I hope you find my most recent update to you below interesting and informative. City Council just concluded a three day meeting that was productive but clearly demonstrated to me a need to improve the way council conducts our city's business. I share Mayor Tory's interest in raising the level of civility and decorum during our public debates and better placing council's focus on Toronto's priorities. I am still optimistic, despite the behavior of a few, that this new era at city hall will be one we can be proud of.
I wish each of you who will be celebrating with your family and friends, a very Happy Easter and/or Passover.
As always, please feel welcome to contact me if I can be of assistance to you.
Council Confirmed My Appointment as Chair of the City-School Boards Committee
This week, City Council's Striking Committee recommended that I serve as Chair of the City-School Boards Advisory Committee. The City of Toronto and its local school boards serve a common constituency. This Committee seeks to ensure that both levels of local government work better together to improve their service to residents on a wide array of issues of common interest.
On issues including sale of school property, school pools, and childcare to the status of neighbourhood school facilities such as libraries and fields, our residents want the City and the School Boards to break through our respective silos. In this period of scarce resources, it is incumbent upon elected representatives and staff from both bodies to work together to maximize public assets and serve our communities well.
During this week’s meeting, I believe Council had an honest and thoughtful discussion on Schools as Community Assets. Included in our work plan, Council has given our committee a mandate and responsibility to try to ensure community uses for schools, including child care, green spaces, recreation, Brownies & Girls Guides, ESL classes and others, are considered when a site is considered for closure or sale.
Mayor Tory and I want this new Committee to provide an opportunity for Councillors and Trustees to work in partnership, and with a spirit of inclusivity, with Parent and Community advocates, the Ministry of Education, City and School Board staff from many divisions including Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, City Planning, and Childcare to establish new community hubs and work together on matters of common interest to the City of Toronto, the TDSB and TCDSB, the French boards and, most importantly, Toronto residents and their families.
Tenant Issues Committee
Council also confirmed Striking Committee’s recommendation that I Chair the City’s Tenant Issues Advisory Committee. Tenants make up over 50% of Toronto's residents and have specific rights and responsibilities that are governed by City of Toronto by-laws and provincial legislation. Tenants have the right to live in a clean, well-maintained home and deserve fair representation when being faced with unfair rent increases or eviction.
Far too often, I hear from renters that are living in apartments where these basic needs are not being met. I will work with my colleagues to ensure that this Committee provides a place for tenants to voice their concerns, and serves as a catalyst for bringing together disparate City Divisions, including Licensing & Standards, City Planning and Solid Waste, to work together to support Toronto’s tenants and advocate for needed reforms.
Open Letter to Federal Transportation Minister Raitt on Rail Safety
The recent rail accidents in Northern Ontario demonstrate the risks associated with train derailments and many Toronto residents remain concerned about the transportation of dangerous goods by rail through our city.
That’s why Mayor Tory, myself and all councillors, from every political perspective, whose wards are traversed by the CP Rail line across Toronto recently took an unprecedented step to send an open letter to the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Lisa Raitt, to advocate for rail safety for our communities and for improved transparency and accountability.
While we appreciate steps already taken by the Federal government to improve rail safety, we are requesting that the Government of Canada take further action to protect Toronto's residents.
Please click here to read the the full letter and recommendations.
Ward 22 Parks Improvements Update
Last week, I hosted a community meeting regarding upgrading the Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. I received very positive feedback from local residents and look forward to working together with our community on the next steps. Please see this article on Inside Toronto for more information.
Glebe Manor Square and the Belsize Parkette will be receiving improvements such as tree planting to increase the forest canopy and locating well-worn paths. I hosted our final community meeting this February to confirm the vision with local residents.
The playground at Forest Hill Road Park was also recently upgraded, with additions such as a new rope bridge. I am now initiating improvements to Lawton Parkette and Glen Edyth Park that will include, and be guided by, neighbourhood consultation.
Heritage Update and New Interactive Map of Ward 22 Heritage Properties
The recent demolition of Stollerys at 1 Bloor W. is only the latest example of Toronto’s inability to preserve its built heritage. If we don’t act soon to strengthen our preservation policies, we are in danger of losing many more significant properties, including several in our midtown community.
That’s why I’m happy to report that Council adopted my motion earlier this year, requesting City Planning staff to create a new heritage classification category that is more proactive. If implemented, my new “identified” category will allow the City to protect the 1500 nominated properties that have yet to be evaluated for architectural or historical significance, to ensure that no potentially heritage-worthy structure already brought to the attention of City staff can be demolished without consideration. This additional protection must be put in place as soon as possible.
Also, I have developed the city's first interactive map of heritage properties. This particular map shows all heritage properties located in Ward 22, according to the City of Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties. I hope you find this map enjoyable and informative as a glimpse into our community’s built history and cultural past.
