I hope you find my latest update to you interesting and informative. It's been such a pleasure seeing so many of you recently throughout Ward 22's neighbourhoods.
I wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving weekend and please always feel very welcome to contact me if I can be of support to you.
PS- I just arrived home from bringing greetings to North Toronto Collegiate Institute's graduating class of 2013. Congratulations to the grads, their family, friends and the remarkable NT staff.
Council rejects fully-funded Scarborough rapid transit plan, raises debt and property taxes
This week, after what seemed like an endless debate (for many months), Council chose to tear up the City of Toronto's agreement with Metrolinx to construct a fully-funded, traffic-separated, seven-stop Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line and change plans by replacing it with an unnecessary three-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line that will cost an additional $1 Billion. This extension will increase our city's debt and require a 1.6% property tax increase that will be phased in over the next 3 years.
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 subway route will travel through a relatively low density area that would have been well served by the LRT as this video illustrates. The Sheppard subway is already heavily subsidised by the rest of the TTC system due to low ridership and projections indicate the Scarborough subway will require the same. It is unfortunate that misinformation and political opportunism overshadowed facts and fiscal responsibility in this debate.
The subway extension still needs to go through a lengthy Environmental Assessment process and there appears to be some hesitation on the part of the provincial government. However, I don't anticipate that the issue of rapid transit in Scarborough will come back to the municipal level during this term of Council.
I will continue to advocate for the Relief Subway Line, which Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, TTC CEO Andy Byford, Toronto's Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and City Manager Joe Pennachetti all agree is Toronto's top and evidence-based transit priority. The Relief Line is the one line that most transit experts agree is not only justifiable from a ridership perspective but will very shortly become necessary if we are to avoid crippling overcrowding elsewhere on the subway system and curb gridlock on our city's streets.
Please visit my Relief Subway Line webpage for further information and find out how you can take action to support building this critical infrastructure now!
Toronto is now a Food and Water First City
I was very happy to successfully move a motion this week to add Toronto's important voice to the many residents and Ontario municipalities who care about putting Food and Water First, protecting our region's agricultural lands.
REMINDER: Upcoming Neighborhood Town Halls with your city councillor
Hosting and attending community meetings and other events in Ward 22 is very important to me to both engage and inform residents. I want to know that I'm reflecting your priorities. Throughout the fall, I'm hosting a community town hall in every Ward 22 neighbourhood. Please save the dates for the October meetings listed below. If you don't see your neighbourhood listed below, I'll be posting upcoming dates and locations of meetings in a following e-newsletter as they are confirmed. I hope to see you there!
Forest Hill and South Hill: Wednesday, October 16 from 7 to 9 pm
First Unitarian Toronto, Shaw Hall, 175 St. Clair Avenue West
Rathnelly and the Upper Annex Area: Thursday, October 24 from 7 to 9 pm
De La Salle College, JP II, 131 Farnham Avenue
Hodgson Natural Ice Rink Public Meeting
Please join me on Monday, October 21 from 7:30 to 9 pm at Maurice Cody Public School’s library to discuss the City's temporary repairs of Hodgson Rink for the 2013-14 season. I've asked Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff to join us to discuss creating a natural rink at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. We must ensure our kids have a local place to skate until the Hodgson Rink is repaired and upgraded for next season.
Toronto Midtown Business Association Social Media Education Series
I will be speaking at a Toronto Midtown Business Association (TMBA) Social Media Education Series event on the evening of Wednesday, October 23. The event will be held at The Bradgate Arms, 54 Foxbar Road, from 5 to 7 pm. The entry charge is $10 for TMBA members and $15 for non-members with advance online registration. There is also a $5 charge for payment at the door. To register online, please visit the TMBA website. All are welcome and I look forward to seeing you there!
Halloween Programming at Casa Loma
Get your little knights, princesses, ghosts and pirates signed up to this delicious spooky haunted castle workshop at Casa Loma on Halloween weekend, October 26 and 27! Work with dessert decorators and learn how to decorate a Halloween castle. Each child will have their own castle to assemble and decorate using candy and other yummy embellishments for the haunted Halloween house. We encourage everyone to come in costume.
