Fighting to Keep Hodgson Rink Open for our Community
Keeping Hodgson rink open for the 2014/15 season and retaining it in our community is a top priority for me as both our City Councillor and as a local parent myself.
With the Hodgson rink closed this year due to necessary repairs, I worked closely with many dedicated parents in our community to build the "SkinnamaRink" natural ice rink (near our newly named Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground) at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. While this rink has been a great success, it does not replace having an artificial rink in our neighbourhood. While it has been exceptionally cold this season, in a typical winter, artificial ice rinks provide about a 100 skating days while natural ones only provide 50.
The Hodgson rink is closed this year as a result of two ammonia leaks in two years and it was not clear when the next one might occur. Components at a facility like Hodgson have a life cycle of 15-20 years. The Hodgson rinks are now over 30 years old and continue to operate with many of the original components. The Hodgson rinks carried ammonia instead of the brine or glycol solutions used in other outdoor rinks. This created a much greater health and safety risk to users, particularly next to a school yard and neighbouring residences. There is no doubt that the rink's infrastructure needs to be completely replaced.
The land on which the rinks are located is owned by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Therefore, the City of Toronto must negotiate with the TDSB as a stakeholder in the reconstruction process. The City has $2 million earmarked toward the Hodgson rink in its 2014 capital budget and is ready to begin construction. However, the City is requesting a 20- year agreement from the TDSB in order to justify this investment. At this point, TDSB staff is only willing to commit that their property will remain a rink for 10 years to keep their options open for future uses.
I arranged a meeting at city hall last week to meet with TDSB and City staff to negotiate options. I have called for a follow up meeting this Monday with Trustee Laskin (who's been very supportive), TDSB and City staff to arrive at a resolution and will update you next week.
I am committed to finding a fiscally responsible solution that ensures Hodgson is open for skating in the 2014/15 season and that a rink remains in our community for years to come. I very much hope that the TDSB will be a willing partner in finding a reasonable resolution for our community. This skating rink means too much to our kids and our community.
The City of Toronto offers free and affordable family activities during March Break
Throughout March Break (March 10-16), the City of Toronto is offering free and low-cost family-friendly activities all throughout the city.
Toronto offers many opportunities to participate in winter sports; 11 of the City’s skating rinks, along with Centennial and Earl Bales ski and snowboard centres, will remain open until March 16, weather permitting.
March Break camps are also available and are a great opportunity for youth to enjoy a wide variety of activities such as arts, crafts, music, drama, games and sports. More information on camps being offered is available here.
Many non-seasonal activities will still be available for families to enjoy. Several indoor swimming pools, historic sites and museums will be open throughout the break. The High Park Zoo and Riverdale Farm will be open daily as well.
For more information on programs and services within the City of Toronto, residents can visit toronto.ca or call 311.
Protecting Ward 22 at the OMB
The applicants for the Art Shoppe development have taken the City to the OMB. At the pre hearing I ensured that our community's interests were well represented by City Planning and Legal staff. The OMB has suggested mediation and, regardless of whether the City chooses a full hearing or mediation, I will be fighting for a more reasonable development on this site. The developers have proposed two towers of 38 and 29 storeys on a site where a midrise is more appropriate. The Art Shoppe is directly adjacent to single family homes on Soudan and Hillsdale, has direct impacts on condo residents in adjacent buildings and many other residents, and is outside the provincially designated Urban Growth Centre.
As well, the hearing regarding 95 & 99 Broadway finished last week after a long three day hearing. On behalf of our community I want to thank City Legal, City Planning and the Sherwood Park Residents' Association for defending our community from this inappropriate development. I will inform the community when the OMB releases its verdict.
For more information on the many other development issues I'm working with our neighbourhood residents and planning staff on in Ward 22, see this webpage I creted to keep you informed. And, please visit this page for more information about you can help free Toronto from the OMB.
Concerns Increase Regarding Trains Carrying Crude Oil through Toronto Neighbourhoods
Several residents and I are concerned, and are raising reasonable questions, about the significant increase of trains carrying crude oil over the past five years, from 500 carloads in 2009 to an estimated 140,000 in 2013.
A significant number of these tank cars are using the Canadian Pacific rail line that runs through Toronto from the Junction neighbourhood along Dupont St. right in the heart of ward 22's Rathnelly and Summerhill neighbourhoods.
This increase in oil shipment has occurred without any consultation or public notices. I met with CP several weeks ago and they were unwilling to even discuss rerouting the trains. I am organizing a liaison group of concerned community members, MP Carolyn Bennett and neighbouring Councillors to meet with CP again in April.
For more information please see this article.
Building Code Violations go Uninspected
As Vice-Chair of the Audit Committee, I learned last week that 3,735 building code violations were currently unresolved, including 180 orders to rectify unsafe situations.
This is unacceptable and I will continue working with my colleagues to help ensure that staff works through the backlog and doesn't allow work orders to accumulate in the future.
