Yesterday, we lost a truly inspirational leader in Nelson Mandela.
President Mandela's impact on his country of South Africa, and the world, was no less than transformational. He was a strong, kind and forgiving man and has left us all with a legacy of greater equality, peace and reconciliation.
In the face of Apartheid, a cruel and violent policy of racial discrimination, and after decades of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela chose to heal a nation rather than seek vengeance.
I look forward to telling my young daughter about him one day and how we all can learn from his example.
Maurice Cody Dirt-to-Turf Update
- Please do not let dogs onto the field
- Holes in the lining can be caused by picking at the grass
- Please do not light fireworks from the field on Victoria/Canada Day as it will burn the turf
- Please keep the field clean
I am proud to announce that on November 10, I joined local residents to unveil the second half of the new Beltline Trail Mural. Painted by artists Viviana Astudillo and Logan Miller, this exciting project was conceived by the community group Friends of the Beltline and founder Donna Koegl. The first half of the mural was unveiled this August. The mural is a wonderful example of a community coming together to improve their local green space and I would suggest you visit this beautiful mural when you have the chance! It is located underneath the Eglinton Avenue overpass. For more information, please read this article in the Town Crier.
Update on the Proposed Billy Bishop Airport Expansion
Yesterday at City Hall, the Executive Committee voted to defer Porter's expansion plans to February, 2014. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, an island airport expansion proponent, supported the deferral stating that staff needs additional studies and information for Council to make an informed decision. I will provide an update on this situation when the item comes back to Council.
For your information, and thoughtful review, I'm providing you with Porter Airline's case for expansion, the case made by NoJetTO, the leading advocacy group opposed to the proposed expansion and the City of Toronto's Staff recommendations to Council.
Correction: In my last e-newsletter, I wrote that Porter Airlines had paid for the study. In fact, they had offered to. It was the Toronto Port Authority who has paid for the report. There are still many unknowns about who exactly will pick up the entire costs of this initiative going forward.
Update on Addressing the Roots of Youth Violence
It is time for the City of Toronto to take thoughtful and proactive measures to deal with youth violence no matter what neighbourhood it is found in. We cannot wait for another tragedy to spur more calls for blue ribbon panels and simplistic reactions. There have been many good reports that have already provided us with recommendations on how to move forward including The Review of the Roots of Youth Violence by Dr. Alvin Curling and The Honourable Roy McMurtry. Genuine, evidence-based action is needed now and without delay.
In February, 2013, with City Council's unanimous support, I asked City staff to develop a plan to take immediate action. I am very happy to share with you a letter from Dr. Curling commending Toronto City Council for tackling this urgent priority.
Since then, I have been working closely with City staff on a Youth Equity Strategy to support the most marginalized youth in Toronto – those who are at the highest risk to be involved in or victimized by violence. As the Youth Equity Strategy won’t be finished until this winter, which is too late for the 2014 City of Toronto budget, I pushed for a list of “quick wins” from City staff to move the Strategy forward in 2014 and also to test some promising pilot projects. The Toronto Star wrote about these initiatives earlier this week.
Ward 22 Development
As you know, Midtown has a number of new development applications. I continue to work with our community to protect the fabric and character of our neighbourhoods. I also recognize that the current system gives an unfair advantage to developers and I am working to free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal Board (see below). To view development proposals in our community please visit the development page on my website. I created this to ensure residents would have direct access to staff reports and be informed about proposed developments in their neighbourhoods.
Free Toronto from the OMB! Stop Inappropriate Development
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an unelected and unaccountable provincial body which has the final say on all planning decisions in the province of Ontario that often gives the development industry an unfair advantage at "appeals" hearings over the interests of our communities and the City of Toronto's Official Plan.
The OMB has a history of contributing to inappropriate development in our city. Toronto's midtown neighbourhoods are facing an unprecedented amount of new developments, many of which are condos, and it's putting an unjustifiable strain on our community without the adequate infrastructure, including transit and public realm, to keep up with the growth in population.
For more information on how to get involved and take action, please visit my page on the OMB.
Stop Unfair Rent Increases
Above the Guideline Increases (AGIs) for basic upkeep and repairs have pushed rents that were already steep into the unaffordable range in recent years.
Landlords can apply for AGIs through the Landlord and Tenant Board. Repairs should be included as part of a landlord's overall expenses and paid for from the rent they already receive. It is clear that tenants, often seniors who have fixed pensions, are being unfairly burdened for the landlord’s basic cost of doing business.
For more information and to learn how you can take action against spiralling rent increases and unexpected fees, please visit my page on AGIs.
Build the Relief Subway Line Now
The Relief Subway Line would provide an alternative within our existing subway system, which is already overcrowded during rush hours. It would also curb gridlock on our city’s streets and increase access to jobs and attractions. It is the evidence-based subway expansion project that would most improve Toronto’s economy and residents’ quality of life.
