It's been another very busy and productive week. Last weekend, I was proud to march in Toronto's Pride parade and enjoy brunch with PFLAG, an organization of parents and family members of our city's vibrant LGBTQ community.
I was also delighted to celebrate Canada Day with our MP Carolyn Bennett at her annual BBQ. It was great to see so many friends participating in our country's 146th birthday together. I also extend my best wishes to community's US citizens who celebrated Independence day this week.
Meanwhile, at city council, I continue to advocate for thoughtful, non-ideological, fiscally responsible and socially progressive governance. Our next Council meeting begins on July 16th at Toronto City Hall. In my next update, I'll send you motions I intend to move on issues ranging from better parking enforcement practices to improving transit and curbing gridlock.
I do hope you find my latest update to you below interesting and informative.
For my previous e-newsletters, please click here.
Oriole Park Community Garden Public Meeting
For the past year and a half, I have been working with the Oriole Park Community Garden Committee, along with the Friends of Oriole Park, and City staff to create Ward 22's first community garden in Oriole Park. Join me for a public meeting on the progress of the Oriole Park Community Garden this coming Wednesday, July 10 from 7 to 9 pm. The meeting location is the Arthur Smith Room at Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge Street). There will be a visual display of what the proposed gardens will look like and where they will be situated. Your feedback is important to us!
Midtown Planning Group Meeting
As a result of a letter I submitted with Councillor Stintz, and worked on with Councillor Robinson, to the Planning and Growth Committee last spring, Council endorsed my initiative to create a Midtown Planning group. As those in the community know all too well, the Yonge-Eglinton area is facing intense development pressure, the Ontario Municipal Board still has the last say over development proposals and the Yonge eglinton neighbourhood is divided into two planning areas. This initiative is a first step to ensure that the public space in the area is expanded and enhanced in a comprehensive way and with local residents at the table.
City Planning has started a Parks, Open Space and Streetscape Master Plan for the Yonge-Eglinton Study Area. When complete, the Master Plan will describe a comprehensive vision for the public and publicly accessible spaces in the community supported with a guide for future improvement initiatives for parks, open spaces and streetscapes.
The Master Plan is intended to support and facilitate the Midtown Planning Group’s objective to create a proactive, holistic, and comprehensive strategy for planning in the Yonge and Eglinton area of Midtown, which will help bring consistency to planning across Community Council boundaries.
Date: Thursday, July 11
Time: 12 pm to 2 pm
Location: Northern District Library - Room 224 (2nd floor), 40 Orchard View Boulevard
Beltline Town Hall
This year, I have been working with our community and City staff to enhance the Beltline Trail by restoring natural areas and improving access. Join me for a public town hall meeting to discuss the progress of the Beltline Trail this coming Thursday, July 11 from 7 to 9 pm. The meeting will be located at Christ Church Deer Park's Elliott Hall (1570 Yonge Street).
For further information on the Beltline project, please visit this site.
Scarborough Rapid Transit: The Real Cost of Changing Tracks Now
I support subways where they make sense and LRTs where they make sense. Last week Metrolinx asked the City of Toronto to reaffirm its commitment to the Master Agreement signed on November 29, 2012 between Metrolinx, the City of Toronto and the TTC with regard to the Scarborough RT line, the Eglinton Crosstown, the Sheppard East line and the Finch West line. We are unfortunately revisiting this issue yet again because Council signalled that it would support converting the Scarborough SRT to a subway even though the current plan is to serve that area with rapid transit in a completely grade-separated right-of-way similar to the Allen Rd. open cut which serves a portion of the Yonge-University-Spadina line (no lane of traffic will be removed).
It is projected that it will cost at least $1 billion for this needless conversion and will likely need a property tax hike along with a raid of the city's reserves. Where is the money going to come from? Are we willing to deny transit to Finch West? Delay the Downtown Relief Subway Line and much-needed state of good repair priorities? Cut more from parks, childcare, the Gardiner or affordable housing?
Please see my preliminary fact sheet regarding the potential conversion of the Scarborough SRT to a subway.
Forest Hill Village Green P Lot
There has been some discussion about the Toronto Parking Authority and the Forest Hill Village BIA's proposals to develop the Green P parking lot at the corner of Thelma Avenue and Spadina Road in the Forest Hill Village. Please see my letter to residents regarding both my position on growth in the Village and my ethical responsibility to recuse myself from this specific matter.
Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground
Thank you to all those who responded so enthusiastically to my suggestion that the playground in June Rowlands Park should be named in honour of the beloved children's entertainment trio (and midtown Toronto residents) Sharon, Lois & Bram. I am currently preparing a formal request to City staff and looking forward to announcing an event including Sharon, Lois & Bram to celebrate the unveiling of the new name in the coming months.
