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City Hall and Community Update for March 8, 2016

Developing Toronto's Transit Network Plan

 

City Planning staff have prepared a report that will be considered at Executive Committee tomorrow, and then at City Council, on proposed steps to move forward with a transit expansion network for our city.

 

I strongly support this more comprehensive approach than we've seen before.

 

However, I continue to expect that decisions that Council makes, expecially major public policy issues which would cost billions of dollars, be informed, evidence-based and fiscally-responsible. Please see this recent article that describes my concerns about how this latest incarnation of transit planning is being considered.

 

For your review, here is the staff report. But beware, it's hundreds of pages long and includes seemingly non-sensical charts evaluating a network that is no longer actively being considered. Meanwhile, the full network that planning staff will ask Council to consider is not included in this report.

 

I know. I'm frustrated too.

 

This, sadly, has been the state of transit planning in Toronto for far too long. Residents in Midtown, and across the city, wait everyday as crowded subway trains, streetcars or buses go by due to overcrowding on our current transit system. It often takes more than two hours for many Scarborough residents to get work or school and back. Our waterfront is underserved, Jane Street has been forgotten and very few of the projects already designated as priorities, such at the Relief Subway Line, are funded by any order of government. I believe this is unnacceptable.

 

I will continue to demand that both the process, and most importantly the outcomes, are more honest, realistic and have the same sense of urgency most people in Toronto have had for a long time. We've been waiting for too long.

 

Ultimately, I want us all to be served by a remarkable public transit system.


Metrolinx Lowers Fares for Union-Pearson Express Train


I am very pleased that Metrolinx has listened to Toronto residents and reason with their recent announcement that the transit agency will be lowering fares on the Union Pearson Express (UPX) train by March 9 of this year. The airport link will now cost $12 for cash fare ($9 with a Presto card) from Union to Pearson, in addition to lower fares between Bloor and Weston. Please see this chart for a full breakdown of the new fare structure.


Since the rumours of high fares for the Union-Pearson Express (UPX) train surfaced in the summer of 2014, I have been advocating for a lower cost for riders. I successfully moved a motion at Council two years ago, requesting that this service be made more  affordable and accessible to residents. Further, because I felt this service would have difficulty drawing riders, I was concerned about additional subsidization from taxpayers.


Even with increased tourism from the PanAm games last summer, the UPX had very low ridership figures upon opening, and the number of passengers continued to drop through last fall. Even on the busiest days, the airport line was attracting fewer riders than most TTC bus routes. Transit-starved Torontonians were understandably frustrated, watching empty trains pass by with critical projects such as the Relief Line and the Waterfront LRT are still in the planning stages.


I appreciate that Metrolinx and the Provincial Government changed the fare structure to make UPX more accessible. Once electrified, I encourage them to make this line a more integral part of our transit network by adding more stops and expanding capacity on the line.


 

Toronto Attains Global Age-Friendly City Status!

 

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.

 

Since its inception two years ago, 86 of the 91 recommendations have been either partially or fully implemented, including the provision of seniors’-centred social services at appropriate TCHC buildings, and an increase in home visits by City paramedics.

 

Having since been appointed the City of Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, I am working on the next phase of the Seniors Strategy. I am proud of the major steps we have taken, but there is still more work to be done.

 

In recognition of the recent successful implementation of Toronto’s inaugural Seniors Strategy, I am delighted to announce that on February 22 the World Health Organization (WHO) pronounced Toronto the latest global city to be awarded the status of a WHO designated Age-Friendly City!

 

Toronto's inclusion in the WHO's Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities speaks to the city's commitment to serving seniors in an equitable, respectful and inclusionary way to improve their quality of life and support their full participation in civic life. I look forward to working alongside the WHO and all of our partners to continue to develop, enhance and implement our Toronto Seniors Strategy.


Proposed Noise By-Law Changes Postponed Indefinitely

City Staff have heard loud and clear from councillors, Residents’ Associations, and our neighbours that the proposed changes to the noise by-law were wrong and unhelpful. The new, and very high, decibel level limit threatened our right to peacefully enjoy our homes.


