Groundbreaking Tenant Protection Legislation Passes Final Hurdle
As Chair of the Tenants Issues Committee, I am very pleased to report that my colleagues supported our new Tenant Protection by-law to provide much needed protection for Toronto renters. The provisions in the by-law will be in force by July of this year.
This success was the result of years of hard work with local tenant advocates and city-wide organizations, including the Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants’ Associations, ACORN, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, and community legal clinics.
At present, far too many renters live in sub-standard housing. The City’s Multi Residential Audit Building (MRAB) program has found over 58,000 deficiencies in approximately 1000 buildings since Building Audits began. Leaking roofs, stained carpets, non-functioning elevators, and pest infestations are far too common. And these violations are mostly from just the shared areas in buildings and don’t capture the serious problems tenants face inside their units.
Some landlords have ignored City orders to fix their properties for years with little consequence; they treat the small fines as the cost of doing business, drag out performing the repairs through court appeals, and are even granted time extensions.
The system certainly doesn’t give tenants the same leniency when their rent is due.
This comprehensive new by-law includes several motions I moved to address some of these concerns, including:
A “Rentsafe” rating program for buildings modelled off of the “Dinesafe” program for restaurants that requires landlords to post a colour-coded sign that displays the City's rating in a prominent, publicly identifiable location, along with posting the same information on the City's website
Requesting that the Province grant the City the power to fine landlords for property standards violations
Establishing guidelines for when the Property Standards Committee can grant time extensions on work orders for violations and to limit those criteria to situations that are only extraordinary circumstances
Developing standard operating procedures for City enforcement officers which provide targeted timelines by violation category to bring landlords into compliance with City by-laws from the date an order is issued, and make the standards available to the public on the City website
Ensuring that landlords will not be able to rent vacant units if they have outstanding property orders in the building for vital services such as heat or water
These measures, and many others contained in the program, were the result of extensive consultation with tenants across the city.
For more information on this ground-breaking legislation, please see this article.
Council Ignores Evidence and Chooses 1-Stop Subway Over 24-Stop LRT Network for Scarborough
As many of you have heard by now, Council has opted to continue work toward a 1-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway to the Scarborough Town Centre instead of a 2-line, 24-stop network. I wrote extensively about the options in my previous newsletter to you.
It is unfortunate that, yet again, Council decided to not ask for relevant and important information by voting against my motion to have Staff finally provide a Business Case Analysis comparing the 1-stop subway with a 7-stop LRT in the McCowan corridor. This is especially disappointing in light of the answers to my questions on transit options for Scarborough ahead of the vote which, among other things, stated that:
The briefing note provided by the TTC in 2016 claiming that the cost of the LRT was the same as the subway was based on incorrect assumptions
Funding sources and amounts for the 1-stop subway extension have not yet been finalized
The LRT plan is at a far more advanced design stage than the 1-stop subway
In addition, a new study released before the vote found that most Scarborough residents will spend more time on the bus with the 1-stop subway plan.
Despite this setback, I will continue to advocate for honest and evidence-based transit. For more information on what this vote means going forward, please see this article.
Unprecedented Meeting on Tenants and Housing Affordability Next Week
On Monday, April 3 I will be co-hosting an unprecedented joint meeting(s) of the Tenant Issues Committee, which I Chair, and the Affordable Housing Committee with my colleague, Councillor Ana Bailao.
Toronto's rental housing market has become increasingly unaffordable for many people. The challenges of finding and keeping a decent and affordable place to live are affecting people across the rental spectrum in all areas of the city, including Midtown.
Rents are rapidly rising beyond the rate of inflation and, on the turnover from one tenant to the next, units newly on the market are drawing bidding wars. Due to historically low vacancy rates and a lack of new purpose-built rental supply, more and more residents are finding themselves precariously housed by renting condominiums.
Despite the ongoing construction of new condominiums, there remains a critical shortage of homes that people can afford. As a result of market pressures and a lack of protection for any rental unit built after 1991, some tenants in condominiums have recently reported annual rent increases between 10% and 50%.
Residents in purpose-built rental buildings that supposedly have protection from rents rising above inflation are also at-risk. Landlords are allowed to increase rents substantially for basic maintenance, including balcony replacements and new boilers, due to unfair provisions in the provincial Residential Tenancies Act.
This meeting will look at housing affordability in a holistic manner and request the provincial government and City Staff to move forward with concrete measures to help ensure that all Torontonians have access to a safe, clean, and healthy home.