Taking Action on the Roots of Youth Violence
The proposed Toronto Youth Equity Framework was approved unanimously by Toronto's Community Development and Recreation Committee last week. It will now go to City Council's July 16 meeting for final approval. We must work quickly and effectively because we cannot wait for another tragedy to spur more calls for blue ribbon panels and simplistic reactions. This Framework is the first step of a three-stage process to support the most marginalized youth in Toronto who are most likely to be involved in or victimized by violence. It sets out the principles of how the City of Toronto will target the roots of youth violence and how it will organize, over the course of the summer, so that all City departments and community stakeholders are on the same page, working together.
Culture Days will be taking place September 27, 28 and 29. These events promotes culture and arts within different communities across Canada. A resident of Ward 22 and artist-educator, Emma Ates, is showcasing her project "Five Wishes to All Beings". Her mission is to bring contemplative arts and creativity into our community and beyond.
Possible Closure of the Postal Station at 27 St. Clair Avenue East
Avenue Road Construction Update
Work is currently underway to permanently restore and repave the sidewalks and roads on Avenue Road. City staff have advised that this necessary work is the final part of the City's overall construction work on Avenue Road that included the watermain replacement. The delay between projects allowed the ground to settle and to ensure that if there were underground repairs needed in the interim, the newly paved road wouldn't have to be dug up again. I am very aware of the fact that this work is frustrating for local residents and commuters and therefore I will continue to aggressively advocate that the project is undertaken as efficiently and quickly as possible. I've found the level of communication from City staff to residents has been very poor and I have been direct with staff that this is unacceptable. They need to be more informative and more responsive to your inquiries and concerns. For more information please click here. (See new info on Chaplin Cr. work commencing next week).
Condo Living Survey
The City of Toronto is seeking feedback through its Condo Living Survey (Round 2) about condo life issues across our city. Through the survey, the City of Toronto hopes to generate ideas to address condo living challenges. Your feedback is very valuable and can help to improve condo life across Toronto. Please visit this link to complete the survey.
The Dirt (thedirt.co) is a "social real estate platform" designed by real estate developer Brandon G. Donnelly and software engineer Mike Lerner to provide services which engage condo owners and consumers with informative details regarding Toronto condos. Specifically, thedirt.co provides condo reviews from both owners and consumers in conjunction with the most up-to-date news about approvals, sales, construction, occupancy and completion. The system is a basic map schematic which indicates condo buildings that have received reviews by owners and consumers and, in addition, permits users to engage in revision for buildings that have not been reviewed. In addition to the website, thedirt.co can also be linked to Twitter and Facebook accounts for the most updated information. Overall, the service provides free access to condo building reviews and useful guidelines regarding the status of condo buildings in Toronto.
Working in our community
While I more often talk about the broader city and ward wide issues, a lot of the day to day issues that my staff and I work on are often the more immediate local issues that residents encounter on a day to day basis. This includes but is not limited to, both on-street and off-street parking challenges, local traffic issues, local property standards and problem property concerns, questions about getting a building permit, concerns about neighbourhood construction and development sites, road reconstruction, water main repairs, curb cuts and driveway access points, basement flooding, concerns about private and public trees, conditions of public parks and operating hours for city wading pools, helping small businesses, heritage designation proposals, missed garbage pick ups and proposals to beautify public realm spaces including neglected public planters (especially in areas without a BIA) and improving playgrounds, parks and school grounds. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is an example of some of the issues I work on with residents on a day to day basis to support our community.
Update on Committee of Adjustment Issues
In the past few weeks I have been working to support residents concerned with minor variance applications on their street and in their neighbourhood. Recently working with the community we successfully convinced the Committee of Adjustment to refuse an application to sever a property on Oriole Gardens, that clearly did not fit with the existing character of the street. I was very proud to work with some very dedicated member so of the community to help get this decision from the Committee of Adjustment. I understand that the applicant is going to appeal this decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, and I am preparing a motion for the next city council meeting to direct City Planning and Legal staff attend to help defend the Committee of Adjustment's decision.
Earlier this year I had also moved a motion to direct city staff to attend the OMB to defend a Committee of Adjustment decision to refuse an application at Balmoral and Poplar Plains Road. I am happy to report that this decision was recently upheld by the OMB. I would like to also congratulate the local residents, who were not only incredibly well organized, but also were a pleasure to work with.
On other Committee of Adjustment matters, residents have expressed concern about applications at Forest Hill Road and Hillholm Road and another application for a severance at Balmoral Avenue and Warren Road. These were originally scheduled to be heard at the Committee of Adjustment within the past month, but have since been deferred to allow for an opportunity for me to schedule a meeting with local residents and the applicants to try and come to a resolution. I am happy to support the residents in attempting to influence the applicants to revise their applications so they better fit with their respective communities.
I hope to meet with all parties in the coming weeks, with some hopefully revised plans back to the Committee of Adjustment in the fall.