Made-for-Toronto Local Appeal Body
The Province of Ontario has granted the City of Toronto the power to establish a local appeal body to hear appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions on both minor variances and consent applications. This does not include applications for larger development proposals.
You are invited to share your ideas and views on this matter. Public consultations are being held throughout the city at six locations. The Central Toronto public consultation will be on Monday, March 17, 6:45 pm, at Metro Hall – Rooms 308 & 309 (55 John Street). For more information, please click here.
Ward 22 Parks Update
Many of our Ward 22 parks and playgrounds have been in need of improvements. I’m working closely with staff from Parks, Forestry and Recreation to ensure that our parks receive the upgrades they need. I’d like to share the following updates regarding Charlotte Maher Park and Forest Hill Road Park. I am also working with neighbourhood residents to improve many other local parks, including the median parkettes on Belsize Dr.
The improvement project at Charlotte Maher Park is expected to be awarded around the end of March 2014, and construction is expected to be completed in the first half of July 2014.
The project at Forest Hill Road Park is expected to be awarded in April 2014. Construction is expected to begin around the second half of May 2014, with completion anticipated by mid-July 2014.
These park improvements will help beautify our neighbourhoods and improve our community's quality of life.
Between Generations: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto seeks volunteers aged 55 and over in Ward 22!
For only 1 hour a week during the school day, you could help change the life of a young person just by being a friend! Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) is looking for adults aged 55+ to mentor a child at an elementary school in their community. The program requires a weekly commitment during the school day for one school year, where volunteers take part in activities such as playing board games, reading, drawing, building model planes, learning a craft or just getting to know their Little Brother or Little Sister.
Mentoring means changing lives, including your own. It’s a rewarding way to give back through becoming a special friend to a child in your community.
Big Brothers Big Sisters facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower children and youth to reach their potential. BBBST relies on volunteers and donations in order to continue to ensure that every child who needs a mentor, has a mentor. For more information, or to start the application process, please e-mail Max Beaumont or call 416-925-8981 ext. 4118. For more information, you may also visit www.bbbst.com.
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.
Stop Unfair Rent Increases
Above the Guideline Increases (AGIs) for basic upkeep and repairs have pushed rents, that are already steep, into the unaffordable range in recent years. Landlords can apply for AGIs through the Landlord and Tenant Board. While there are certainly some very good landlords, too many others are abusing the system. Many 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.
Dressing for Downton: Costumes from Downton Abbey exhibit to open Tuesday at Spadina Museum in Ward 22
Please see the City's press release on this exhibition in our ward:
Mayor Rob Ford was joined by Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22 St. - Paul's) at a media preview event held for the upcoming Dressing for Downton: Costumes from Downton Abbey exhibition at Spadina Museum. The Canadian premiere of this exhibition of costumes worn by the characters of the award-winning British television series will be on display from March 11 to April 13.
Presented by the City of Toronto in partnership with VisionTV/ZoomerMedia, this exhibition features 20 Downton Abbey costumes from seasons one to three, borrowed from Cosprop, Ltd., the London-based costume house that designs and creates the beautiful clothing worn by the cast of the television show. Nine of the costumes have accompanying hats. All of the costumes are historically accurate, some made entirely of new textiles and others a mix of new and vintage abrics.
The costumes are identified by character and season with labels that feature photographs of cast members wearing the exhibited costumes. The tour takes visitors through the museum's family and servants' spaces and links the characters and events from the TV show to real Toronto history.
In addition to the Downton costumes, the exhibit will feature items from the City of Toronto's artifact collection, which highlights examples of clothing worn by Torontonians during the Downton Abbey era.
Featured items include five dresses and a selection of accessories that includes shoes, purses and jewellery. A beautiful velvet and satin dress worn by one of the Austin family members, who lived in the home that is now Spadina Museum will be exhibited along with its corresponding velvet jacket. The two pieces were purchased in Toronto and have labels indicating Boase Gowns Toronto.
“Spadina Museum is the ideal location for the Canadian premiere of the Downtown Abbey exhibition,” said Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22 St. Paul's). “Residents and visitors will have an opportunity to learn about the lives of the Spadina's Austin family and those in their employ, through the fictional lens of Downton Abbey's Crawley family and their servants.”
The Austin family negotiated the transfer of the house, its furnishings and remaining acreage to the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario in 1978. Spadina Museum opened to the public in 1984 and was revitalized to explore the interwar years focusing on the 1920s during a restoration in 2010.
Advance tickets are available at https://spadinamuseum.streamintickets.com/. Tickets are $25 weekdays/$30 on weekends (plus taxes) a person. The museum is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday and closed Mondays.
Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens is one of 10 historic museums operated by the City of Toronto. Located at 285 Spadina Rd., it's Toronto's only museum to represent the 1920s and '30s. Visitors can view unique exhibits, artifacts, furnishings and original materials and explore the estate's restored 1905 gardens.
More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/spadina and on Facebook.com/spadinamuseum or follow on Twitter @spadinamuseum.