Significant Progress Made Toward Keeping Hodgson Rink Open!
The Hodgson ice rink is closed this year as a result of two ammonia leaks in two years. Components at a facility like Hodgson have a life cycle of 15-20 years. The Hodgson rink is now over 30 years old. There is no doubt that the rink's infrastructure needs to be completely replaced.
With the rink closed, I worked closely with many dedicated parents to build a natural ice rink nearby. While this rink has been a great success, it does not replace having a reliable artificial rink in our neighbourhood.
The land on which the rink is located is owned by the TDSB. The City earmarked $2 million toward the Hodgson rink in its 2014 capital budget and is ready to begin construction. However, TDSB staff was only willing to commit that their property will remain a rink for 10 years to keep their options open for future uses, which is insufficient for a capital investment of this size.
I worked with Trustee Laskin to ensure that City and TDSB staff were focussed on arriving at a resolution rather than the obstacles in their way.
I am delighted to report that there has been significant progress made by the City and the TDSB toward an agreement. The City is now moving forward with tendering a contract to refurbish and upgrade the rink. The facility will continue to be located at Hodgson Senior Public School and, barring any unknown construction, the rink will most likely be ready for the 2014/2015 winter season.
To the parents and residents who have advocated for our local rink, I can tell you that not only were your voices heard, they were instrumental in what we've achieved.
Once again, when our community has been presented with a challenge we've successfully faced it together.
City Staff recommends Necessary Further Study Needed to Properly Assess Porter's Expansion Proposal
Porter Airline's proposed expansion plans for Billy Bishop Airport (BBTCA) represent an intriguing proposal that could present benefits to downtown businesses, tourists, and travelers. As you may be aware, though, City Staff are making strong recommendations to Executive Committee next week that advises more time is needed to weigh the potential benefits while honestly studying possible long=term negative impacts on, for example, our city's waterfront and local traffic. Moreover, the Staff report points out that Porter's expansion proposal are as yet insufficient and Transport Canada has yet to even evaluate the proposal.
While I recognize that a downtown airport is an asset to the city and appreciate the quality service Porter Airlines provides to Toronto's residents, I believe it's responsible to thoughtfully accept the advice City staff have presented to Council. In fact, I believe it would be reckless not to. I know that Porter has been actively lobbying and campaigning. The convenience of an expanded downtown airport and the excitement many people have about taking a jet from Toronto Island to various destinations has convinced many of you to contact me. Obviously, if Porter's request was a simple as that, I believe it would have been approved already. But it's not. It's actually a far more complex issue than it may seem like on the surface, as clarified in the Staff report I've read. I sincerely hope you can support my position, and strong conviction, that I have a duty to put facts before politics, and to ensure the decision we make is fully informed and truly evidence-based. I voted for a Staff report to be completed on the benefits and concerns regarding an expanded Billy Bishop Airport that would allow jets, no matter whether they eventually be operated by Porter, West Jet or Air Canada, etc. Now, I would like to read the completed Staff report I requested in order to make the right decision for Toronto.
Free the Food Trucks
Earlier this week, the Licensing and Standards Committee made a number of recommendations to provide new opportunities on food trucks. After months of thoughtful debate and collaboration between Councillors and staff, the primary guidelines are:
- Food trucks can park for five hours on any one block
- Limit removed on the number of Mobile Food Vending Permit holders on any block
- Mobile Food Vending Permit holders will be required to be 50 linear metres from a licensed eating establishment that is open and operating.
I strongly support the measures taken by the Licensing and Standards Committee and I will be voting for their recommendations when they come to Council next month. I also support the idea of BIAs being a part of this conversation. From everything I have read and learned on the matter, it has been shown in other cities that food trucks contribute to more vibrant and active streetscapes.
Eglinton Crosstown Update
Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown will be conducted through Midtown from Spring to late Fall 2014. The work zone will extend from approximately east of Spadina Road to Heddington Avenue along Eglinton Avenue West. Traffic patterns in the area will continue to change and shift during different phases of the work. For more information on the Crosstown project, please click here.
2014 Community Clean-Up
The City of Toronto's annual spring clean up is quickly approaching. Residents, businesses and organizations are welcome to participate in local clean up events. If you are interested in helping to keep Toronto clean and green this spring, please click here to register your group.
This year’s clean up will take place on the following dates:
- Friday April 25, 2014 - Corporate & School Clean-up Day
- Saturday April 26 & Sunday April 27 - Community Clean-up Days
Enter and vote in the 2014 Live Green Toronto Awards
With video entries and public voting, the City's Live Green Toronto Awards offer everyone an opportunity to participate in the search for Toronto's greenest people, groups and businesses.
Residents, groups and businesses that reside or operate in Toronto can enter this year’s awards by submitting a short video, up to 90 seconds long, and telling their green story in 500 words or less. Residents can view the videos and vote for their favourites online, once per day. Winners will be determined through a combination of votes and judges' scores.
Award categories open for entries include:
- Small business
Winners will receive $2,500 courtesy of sponsors, including Toronto Hydro and the City's Economic Development and Culture Division, and a chance to appear on CP24. Entries and votes will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on April 28. Winners will be announced on May 20, 2014. For details, the entry form and tips on how to create your video, please click here.
Call for Nominations: Heritage Toronto Awards
The call is out for nominations for the 40th Annual Heritage Toronto Awards! The awards celebrate outstanding contributions in the promotion and conservation of Toronto's history and heritage by professionals and volunteers.
Nominations are requested for five categories, including heritage books, short publications, and digital media; promotion of Toronto's heritage by a volunteer-based organization; and the William Greer Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship category for building owners' excellence in the restoration of heritage buildings.
The deadline for nominations is Friday, May 16 at 4:30 pm. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in October of this year.
For more information, and to access the nomination forms for the five categories, please click here.
First Annual Dupont Dig Festival
The Dupont Strip BIA is holding its first annual Dupont Dig: a flower and gardening festival with the goal of reaching out to and connecting with the community.
The event is set to take place on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25, from 11 am to 5 pm. The central location for the festival will be at Huron Street North and Dupont Street.
More information will be available closer to the festival dates, but for now please save the dates!
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. In an upcoming update, I'll be providing you notice for a Midtown public meeting on Next Steps for the Relief Subway Line and a Regional Relief Network with the City of Toronto and Metrolinx that I'm organizing for early May, 2014.
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.
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.