With our kids going back to school and workplaces back at full speed (perhaps except for when the Blue Jays are playing), the month after Labour Day can be a very busy time. The last few weeks at City Hall have been no different, where Council has debated important issues, including voting reform, support for Syrian Refugees, combatting traffic and gridlock, transit and the future of Old City Hall.
In our community, I have had the opportunity to work with many of you to help mitigate the impacts development pressure, moving forward on creating a Midtown Community Hub, improve the safety of our local streets, build new playgrounds and improve our parks, along with working on solutions to challenges faced by local neighbourhoods, streets and individual residents every day. I'm always happy to support you if you need me.
Please also feel welcome to follow me on Twitter.
I hope that you are able to enjoy a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving with your friends and family this long weekend.
And meanwhile, Go Jays Go!
Advance Polling Locations for Federal Election Open this Weekend
As most of you are aware, the federal election date is October 19th. However, you can also vote in advance polls starting today, October 9th, through to October 12th. For more information, including poll locations please visit the Elections Canada website.
Whatever party you support, please make sure that you express to the candidates that a fairer deal for cities is crucial. Let them know that the federal government needs to contribute significant, long-term funding to support affordable housing, transit, childcare and priorities that are important to Midtown residents.
Please note that the boundaries for this election have been changed. Those of you living west of Mount Pleasant will still be in St. Paul’s, while those living east of Mount Pleasant will now be voting in Don Valley West.
The Future of Old City Hall
Old City Hall is one of the few sites in Toronto recognized by the Federal government as having historical value. Indeed, it was our city's seat of government from 1899 to 1966.
Toronto has a shameful track record in regards to preserving its heritage. Moreover, even when Toronto has been successful at protecting important buildings, the efforts have largely resulted in a literally hollow conservation practice known as façadism. Heritage preservation should extend deeper than a building's exterior. One need only look at the increasing number of churches being converted from places of congregation to private residences to see that Toronto is still losing its past, even if the physical shell of that building remains intact.
That’s why I was disappointed to see a report to Government Management Committee this past week recommending that Old City Hall be used as a mall with home décor and beauty stores.
Since 2012, I have been actively working to establish a City of Toronto museum at Casa Loma's under-utilized North Campus. While I still think this location is feasible, there is no question that Old City Hall is a more desirable place for this purpose from a geographic, historical, and functional perspective.With the Province opting not to renew its lease for provincial courts, we have a rare opportunity to finally move forward with a City Museum in a building that merits showcasing Toronto's dynamic history.
We have an opportunity to do much more than perform "heritage taxidermy" at our Old City Hall.
For more information please read my motion to Government Management Committee.
Ranked Ballots (Election Reform) Setback at City Council
In a surprise move, several Councillors reversed their previous support for Ranked Ballots by clearly asking the Province not to give the City of Toronto the power to implement voting reform. This was not simply a request for further consultation as some councillors have suggested.
Last June, the provincial government announced that it would provide the City of Toronto with the option of using ballots that allow voters to use ranked ballots, starting in 2018. Ranked ballots allow a voter to rank candidates in order of preference --first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. -- instead of just voting for one candidate. The Province has provided an example of a ranked ballot election here.
Under the new system, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote after all the first place votes are counted, the 2nd place votes are considered, and so on until an individual on the ballot receives a majority of votes. If adopted by Council, this change could give voters more influence on who wins an election, which it is hoped will help increase voter turnout.
The provincial government has stated that the benefits of ranked ballots may also include:
Reduction in strategic voting, which may occur when a voter decides not to pick their first choice candidate in an election because they think their first choice candidate may not win the election. Reduction in negative campaigning — since voters can rank multiple candidates, is an incentive for candidates to appeal to voters not just as a first preference vote but also to gain a high ranking from supporters of other candidates, encouraging more candidates to remain in the race until voting day, since the threat of “splitting the vote” between like-minded candidates is reduced.
The Province’s announcement in favour of ranked ballots is in response to a request for changes to the Municipal Elections Act made by the City of Toronto in 2013. I also want to recognize the efforts of local activist and personal friend, Dave Meslin. Mr. Meslin has been a tireless advocate for citizen engagement and has spent many years pushing for this voting reform. I will continue working with him to advance this important reform. You can read more about ranked ballots through his website.
Making Toronto a Tech-Friendly City and Bridging the Digital Divide
I am pleased to report that my motion to have Staff explore the feasibility of providing free Wi-Fi in our city’s parks, squares and Civic Centres, along with Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) buildings and privately-owned public spaces (POPS) was supported by the Economic Development Committee.
Providing free public Wi-Fi in our parks and public spaces will signal to technology developers that Toronto is a tech-savvy jurisdiction and an excellent place to settle and do business. Also, free public Wi-Fi is an indispensable amenity for an increasing number of global tourists. International cellular data is expensive and inaccessible for most travellers who instead have to rely on infrequent and unreliable hotspots in some cafés or hotel lobbies. Finally, the internet has become the essence of global communications, an invaluable informational and educational tool that should be accessible to all Torontonians, irrespective of income. It is vital that we overcome the “digital divide” and break down the barriers to affordable internet service by providing free public Wi-Fi at all Toronto Community Housing Corporation locations.