I am pleased that Staff have recognized their report was flawed. The report that was intended for the next meeting of the Licensing and Standards Committee has been pulled and we have not been told if, or even when, a new set of recommendations will be coming forward. I will be sure to update you if there is any further news on this issue.


City and Unions Moving Toward New Collective Agreements Without Labour Disruption

At a Special Meeting of Council last week, a new collective agreement was approved for  Toronto Civic Employees' Union Local 416 (CUPE), which represents 4,200 outside workers and paramedics.

The agreement approved at last week's Special Council meeting is a four-year contract (January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019) within the bargaining mandate set by the City's Employee and Labour Relations Committee.

I am also happy to report that the City and CUPE Local 79, which represents the City's 21,000 inside workers, have reached a tentative agreement on their new contract. The union membership will vote on the agreement later this week. The latest information is available here.

Metrolinx Holding Joint Public Consultations on Future Transit Initiatives

Metrolinx is combining consultations in order to make it easier for residents and stakeholders to learn more about a number of projects that will enable transit expansion.
Projects to be discussed at these sessions include:
  • Electrification of the GO Rail Network: Electrification of Metrolinx-owned rail corridors will enable more frequent and faster train service.
  • New Stations on the GO Rail Network: Today 64 GO train stations serve thousands of customers and six more are under way. We would like to add even more stations so more people can access transit.
  • Integrated Transit Fares: We want to make crossing municipal boundaries and switching between transit systems simple and hassle-free.
  • Regional Transportation Plan Review: Metrolinx is launching the formal review process for the Regional Transportation Plan, which guides the work being done to transform the transportation network in the GTHA.
Metrolinx will also be engaging with the public through an online engagement process: http://www.Metrolinxengage.com. This service will allow the public to view the presentations and provide their feedback.

I support the transit agency’s decision to hold public consultations on several projects at the same time so that you can assess them from a network perspective, instead of viewing them in isolation of one another. To build a truly seamless transit network, Metrolinx and City Planning need to work together on the Relief Line, SmartTrack, Waterfront LRT, Eglinton Crosstown to Pearson airport, Jane LRT, the Finch and Sheppard LRTs, and improving the Scarborough transit plan. The remaining public consultations are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
  • Burlington: March 8th, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Robert Bateman High School (5151 New St., Burlington)
  • Mimico: March 9th, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Lakeshore Collegiate Institute (350 Kipling Ave., Etobicoke)
  • Durham Junction: March 10th, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Glengrove Public School (1934 Glengrove Rd., Pickering)
  • Don Yard/Toronto: March 22nd, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Nelson Mandela Park Public School (440 Shuter St., Toronto)

Yonge-Eglinton Planning Review Moving Forward

Building on the success of Midtown in Focus, the new public space Master Plan for Midtown, the I've supported our City Planning Division to lead an inter-divisional review of growth, built form and infrastructure issues in the Yonge-Eglinton area. This study will inform the development of up-to-date policy that will guide growth in the area and, in combination with necessary capital upgrades identified through the review, support the vitality and quality of Midtown Toronto. I frankly wish this had been done decades ago, but it is critical to support our quality of life in a growing community.

Last Wednesday, City Planning gave an update on their progress to the Midtown Planning Group.  For your review, the presentations and handouts from Wednesday are now online at the links below:


I look forward to hosting public consultations on this issue with City Planning later this spring. Meeting details will be provided as soon as they become available.

I would also like to recognize the outstanding work of our local Residents' Associations, Business Improvement Associations, not-for-profit organizations, tenants associations, condo boards, recreation groups, and others, throughout this process. Dedicated volunteers have attended meetings, consultations, and workshops to advocate on our community’s behalf. I am proud to work closely with them.

City of Toronto Launches Online Tool for Viewing Water Use


The City of Toronto has launched MyWaterToronto, an online tool that enables customers to view their water use information from their computer or mobile device. Customers can access the tool at http://www.toronto.ca/mywatertoronto.


