Election Day seems like much longer than a couple of weeks ago. I am deeply honoured to serve you here in our community and at City Hall. And we've been busy! I've been focusing on several neighbourhood and specific street priorities, along with city-wide policy initiatives, and will continue to provide you updates as they become available.
I am also very pleased with the new spirit at City Hall. I am impressed with how Mayor-elect Tory has already demonstrated an inclusive and thoughtful approach as he prepares to take office as our next mayor.
The inaugural City Council meeting will be on December 2nd. At the meeting, Mr. Tory will be sworn in, along with the city councillors, and he will name his Executive Committee. While this meeting is largely ceremonial, there is already a lot of work taking place on city-wide issues including tackling gridlock and focusing on transit.
Now that the election period is over, I am able to once again provide more regular updates through these e-newsletters. Please see below for information on some upcoming community events, public meetings and insight into local and city-wide issues.
As the number of people that served in the Great Wars continues to decline, it is increasingly important that our children learn about the heroic actions of Canadian soldiers, lest their sacrifices are forgotten. And it is perhaps just as important for the students to reflect on the freedoms and liberties that our brave men and women fought, and continue to fight, to preserve. It is also important to celebrate the meaningful role Canada plays in the international community as a peace-keeping nation.
As in previous years, I will be marking Remembrance Day at a Ward 22 school- this year at Maurice Cody PS. Sadly, the recent events in Ottawa and Quebec remind us all of the risks that face everyone who puts on a uniform.
May we never forget.
Working With Our New Mayor to Tackle Gridlock and Take Back Our Streets!
During the recent election, I heard from many of you that working together to continue tackling gridlock must be a top priority for this next term of Council. I am pleased that John Tory, our Mayor-elect, has also put improved traffic flow at the top of his agenda. He has signalled that he will move forward with several measures early in 2015 to address the problem.
The long-term solutions to gridlock include building a more accessible, affordable, extensive and efficient public transportation system including a relief subway line. But, in the meantime, there are steps we can right away take to help ensure a faster commute.
The practice of allowing developers to block lanes of traffic for construction negatively impacts motorists, surface transit users, pedestrians and cyclists. This usage of our streets causes bottlenecks, backing up traffic several blocks on major arterial roads, and can lead to inconvenient and, in some cases, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
In August of this year I moved a motion asking City staff to look at the feasibility of increasing the upfront fee for blocking a lane, to encourage developers to look for alternate solutions that do not negatively impact residents. My motion also proposes implementing escalating monthly fees for blocking a street lane to encourage developers to use a lane for the least amount of time possible.
The long term goal is to eliminate this practice altogether. Developers in New York are able to construct buildings without taking up traffic lanes or sidewalks; we should demand the same in Toronto.
New York has also banned delivery trucks from operating during rush hour. Far too often I see these vehicles parked in the curbed lane with their flashers on backing up traffic for blocks. Last year, I requested the city to develop a system that restricts deliveries to off-peak hours only. The previous administration had little interest in acting on this recommendation.
I look forward to assisting Mayor-elect Tory in any way I can to help get Toronto moving again by stopping developers and delivery companies from taking any more time away from our loved ones.
For more information, please see this Global News item.
Forest Hill Road Park Update
I'm happy to report that the new playground equipment at Forest Hill Road Park is now installed! The play structure strikes the perfect balance of providing lots of play equipment for our community's kids to enjoy, without over-powering the natural character of the park. Completion of the pathways is expected by the end of November to early December, due to weather set-backs and this shady site having remained very wet over past weeks.
Bike Parking for Hodgson Sr. P.S.
Earlier this year, concerns were expressed to me about a lack of bike parking at Hodgson Senior Public School. I met with City staff, school staff and local parents to discuss the possibility of installing bike racks at the school. I was recently informed by staff that this location is now a top priority for the upcoming year.
Hodgson Artificial Ice Rink Update
I'm delighted to report that there has been excellent progress with construction at our community's new and improved Hodgson Rink: the concrete pads have been poured, the hockey boards are now installed and the fencing around the pleasure rink is nearly completed! Barring any unforeseen obstacles, the rinks are expected to begin operating again by mid-December.