For more information on my efforts to preserve our city’s heritage, please see this article.
A review of the noise bylaw, Chapter 591 of the Toronto Municipal Code, is being undertaken to respond to City Council directives.
As part of Municipal Licencing and Standards Division's engagement with the public, a survey was launched on March 31st. This survey will ask the public to identify the types of noise which are most disruptive, the impact noise has on Toronto’s inhabitants and will ask for suggestions on how the City can improve its communications about this bylaw. The public will be able to complete the survey until April 24th.
Municipal Licensing and Standards is planning to report on information obtained from the public and identify proposed bylaw amendments to Licensing and Standards Committee at its meeting of June 25, 2015.
In early 2012, NAV Canada changed the flight patterns of aircraft approaching and leaving Toronto Pearson International Airport. Many residents have contacted me and reported disturbances from increased air traffic noise including during overnight hours. Some have described the noise as living under an "air super-highway" and find the volume and frequency of flights intolerable.
I brought a motion to City Council to have City of Toronto officials meet with representatives from NAV Canada, the federal Ministry of Transportation, and other relevant bodies to find a less intrusive flight path that respects the needs of Toronto residents to live without excessive noise pollution. I am following up with the City Manager on the status of actions Council requested him to take.
I continue to work together with the Toronto Aviation Noise Group (TANG) to advocate for the Federal government to address these concerns directly. Several of my colleagues and I signed an open letter to the Minister of Transport on this issue and in support of TANG's Inch Report that offers innovative and effective solutions to this problem created by NAV Canada three years ago. Please click here to read the full report.
South Eglinton Ratepayers' & Residents' Association Annual General Meeting
This year, SERRA's Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday, April 23, from 6:30 pm – 9 pm at the Manor Road United Church (240 Manor Road East, Main Hall). I will be there to provide an update on community and City Hall issues.
This meeting is a great opportunity for you to provide input on issues of importance to the South Eglinton/Davisville Village community. Please visit www.southeglinton.ca for more information.
Forest Hill Art Club Annual Show & Sale
The Forest Hill Art Club, founded in 1948, is holding its annual show and sale of members' work from April 24-27. Over 20 artists working in a variety of media and styles will be exhibiting.
Opening Reception: Friday, April 24, 6 pm – 9 pm
Show: Saturday, April 25, 1 pm – 5 pm & Sunday, April 26, 1 pm – 5 pm
Location: Forest Hill Art Club Studio, 666 Eglinton Avenue West (east of Forest Hill Library)
A Day to Engage and Improve Our Community!
100In1Day, a festival of civic engagement, returns to Toronto for its second year on June 6, 2015. 100 in 1 Day is the perfect chance to test run a simple, low-cost idea for a better city, stronger community or more resilient neighbourhood. Share your vision for a better city and connect with the community by hosting an urban intervention on June 6.
More information, resources and details on upcoming workshops for 100in1Day are available through the festival’s website.
Calling all Green Thumbs! Volunteer Positions with the Oriole Park Community Garden
Nominations for the Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards
Do you know an individual or a community group who is making a difference in Toronto by reducing barriers to civic participation? Celebrate their accomplishments and nominate them for an award!
The Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards recognize significant efforts of Toronto residents who are working to build a city in which all residents are full and equal participants in the social, cultural, economic, recreational and political life of the city. Each year, the City celebrates the contributions made by nominated citizens or groups at an awards ceremony.
The deadline for submitting nominations is Monday, May 11, 2015. Nominees must be residents of the City of Toronto.
To nominate and for more information, please click here.
Upcoming City Planning Community Consultation Meetings
55 Eglinton Avenue East
Monday, April 20, 7 pm – 9 pm, Northern District Library
This application proposes a 47-storey mixed-use commercial and residential building containing a total of 455 residential units. The proposed building is composed of a 5-storey base building with a 42-storey tower above
1 Eglinton Avenue East
May 11, 2015, 7 pm - 9 pm, Northern District Library
This application proposes a 68-storey mixed-use residential building with retail at grade, commercial office in the base building, 672 residential units and 26 live/work units. A total of 287 parking spaces is proposed underground.
Toronto Council on Aging is pleased to announce Neighbourhood-Based Age-Friendly Plan for Deer Park
The number of seniors living in Toronto will increase dramatically during the next decade. As a strong advocate for seniors, I'm pleased to support the Toronto Council on Aging in their plans to create an Age-Friendly Business Assessment plan for the Deer Park area.
Partial Closure of Spadina Road South of St. Clair Avenue for Bridge Work
The southbound traffic lane of Spadina Road will be closed from St. Clair Avenue to Russell Hill Drive from April 6 to August 31 for bridge rehabilitation work. Northbound traffic on Spadina Road will be maintained at all times. Avenue Road and Bathurst Street are alternative routes in the area.
Proposed Developments in Ward 22
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).