The meeting will take place at 3pm in Committee Room 2 on the 2nd floor of City Hall.
Proposal to Increase Fines for Speeding in School Zones
I was very pleased to support a motion by Councillors Mark Grimes and Mike Layton to request the Province to allow the City the ability to double fines for speeding in designated school zones. This is an important issue in our community and I will be advocating for this important measure as it moves to the Ontario government.
Community Meeting: Next Improvements to June Rowlands Park and Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground
On Monday, April 3 at 7pm, please join me to discuss your vision for an improved and expanded Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground and other enhancements at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. City staff from Parks, Forestry & Recreation will be in attendance to present design concepts and receive your feedback.
The meeting location is Greenwood College (443 Mount Pleasant Road), Room 174. I hope to see you there!
SAVE THE DATE: Councillor Josh Matlow's Community Environment Day
OnThursday, June 1 from 4-8pm, I will be hosting my annual Community Environment Day. The event will take place in the parking lot of North Toronto Memorial Arena (174 Orchard View Blvd). Please drop off any unwanted art supplies, books, toys, and used sports equipment. Facilities will be available to dispose of computers and other hazardous household waste, or even replace your damaged green bin.
Toronto-St. Paul’s Summit: Working Together for a Better St. Paul’s
Please join me and my colleagues representing all levels of government at this year's St. Paul's Summit on Sunday, May 7 at Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge Street), 3-5pm.
Together with the St. Paul's community we will be talking about key issues affecting our country, province, city, school boards and neighbourhoods.
I am honoured to be joining federal MP, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, provincial MPP, Dr.Eric Hoskins, my local colleagues at City Hall and school trustees in this important conversation with our residents.
Deer Park Residents Group Annual General Meeting
Please join me for the Deer Park Residents Group (DPRG) Annual General Meeting onTuesday, June 6 at Calvin Presbyterian Church (26 Delisle Avenue). The membership desk will open at 6:30pm and the meeting will commence at 7pm.
The annual meeting of the DPRG is an opportunity for residents of our neighbourhood to learn about activities during the past year. The agenda will include a summary of actions taken by the DPRG, events in our district and an election of members of the Board for the coming year. I will be speaking to attendees about developments in Ward 22 and beyond that have an impact on all of us. Any persons attending who are not already members of the DPRG will be encouraged to join.
South Eglinton Ratepayers' and Residents' Association Annual General Meeting
The South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SERRA) is constituted for the purpose of furthering and protecting the common interests of its members relating to real estate, zoning, municipal planning and any other matter touching on or relating to real property within the membership area, bounded by Yonge Street, Bayview Avenue, Eglinton Avenue and Merton Street.
SERRA will be holding its AGM this year at 7pm on Monday, May 8 at Greenwood College School (443 Mount Pleasant Road). I hope to see you there!
Clean Toronto Together Registration is Now Open
It's time for some spring cleaning! Gather your friends, neighbours, co-workers and classmates to clean a park, laneway or any other space that needs your help. Friday, April 21 is the Corporate & School 20-Minute Makeover; Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23 are the Community Cleanup Days.
Registration is now open. Individuals, community groups, schools and businesses can register their cleanup events online or by calling 311. Registration helps the City arrange for special litter and recycling pickups and helps to reduce duplicate cleanups. Learn more and find out when and where to get free GLAD® garbage and recycling bags for your cleanup online or by calling 311.
To learn more and to register your event, please click here.
If you are planning to hold a community clean-up, please let me know and I'd be happy to drop by and help out!
Celebrating National Caregiver Day
Twenty-nine percent of Canadians and Torontonians are family caregivers to someone in need. The majority of them are seniors. On January 31, 2017 City Council passed a motion to recognize Family Caregiver Day annually on April 4.
In recognition of Family Caregiver Day we will be holding an event in the Council Chamber at City Hall, co-hosted by City staff involved in the Toronto Seniors Strategy, the Toronto Seniors Forum, ENRICHES and twelve other stakeholder organizations, to recognize the valuable contribution of family caregivers to our community and to express our support.
Family caregivers often assume this role with no training or additional resources and are facing challenging and stressful situations on a daily basis. The latest report of the ‘Change Foundation’ suggests that the majority of caregivers succumb to physical and psychological illness as a result of their caregiving responsibilities. Despite that, they are often not recognized for their role and are not perceived as a population in need of support in the health care system and the community at large.
