REMINDER: Community Skating Party with Josh Matlow, Rob Oliphant & Carolyn Bennett!
I'm excited to be co-hosting a community skating party with our local MPs, Rob Oliphant and Carolyn Bennett at Hodgson Ice Rink (East of Mt. Pleasant, on Davisville behind Hodgson school). Please join us from 1pm to 3pm on Sunday, February 7 for a fun, family-friendly afternoon with free coffee and hot chocolate.
I look forward to seeing you there!
REMINDER: Councillor Josh Matlow's 2016 City of Toronto Budget Town Hall Meeting
On Thursday, February 11 at 7pm, I will be hosting my 2016 Budget Town Hall for Ward 22 residents at Yorkminister Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge Street.
The City of Toronto's budget will affect virtually every City service and your feedback is very important to me. I hope you will be able to attend.
If you would like more information on the proposed 2016 City of Toronto Budget in advance of my Town Hall meeting, please click here.
Midtown Community Hub Public Meeting: The future of the Davisville PS site
I have been working with a group of dedicated local parents who have formed a Midtown Community Hub advocacy group. Many of them have been involved in advocating for a new, state-of-the-art school at Davisville PS for the past five years.
Together, we have also identified additional uses on this site that would benefit the wider community such a recreation (gym and pool) and community space.
Please join us to discuss the future of the Davisville PS site at 7pm on Tuesday, February 16th at Greenwood College School, Room 103, 443 Mt Pleasant Rd.
To read a news article that explains more about this issue, click here.
City of Toronto Labour Negotiations- Update
The City of Toronto received a No Board report from the Ontario Ministry of Labour yesterday. The City requested a No Board report from the Ministry with regard to collective bargaining with the Toronto Civic Employees' Union (TCEU) Local 416 (CUPE) on January 29.
The No Board report means that Local 416 will be in a legal strike position and the City in a legal lockout position as of 12:01 a.m., or one minute past midnight, on the morning of Friday, February 19.
In the event of a labour disruption with Local 416, which represents approximately 4,200 outside workers, the City of Toronto will implement its contingency plans to address the operation of key City services that will be affected. These plans will be broadly communicated.
The TTC, Police and Fire Services and the City's Long-Term Care Homes and Services, Toronto Public Library and Toronto Community Housing properties would not be affected. In addition, the City and its unions are required to have agreements in place that will maintain essential Toronto Paramedic Services (Ambulance).
I have been informed by the City Manager that the City remains committed to negotiating a new collective agreement. I am hopeful that a resolution will be found that avoids any service disruptions.
I will be certain to keep you informed as this very important issue progresses.
A Plan for Scarborough Transit- Time to move forward
Scarborough residents have for too long been without adequate access to Toronto's rapid transit system. As many of you are aware, Mayor Tory and Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat presented a report to the Mayor’s Executive Committee last week detailing a new transit plan for Scarborough. This plan replaces the 3 stop Scarborough subway extension with a proposal that includes:
· A one stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway to Scarborough Town Centre on a McCowan Road alignment
· Crosstown East - an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus
· A SmartTrack station at Lawrence Avenue East
The Mayor has stated that the one stop subway extension and seventeen stop LRT can be built within roughly the same funding envelope as the previous three stop subway.
I appreciate that Mayor Tory has recognized that the evidence simply did not support the previous subway plan for Scarborough.
This new plan will see over 4 times as many people living within 500m of a rapid transit station than the previous subway plan. The stark difference in riders served, despite the similar funding, illustrates the advantages of providing at-grade transit in areas where this is feasible. I also want to see the Scarborough Centre, a designated growth node, to reach its potential and intend to work with Council, especially my Scarborough colleagues, on this urban place-making project.
To be candid, I'm still convinced that the seven stop LRT, in a completely traffic-separated hydro corridor, would've provided better service for Scarborough and cost all of us less money.
However, now that the Mayor has brought a much more reasonable proposal to the table, I believe it is incumbent upon me to work contructively with him, and the rest of my colleagues, to deliver the best and most affordable transit plan for Torontonians within the quickest timeframe possible. It's time to move forward.
