Council Rejects Fully-Funded Scarborough LRT Plan, Supports Tax hike and Higher Debt
This week council chose to reopen the City of Toronto's agreement with Metrolinx to construct a fully-funded seven-stop, grade-separated Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line and replace it with with an unnecessary three-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line that will cost an additional $1 billion. Further, the Mayor and the majority of councillors chose a subway contingent on provincial and federal funding that has not been committed to and now appears in doubt. I do not believe Council should be making costly and important transit infrastructure decisions wtihout a clear plan for how to pay for them and without sound planning policy to support those choices. Due to this irresponsible decision, the Mayor will be asking Council to add more than $560 million dollars to our City's debt load and raise Toronto residents' property taxes to service that debt. I did not, and will not, support this request.
The new Scarborough LRT, just like a subway, would have been a completely traffic-separated line. No lanes removed. No traffic lights. No cross streets. This was factually never a streetcar vs subway debate and should not have been characterised as such.
The new Bombardier-made LRT trains average 36 km/h — that’s faster than the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines, which average 32 km/h. The Scarborough LRT line was to have been more than two kilometres longer than a subway extension and have four more stops serving major trip generators, including Centennial College. The LRT’s alignment placed it within walking distance to over 20,000 more people than a three-stop subway extension would.
The decision to move forward with a subway on this route was based on politics, not sound transit policy. I believe, based on the facts known to us, that our real subway expansion priority is the Downtown Relief Line Subway that would essentially go north/south along Pape and run east/west along King or Queen. Our current transit subway system has urgent capacity challenges already during rush hours and also has over $2 billion of state-of-good-repair needs. Ultimately, I hear from residents that they want Council to stop reopening plans that make sense and finally move forward with building a transit system that serves Toronto and region's growing population. I will continue fighting for an evidence-based, fiscally-responsible transit plan that includes a thoughtful combination of new subways and LRTs based on honest planning.
Please click here to view my op-ed on his subject that appeared in last Friday's Toronto Star.
Naming a Ward 22 Playground to honour the Iconic, Canadian Performance Group, Sharon, Lois & Bram
I am delighted to announce that, with your support, I plan to name the playground inside June Rowlands (Davisville) Park the Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground after the iconic Canadian children's music trio. I believe naming a well-loved children's playground is a very fitting way to honour these Canadian music and television legends and local residents. I hope that this naming will also help introduce their music to a new generation of children in our community and city.
Please read this recent story about our initiative.
Bringing Common Sense to Parking Enforcement
Some parking infractions do not warrant the same level of police enforcement as others. An illegally parked car on a quiet street with surplus spots is less of a problem than an illegally parked car or stopped delivery vehicle on an arterial road. Vehicles illegally parked or stopped on arterial curb lanes can delay thousands of drivers and transit riders. My motion to bring a common sense approach to parking enforcement was approved by City Council and referred to Committee for further consideration.
Easing Congestion Caused by Rush Hour Deliveries on Busy Streets
Traffic congestion is a significant problem for Toronto's motorists, public transit users and cyclists. Of course, the long-term solution to this problem includes building a more accessible, extensive and efficient public transportation system in addition to encouraging car-pooling and cycling. But, in the meantime, whether one is a motorist or a surface transit user, it is infuriating to see a large delivery vehicle blocking an entire lane of traffic during rush hour. My motion requests staff to study the possibility of banning delivery trucks from stopping on main streets during rush hours.
Improved Parking for Mopeds and Scooters
The City of Toronto should be encouraging the use of mopeds and scooters because, in a city challenged by gridlock, they take up less road and parking space while using less fossil fuel. However, unlike bicycles, scooters and mopeds must be parked on the street where they are vulnerable to theft or damage and occupy valuable paid-parking spaces that fund important services like parks, libraries, and road maintenance.
My motion seeks to bring our regulations into the twenty-first century and reap the rewards of increased moped and scooter ridership without reducing road safety or pedestrian comfort.