Meanwhile, I am also working with Lesley Stoyan and Chris Trussell of AppleTree Markets on getting our natural "Skinnama-Rink" up and running again this winter at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. We're now looking for community volunteers to help flood the rink over the course of the season. Please let me know by responding to this email, if this is something you would be willing to assist with and I will gladly provide you with more details on how you can support our wonderful community initiative.
Remembrance Day Ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Members of the public are invited to attend the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on November 11 beginning at 10 a.m. The event will honour and remember those who have served and given their lives for Canada in times of military conflict and peace. A delegation from Royal Canadian Air Force aviators will parade and lay poppy wreaths to represent our remembrance. The ceremony will be held at the steps of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Mausoleum.
Made-for-Toronto Local Appeal Body
The Province of Ontario granted the City of Toronto the power to establish a Local Appeal Body (LAB) to hear appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions on both minor variances and consent applications. The Local Appeal Body would be composed of such persons as the City considers advisable (subject to certain by-laws regarding such things as eligibility criteria and other restrictions). At its December 4th, 2013 meeting, City Council's Planning and Growth Management Committee requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director of City Planning to initiate a public consultation process on the establishment and implementation of this Local Appeal Body.
In June 2014, Council considered a staff report, including the results of the public consultation and recommended principles to guide implementation of LAB. The item, as amended, was passed at Council in July. I'm deeply grateful to the City's Planning and Growth Management Committee for completing this necessary first step in mitigating insensitive and unsustainable developments in our community and across our city. We now need to continue advocating to completely free Toronto from the OMB's purview with regard to other impactful planning decisions, such as large-scale development in our communities.
Stop Unfair Rent Increases
Our community's campaign to stop unfair rent increases has kicked into high gear. My motion to request the province to eliminate Above the Guideline Increases (AGIs) for basic upkeep and repairs passed Council in February 2014. Please read this Toronto Star article for more information. To learn how you can take action against spiraling rent increases and unexpected fees, please visit my page on AGIs.
Toronto Parent Summit
Toronto Children's Services will once again be hosting a Parent Summit- an opportunity for families to learn more about City services available to them, express their issues and concerns and provide feedback on how we can improve Toronto's child care system. The summit will take place Wednesday, November 19 at the City Hall Rotunda, 100 Queen St. W. There will be an information fair from 4-6 pm, followed by the consultation session from 6:30-8:30 pm. Representatives from Toronto Children's Services, Toronto Public Libraries and Toronto Public Health will all be on hand to talk to parents about programs and services available to them and their children. Parents can register online here or by calling 311 by Tuesday, November 18.
TTC Customer Town Hall
On November 20, the Toronto Transit Commission will be holding a Customer Town Hall at City Hall. This is an opportunity to present ideas, voice your opinion and ask questions of senior leaders at the TTC. Information will also be presented about ongoing progress at the TTC.
The schedule for the evening will be:
- 6 pm to 7 pm – Marketplace – Main Floor Rotunda – Display Area and One-on-One Discussions with Attendees
- 7 pm to 9 pm – Town Hall – Council Chambers – Open Forum
Ecumenical Christmas Food Drive
Churches in Rosedale, Moore Park and Leaside are again sponsoring a Christmas Drive (the 43nd consecutive) to assist local food banks and agencies that are in urgent need of help at this time of year. Flyers are delivered to area households on Saturday, November 22 and donations are then picked up on the following Saturday (November 29). There are two locations – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (OLPH) on St. Clair Avenue East, one block west of Mount Pleasant Road and Leaside Presbyterian Church on Eglinton Avenue, just east of Bayview Avenue.
Times on both days are from 10 am to 1 pm. Donations are sorted and packed at OLPH with same-day delivery to recipient food banks and agencies. In 2013, about 16,000 items were collected and it is hoped to better this figure this year as unfortunately the demand is still great. Upwards of 300 volunteers are required and community hours are available for high school students.
In addition, two local 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 collection numbers.
The Christmas Drive is a fun event for both families and young persons and supports a worthwhile cause to benefit the less fortunate members of our community.