June has been a very busy month working for our community. Hundreds of meetings during the days, a community meeting almost every night and the weekends have been filled with fun community events where I've been able to see, and hear from, so many of you and your families. From school graduations to the world's largest LGBTQ wedding at Casa Loma, it's been a great joy to work- and celebrate- with you in Ward 22. Some of the events that I, and my office staff, have hosted or attended this past month include:
- Relief Line Public Community Meeting
- Toronto Museum Visioning Workshop
- Eglinton Way BIA Social Mount Pleasant Village BIA "Restaurantacular!"
- Deer Park Residents' Group AGM, Brentwood Towers Tenants' Association and 112 St. Clair Avenue West AGMs
- Tim Horton's Camp Day
- Oriole Park Garden Committee Meetings
- Davisville PS and Oriole Park PS Parents' Night Outs and Fundraisers
- Cottingham PS, Davisville PS, Eglinton PS, Maurice Cody PS, Brown PS, Oriole Park PS, Hodgson Sr PS and Forest Hill Jr & Sr PS Fun Fairs/Garden Fetes
- Balliol/Davisville Laneway Party and Banff Road Annual Street Sale
- Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club Public Meeting
- Manor Road United Church Green Space Meeting
- St. Clair West Planning Study Public Meeting
- 31 Roehampton Tenants' Meeting
- 123 Eglinton East Town Hall Meeting
- Hodgson Sr PS, Northern SS, Deer Park Jr and Sr PS, Cottingham PS, Davisville PS and Eglinton PS Graduations
I do hope you're able to enjoy everything our vibrant city has to offer this season. Whether you've been dancing at Toronto's NXNE music festival or the Toronto Jazz Festival, celebrating World Pride or simply having fun with your friends, neighbours and family.
I wish you all a very Happy Canada Day. I hope to see you soon in our community.
St. Paul's Canada Day Picnic with the Honourable Carolyn Bennett MP
This Tuesday, July 1, you are invited to join our Member of Parliament, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, at her annual St. Paul's Canada Day Picnic. The event will take place at Wells Hill Park (470 St. Clair Avenue West at Hilton Avenue) from 12 pm to 2:30 pm and will include face painting, live music, dance troupes, family friendly activities and a barbeque. I hope to see you there!
POPS Plan Passes Planning & Growth Management Committee
I'm delighted to report that my initiative to identify Toronto's Privately Owned Public Spaces, or "POPS" for short, and create design guidelines, including a POPS signage template and logo, passed Planning & Growth Management Committee last week.
As Toronto continues to grow, there is an increasing need and demand to revitalize existing parks and open spaces as well as to create new parks and open spaces.
In order to provide this much needed open space within Toronto’s dense urban landscape, the City often negotiates with private developers to include POPS as part of the development application and review process. POPS are a specific type of open space which the public is welcome to enjoy, but remain privately owned.
Save the Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club Green Space!
As many of you are now aware, a developer is in the process of purchasing the Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club property (196 Manor Road East) from the Club’s Board with the intent to build townhouses on the site.
It is clear from the overwhelming response that this green space is very important to our community. That's why I've been proactively working very hard to acquire this property as a public park since this issue came to my attention several months ago.
Earlier this month I successfully moved a motion at Council directing Real Estate Services staff to evaluate the fair market value of the property at 196 Manor Road East, and directing Parkland Acquisitions staff to begin negotiations with the current owner(s) for the purpose of purchase by the City and report back to Council's Executive Committee in August. I also saw many of you at a public information meeting I held at Hodgson Sr PS on June 18.
While it has became clear that this issue is primarily a private one amongst Board members and shareholders of the Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club Board, I have engaged City legal staff to further assess the City's interest in this matter. I can assure you that if there is a willing seller, I will work to have developers' funds directed toward the purchase of this property.
For more information on the efforts of local residents I have been working with to keep this space green please visit: glebemanorlawnbowling.com
New Traffic Light Coming to Yonge and Roehampton
For as long as most of us can remember, the intersection of Yonge and Roehampton has needed to better managed and safer for pedestrians and drivers alike. It had become clear to me and most residents that a stop sign was no longer sufficient for the volume of foot and car traffic at that corner.
Responding to the current situation and the influx of development coming to the area, I requested City staff to act on this priority and for Council to direct developers' funds toward the installation of a new traffic light at the intersection. I'm very happy to report that the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee approved my request at its most recent meeting.
For more information please read this staff report. The matter will be considered by full Council in a couple of weeks.
Forest Hill Village Green P Parking Lot
There has been some discussion about the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) and the Forest Hill Village BIA's proposals to develop the Green P parking lot at the corner of Thelma Avenue and Spadina Road in the Forest Hill Village. Please see my letter that I sent to residents in July 2013 regarding both my position on growth in the Village and my ethical responsibility to recuse myself from voting on this specific matter. However, although I am legally unable to vote on this matter, according to legal advice I've received along with what the City's Integrity Commissioner has told me, I am certainly allowed to keep you informed, and offer my opinion, as I always want to.