For more information, please see this Toronto Star editorial
1417, 1421-1425, 1427 & 1429 Yonge St. Public Meeting
Earlier this year, an inappropriate application was submitted for a 42-storey mixed-use building at 1417-1429 Yonge St. just south of St. Clair. At a well-attended community meeting this past June, we heard from City Planning Staff that this proposed development is too tall and dense for the site, leaving very little room on the sidewalk and no additional public space, which is typical for a building of this size. As well, this condo would put added stress on the already overcrowded rear laneway. There is even concern that delivery vehicles, taxis, cars, and other vehicles accessing the proposed site could interfere with the St. Clair streetcar where it turns into the station.
As a result of these - and other - concerns, I was pleased that my colleagues supported my motion to move City Planning’s refusal report at Community Council earlier this week. Unfortunately, the applicant now has the option to appeal the decision at the Ontario Municipal Board.
While I strongly agree that the Yonge & St. Clair area is in need of revitalization, this specific development proposal is inappropriate from functional and aesthetic perspectives. We are hopeful that the applicant opts to revise their plans and submit a more appropriate proposal instead of fighting the City and our community at the OMB.
256 Chaplin Crescent
Many of you may be aware of the request for variances at 256 Chaplin Crescent. I am pleased to share that the Committee of Adjustment supported my request to refuse the application for variances when it came before them on September 24th.
I heard from many residents who had some serious concerns about the impact this particular project would have on them, if the developer were to get their way and demolish the exisiting two storey home and replace it with a larger home and integral garage. The property is on a ravine protected lot, and it would have meant that as many as 29 trees would have been significantly impacted on the property. In addition, many trees on neighbouring properties would have been injured as a result of this proposal in its current form.
Along with Urban Forestry and local residents, I asked the Committee of Adjustment to reject this application. The developer now has the option to appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, and I will continue my opposition on behalf of our community if that happens.
Ward 22 Parks Update
I have been working closely with parents throughout Ward 22 on improvements to our local parks. This includes a recently-installed accessible swing set at Pottery Park playground and upcoming improvements to the playground equipment at Glenn Gould Park.
Currently under construction is exciting new playground equipment and a music garden at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park, as well as improvements to the tree canopy, plantings and drainage at the Belsize parkettes. Both of these projects are anticipated to be completed before the winter.
Another Successful Season for our Davisville Farmers' Market!
I'm delighted by the success of Ward 22's fourth community farmers' market at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. Once again, the market ran between 3 and 7 PM from May to October, transforming the park into a temporary town square where you were sure to see your friends and neighbours while buying fresh produce, fish, meats, chocolate, and so much more.
AppleTree Markets, a local Ward 22 non-profit organization (co-founded my friends and local residents, Lesley Stoyan and Chris Trussell) runs the market with an emphasis on local produce and promoting green living in an urban neighbourhood. In 2013, AppleTree also formed the CIA (Communites in Action) task force to tackle the design of a unique, one-of-a-kind park land for June Rowlands (Davisville) Park that truly reflected the rich history and artistic influence of Davisville Village. I am thrilled to be working together with this hard-working group, as well as Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison, to improve this wonderful park in our community.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Davisville farmers' market again next spring!
Sarah's Food Drive
Please join me on Saturday, October 10 for a community BBQ at McDowell’s Valu-Mart (1500 Bayview Avenue). The event will run from 11am-3pm and feature a BBQ, cotton candy, ice cream, face painting and a visit from our local firefighters.
Also, please feel welcome to drop off any non-perishable goods in the specially marked bins in the store or buy a pre-bagged bag of groceries for the Daily Bread Food Bank.
This fall, the Friends of the Beltline Clean-up will take place on Sunday, October 18 from 10am to 12pm, beginning at Forest Hill Road Park. Please join me and the Beltline community in cleaning up our unique trail!
Proposed Eglinton Crosstown LRT Station Name Changes
Yesterday I met with representatives from Metrolinx, who presented the designs for the new Eglinton Crosstown stations that will be traverse our ward.
They also advised me they have recently completed a study on wayfinding harmonization including station, stop and interchange naming. In an effort to make transit easier to navigate and avoid customer confusion across their regional network, they have proposed changing the names of two of the Crosstown Stations in our ward.
Metrolinx is proposing to rename Avenue Road Station – "Oriole Park", and Bayview Station – "Leaside". Metrolinx is looking for your input on these names. For more information, please click here.
Please feel welcome to let me know if you have suggestions! I'd appreciate your feedback and ideas.
Toronto Archives Exhibition Explores Building and Transportation Visions that 'Might Have Been' for Toronto
Using archival maps, plans, photographs and models, the exhibit examines significant municipal projects – housing, road and transit proposals – that were either never realized or else were built to realize one design among competing design proposals.
The exhibit, which will be on display until next summer, illuminates how one can learn a lot about a city by what it builds and also what it chooses not to build. It tells a story of preferences, priorities, politics and economics in Toronto.
This free exhibit is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4:30pm and will also be open from 10am to 4:30pm each Saturday from October 17 until the end of April 2016.