Moreover, this should be part of a network plan that includes vital additions to our transit system, such as the Relief Subway Line, to address overcrowding and the revised SmartTrack with an Eglinton Crosstown LRT connection to Pearson International Airport.
I am asking Staff to provide answers to a number of outstanding questions about the Scarborough proposal. In particular, I would like an explanation as to why a one stop subway extension needs to be tunneled when the corridor for the current RT may provide an alternate, and much less expensive, route to the Scarborough Town Centre.
Now that we have a plan, let's make it the best plan it can be.
For more information on whether the subway should travel at-grade, please read this article.
For more on analysis on the plan, click here.
Build the Relief Subway Line Now!
Toronto City Council has a responsibility to use honest, evidence-based and fiscally responsible transit planning rather than rhetorical political posturing. We can't keep waiting to improve transit and fight gridlock. Toronto needs the Relief Subway Line now. Please click here for more information.
Also, this week I had an inspiring meeting with the Toronto Relief Line Alliance, co-founded by two St. Paul’s residents. I look forward to working with them to advance our goal of building Toronto’s top transit priority! For more information on their remarkable work, please click here.
Make your voice heard for transit in the City
The City will be holding several public consultation meetings throughout the City on current transit initiatives. The meeting schedules and initiatives are highlighted below:
SmartTrack Western Corridor- Saturday, February 20 at Richview Collegiate in Etobicoke or Wednesday, March 9 at Lakeshore Collegiate in Toronto-East York
Relief Line -Thursday, February 25 at Riverdale Collegiate in Toronto or Wednesday, February 24 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre or Tuesday, March 22nd at Nelson Mandela Public School in Toronto.
Scarborough Transit Planning - Saturday, February 27 at Scarbrough Community Centre or Tuesday, February 16 at Jean Vanier School in Scarborough
Toronto Community Housing Task Force Report Released this week.
We have an affordable housing crisis in this city. Far too many people are waiting to access homes, far too many of Toronto's existing units are in disrepair, and there aren't enough public funds available to improve them.
This week, Mayor Tory's appointed Task Force on Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), released their final report that recommends transformative change to the agency. The Task Force was created in response to a number of operational challenges that have developed since community housing was downloaded onto the City from the Province. Some of these challenges include a backlog of capital repairs, inadequate funding and limited capacity to directly address the concerns of over 110 000 tenants.
Through extensive consultation with tenants and nearly 100 stakeholder groups, five key recommendations emerged from the report:
1. The creation of an independent non-profit housing corporation that will take over managing current community housing stock.
2. Creating a greater mix of market and subsidised housing within TCHC buildings.
3. Commitment from all three levels of government to find mechanisms that increase revenues to fund repairs and more housing.
4. Moving management to more operational, ground-level roles so tenants have more direct and accessible support.
5. Giving residents more choice in in choosing affordable housing by increasing housing allowances.
Click here to read the in-depth report.
I will continue to review this report in the upcoming weeks. I look forward to working with Mayor Tory and my colleagues to support affordable, clean and safe housing for our communities.
Along with the tireless work of many community advocates who I've come to know well, I want to make a point of expressing my gratitude to Councillor Ana Bailao. Ana has championed this cause since she was first elected in 2010 and has dedicated herself to find a solution. I'm proud to call her my colleague and friend.
Affordable housing, and a good quality of life for all Torontonians, is our shared priority.
Update on the Toronto Hydro Power Outage of January 16, 2016
Much of our community was affected by yet another Toronto Hydro power outage a few weeks ago, negatively impacting residents for several hours. I demanded an explanation from Toronto Hydro, as to the cause of this outage. Below is their response to me, in full:
On Saturday, January 16, Toronto Hydro experienced a power outage within the boundaries of Yonge, Bayview, St. Clair, and Eglinton. Approximately 9200 customers were affected when the power went out just before 2:30 p.m. Crews responded immediately, and were able to fully restore power by approximately 4:30 that afternoon.
2016 St. Paul's Summit
Please join me and the rest of our elected representatives from all levels of government in Toronto-St. Paul’s to discuss a priority topic for our communities: infrastructure.