I am delighted to report to you that the Forest Hill Village BIA members overwhelmingly voted against the retail expansion proposal and for an expanded surface parking lot at their recent Annual General Meeting on June 24, 2014 at Grace Church on-the-Hill on Lonsdale Road. They supported moving forward with simply expanding the existing surface lot onto the adjacent residential lot to the north that is already owned by the TPA. I believe this is very good news for local residents and for the merchants themselves who would've otherwise been without the Green P during the proposed retail expansion construction period.
The purpose of the meeting was for the BIA's members to instruct the board about which TPA scenario they would support for the Thelma lot. James Parakh from the City of Toronto's Planning department was also in attendance to describe the scope of work for the Forest Hill Urban Design Guidelines Study I brought to Toronto City Council to protect the fabric and character of our village. The temporary bump-out I had installed at Thelma & Spadina, to create safer sightlines, will soon be replaced with a permanent bump-out and lay-by parking constructed on the south side of Thelma, across from the TPA lot.
St. Clair Avenue West Planning Policy Review
St. Clair Avenue West, between Avenue Road and Spadina Road, has a unique planning regime under Policy 221 of the Official Plan. The area is not considered an "Avenue" as is much of the rest of St. Clair West and the Policy was written well before the introduction of the streetcar right-of-way. For these reasons, and others, City Planning has advised me that Policy 221 is an insufficient tool to protect our community from inappropriate development.
It is clear that action needs to be taken as the City has recently lost two hearings at the OMB regarding applications on St. Clair Avenue West. While inappropriate development will likely continue to affect our neighbourhoods until Toronto is freed from the jurisdiction of the OMB, I believe that the current efforts to strengthen outdated Area Specific Policy parcels, such as Policy 221, could help communities avoid the OMB.
Last Wednesday I attended a public meeting hosted by City Planning staff to hear directly from the community as part of this policy review, to ensure that residents' voices are heard. I truly appreciated the thoughtful and constructive feedback received by those of you in attendance at the meeting, as well as others who have taken the time to write me on this issue. Throughout this entire study process, I will continue working with local residents and City Planning to help ensure new development better fits into the fabric and character of our community. That means not only trying to limit height and density, but achieving greater setbacks and appropriate transitions between St. Clair Avenue and our neighbourhoods. Developers should also be required to facilitate streetscape improvements such as trees, planters and benches.
Sustainability for Manor Road United Church, More Green Space for Ward 22?
Manor Road United Church (MRUC) has been reviewing long-term sustainability options and decided that half of the church's current property at Manor Road and Forman Avenue would more efficiently serve the needs of the present congregation and community programs. The MRUC site is comprised of four city lots fronting on Manor Road; the church aims to continue to own/occupy the two westernmost lots (containing the church proper) and sell the two eastern lots.
I am delighted that MRUC recently reached out to me, rather than a developer, about the possibility of having the City purchase the eastern half of the church property. Earlier this week I attended a roundtable meeting with City staff, MRUC's Reverend Debra Schneider, congregation members and other local residents, to discuss MRUC's vision for a more sustainable existence on the western portion of the property and the potential for a much-needed local green space adjacent to Forman Avenue for the benefit of both ongoing church activities and the community at large. I am currently arranging a follow-up meeting with City staff and MRUC's development committee chair to discuss further the feasibility of this exciting proposition. I will be sure to keep you updated on this matter through my website and e-newsletter, as more information becomes available.
377 Spadina Road Public Meeting
I've heard from many Montclair residents who are very interested in knowing as much information possible about a potential rezoning application for 377 Spadina Road. The new owner has advised me of his plans to build townhouses flanking Montclair Avenue and an underground commercial parking lot accessed off of Spadina Road.
I would like to invite you and your neighbours to an important meeting to discuss this potential rezoning application. I have asked the applicant to meet with Montclair residents directly to have an open dialogue about their plans in detail, and they have agreed to attend this public meeting to be held Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 7pm in the Parish Hall at Grace Church on-the-Hill (300 Lonsdale Road).
Is it too Hot in your Apartment?
I've heard from many tenants over the last few years that their unit can be uncomfortably hot, especially in late spring when landlords are mandated by the City to have the heat on even when it is warm. That's why I moved a motion in 2012 asking staff to report on the feasibility of changing the date on which landlords can turn off the heat from June 1st to an earlier one.
While staff has presented some compelling data in their report suggesting there are still too many cold days in May to change the date on which the City allows landlords to turn off the heat in apartment buildings. For large buildings it is not as simple as turning a switch off and on. Once the heat is turned off, it cannot reasonably be turned on again. However, there are still an increasing number of warm days in May and, throughout the summer as a whole. We cannot ignore this issue.
Toronto tenants have the right to a comfortable and healthy home. I have asked staff in a letter to the Licensing and Standards Committee to go back and look for real solutions to this issue, including a request that the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto review whether mandating maximum temperatures in rental units is feasible. The Committee endorsed the majority of my recommendations. The matter will be considered by full Council in a couple of weeks.
To ensure that you are informed and engaged about development proposals that are being proposed for sites near your neighbourhood, I've created an interactive webpage with locations, staff reports and public meeting notices. Please click here to learn more about what you can do to help free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).