To take action and learn more about the proposal, please visit my page on the Relief Subway Line.
City of Toronto's Winter Preparation Update
With winter just around the corner, the City of Toronto is once again getting ready to tackle snow and ice when it hits the streets.
Winter is also high season for watermain breaks. Cold weather plus rapid swings between periods of thaw and freezing put pipes under stress. Crews are ready to respond to minor and severe breaks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As soon as the snow begins, Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks to the expressways and main roads, while local roads and laneways are salted soon after. Once 2.5 centimetres of snow has accumulated, then plowing will begin on the expressways and when five centimetres has accumulated, plowing will begin on the main roads. Plowing on the expressways and main roads will continue until the operation is complete.
Once the snow stops and if the snow accumulation reaches eight centimetres, local road plowing will begin. During this time, snow service requests will not be taken by 311. Residents are asked to only call 311 during the storm if they would like to report an urgent winter-related concern. Residents are asked to not call 311 during the storm to ask when their street will be cleared.
The City will also open driveway windrows wherever it is mechanically possible to do so. Typically, driveway windrows are opened between one and two hours of the road being plowed. This service is meant to open up an area about the size of a single car width in order to make it more convenient to enter or exit the driveway.
The City will clear snow from sidewalks on local roads where it is mechanically possible to do so after eight centimetres of snow has fallen (five centimetres in January and February). In the central core of the city, property owners are required to clear their sidewalks of snow 12 hours after a storm has taken place.
To learn more about sidewalk snow clearing in Toronto and to view a map of the areas where the service is provided, please click here.
Besides snow and cold weather, there are numerous causes of watermain breaks and the City is taking steps to address the ongoing problem, currently spending $110 million to improve the watermain distribution system. Toronto Water is dealing with aging infrastructure and through the capital infrastructure renewal program, approximately 40 to 60 kilometres of watermain pipes are being replaced annually. In addition, three rehabilitation programs continue: cathodic protection of watermain pipes, cleaning and cement mortar lining, and structural lining.
Response crews are available 24/7 to locate, assess and repair watermain breaks in order to restore service as quickly as possible.
More information about watermain breaks is available here.
Please click here for more information about the City of Toronto’s winter operations.
Please read my update from a recent enewsletter I sent to our community in November about the work I've been doing to encourage the City to improve its snow and winter operations.
A message from TANG on air noise pollution due to Pearson flight paths
In early 2012, NAV Canada changed the flight patterns of aircraft approaching and leaving Toronto Pearson International Airport. Many residents have contacted me and reported disturbances from increased air traffic noise including during overnight hours. Some have described the noise as living under an "air super-highway" and find the volume and frequency of flights intolerable.
I brought a motion to City Council to have City of Toronto officials meet with representatives from NAV Canada, the federal Ministry of Transportation, and other relevant bodies to find a less intrusive flight path that respects the needs of Toronto residents to live without excessive noise pollution. I am following up with the City Manager on the status of actions Council requested him to take.
Recently, I met with the Toronto Aviation Noise Group (T.A.N.G.). They have asked me to share the following with you:
T.A.N.G is working in Ward 22 to stop the excessive aviation noise stemming from the new concentrated flight path that takes planes right over our communities and neighbourhoods. A T.A.N.G. representative may knock on your door requesting all adults in the home to please sign the petition.
To bring peace and quiet back to areas affected by this noise, you can sign an online petition. You can also contact the GTAA by calling 416-247-7682 or register a complaint. Lastly, you can write to our local MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett and show your objection. Together, we can work to make our voice heard over the roar of jet planes!
Problem Hoarding Update
Yesterday, my colleagues at Executive Committee supported my initiative to ensure that the City of Toronto takes a more effective and coordinated approach to problem hoarders. In 2011, I moved a motion to create an inter-divisional task force to address this issue. The task force's report to Executive Committee yesterday creates a formal structure and response protocol to deal with animal and content hoarders. This motion will come to full Council in two weeks.
Ecumenical Christmas Food Drive: Results and Outcome
The Drive concluded on November 30 and was considered a success with slightly over 16,000 items collected compared to 15,500 in 2012. In addition about $2,000 in cash and cheques were received for bulk purchases. The donations were sorted, packed in boxes and then delivered within hours to recipient food banks and agencies. Next year’s event, the 43rd, will again take place on two Saturdays: November 22 (to deliver flyers to canvassed households) and November 29 (to pick up donations). Please mark these dates in your calendars. Look out for advance notices in September.
Two area Sobeys stores (St. Clair Avenue just east of Yonge Street and Wicksteed Avenue near Laird Drive) are again supporting this effort by holding in-store drives throughout the Christmas season. These sources typically add another 10,000 to the overall total and your participation is encouraged to help the needy within our community.