This event promises to be a wonderful opportunity for Toronto to come together in support of this often invisible and vulnerable group of individuals that is such a crucial component to the well-being of our Toronto community. As the City's Seniors Advocate, I am delighted to be speaking to attendees at 1pm on Tuesday, April 4.
In my capacity as the City's Seniors Advocate, I'm actively working with City staff and community partners to develop the next phase of the Toronto Seniors Strategy, to improve City services for older Torontonians and make Toronto a more age-friendly city. We would also love to hear from you! I encourage you to participate in our online survey by April 15.
WoodGreen Community Services, Toronto Central CCAC, and Toronto Central LHIN are pleased to launch the Toronto Seniors Helpline (TSH)!
The Toronto Seniors Helpline is a single phone line that streamlines access to community, homecare and crisis services for seniors, their caregivers and their health care providers. Through this initiative, CNAP, Seniors Crisis Line and TC CCAC information and referral staff have unified as a single team with a shared focus on information and referral, supportive counseling and service navigation services. As a result, seniors will experience the ease of one access point, more streamlined care, and warm transfers to the services that best meet their needs. TSH is for seniors, caregivers, and health care professionals.
TSH can be reached at 416-217-2077. The number is TTY-compatible; interpretation services are available.
TSH is answered by certified staff who connect people to the care they need, including CCAC home care services, crisis outreach teams, and other services in our community that support seniors’ safety, health and well-being. The team is comprised of information and referral staff from the TC CCAC and WoodGreen staff, all of whom have been cross-trained in service offerings across the home and community sector, including crisis services.
Low Income Retirement Workshops at Toronto Public Library
Planning for Retirement on a Low Incomeworkshops will be offered again this spring at 9 library branches in Toronto, thanks to generous funding from The Rotary Club of Toronto. The goal of this workshop is to provide low-income attendees, in plain language, with a complete picture of benefits available to them, explain how these benefits interact, and outline best strategies for long term retirement planning on a very limited income.John Stapleton, Metcalf Foundation Fellow and social policy expert, is the presenter.
The impact of the series cannot be overstated. Mainstream financial advice is in most cases, inappropriate and detrimental to low-income earners. For example, advising a low-income person to save within an RRSP, can be very bad advice as it reduces their Guaranteed Income Supplement. Simply put, this information is not readily available elsewhere, and fills a real need. The 9 workshops in the fall 2016 series attracted 523 attendees – mostly disadvantaged persons in need of any available assistance, or someone attending on their behalf.
North Toronto Memorial Community Centre Temporary Closure
The City is enhancing North Toronto Memorial Community Centre to improve facility operations and services to the community. The centre will close for state of good repair renovations in September 2017 for approximately 18 months. For more information, please click here.
While the community centre is located outside of my ward, many Ward 22 residents use the facility and will be impacted by this closure. I encourage you to attend an upcoming community meeting hosted by City staff to learn more about the renovations and program relocation. The meeting will be held at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre at 6:30pm on Wednesday, May 17.
Open Call for Jane's Walk Leaders
May 5th, 6th, & 7th Jane's Walk Festival
If you have a fun, informative, unusual way of looking at your neighbourhood, then Jane’s Walk wants you to host a walking conversation in your community!
Jane’s Walk is a global movement of free, community-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs. The walks get people to explore their cities and connect with neighbours. Organizing a Jane’s Walk is easy. It simply involves planning a route, thinking through the stories, places, people and ideas you want to hear and talk about, and then posting it online atjaneswalk.org/toronto. Learn more at www.janeswalk.org.
Jane’s Walk is a great way to personally connect with with other residents, share stories of the neighborhood, and discuss important issues in your community. New walks are posted here every day.
City of Toronto's Proposed Stormwater Charge
Currently, stormwater management is being paid for from the water rate, which means the amount homeowners pay for stormwater management is based on how much water they use. The Stormwater Charge proposal is to remove the portion that homeowners currently pay for stormwater management (currently embedded in the water rate), and show it as a separate charge on the water bill. The water rate would decrease and the stormwater charge would be added. The amount paid for stormwater would be based on property size and the average amount of hard space on properties of a similar size.
Full details and information about the proposed stormwater charge
An online survey to allow for public feedback
Examples of how the proposed stormwater charge could impact water bills
A full list of the categories and tiers for the proposed stormwater charge
A full listing of the public consultation dates and locations
Wheel-Trans Public Meetings: 10-Year Strategy Update and Next Steps
As a follow up to the public meetings held last summer, TTC will be hosting another round of consultations in April to update current and prospective customers on the Wheel-Trans 10-Year Strategy.
