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City Hall and Community Update for November 6, 2015

City of Toronto Museum at Old City Hall - One Step Closer

 

I am pleased to report that my colleagues supported our requests to reject recommendations to create a retail mall and move forward with a feasibility study for a City of Toronto Museum in Old City Hall, along with a public consultation process for the future of this iconic and historic buidling, at this week's Council meeting.

 

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.

 

I believe Toronto has a shameful track record when it comes 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.

 

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.


Council Rejects Inappropriate Development at 1417, 1421-1425, 1427 & 1429 Yonge St.

 

Also at Council this week, my colleagues supported my efforts to refuse an inappropriate development application at Yonge & St. Clair.

 

Earlier this year, an 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 and full Council.

 

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.


Province Provides Full Funding for New Davisville Public School

 

Last week, our local St. Paul’s MPP Dr. Eric Hoskins announced $14,742,268 in provincial funding for a new Davisville Junior Public School. The provincially-funded project will accommodate 728 elementary students and a new Full-Day Kindergarten class.

 

I want to thank Dr. Hoskins and Trustee Shelley Laskin for their hard work to support our community. This initiative means that the TDSB will no longer be required to sell land on the Davisville site to fund a new school. I look forward to joining both local representatives and Education Minister Liz Sandals to officially announce the project this coming Monday.

 

I will continue to work with Dr. Hoskins, Trustee Laskin, Davisville parents, and local residents on a plan to provide enhanced recreation and other facilities as part of a Midtown Community Hub on this site.


City Launches 2016 Budget Process

 

The Budget Committee met today to launch the 2016 budget process by considering the City's Solid Waste, Water, and Parking Divisions. It will then consider Toronto's operating and capital budgets.

 

This is the beginning of a months long process culminating in full Council considering the budget next year. As always, I will host a Ward 22 Community Town Hall on the subject to help ensure that I am reflecting your priorities. I will announce the details of this meeting in the coming weeks in an update to you.

 

For more information, please visit the City of Toronto's 2016 BUDGET PAGE


Update on Midtown Power Outages

 

I've heard from many of you that recurring power outages over the past several months have been disrupting your daily lives, from resetting alarm clocks to damaging electronic devices. My family and I have also been affected by these outages and share your frustrations, not only about the inconveniences they can cause but also the dramatic increase in the frequency at which they are occurring compared to past years.

 

I do understand, and even appreciate the fact, that upgrading their infrastructure is important and necessary. However, have made repeated requests to Toronto Hydro, asking them to share all information available with the public about the cause of these outages and what is being done to reduce their frequency. I have met with several of their staff over the past few months, including speaking with their president this week. I am disappointed that they don't automatically provide residents with basic and relevant information about projects that might affect their lives (remember when their new poles arrived, often placed right in the middle of our sidewalks or what it was like during the ice storm 2 years ago?) - I am advocating to change the way they communicate so that we all recieve timely and relevant information.

 

My office was initially told that their work on upgrading hydro infrastructure in our midtown area would be completed by the end of September. Obviously Toronto Hydro has not met these timelines.

 

Please see below the information sent to my office today from Toronto Hydro. They have provided some rationale for these ongoing outages and have noted that they will not be able to provide updated timelines for the completion of this work until they receive further approval from the Ontario Energy Board.

 

I will be sure to provide this information to you, once it is relayed to me by Toronto Hydro.

 

If you continue to experience outages in the meantime, or have any other issues you'd like to share regarding their service, please contact Toronto Hydro directly at 416-542-8000.

 

Here is, verbatim, what they shared with me today:

 

Toronto Hydro Improving Power Reliability in our Community

 

Like other infrastructure in our city, Toronto Hydro is facing challenges with aging equipment. Since 2007, they have invested $2.9 billion in asset renewal representing their largest investment in over 50 years. Reliability has steadily improved and their investments are working, but more is needed. Since 2013, Toronto Hydro has invested approximately $20 million in Ward 22 and continues to invest in projects to provide safe and reliable power in our community.

 

One of the major capital projects currently in progress involves replacing 1950s overhead box construction in the Davisville Village. The benefits of this multi-phase, $19 million project will be:

·         New equipment. Many of the parts and tools for the older equipment are no longer manufactured.

·         Increased capacity. Although the system currently has enough energy to supply our homes, Toronto Hydro is planning for the future needs of our rapidly growing city.

·         Robust design for major weather events.

·         Improved overhead design to prevent nuisance outages from tree and animal contacts.

