The Yonge & St. Clair Valentine's Day Fire at the Badminton & Racquet Club
The term “hero” is sometimes used too easily but I can’t think of a better word to describe the Fire, Police and EMS responders who attended to the 6-alarm fire at Yonge & St. Clair last week. For more than 24 hours, over 100 firefighters worked long, dangerous and grueling shifts to put out the blaze at the Badminton and Racquet Club; keeping the fire from spreading to residential buildings only feet away. In an amazing display of teamwork, Toronto Fire Services was joined by Police, EMS, the Office of Emergency Management, Toronto Hydro, Toronto Water, TTC, and others.
I would also like to commend Slate Asset Management for offering us the lobby of 55 St. Clair Ave West as a reception centre run by the Red Cross for displaced residents from buildings such as The Clairmont at 1430 Yonge Street and many others, as well as Tim Horton’s for staying open over night to provide refreshments. I'm also very appreciative of the many members of our community who offered a spare bedroom and other supports to their neighbours who were evacuated.
I have reached out to the President of the Badminton and Racquet Club, whose members lost a place that was very close to their hearts, to express our community’s sadness and strong support as they move forward. The B & R Club was also a building of historical importance to every resident of Toronto. An early example of of an adaptive reuse of a historic building, (it was a radial car barn (like Wychwood Barns) the club opened in 1925.
Impending Loss of 1955 Yonge Street
As many in the Davisville and Chaplin Estates neighbourhoods will already know, a developmentwas approved by a previous Council, in August 2010 at 1955 Yonge Street between Belsize and Millwood. Unfortunately, a property on this block (currently acting as the developer’s sales office) was not recognized as potentially having heritage value before the development was approved. City Heritage Staff has sadly informed me that there is nothing we can do to save the building.
For commercial reasons, the developer has not taken steps to move forward with construction until recently. The Buildings Department has informed me that the developer recently requested a demolition permit for this site and that they are legally bound to issue that permit shortly.
To help ensure that our community is able to protect more buildings of cultural and historical significance, City Planning is conducting a heritage audit of our community as part of theMidtown in Focus review of the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan Area I requested. The results of this review are expected this year.
For your convenience, I have created an interactive map of all heritage properties located in Ward 22. Also, please click here to read the comments I wrote in my last update to you about the importance of Toronto's architectural heritage.
The Toronto Star Feature Series on the OMB and our Yonge-Eglinton Area
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an unaccountable, unelected and anti-democratic provincially-appointed body that has the final say over our city's planning decisions. The influence that the OMB has had on the Yonge-Eglinton area were featured in a well-written, informative series in the Toronto Star this past weekend.
As many of you know, I have been a long-time advocate of freeing Toronto from the OMB’s purview. While the Province has stopped short of eliminating the OMB altogether, there are a number of very positive reforms proposed in this Ministry of Municipal Affairs consultation document released last year that would significantly improve the planning process for Toronto, including:
Only allowing the OMB to hear appeals on the “validity of the decision” by council, limiting the OMB’s ability to hear appeals and completely overturn decisions
Preventing appeals of secondary plans, including Yonge and Eglinton which is now under review, for two years
Requiring the OMB to send “significant new information” arising from a hearing back to council for re-evaluation before rendering a decision
More actively promoting mediation to settle disputes, preventing adversarial hearings
Better training for OMB members, who are appointed by the Province
It is expected that the Province will move forward with legislation this year. I will be sure to update you as this important review progresses and new information is available.
City Staff to Defend Community at OMB Against Yonge & St. Clair Development
At Toronto and East York Community Council this week, my colleagues supported my motion to ensure the neighbourhood will be represented by City Planning and City Legal to oppose the inappropriate development proposal at 1417-1431 Yonge Street, just south of St. Clair.
This file has had a long history and several iterations. On November 24, 2015, the applicant appealed City Planning’s refusal of their application for a 42-storey building to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). On August 2, 2016 at an OMB pre-hearing, the applicant informed the Board of a revised proposal for its site. Completely ignoring the community, the new proposal is for 46 storeys.
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. City Planning Staff have stated that the building 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.
The OMB hearing is scheduled for June of this year.
REMINDER: Let's Design Ward 22's Two New Park Spaces Together: Second Public Meeting
In early December 2016, I held an initial public meeting to gather residents' feedback on potential designs and uses for our two new parks on Manor Road East that we fought for together (the former Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club site and the corner of Manor Road and Forman Avenue). Since that meeting, the project design consultant has been busy developing design concepts based on that feedback and will be ready to share these drawings with the community shortly.
Please join me and your neighbours on Monday, February 27 to review and comment upon these concept designs for our two new parks! The meeting will be held at 6:30pm in the newly renovated sanctuary at Manor Road United Church (adjacent to one of our new park spaces at 240 Manor Road East). City of Toronto Parks staff will also be in attendance.
