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City Hall and Community Update for July 7, 2017

Rest in Peace, My Friend and Colleague, Councillor Pam McConnell

Today at City Council, we were informed of the passing of Ward 28's Councillor Pam McConnell. Pam was a veteran city councillor and a caring and effective advocate for her community. She courageously lead the efforts to revitalize Regent Park, fought to protect the architectural heritage of neighbourhoods including Cabbagetown and St. Lawrence and championed the City of Toronto's Poverty Reduction Strategy, among many other significant accomplishments.

As her seatmate at Toronto & East York Community Council, I knew Pam as a loving mother and grandma. We would very often discuss our families, and share photos of my daughter and her grandchildren.

I know I speak for our entire community by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to her family for her remarkable service to the residents of Toronto. I also wish them our very sincerest condolences.

I will miss her dearly.

Yonge-Eglinton Planning Review Moving Forward

Building on the success of Midtown in Focus, the new public space Master Plan for Midtown, 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. Our midtown area, as the population grows, needs improved hard infrastructure such as transit, pipes and wires capacity, and social services such as school space, affordable childcare and recreation, to support building a community for people, rather than just condo developers.

I frankly wish this had been done decades ago, but it is critical to support our quality of life in a growing community.

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. I expect updates to the study this fall.

90 Eglinton Ave West development approved by Council despite being contrary to the City of Toronto's policies and Official Plan

While not in Ward 22, local residents' associations and I are very disappointed that a development proposal at 90 Eglinton Ave W, near Yonge St was approved at Council this week. The Ward 16 proposal contravenes the intent of the Eglinton Connects by-law and Toronto'sEmployment Lands Strategy, which mandates 100% office replacement in every new development.

To uphold Council policy, I moved an amendment to a refusal motion moved by local councillor, Christin Carmichael Greb, that required the developer to provide full office replacement and respect the intent of the Eglinton Connects plan for a midrise development on this site. My amendment was approved but Carmichael Greb’s motion was defeated. Subsequently, the item, as amended, was defeated. There is nothing that can be done at this point to reopen the item.

The only recourse at this point is for a Residents' Association, or another person or group involved in the process, to make an appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.

I will continue to advocate for adherence to the Eglinton Connects plan and full office replacement to help ensure that our community's vision of an appropriately-scaled and complete neighbourhood where people can live, work, and play is implemented.

For more information, please see this article.

Council Approves Start of Updated Plan for Yonge and St. Clair

As many local residents know, there is increasing development pressure in the Yonge and St. Clair area. Many of the current development proposals do not conform to the existing policies of the Secondary Plan.

That's why I moved a motion to update and strengthen the policies of the local Secondary Plan. The motion also directs City Planning Staff to advise developers that City Council will not support new proposals in the Yonge St. Clair Secondary Plan Area that permit development at a scale, intensity or character that requires reconsideration of the Secondary Plan policies prior to adoption of this new review.

Branded Neighbourhood Street Signs Approved for Deer Park

Deer Park, surrounding Yonge and St. Clair, has a long and storied history. The area was referred to by the First Nations peoples as “Mashquoteh”, which is Ojibway for meadow or woodland where deer come to feed. In 1837, Agnes Heath, widow of Col. Charles Heath, relocated from India to Canada with her children and purchased 40 acres northwest of Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue West (then known as the Third Concession Road) and appropriately named it Deer Park.

The area was annexed to the City of Toronto in 1908 and was established as one of Toronto’s finest residential districts by the 1930s. Pianist Glenn Gould, Group of Seven founding member J. E. H. MacDonald, writer Farley Mowat, and former Prime Minister John Turner have all called Deer Park home.

I am happy to report that my motion to honour this historic neighbourhood with branded street signs, paid for through development fees, was approved at Council this month.

Fire Services to Provide Greater Transparency to Toronto Tenants in the Wake of British High Rise Tragedy

After the recent apartment fire tragedy in England, I was surprised to learn that tenants did not have access to the fire inspection records of their own homes. If a resident wanted to obtain these records they would have to file an onerous Freedom of Information request with the provincial government.

I am happy to report that after I raised concerns about this practice, Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop agreed to make the inspections more accessible. As the Chair of the Tenant Issues Committee, I have asked him to provide further details at our meeting on October 19, 2017.

For more information, please see this article.