 

Toronto Hydro has completed 3 of 6 phases. Once the Ontario Energy Board approves their 2015-2019 rates application, a timeline for the final phases of this project will be announced. Visit the Toronto Hydro PowerUp website for more information on capital projects in Ward 22. http://www.poweruptoronto.ca/projects/map

 

Why is my power going out?

 

Power interruptions have many causes. Approximately 60% of outages that residents have experienced are related to foreign interference and weather related issues which are difficult to control. These outages may be caused by animal contacts (such as squirrels and racoons) or tree contacts (especially during storms or periods of heavy winds). To mitigate these interferences Toronto Hydro is:

·         Installing animal guards as part of the overhead projects

·         Providing regular tree trimming, with plans to expand the maintenance program pending regulatory approval

 

The remaining 40% of the outages in the area are due to aging and defective equipment. Capital projects to help mitigate these outages include:

·         Overhead rebuilds and underground cable replacements

·         System designs to reduce the number of homes affected when an outage does occur

 

Toronto Hydro differentiates between two types of outages:

 

Sustained outage: last more than a minute and can be very disruptive. Fortunately they do not happen often, but Toronto Hydro dispatches a crew to manually restore power for you.

 

Momentary Outage: last less than a minute. These outages are annoying, but part of the system protecting itself and automatically restoring power. Most often these are caused by foreign interference.

 

Please note: Toronto Hydro endeavours to keep your power on during construction by switching between power sources. As part of this process, you may experience higher than normal momentary outages. Those residents who may be affected by planned sustained outages will be notified directly.


It's Official - Ward 22 Has a New Public Park at Manor Road and Forman Avenue!

 

I am absolutely delighted to announce that Ward 22 has officially acquired a new park space through a report that was approved at City Council back in May.

 

The sale/purchase agreement between the City and Manor Road United Church was finalized on Wednesday, Novemer 4.


Like many churches across our community, the Manor Road United Church at Forman Avenue and Manor Road has had to face the challenging reality of matching the size of their property with their current needs. After reviewing their options, the Church decided that it only needs half of the current property.


To avoid seeing this portion of the property sold for townhouses, I have worked with the Church to acquire the site, using development fees, for a new park. This new green space will occupy the eastern portion of the site, now occupied by the community hall. The church plans to use their funds to renovate their remaining structure to accommodate a variety of community services. I appreciate how civic-minded the church has been throughout this process.

 

In the new year, I plan to hold community meetings to gather feedback about how you would like to see our new park take shape.


St. Clair Reservoir Construction Schedule Update

 

City staff have provided the following update with regards to the St. Clair Reservoir rehabilitation project.  Here is a link to the City's Webpage with regards to this project – which is being updated throughout the construction process.

 

As a reminder regarding this project, The City of Toronto will be carrying out waterproofing and structure rehabilitation work to the St. Clair Reservoir at Sir Winston Churchill Park.  These necessary upgrades will help to ensure the structural integrity of the reservoir, extend its service life and bring the infrastructure to a state of good repair.

 

Work on the St. Clair Reservoir will begin in late Spring 2016 as follows:

 

Phase 1:  Spring 2016 to Spring 2017

·         West basin closed for construction

·         Dog park, 6 tennis courts and playground remain open

 

Phase 2:  Spring 2017 to Summer 2018

·         Entire park closed for construction

 

This schedule will allow for maximized public use of the park or portions thereof.  Pre-Construction and Construction Notices will be issued to the community well ahead of work starting to provide more detailed information about this planned work.


Age-Friendly Town Hall Meeting

 

During my first year as our city councillor, I initiated the City of Toronto’s Seniors’ Strategy: a proactive, holistic and inclusive initiative that seeks to create a truly accessible, respectful and age-friendly Toronto.

 

Now, I'm delighted to host an upcoming Age Friendly Town Hall along with the Toronto Council on Aging (TCA) to develop this important initiative further.

 

This town hall meeting will be a rallying point for seniors and issues of aging in Midtown Toronto, an information sharing event and a point of departure for TCA to talk about the Age Friendly Project and get community champions and volunteers on board to help with this important initiative.

 

I plan to hold this event at 7pm on Tuesday, November 24 in the sanctuary of Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge Street). **Please note this location change since my previous e-newsletter**

 

I hope to see you there!


