I hope you find this update interesting and informative.
Following Toronto's municipal election rules (yes, I do that), I won't be permitted to send out e-newsletters after August 1st, 2014 and until the municipal election on October 27th. There are, however, two notable exceptions: I will be able to send you an update after the late August Council meeting, and in the case of an emergency.
I will, throughout the official election period, continue to work hard on the issues that matter most to our community.
I will still be updating my main website with news and the community calendar will continue to be updated. I will also be posting information to my twitter feed and facebook page, if you wish to follow me on social media.
And although I am unable to host community meetings during this period, you are always welcome to invite me to visit with you and your neighbours if there is an issue at your home, your building or on your street that is important to you.
Taking Action on Reducing Speed Limits on Local Streets to Protect our Families
Since being elected in 2010, I've worked continuously with fellow parents, and all residents, to make our neighbourhood streets as safe as possible by responding to community requests for traffic and speed mitigation measures where feasible. I frequently visit residents' homes and streets with City Transportation staff looking for possible solutions to residents' concerns about traffic. Most of these concerns justifiably are based on parents wanting to protect their children.
Unfortunately, there are some sudden and tragic accidents that no traffic calming measure will prevent. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do everything we can to improve safety in our community.
Recently, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto recommended reducing the speed limit to 30 km/h on most of the city's local residential streets. His report noted that pedestrians have an over 20% chance of dying when hit by a car travelling at 40 km/h but fatality rates decrease to less than 5% when hit by a car that travels at 30 km/h. After 30 km/h zones were introduced in London, England, these zones experienced a 42% reduction in fatalities.
Given that the research demonstrates that reducing the speed limit from 40 km/h to 30 can be the difference between life and death, I will be requesting City staff to provide recommendations to Community Council on lowering the speed limit, where possible, to 30 km/h on local streets within areas designated "Neighbourhood" in Ward 22.
In addition to improving safety, this measure could also decrease traffic incursion into our neighbourhoods by creating a disincentive for drivers to leave arterial roads in favour of shortcuts through local streets.
I recognize that this initiative may be controversial, but as your City Councillor and a father myself, I believe that we have a responsibility to act on evidence to protect our families.
Forest Hill Village Urban Design Study
Forest Hill Village is a unique retail area in Midtown Toronto. It is one of the few commercial shopping enclaves in the city that is wholly contained within a residential area.
Several recent developments and renovations within the Village have been undertaken with little deference to the prevailing streetscape (such as the new LCBO). To allow this inconsistent development to continue will further threaten the very character and aesthetic that makes the Village unique.
That's why I'm happy to report that I successfully moved a motion at City Council in February 2014 directing planning staff to develop urban design guidelines for Forest Hill Village, in consultation with the community, to protect the distinctive "village" character of Forest Hill.
Midtown in Focus: Public Space Improvement Plan for Yonge & Eglinton
After a year-long consultation with local Residents' Associations, tenants and businesses, I am excited to report that the Midtown in Focus final report is on the Planning and Growth Management Committee agenda for their August 7 meeting.
This report consists of a public realm master plan for the Yonge & Eglinton area focusing on parks, open space and an improved streetscape. For the first time, the plan establishes a comprehensive vision and presents a flexible, phased approach to improving public space in the Yonge-Eglinton study area. The plan is responsive not only to current community needs, but also to anticipated growth and change. The Midtown in Focus Plan is a guide for creating more liveable, walkable and memorable public spaces within Midtown at Yonge and Eglinton.
Art Shoppe Mediation Results to be Considered at Late August Council Meeting
Earlier this year, the applicants for the Art Shoppe development chose to bypass the democratic process and take their proposal directly 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 suggested mediation instead of a full hearing.
I worked very closely with the South Eglinton Residents' and Ratepayers' Association (SERRA) and the Quantum Owners and Residents Association (QuORA) representing the nearby condo owners. The results of the mediation will be presented as a confidential item to City Council in late August. While I am not legally allowed to share the results of the mediation at this time, I can say that I believe the community members and City staff were able to achieve the best result possible, given the situation. I, along with local residents, fought hard to mitigate the impact this development could have on the adjacent neighbourhood and condos next door. I also believe it is vital to protect Yonge Street, south of Hillsdale, from being developed with heights greater than Parisian-style midrise.
I will share the details of the resolution in my City Council update after the August Council meeting.
Decision on St. Clair West Zoning to be Made in early 2015
Earlier this year, I moved a motion directing planning staff to review the ambiguous policy framework on St. Clair Avenue West between Spadina Road and Avenue Road.
Unlike other stretches of St. Clair, the subject area does not contain retail establishments. The strip is comprised primarily of residential buildings mixed with long-standing religious and medical uses. As well, it is not considered an "Avenue" by the City of Toronto.
This ambiguity has left the community vulnerable to inappropriate development for many years. Recent Ontario Municipal Board decisions ruling in favour of increased intensification demonstrate that the current zoning regime -Area Specific Policy 221- has been an ineffective tool for keeping heights below six storeys, as envisioned by the Policy.