You can also celebrate Halloween medieval style at Casa Loma! Bring your whole family to the castle for an opportunity to step into the past. The knights will perform and educate you and your family in workshops such as Dagger Defense, The Art of Swordplay and Armour.
For more information on the timing and cost of events, please visit the Casa Loma website.
Spadina Museum Conversations: Mythmaking: Zombies, War, and the Art of Advertising
This November, every Tuesday from 7 to 9 pm, Spadina Museum will be hosting participatory talks about movie monsters, pitching products and war from the 1920s to the present. Each week includes speakers such as Kelly Michael Stewart (host of Fright Nights at the Projection Booth) and Toronto-based writers such as Ann McDougal.
Spadina Museum is located at 285 Spadina Road. General tickets are $8 plus tax, student tickets are $5 plus tax, and the 3-part series of conversations that runs on November 5, 12, and 19 is $20 plus tax. For more information, please visit the City of Toronto’s website.
Ecumenical Christmas Food Drive
For the 42nd consecutive year, churches in Rosedale, Moore Park, and Leaside are sponsoring a Christmas Drive to assist local food banks and other community agencies. Donations will be picked up from 9:30 am to noon on Saturday, November 30 at two locations: Our Lady of Perpetual Help at 1 Garfield Avenue and Leaside Presbyterian Church at 670 Eglinton Avenue East.
Off-Leash Dogs in Ward 22 Parks
Over the past few months, Ward 22 residents have written to me about the issue of off-leash dogs within the Kay Gardiner Beltline Trail.
It is fantastic to know that so many of you are enjoying the trail! To maintain the trail as a shared space that functions for all users it should be remembered that dogs are not allowed to be off-leash along the Beltline Trail. Please visit the Parks, Forestry and Recreation website for a list of off-leash dog parks.
Earlier this year City staff completed the Beltline Trail Study. The study was to assess the current conditions of the trail and through community consultation, to better understanding the priorities of the surrounding community and trail users. For more information, please visit the study’s website.
June Rowlands (Davisville) Park Tree Update
Recently I heard from concerned residents about a tree with a history of falling limbs near the tennis courts in June Rowlands (Davisville) Park.
I wanted to let you know that this situation has been addressed and pruning of the tree has been completed. I'd like to thank the concerned residents who brought this dangerous situation to my attention and to Urban Forestry staff for their attention to this matter.
Safety is a top priority and I invite anyone with similar concerns to contact my office at 416-392-7906.
Committee of Adjustment Updates
Each week I hear from many residents on a variety of local issues. This includes requests to support our community through some of the more contentious Committee of Adjustment applications that could impact the fabric of our neighbourhoods.
Here are just a few active files that I have been working with the community on:
126 Manor Road East - Settlement Agreement Approved at the OMB
This past spring there was a proposal to demolish the existing home and replace it with a multi-family dwelling with three units. I had a lot of concerns with this proposal, as did many members of the community and the planning department. This proposal also would have meant losing a very large and significant tree on the property. Shortly before the Committee of Adjustment hearing date in April, we had convinced the applicant to revise their proposal, and they sought a deferral from Committee of Adjustment to work with my office and the community work out a more modest plan. The committee instead refused the application outright, and the owners appealed the decision to the OMB. Through City Council I directed city planning and legal staff to attend and negotiate a settlement that addressed the concerns of everyone involved, which was successfully reached and ratified by the OMB this fall, that included preserving the tree.
48 Oriole Gardens - OMB Hearing on October 16, 2013
Last Spring at Committee of Adjustment there was a proposal to tear down the existing home, sever the property and build a new semi-detached home. I shared the concern of the many residents of Oriole Gardens, that this proposal was not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood, particularly on Oriole Gardens. While the Committee of Adjustment refused the application, the decision is being appealed to the OMB, and I have directed through City Council that City Staff support the residents attending the OMB hearing to also attend and defend the Committee of Adjustment Decision.
237 Dunvegan Road - OMB Hearing on December 10, 2013
I have recently met with some residents on Dunvegan Road - concerned about a proposal at this property that would have an inconsistent front yard setback, which would change the character of the street. I also share their concerns, along with the City of Toronto planning Staff. The Committee of Adjustment refused this application, and it is also being appealed to the OMB. I had asked the Chief Planner to exercise her delegated authority to have staff city staff attend and defend the Committee of Adjustment decision.