Ping Pong Table for June Rowlands Park
After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from local residents, I brought forward a motion that passed at Council this week to install a concrete outdoor ping pong table at June Rowlands (Davisville) park. Similar tables have been installed in parks throughout various neighbourhoods in the City including High Park and North Scarborough and have been well received. I have worked with Parks staff to prioritize the table's installation for use this summer. I anticipate that it will be ready for use by the end of the month. I am also working on parks improvement plans for Forest hill Road Park, Charlotte Maher Park, Glebe Manor and several others throughout Ward 22.
After last week's epic rain storm, I heard from many residents and friends who experienced basement flooding. My family and I have gone through this too. If your basement was flooded, please call 311 to report a blocked drain or sewer back-up, or for more information and assistance. 311 is a service that is available 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.
Toronto Water is working as fast as they can to respond to calls and visit affected homes, but response times are likely to be slower than normal due to the extremely high volume of calls they have received.
For more information about basement flooding, including the City's basement flooding subsidy program, please visit the Toronto Water website.
Special Garbage Pickup
The City of Toronto is providing special garbage collection for items damaged in the storm and subsequent flooding of July 8. The City will collect bulky items left at the curb, including couches, mattresses or other furniture, extra bagged items (Bag Tags not required), and carpeting (in rolls of maximum 1.2 metres or 4 feet length and 20 kg or 44 lbs in weight). This special collection of flood-damaged materials is not intended for hazardous household waste items, construction or renovation waste, or general clean-up of items that were not damaged by the flood.
Residents are asked to be patient as this effort is completed and regular service resumes. For more details please call 311.
Live Green Toronto Festival
The 8th annual Live Green Toronto Festival, a celebration of all things green, will take place on Saturday, July 27th from 11 am to 9 pm at Yonge-Dundas Square. The festival is free and open to everyone, and will feature over 100 vendors of green products and services, outdoor yoga, activities for children, a swap zone, and more. The musical line-up will include Shawn Desman, Kardinal Offishal, Victoria Duffield, and Anjulie, among others. Please visit the Live Green Festival website for more information.
Oriole Park Community Garden Update
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.
Last week, we had a successful meeting where City staff presented and displayed what the proposed garden may look like and where it will be located within the park. We received positive feedback from residents, and there was dialogue with all parties to make sure the Community Garden is a success.
The next step will be an application and proposal by the Oriole Park Community Garden Committee to the City of Toronto. We continue to welcome your participation and feedback in shaping the Community Garden!
Youth Equity Update: The Roots of Youth Violence
My initiative to create a Youth Equity Framework was approved this week by City Council. This week also marks one year since the Danzig Street shooting, a solemn reminder that 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.
City of Toronto and School Boards Task Force
Council approved my motion to create a task force made up of city councillors and school trustees from all four boards in the Toronto area. We serve the same communities, and share many priorities, yet are different levels of government. Now there will finally be a formal table for us to work together on common priorities such as community hubs, school pools, childcare, recreation and learning opportunities for all ages.
Toronto Youth Cabinet Film Festival
The Toronto Youth Cabinet is looking for submissions for the first Youth Film Festival, which will take place on Tuesday, August 27th at the Canadian National Exhibition. The theme of the film festival is "Reflecting the Reality", looking at the lifestyles and challenges that young people face on a daily basis.
If you are between the ages of 16 to 28 and interested in creating and submitting a short film/animation/documentary/music video that reflects the theme of the festival, please visit the Toronto Youth Cabinet website for more information and submission details.
Join the Housing Services Conversation
The City of Toronto is inviting you to share your views on the delivery of services that prevent homelessness and help some of Toronto's most vulnerable residents to find and keep permanent housing. The Province of Ontario is changing how it funds the City to provide housing services and this is an opportunity to transform how we provide these services into an integrated system. Your feedback is invaluable for developing this system effectively. Please visit the Toronto Housing Services Consultations website to participate.
Avenue Road Construction Update
For this week's Avenue Road construction update, please visit my website. I am also closely monitoring progress on the Rathnelly watermain project, am actively urging the City to complete it as soon as possible and will post an update soon.