Safe and Accessible Crossing for the Beltline Park Trail

Many trail users have expressed their concerns regarding the lack of safe pedestrian-cyclist crossings where the Beltline meets Oriole Parkway and Avenue Road. Currently there is no safe crossing point that allows the trail to be truly contiguous for residents. Last year, I requested City Staff to report to Community Council with viable options to install signalized crossings at these locations that are synchronized with the existing signalized intersections. Staff recommendations to install a signalized crossing on Avenue Road south of Chaplin Crescent and replace the existing traffic median on Oriole Parkway with a pedestrian-cyclist refuge island have been approved by both Community Council and City Council. I am pleased to announce that both of these projects are now being completed.


Remembrance Day Ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery

 

Members of the public are invited to attend a Remembrance Day Ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on November 11, to honour and remember those who have given their lives in all branches of the military while in the service of their country in times of war, conflict and peace. Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force from 16 Wing Borden will parade and lay poppy wreaths at the steps of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Mausoleum near the monument dedicated to the most decorated war hero in the history of Canada,  the British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations, Lieutenant-Colonel/Wing Commander William Barker, VC, DSO, MC.

 

Please gather with residents and the students of Hodgson Senior PS at the front steps of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Mausoleum (bewteen the Yonge Street and Mount Pleasant Road entrances) at 10am. A moment of Silence will be observed at 11am.


Reminder: Annual Ecumenical Christmas Food Drive

 

Churches in Rosedale, Moore Park and Leaside are again sponsoring a Christmas Drive (the 44th 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 21 and donations are then picked up on the following Saturday, November 28. There are two locations. The first is Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church  (OLPH) on St. Clair Avenue East, one block west of Mount Pleasant Road. The other is St. Cuthbert’s  Church  on Bayview Avenue, south of Millwood Road near Humphreys Funeral Home  -  please note that this is a changed location from Leaside Presbyterian because of the LRT construction on Eglinton Avenue.

 

Times on both days are from 9:30am until around 1pm. Donations are sorted and packed at OLPH with same-day delivery to recipient food banks and agencies. Last year, around 15,000 items were collected and we hope to do even better this year as, unfortunately, the demand is still great. Upwards of 300 volunteers are required and community hours are available for high school students who require them for graduation or other reasons.

 

Also, two area 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 10/15,000 to the overall total

 

It is a fun event for both families and young persons and supports a worthwhile cause to benefit the less fortunate members of our community.

 

If further information is required, please contact the Campaign Chair, Brian Kearney, at 416-972-0585 or by e-mail at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


1920's Evening Costume Workshop at Spadina Museum

 

Looking for a creative and crafty evening out? Spadina Museum will be hosting a special evening tour followed by a hand on workshop to create a fascinator or cocktail hat for your upcoming holiday parties. This workshop will take place Friday, November 20, 7 to 10 p.m. To pre-register call 416-392-6910 or find more details here.


The Austins During the Great War at Spadina Museum

 

There will be a special program this weekend in honour of Remembrance Day to view The Great War from the lens of the Austin Family. Their story typifies Toronto's Great War experience by enduring the terrors, demands and sacrifices of modern war-fare. This unique Toronto History event will take place Saturday, November 7 & Sunday, November 8 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m


Toronto Ward Boundary Review Public Survey Ending Soon. Share your thoughts

 

In conjunction with the public consultation meetings over the past month, The Toronto Ward Boundary Review has a survey available to share your opinion about the 5 ward boundary options.  The survey will be wrapping up on November 15th so please click here to have your say!


City of Toronto working on a Tree Planting Strategy

 

The City of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division, in consultation with Toronto Water, Transportation Services, City Planning and Economic Development and Culture, will develop a Tree Planting Strategy to inspire action to reach the City's target of 40 per cent tree canopy cover over the next 30 to 40 years. The development of the strategy will also involve consultation with residents, the public, internal and external stakeholders and community partners.

 

Toronto currently has 26.6 per to 28 per cent tree canopy cover, representing 10.2 million trees. About 40 per cent of these trees are on City lands, with the remaining 60 per cent on private lands. The City will work with community stakeholders to develop a planting strategy that focuses on increasing tree planting and stewardship on private lands.

 

The public is invited to provide input through an online survey here or by attending one of the upcoming public meetings:

  • Monday, November 16, Scarborough Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 150 Borough Dr., 6:30 to 9 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 17, Etobicoke Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 399 The West Mall, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
  • Monday, November 30, Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 2, 100 Queen St. W., 6:30 to 9 p.m.

 

More information about the Tree Planting Strategy is available here.


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).


For ongoing council and community news, my contact information, along with a calendar of events, please visit www.joshmatlow.caClick here to read my previous city hall and community updates.


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