To log on, customers can visit http://toronto.ca/mywatertoronto and enter their utility account information. Customers can then view their total and average water use by day, week, month or year in graph or chart format. The tool also provides the opportunity to enter additional details such as temperature and precipitation to help customers better understand why they may have used more or less water during a particular time period. Automated water meters send water consumption data directly to the City several times a day.


MyWaterToronto has been loaded with more than one billion water meter readings, which enables customers to view their water use data from January 1, 2015, up to the day before they log on.


Free Income Tax Clinic


Central Eglinton Community Centre (160 Eglinton Ave. East) offers a FREE Income Tax Clinic from March 1 to April 22.


CECC's trained volunteers would like to help you with your income tax return. They are booking appointments at this time. Please phone 416-392-0511 Ext 0 to book your appointment. Appointments are available days, evenings and Saturdays. To access the clinic, you must have an appointment (no walk-ins).


Tax returns will be e-filed or prepared on paper. Certain income guidelines and other restrictions apply (only 2015 tax returns will be processed; no business or self-employed returns, no bankruptcy/post-bankruptcy returns, no death returns, no returns involving capital gains or rental property).


For more information, please phone Nancy at 416-392-0511 Ext 225 or send an email to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Imagine Eglinton Art Challenge


To promote the Eglinton Crosstown LRT Project and engage different walks of life along Eglinton Avenue, Metrolinx is holding a drawing competition for children between the ages of 6 to 12 years. Children are encouraged to envision and draw how Eglinton will look, once the Crosstown Light Rail Train is up and running.


Entries can be dropped off at the Crosstown Community Offices or at the following TPL branches: Mount Dennis Library, Evelyn Gregory Library, Maria Shchuka Library, Forest Hill Library, Northern District Library, and Leaside Library.


The submission deadline is March 31. The winning entries will feature on the construction fences at various Crosstown LRT construction sites along Eglinton.


Please visit www.thecrosstown.ca\drawing for full details of the competition.


City of Toronto Offers Many Free and Affordable Activities During March Break


During March Break, March 14 to 18, the City of Toronto will offer free and low-cost activities at its community centres, parks and historic sites. Highlights of Parks, Forestry and Recreation division activities and attractions follow, in addition to information about Toronto's historic sites/museums.

Camps
March Break camps are a great opportunity for children and youth to enjoy a range of activities. Participants enjoy activities such as arts, crafts, music, drama, sports and games. More camp details are available here or by calling 311.

Drop-in programs
City of Toronto community centres offer various free or low-cost programs for all ages. More information is available here or by calling 311.

Skiing and snowboarding
The City's Centennial Park and Earl Bales ski and snowboard centres will be open, weather permitting, for March Break on the following schedule:
Centennial Park Ski and Snowboard Centre
March 14 to 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre
March 14 to 19 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
March 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Both centres will close for the season on March 21.

The use of helmets is mandatory when participating in programs and lessons at both centres and the use of a recognized ski or snowboard helmet is strongly recommended for all other participants while on the slopes. More information is available here.

Skating
Thirty-seven outdoor artificial ice rinks are open until the end of the day on March 20, weather permitting. Locations, hours and program details are available here.

Indoor leisure skating programs, including caregiver and tot, family skate and shinny, are free for all ages. CSA-approved hockey helmets are mandatory for children under six years of age and all shinny hockey participants, and are recommended for skaters of all ages. Schedules and locations are available here.

Swimming
City of Toronto pools offer free March Break swimming opportunities. More information is available here.

Attractions
Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester St.)
Visitors can tour Riverdale Farm's scenic grounds to see domestic farm animals such as pigs, horses and sheep. The farm's Meeting House will offer crafts and games and farming demonstrations will be provided throughout the day. The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is accessible to all. Admission is free. More information is available here.

High Park Zoo (on Deer Pen Road)
Established 120 years ago, the High Park Zoo is home to domestic and exotic animals, including bison, llamas, peacocks, reindeer, highland cattle and yaks. Admission to the zoo is free and it's open daily from dawn to dusk. More information is available here.