Independent Toronto Airspace Noise Review Public Meeting
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 continue to work together with the Toronto Aviation Noise Group (TANG) to advocate for the Federal government to address these concerns directly.
Next month, there will be an opportunity for you to have your voice heard on this issue. HELIOS, the UK-based aviation consulting company hired by NAV CANADA to conduct the independent Toronto Airspace Review, has scheduled the next round of public consultation meetings for early March.
The meeting date with the location closest to most mid-town Toronto residents is:
Saturday, March 4, 2017 10:30am to 12:30pm Novotel North York 3 Park Home Avenue North York M2N 6L3
Time for Torontonians to Get Ready to Register for Spring/Summer Recreation Programs
The City of Toronto offers recreation programs for all ages, skill levels and interests. Registration for spring and summer general programs, spring skating and swimming, and summer camps begins in two weeks.
Registration dates Registration is by district and starts at 7am on each date: Etobicoke York: Saturday, March 4 Scarborough: Sunday, March 5 North York: Tuesday, March 7 Toronto and East York: Wednesday, March8
Residents should visit http://www.toronto.ca/torontofun before registration day to build wish lists (program titles and bar codes) and have a few options ready in case they don’t get their first choice.
Parks, Forestry and Recreation will offer extended customer service call centre hours on March 1, 2, 3 and 6 from 7:30am to 6:30pm to assist with account information and answer questions about registration for spring/summer programs. Welcome Policy yearly credit The Welcome Policy credit can be used to register for City recreation programs. People receiving social assistance (Ontario Works) and living in Toronto are pre-approved to receive this credit and should speak to their caseworker. You can visit http://www.toronto.ca/wp for more information about the yearly credit.
Free programs Many community centres offer free recreation programs including leisure swimming and skating, and drop-in programs for children, youth and older adults. More information about free and low-cost programming options is available here.
Older adult discounts Older adults (60 plus years) who register for adult recreation programs receive a 50 per cent discount off the regular price of those programs.
Access to Art Programs and Workshops - Seniors Arts Engagement Program
The AGO invites visitors of all abilities to experience our collections in an inclusive and welcoming environment.
Make the AGO yours and discover your creativity!
Creativity is proven to support emotional well-being
Creativity reinforces the brain cells responsible for memory
Creativity cultivates a positive approach to life that enhances the immune system
Creativity promotes social interactions that help combat depression
The Seniors Community Grant Program, the first grant program in Ontario dedicated solely to seniors, is designed to give our elder population more opportunities to participate in their communities by providing funding to not-for-profit community groups for projects that encourage greater social inclusion, volunteerism and community engagement for seniors.
This grant program will make $2 million available for projects across Ontario that will help more seniors become socially engaged and feel part of their communities. Grants range from $1000 to $8000.
Applications will be accepted between November 25, 2016 and March 3, 2017.
Projects must not start prior to June 15, 2017 and be completed by March 31, 2018.
New Green Bins Arrive in Ward 22 Soon
The City continues to phase in delivery of the new Green Bins and the neighbourhoods in the northern part of District 3, east of Yonge Street and west of Victoria Park Avenue, will start receiving their new bins beginning March 9. It will take about three months to complete this distribution. The City will deliver to one collection route per day, which represents approximately 1,500 households. On the same day that residents get their new Green Bin, the old one will be taken away and recycled. If collection crews miss removing your old bin that day, set it out EMPTY on your next collection cycle and it will be picked up then (those who miss this second opportunity may contact 311 to arrange removal).
Here are some of the New Green Bin's key features:
It is animal-resistant so it can be stored outside or placed at the curb the night before collection with the lid in the locked position
It is larger and can hold more organics; plus, it meets automated collection requirements
Set out is important. Place the bin with the dial in the locked position with the arrows on the top of the lid facing the street to receive collection and please remember to leave space (0.5 metres) between bins for automated collection
More tips on using your new bin will be delivered with the bin. It is important to start using your new bin on your next collection day, as the City will no longer be able to collect from the old one.
You can check the bin delivery progress in our area on the City's Solid Waste Management webpage at www.toronto.ca/greenbin. These maps are updated weekly and are a useful tool to refer to if you have inquiries on the delivery status of the new Green Bins.
For questions or concerns about your new Green Bin, or to order an additional one, please contact 311.
Updated Ward 22 Development Page
To ensure you are informed and engaged about development proposals being proposed for sites near your neighbourhood, I've created an interactive webpage.
My webpage listing all the proposed developments in Ward 22 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.
For ongoing council and community news, my contact information, along with a calendar of events, please visit www.joshmatlow.ca. Click here to read my previous city hall and community updates.