More information about this exhibit is available at http://www.toronto.ca/archives.
Protect Your Pipes From Freezing this Winter
With the cold weather approaching, it is important to take steps now to protect your pipes from freezing, which can leave you with no water and cause your pipes to burst, leading to expensive property damage.
The most important step is to insulate the pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls, and in crawl spaces, the attic and garage. It is also important to seal air leaks around windows and doors, and to disconnect hoses and drain the outdoor water supply before the first frost.
The Probus Club Wants You!
I look forward to addressing the Probus Central Toronto Group at their meeting on October 14 at 11am!
Halloween Haunted House at Deer Park Library
The Deer Park Library would like you to join them for a Halloween fright with a walk through their room of spooky things!
This all-ages children's event will take place on Saturday October 31 from 2pm-4pm at Deer Park library (40 St. Clair Ave East), Room 204.
For more information on all upcoming class and program offerings at Deer Park Library, please click here.
Townhouse and Low-Rise Apartment Guidelines
The City of Toronto is in the process of producing city-wide "Townhouse and Low-rise Apartment Guidelines". The purpose of the guidelines is to assist in achieving the appropriate design of low-rise, primarily residential buildings for a range of building types from townhouses, through to stacked and back-to-back townhouses and low-rise apartment buildings. The guidelines will build upon and replace the "Infill Townhouse Guidelines" which have been in use by the City of Toronto for over 10 years. They will address infill townhouse developments as well as mid to larger sites and the more complex and intense types of low-rise, multi-unit development in terms of site context, site organization, building massing, detailed design and private and public realm.
As part of the consultation process for the new guidelines, the City is interested in finding out what your experience has been living in stacked and back-to-back townhouses, and how it can be improved.
Please take the survey by clicking here.
Metrolinx Accessibility Public Meetings
Metrolinx is inviting you to participate in their 2015 Accessibility Public Meetings that will take place across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. They want to hear from you about the accessibility of GO Transit, PRESTO, UP Express, and their upcoming Rapid Transit services and projects.
The meetings will take place at the following locations/dates:
Toronto Tuesday, October 20, 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
55 John Street
Rooms 308 & 309 (third floor)
Teleconference Wednesday, November 18, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Phone-in meeting; TTY will not be available
RSVP required; please submit questions and comments in advance of meeting
Teleconference details will be provided to registrants
Bayview Art Tour and Sale
The Bayview Art Tour and Sale has been shining a light on the works of local artists for the past 15 years. Now in its fifteenth year, they are expecting to repeat their fantastic numbers from 2014, in participants and visitors.
The Bayview Art Tour venues lie in the general area bounded by Mt. Pleasant Road, Laird Avenue, Broadway Avenue and East Moore Park. Each venue hosts 1+ artist(s) who display and promote their unique and original artwork. BAT venues are distinguished by bright yellow balloons marking each location and are promoted extensively throughout your local community and the GTA.
This year's tour dates are Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18 from 11am to 5pm in various venues throughout your local neighbourhood.
For more information on the Bayview Art Tour 15th anniversary event, please click here.
Glen Edyth Park Playground Improvements Public Meeting
Please join me on Wednesday, October 21 at 7pm to discuss playground improvements for Glen Edyth Park.
The meeting will take place in the atrium at the Toronto Archives (255 Spadina Road). I hope to see you there!
390 Spadina Road Public Meeting
An application has been submitted to City Planning to construct a 9-storey mixed-use building at this location, consisting of 46 residential units (18 one-bedroom, 28 two-bedroom) with a total residential gfa of 6,587 square metres and 694 square metres of commercial retail space on the ground floor. A total of 71 parking spaces are proposed on three below grade levels.
While this development is actually located in Ward 21 (on the west side of Spadina Road), it will obviously impact many Ward 22 residents directly across Spadina Road and throughout the Ward 22 portiont of Forest Hill Village. I encourage you to attend this public meeting to learn more about this proposal and have your voice heard.
The public meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 20 at 7pm at Grace Church On-the-Hill (300 Lonsdale Road).
Toronto Public Library Strategic Plan 2016-2019 Requests Your Feedback
Toronto Public Library is creating a new Strategic Plan to guide service delivery over the next four years. All Toronto residents are invited to provide their input into the strategic planning process by completing a brief online survey at http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/telltpl. A print version (PDF) of the survey is also available for downloading, and can be completed and returned to staff at any branch. Residents requiring assistance completing the survey can call TPL’s Answerline at 416-393-7131 / TTY: 416-393-7030.
· Wednesday, October 14 at Albion Branch, 6-8 p.m. 416-394-5170
· Thursday, October 15 at Morningside Branch, 6-8 p.m. 416-396-8881
· Tuesday, October 20 at Dawes Road Branch, 6-8 p.m. 416-396-3820
· Thursday, October 22 at Jane/Sheppard Branch, 6-8 p.m. 416-395-5966
· Wednesday, October 28 at Parkdale Branch, 6-8 p.m. 416-393-7686
· Thursday, October 29 at Mount Dennis Branch, 6-8 p.m. 416-394-1008
Please join the conversation about what you need and want from your public library over the next four years.