Toronto Island Park
Just minutes away from downtown by ferry, Toronto Island Park offers March Break fun for everyone. It's a great place to walk, roll, cycle, explore and enjoy the city skyline. A list of ferry fees and the schedule are available here.

Playground Paradise (Flemingdon Park Community Centre, 150 Grenoble Dr.)
Playground Paradise offers fun for children aged 12 and under. Kids can play on a two-storey play structure, go down the spiral slide, swing on the track ride, and play in the ball pit. A fee of $2.50 per child applies. More information is available by calling 416-395-6014. Schedule during March break:

March 14, 16 and 18 from 10 a.m. to noon, 1 to 3 p.m., 4 to 6 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
March 15 and 17 from 10 a.m. to noon

Conservatories
The spring flower shows are in full bloom at Centennial Park Conservatory, 151 Elmcrest Rd. and Allan Gardens Conservatory, 19 Horticultural Ave. Both shows feature various spring flowering plants, including tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The Easter displays, featuring lilies and hydrangeas, will open at both conservatories on March 20.

The conservatories are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and admission is free. More information is available by calling Centennial Park Conservatory at 416-394-8543 and Allan Gardens Conservatory at 416-392-7288.

Historic Sites
Many of the City's 10 historic sites are open during March Break for tours. The sites highlighted below will also offer drop-in family activities including crafts, games and tasty treats from historic kitchens. Regular admission fees apply. Times and activity details vary by location. More information about drop-in activities is available here.

Museum drop-in activity times by location:
Colborne Lodge (Colborne Lodge Dr. in High Park)
March 12 to 20 from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York Blvd.)
March 14 to 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Gibson House Museum (5172 Yonge Street)
March 12 and 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
March 16 to 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mackenzie House (82 Bond St.)

March 12 to 20 from 12 to 4 p.m.
Scarborough Museum (1007 Brimley Rd.)
Weekends only from 12 to 4 p.m.

Spadina Museum (285 Spadina Rd.)
March 12 to 20 from 12 to 5 p.m.

Todmorden Mills Heritage Site (67 Pottery Rd.)
March 12 to 20 from 12 to 4 p.m.

Four of the historic sites are also offering day camps. Please click here for more information on those camps.

Registration for City of Toronto Spring/Summer Recreation Programs Opens this Weekend


The City of Toronto offers a variety of recreation programs for all ages, skill levels and interests. Registration for spring and some summer recreation programs, including summer camps, begins this weekend.


Registration starts in Toronto and East York: Wednesday, March 9 at 7am


I've heard from many of you that registering for these programs can be a very frustrating experince, with the website often down and no one available to recieve your call if you phone. I personally have brought this to the attentuion of City Staff and have asked for immediate improvements. I know that Mayor Tory has too. I am hopeful that we will see changes to this process soon.


How to register:

Step 1: Get family and client numbers

To sign up for recreation programs, Toronto residents need a family number and client number for each member of the family. Before registration day, call 416-338-4386 or speak with staff at a City community centre to get these numbers. Alternatively, download a New Family Account application form here and email it to the City at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Step 2: Choose programs

To find out about and choose programs, visit http:www.toronto.ca/torontofun or look for the Spring/Summer FUN Guide available at City Hall, civic centres, community centres and libraries. Residents are encouraged to have a few program choices for each person in case the preferred program is full.

Step 3: Register
Registration starts at 7 a.m. Many programs fill up quickly. Registering online is the quickest and easiest way to sign up for programs. Be sure to have all information and payment options ready.


There are four ways to register:


Online: Register online at http://efun.toronto.caBy phone: Touch Tone Registration (TTR) is available at 416-338-0000. Operator assisted phone call: Call 416-338-4386 to register through a customer service representative. In person: Register in person at select locations. For a list of these locations, visit http://www.toronto.ca/parks/registration, call 311 or speak to staff at a City community centre.


