation, arts and culture, better planning and design, improving neighbourhoods, age-friendly and accessible policy, the environment, support for local and small business, arts and culture, jobs and economic development and better governance.
Please see my update, along with some important public meeting dates (including my 2013 Budget Town Hall), to you below.
Moving Forward with the Big Move –A Downtown Relief Subway Line and a Regional Transit Plan
This week, Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, and the Minister of Transportation, Bob Chiarelli, announced that construction on the Downtown Relief Line (DRL) will be accelerated by 10 years. The DRL is desperately needed to take the pressure off the already over-crowded Yonge line. This is great news for the entire Greater Toronto Area and Ward 22 residents who routinely wait 2 or 3 trains in the morning before getting on at Eglinton, Davisville, St. Clair or Summerhill.
It was also announced that a real conversation, at long last, will begin in January 2013 about how to pay for the DRL and other regional transit priorities. The public consultation will consider a variety of funding mechanisms and there will be a report on how to move forward by June of next year.
For a long time I have been advocating for a regional plan for transit improvement and expansion. This will better reflect how people truly move across municipal boundaries everyday and, if the entire region is to benefit from better transit, then residents from Toronto and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area should share in the responsibility for paying for it.
Protecting and Increasing Access to Public Spaces
Toronto is becoming an increasingly dense city, with most of the new residents living in highrises. New condominium owners are joining apartment residents and office tower workers that use public spaces as their backyards, living rooms and lunch counters. As the City of Toronto plans to continue building vertically, it must ensure that its urban parks, plazas and squares are accessible.
That's why I'm pleased that Council passed my motion that will help protect and promote Toronto's privately owned public spaces (POPS) that have been secured by the City of Toronto for your use. There are dozens of POPS throughout the Midtown and Downtown areas that are poorly used. Experience from other cities, including New York and San Francisco, demonstrates that a lack of awareness is the largest barrier to public access. Clear signage at the entrance to open areas such as the Anne Johnston Courtyard at Minto will let people know they have the same right to relax, eat their lunch or read in that space as they would at any City park.
I have also asked City Staff to compile an inventory of other publicly accessible open spaces including plazas in front of office buildings and green spaces surrounding "tower" apartments through density bonuses negotiated primarily in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The approval of a mall on Riocan Square and recent infill applications at the Brentwoods and on Davisville has demonstrated the need to identify and protect historical open space agreements.
Please read this article for more information.
10 Minute Grace Period for Parking Tickets
With many of my colleagues, I supported a new 10-minute grace period policy that was approved by City Council. The City's website, however, has done a very poor job making the public aware of this policy. It is much more difficult to fight a parking ticket then it is to pay one. That's why I moved an amendment at Council that directs city staff to widely publicize that Toronto residents can fight a tag that is issued within 10 minutes of a meter expiring. You can read more about the issue here.
Beltline Trail Study Frequently Asked Questions & Public Meetings
The City of Toronto has compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the Kay Gardner Beltline Trail. The FAQ is available at www.toronto.ca/beltline. There you will find information about upgrade work, by-law enforcement on the trail, off-leash areas, and other questions. The city will also be holding two public meetings discussing the study:
- The south-east public meeting on Tuesday, December 4th will be from 6 to 8:30 pm. The meeting location is the St. Paul's Bloor Street Church (227 Bloor Street East).
- The north-west public meeting on Wednesday, December 5th will also be from 6 to 8:30 pm. The meeting location is West Preparatory Junior Public School (70 Ridge Hill Drive).
2013 Budget Town Hall
I will be hosting my 3rd annual Budget Town Hall meeting on Thursday, December 13th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre. City Staff will be available to answer any budget-related questions you might have. The decisions Council will make in January on the 2013 Budget will impact every Toronto resident. I believe that it is vital that you are informed, engaged and given the opportunity to make your voice heard.
Date: Thursday, December 13th
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, Multi-Purpose Room, 200 Eglinton Ave W (at Lascelles Blvd)
Mount Pleasant Window Wanderland
The Mount Pleasant Village BIA is holding a friendly neighbourhood window decorating competition from December 1-19. The winning display will be decided by your votes, online at www.mountpleasantvillage.ca. Voters will also be eligible to win a Mount Pleasant Village Prize Pack. For a list of participating window entries, please visit www.mountpleasantvillage.ca.
Home for the Holidays in The Eglinton Way
The Eglinton Way B.I.A. is holding its first ever Home for the Holidays celebration on December 15 and 16, from noon to 4 pm. Come and enjoy a free wagon ride though the community, live music along the street, and plenty of carolling! Bring your children to brunch with Santa, Saturday only at the Abbot on Eglinton. For more information, please visit www.theeglintonway.com.
Mabel's Fables Book Angel
At Mabel's Fables Bookstore, you can donate books to children in need! Angel ornaments decorate the Mabel's Fables Bookstore, each with printed with the name of a child in need. Books are matched with the angels, wrapped, delivered, and included in food baskets – all in time for the holidays. Since 1991, thousands of books have been donated to York Community Services, now called Unison Health Services. To make a cash donation, call (416) 322-0438 or visit the store at 662 Mount Pleasant Road. Give a book, free a mind.
December Events at Casa Loma
This holiday season, I encourage you to bring your family to enjoy Casa Loma. If it isn’t part of your family tradition, this is a great year to start.
New this December, Casa Loma and Opera Atelier have partnered to create Mozart’s Magical Castle, a month-long installation bring Toronto’s castle to life with the sights and sounds of Mozart’s beloved opera The Magic Flute.
Casa Loma will also be maintaining its holiday tradition of strolling carolers, an elves’ workshop, beautiful decorations including a 25-foot tree, and - of course - visits with Santa Claus.