Participants will be provided details on the recently implemented Wheel-Trans eligibility and policy changes, as well as information on the Family of Services Pilot Program, Mobility Transfer Hubs and the proposed Community Bus Routes. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A period and an opportunity to provide input on each of these initiatives.
Public Invited to Debate, Collaborate and Create as Consultation on City of Toronto's Long-Term Financial Plan Continues
The City of Toronto is launching Phase 2 of its public consultation on the renewal of its Long-Term Financial Plan. Information about the consultation, including background reports and engagement opportunities, a public workshop and an upcoming online survey, is available athttp://www.investinginTO.ca/. The public is also invited to participate in the conversation on social media, using the hashtag #InvestinginTO.
For the second phase of consultation, the City is inviting members of the public to City Hall for a conversation about how it makes decisions and balances priorities that have a long-term financial impact.
An interactive afternoon of workshops and discussions will be held at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., on Saturday, April 22 at 1-5pm. The open house will begin at 12:30pm.
This is an opportunity for the public to:
debate how City Hall can balance both its books and its long-term priorities
collaborate with community organizations, other members of the public and the City
create a financial path that brings us closer to the city we want
More information about the workshops and discussions is available athttp://www.investinginTO.ca/. The workshops will be available via webcast for those who wish to participate online. An online survey will also be open from April 22 to May 14.
The first consultation, which took place last fall, focused on how the City manages expenses, raises revenue and could maximize its assets. The City heard about the need to balance the priorities and budgets while also supporting the most vulnerable Torontonians. The public was also clear about keeping the City's commitments to innovation, economic health, infrastructure investments and the environment while finding ways to pay for them. The City also heard about the need for information that helps the public understand and contribute to the City's budgets, plans and decision making.
The findings from the consultation process will provide advice for Council and the City Manager as the City sets out to develop its Long-Term Financial Plan. The plan will guide financial decision-making over the long term and put Toronto on a path to financial sustainability. It will also help address structural financial issues as expenditures continue to rise faster than revenues, and help ensure that the City continues to run well, spends public money wisely and delivers the programs and services residents need and want over the long term.
44 Jackes Avenue Public Meeting
The City has received an application to amend the Zoning By-law to permit a new high-rise residential building in the northwest corner of a 1.26 hectare site with two existing high-rise rental apartment buildings. The new building is proposed to be 29-storeys high with a 4-storey podium base.
Please join me at 7pm on Thursday, April 13 in the Cameron Room at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church (1585 Yonge Street), for a meeting to discuss the proposed development. City Planning staff will be in attendance to answer any questions you may have.
390 Spadina Road Development Update
The South Forest Hill Residents Association (SFHRA) has asked that I share the following message with you regarding this inappropriate development proposal:
Forest Hill Village is Under Attack!
More than 60 local residents attended the pre-OMB hearing on March 1st forcing the OMB to move the proceedings to their largest room. South Forest Hill Residents Association (SFHRA) was well represented by lawyer, Peter Carey, who was successful in securing our "party" status at the OMB.
No date has been set for the OMB hearing itself. Instead, a second pre-hearing date has been set for August 8th to review any revisions to the developer's plan and determine next steps. In order to prepare for this meeting, SFHRA needs to hire their own experts to counter the aggressive and well-financed attack by the Armel Corporation and their partners.
We have our work cut out for us! Did you know the OMB rules 64% of the time against communities and only 36% in favour of communities? The community can only win this with the support of each member of the community.
Fundraising has begun with a goal to raise $65,000 to prevent the destruction of the Village. You can help by donating generously:
1. ONLINE- click on the link which will take you to our GoFundMe page: http://www.gofundme.com/save-forest-hill-village OR 2. Drop off your cheque made out to South Forest Hill Residents Association at 350 Lonsdale Rd (Attention: Mona Kornberg). There's a 24 hour Concierge.
* South Forest Hill Residents Association is an incorporated non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors
Development Proposals in Ward 22
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.
The OMB is a quasi-judicial, un-elected and un-accountable provincial body that has the final say on all planning decisions in the province of Ontario. The tribunal's powers to overrule decisions made by our elected municipal representatives are anti-democratic and often lead to planning decisions that far too often support the interests of the development industry over those of our communities and our city's official plan. To read more about the OMB and my advocacy to free Toronto from its purview, please click here.