- Hon. Carolyn Bennett, M.D. M.P
- Dr. Eric Hoskins, M.P.P.
- Josh Colle, City Councillor,Ward 15
- Josh Matlow, City Councillor, Ward 22
- Joe Mihevc, City Councillor, Ward 21
- Shelley Laskin, TDSB School Trustee
- Jo-Ann Davis, TCDSB School Trustee
Celebrate Family Day at Toronto's Historic Sites
Come and enjoy this unique experience at Spadina Museum! Many of the City's museums will be open and offering a wide variety of programs. Spadina Museum will offer family-friendly tours where you will have the opportunity to play games and have hands-on fun in the historic kitchen - all set in this beautifully restored 1920s environment. Tours will be held throughout the day between 15-5pm. This Family Day, don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in Toronto's history!
Yoga Classes at the Spadia Museum
This February, Diane Grundy, who has been practicing yoga and studying yoga philosophy for over 5 years, will be offering yoga classes at Spadina Museum. She is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor, who will be leading the class through a gentle/beginner level of hatha yoga. Although the class will be at the beginner level, everyone is welcome to participate! Classes will be held each Sunday at 3pm starting February 7th to 21st and limited to 12 participants. Pre-registration is required, by calling Spadina Museum, at 416-392-6910. Admission for the class is pay-what-you-wish, and monies will be donated to the museum.
The Toronto Seniors Forum is a diverse group of Toronto residents age 60 and above. The group is sponsored by the City of Toronto's Social Development Finance and Administration Division. The Forum is comprised of 22 members who meet monthly to examine, advocate, and advise on seniors' issues that matter to older Torontonians.
Experience opportunities to advocate for change on issues that matter, develop an age-friendly Toronto and network with other seniors organizations.
To complete the online application, please click here.
Third Meeting of the City-School Boards Advisory Committee
The third meeting of the City-School Boards Advisory Committee will take place on Thursday, February 11 at 12:30 PM in Committee Room 2 at City Hall.
As Chair of this Committee, I believe that the City and School Boards serve the same constituents, the residents of Toronto, and must work more closely together to make long-term and more comprehensive decisions. You can review the Agenda for this meeting here.
Second Meeting of Tenant Issues Committee
Last year, I was honoured to be named as Chair of the Tenant Issues Committee. Our first meeting was a great success and I look forward to discussing key topics for Toronto renters at our next meeting.
The second meeting of the Tenant Issues Committee will be on February 24 from 7-9pm, at City Hall in the Council Chamber. 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.
De La Salle
As you may recall from earlier community updates, De La Salle College has applied to build townhouses on the Avenue Road and Oaklands Avenue frontages of their property and appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board before City Staff could deliver a Final Report to Council.
In preparation for the upcoming OMB hearing City Staff gave a “Directions Report” detailing their position on the application. While Staff have mostly endorsed a revised proposal that would reduce the number of townhouses (28 to 22) and retain the historic Gatekeepers’ cottage, I don’t believe this is a development I can support on your behalf. This proposal would still block one of last remaining views of the Lake Iroquois Shoreline.
The community and I have made repeated attempts to engage with the school to discuss alternative sites on their property for development that would meet their fundraising goals while maintaining views of the site’s natural heritage attributes. I am still hopeful that we can have those conversations and find a resolution that works for all parties. That’s why I’m pleased that my motion to enter into mediation with the support of a planning expert and City Legal Staff passed at Council this week.
I will continue to update the community as this issue progresses.
An Update on 45- 77 Soudan
At Council this week, an application was approved for two new rental buildings at 45 Dunfield. While I am concerned about additional density in the Yonge-Eglinton area, the community and I are pleased with the amenities we fought to have included as part of this project.
The new development will include a subsidized daycare that will accommodate at least 52 children, including infants, toddlers and preschoolers. We were also successful in removing an additional structure on Soudan and replacing it with a new 6,060 square metre green space which will connect to the existing park.
A big thank you to the South Eglinton Residents and Ratepayers Association and the 45 Dunfield Tenants Association for their hard work and support toward improving this development on behalf of our community.
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).