17 Hillholm Avenue and 157 Forest Hill Road - Refusal at the October 9, 2013, Committee of Adjustment Hearing
Earlier this summer there was a proposal to tear down the existing dwelling at 17 Hillholm Avenue, sever the property, and build two new homes that would be reoriented on to Forest Hill Road. Most residents on Hillholm Avenue felt that this proposal was not appropriate, as shifting the orientation of the homes would impact the stability of the area. The Committee of Adjustment agreed with both the community and my office and the application was refused.
599 Soudan - Appeal to the OMB
On September 11th an application to tear down the existing dwelling, sever the property and build a new semi-detached home was considered by the Committee of Adjustment. Despite written concerns from the planning department about the proposed density that is much greater the anything else in the area, and concerns from local residents about how this proposal would impact the exiting character of the street, this application was approved by the Committee of Adjustment.
I appealed to the Chief Planner to quickly exercise her authority to appeal this decision to the OMB, which has now happened. A hearing date has not been set.
240 Balmoral Avenue - Deferred Committee of Adjustment Application
A proposal for a severance and minor variances for 240 Balmoral was scheduled for a Committee of Adjustment hearing this summer. After hearing from many residents who had concerns about this proposal, I asked for and the applicant agreed for a deferral to attempt to work out a resolution before it is heard by the Committee of Adjustment. A meeting with the residents and the applicant is scheduled this month.
59 Heath Street West - Inclusion on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties
At the October 3rd Preservation Board meeting, staff brought forward recommendations to include 59 Heath Street West on the inventory of Heritage Properties. The preservation board approved the report, and it will now go to Community Council next week, and then City Council for approval. Once approved, it will allow Heritage Staff to monitor any building permit applications, and work with the owner to ensure that the heritage elements of the home are preserved during any renovations.
This report came as a result of a motion I moved at Community Council in April, to address some concerns the community had over the future of this property after it was recently purchased.
Road Sweeping Operations Update
Transportation Services is getting ready to perform sweeping operations on the streets of our city this fall. The purpose of the sweeping is to collect leaves that fall, naturally, onto the street. All streets will be swept on two occasions. The operation will continue until November 29, 2013.
Please do not rake leaves onto the roadway or sidewalk form your property.City by-law officers will be enforcing the City of Toronto by-law that relates to the use of streets and sidewalks. Raking leaves onto the roadway is a by-law offence and could result in charges being laid. In addition, raking leaves onto the sidewalk, road or catch basins can create unsafe conditions.
Here's how to put leaves out for collection: Use reusable containers without a lid, such as old garbage and recycling bins or paper yard waste bags. Put leaves at the curb by 7 am on your garbage collection day. Check you waste collection calendar for more details. The City does not collect leaves and yard waste in plastic bags or Halloween-themed plastic bags. To reduce the amount of leaves you put out for collection, feed leaves to your backyard composter, plus stockpile leaves to add as dry material during the winter.
Here's what the City collects as yard waste: Leaves, plant/tree trimmings, weeds and brush. Branches measuring less than 7.5cm or 3" in diameter should be tied in bundles no longer than 1.2m or 4' in length and 60cm or 2' in diameter. Pumpkins and waste fruit from trees in your yard are also accepted.
Soil, sod, grass clippings, logs or tree stumps are not collected. For more information on yard waste, please call 311or visit the City’s website.
Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy
The City of Toronto's Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy is being updated to remain in place until 2020. Public consultations started on September 30, 2013. Since 2005, the Strategy has adopted 13 Priority Neighbourhoods (now known as Neighbourhood Improvement Areas). City Council has been working with residents, businesses, community organizations and funders to provide the services and facilities that the neighbourhood residents need to be successful.
The consultation process includes a survey and in-person conversations with residents, community organizations, businesses and funders, and will help to determine what needs to be considered when identifying the next generation of Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. This includes ways to strengthen the social, economic, and physical conditions that will unlock the keys to city-wide change.