Parks, Forestry and Recreation programs are popular and many have waiting lists. If it turns out that you are unable to attend the program you registered for, contact your local community centre or call 416-338-4386 so the spot can be offered to someone else.


The City of Toronto offers a yearly credit called the Welcome Policy for residents with low incomes that can be used to register for City recreation programs. Anyone receivingsocial assistance (Ontario Works) and living in Toronto is pre-approved to receive this credit – talk to your caseworker. More information about the yearly credit is available at http://www.toronto.ca/wp.


Many community centres offer free recreation programs, including leisure swimming, skating, drop-in programs and more for children, youth and older adults. Older adults (60 years and older) who register for adult programs will receive a 50 per cent discount. More information about free and low-cost program options is available here.


Clean Toronto Together 2016 - Registration Opens Today


Online registration for the City of Toronto's Annual Spring Clean Up opens today (Tuesday, March 8). Visit the Clean Toronto Together campaign website to register your Community, Corporate, or School clean-up events.

 

This is an opportunity to get together with friends, family, coworkers and classmates to clean a park, laneway or any other space that needs your help. Corporate & School 20-Minute Makeover will take place at 2pm on Friday, April 22. Community Clean-up Days can be planned for Saturday, April 23 or Sunday, April 24. Please visit livegreentoronto.ca or call 311 for more information on how to get involved.


If you're planning a local Ward 22 neighbourhood or school clean-up and would like support from my office, please email me at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Also, let me know if you would like me to personally come by and help!


Toronto Seniors Forum is Recruiting New Members - Get Involved!


The Toronto Seniors Forum is a diverse group of Toronto residents aged 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.


For more information, please visit the Toronto Seniors Forum website. You may also contact Tina Peach at 416-392-8630 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


To complete the online application, please click here.


City of Toronto Public Focus Group Session for Seniors


The City of Toronto is developing a 20-year master plan on Parks and Recreation facilities, and will be holding a seniors-specific focus group to gather feedback on Thursday, March 24 from 10am to 12pm at the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (200 Eglinton Avenue West). I hope to see you there!


Volunteer Toronto Hosts Upcoming Seniors Volunteer Fair


Volunteer Toronto is our city's #1 place for volunteers and those who need them. As Canada’s largest volunteer centre, Volunteer Toronto aims to build a caring and committed community of people who give their time toward building a healthy Toronto.


One way this can be done is by better supporting seniors who are looking for volunteer opportunities. Therefore, Volunteer Toronto is organizing a Seniors Volunteer Fair where that seniors can meet face-to-face with organizations that need them! The particular focus of this event will be connecting seniors and organizations that exist in North York. They will have 25 non-profits present and are aiming for 300 attendees.


The Seniors Volunteer Fair will be held on Wednesday, March 23 from 1pm to 4pm at North York Memorial Community Hall, Burgundy Room (5110 Yonge Street).


For more information on this event, please click here.


Alzeimer's Society of Toronto


If you have dementia, or care for someone with dementia, the Alzeimer's Society of Toronto is here to support you. The Alzheimer's Society of Toronto offers free counselling, workshops, and engaging programs to promote living well with dementia. Find them online or call 416-640-6317.


The Alzeimer's Society of Toronto would like to invite you to their upcoming event, Research Night with Dr. Barry Greenberg, about Current Alzheimer’s Disease Research on March 21. For full event details, please click here.


Updated Ward 22 Development Page

To ensure you are informed and engaged about development plans being proposed for sites near your neighbourhood, I've created an interactive webpage.

This webpage has recently been updated to reflect current development applications and, as always, contains locations, staff reports and public meeting notices. Additionally, the map now shows the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre surrounding Yonge and Eglinton, as well as the designated Avenues (portions of Eglinton Avenue West, St. Clair Avenue West, Yonge Street, Mt. Pleasant Road and Bayview Avenue). These are all areas where the Province is directing growth. Clicking on any of them will provide links to more information about the ward's Avenues/Urban Growth Centre, as well as links to the City's Official Plan and local secondary plans.

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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