On June 19th, Planning staff and I hosted a meeting to discuss these issues. Given that it is now the middle of summer, I will be deferring decision on this matter until early 2015 to ensure that more residents have an opportunity to make a deputation or attend Community Council when the item is debated.
Decision on 95 & 99 Broadway Further Bolsters Case against OMB
In an outrageous decision, the Ontario Municipal Board gave the applicants for 95 & 99 Broadway everything they applied for. The proposal for two 38-storey towers on a relatively small site ran counter to the tenets of the provincial growth plan, which states that the greatest heights and densities should occur at the intersection of Yonge & Eglinton and then decrease the further away a development is located from that junction.
This project will have a density twice that of the Minto development. While there is nothing more that can reasonably be done to fight this development, the experience has furthered my resolve to free Toronto from the OMB.
Please visit my webpage on the OMB and learn how you can help stop inappropriate development in our community.
Ward 22 Parks Improvements Update
This year, I have been working closely with City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff to implement improvements to our parks in Ward 22. Due to a long winter and a slow thaw in the spring, some of the construction work has been delayed. I have heard from a number of you with regards to the construction timeline and I am pleased to be able to provide the following updates.
Charlotte Maher Park
I am happy to report that Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff have advised that construction at Charlotte Maher Park (550 Roehampton Avenue) is expected to be completed in the first half of September 2014. The park itself will remain open during construction; however, portions of the park where construction is taking place will be closed while work is being completed.
Forest Hill Road Park
I am pleased to confirm that Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff have had a pre-construction meeting with the contractor at Forest Hill Road Park (179 Forest Hill Road). I have been advised that construction will begin on Monday, August 18, 2014 and is expected to be completed in the first half of October 2014. During this time, portions of the park will be closed to allow for construction staging; however, the entire park will not be closed.
Glebe Manor Parks East and West
After the public meeting regarding the median parkettes on Belsize Drive, I am pleased to advise you that Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff have received positive community feedback and are proceeding with this project to make naturalized improvements to these parks. The consultant has received a topographical survey and has engaged with an arborist to identify and review the health of all the parkette trees. Staff expect to have plans ready for bidding in late August with the goal of undertaking construction later this year.
There are several other parks I've requested be improved in 2015. If there's a park in your neighbourhood that needs some attention, please let me know!
Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club Update
I deeply appreciate the continued support and advocacy of many of you on this issue and continue to work hard with City Staff to help retain this much-needed green space in our ward. We're still working hard on acquiring the propoerty if possible.
City of Toronto Real Estate Services will be bringing forward a report to the August Executive Committee meeting that will include a recommendation that the City purchase the land at fair market value from the owner, should they desire to do so.
I will continue to keep you updated with any new information on this issue via my website.
Making Space for Culture
The City of Toronto has a number of under-utilized public and private spaces including vacant storefronts, theatres, schools and libraries, which have the capacity to be better used by the community. In order to make better use of these spaces, the City of Toronto has undertaken a long-term planning project called "Making Space for Culture", which seeks to provide greater accessibility to these spaces for small and mid-sized cultural organizations, non-profit organizations and community groups.
The City of Toronto held public consultations in each ward to identify the specific needs of each community. For more information, please review this report to Economic Development Committee and the Community Consultation Summaries.
Reporting Unsafe Vegetation Growth obstructing traffic signals and stop signs
The City of Toronto has requested that residents report locations of vegetative growth that interferes with traffic signals and stop signs to 311, so that staff may be dispatched to remove the obstruction. While Transportation Services and Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff provide proactive maintenance, some areas have seen above-average growth. Residents are advised to provide precise locations such as 'eastbound on St. Clair Avenue approaching Mount Pleasant Road'.
Residents throughout the City of Toronto are also being reminded to prune shrubs and trees located on their property to reduce obstruction of roads and sidewalks and to ensure safe travel routes for residents with mobility issues.
TTC Track Replacement – Davisville Station
The TTC will be replacing six subway track turn-outs near Davisville Station this summer and fall. The repairs will take place in two phases, the first phase being the tracks south of Davisville Station and the second phase being the tracks north of Davisville Station. The preparation work for phase one began the week of July 20 and will continue for approximately five to six weeks. The TTC plans to do this work will be done nightly after the last subway train operates through the area at approximately 2:30 a.m. Work scheduled for the tracks north of Davisville Station will occur in a similar fashion and an update will be provided closer to the anticipated start date. For any questions or any concerns related to this track work, please see the contact information below.
Diego Sinagoga, Community Liaison (416) 393-2197
Customer Service: (416) 393-3030 (Daily 7 am to 10 pm, closed holidays)
TTY: (416) 481-2523 (Daily, 8 am to 5 pm, closed holidays)
Route/Schedule/Fare Information: (416) 393-4636 (INFO) or www.ttc.ca
TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit Services
The TTC is inviting residents and TTC customers to its seventh annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit Services, taking place Wednesday, September 17. The forum will inform about new accessibility initiatives as well as give customers with disabilities a chance to share their thoughts on possible improvements to the TTC's services. It will take place in the Queen Elizabeth Exhibit Hall at Exhibition Place, 180 Princes' Boulevard between 7 pm and 9 pm. There will be a brief presentation followed by questions and comments from the public.