Auditor General's Investigation into Questionable Toronto Parking Authority Land Deal Moves Forward

I am pleased that a very questionable land deal involving the Toronto Parking Authority is being investigated further. Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler’s nearly 10-month investigation questioned both the process and the $12.2-million price of a proposed land deal in the northwest end of the city. Her report outlines obfuscation by parking authority executives, prodding by the local councillor who was looking to push the deal forward, and potential conflicts among hired lobbyists and consultants with prior connections to the land, according to the Toronto Star. Please read this article for more information.

I strongly support the plan to have the current board members of the Toronto Parking Authority be put on temporary leave while further investigation takes place, with the City Manager taking over control of the governance of the Board. More information on Council's decision is available in this article.

Climate Change Plan Requires Adequate Funding To Succeed

TransformTO: Toronto's Climate Action Plan is a great road map for how we can meet our target of an 80% reduction of greenhouse gases against 1990 levels by the year 2050. However, our current pace of change is insufficient to achieve that target.

The plan shows that the 2050 goal is achievable with existing technologies but it means bold action is required to transform Toronto's urban systems - buildings, energy, transportation and waste. That will require further resources and leadership at City Hall.

For more information, please see this article.

Federal Government Contributes $4.8 billion for Toronto Transit Projects

The federal government announced they would contribute $4.8 billion toward 1/3 shares of transit projects in Toronto. City council has submitted four priority projects for the federal transit fund:
  • The Relief Subway Line ($6.8 billion)
  • RER ($3.7 billion)
  • Eglinton East LRT ($1.7 billion)
  • Waterfront transit ($1.5 billion)
Together, the projects are estimated to cost $13.7 billion.

I sincerely thank the federal government for their significant contribution. Among other important projects, this marks the first capital money for the much-needed Relief Subway Line.

The federal government has required the Province and the City to each contribute a 1/3 share for the projects. The province has yet to confirm their participation and I have concerns regarding the City's ability to pay its share as we have reached our debt ceiling as a result of ill-advised projects including the Scarborough Subway and the Gardiner East rebuild.

If the province and Council make clear choices about their priorities, we can work together to ensure that this federal funding kick starts the next wave of important transit projects in Toronto.

For more information, please see this article.

New Plan for Senior Tenants in Toronto Community Housing a Good First Step

Phase 1 of the Tenants First Implementation Plan was approved at Council this week. The plan will see the creation of a new Seniors Housing and Services entity that is more directly accountable to City Council, that strategically aligns City programs and services for seniors, including coordinating the provision of services by community and provincial agencies, and is responsible for management of the 83 seniors-designated buildings currently within the TCHC portfolio.

Update on Seniors Issues

Over the next two decades, the number of seniors in Toronto will more than double. To prepare for this, I initiated the Toronto Seniors Strategy – in 2013. With 86 of the original 91 recommendations now implemented, City staff and I, in my capacity as Toronto's Seniors Advocate, are working with older Torontonians, caregivers, agencies and other orders of government to co-create the next version of our strategy - TSS 2.0. This next phase will be completed in the Fall.

An important goal for version 2.0 of the Toronto Seniors Strategy is to start re-framing how seniors are referred to in City policies and practices. That's why I'm pleased to announce that my motionPlanning an Age-Friendly Toronto, was approved at City Council this week. It makes an explicit link between Council’s commitment to being an age-friendly city and the City’s Official Plan. When the new Official Plan review process begins in the next few years, we will be reinforcing and building on policies in the current plan that are consistent with creating an age-friendly built environment.

Also, I was honoured to recognize my friend, Frances Chapkin at Council this week. Frances has been chosen as Ontario's 2017 Senior of the Year! This is a well-deserved award for someone who has devoted decades of her life to volunteer work aimed at improving the lives of our elder population.


(Josh at the City's Seniors Month Launch Event with Ontario's 2017 Senior of the Year, Frances Chapkin)
The Republic of Rathnelly Celebrates their 50th Anniversary through Festivities and New Laneway Names

I deeply enjoyed the opportunity to join the residents of the Rathnelly community in celebrating their 50th annual Rathnelly Day! This day marks a unique example of community activism in our city's history when hundreds of residents boldly (and cheekily) declared succession from Canada to protest the construction of the Spadina Expressway.

In keeping with this spirit, I had the pleasure of working with my friends from RARA (Rathnelly Area Residents' Association) and Transportation Staff to commemorate the community's history and important individuals through five laneway namings: Robin Fraser Lane, Rebellion Lane, Michael Snow Lane, Stop Spadina Lane and Aileen Robertson Lane. Long live the Republic!

You can read more about the rich history of Rathnelly Day here.


(Josh at the Republic of Rathnelly's 50th anniversary celebration)
What's On: Events at Ward 22 Toronto Public Library Branches for July - August 2017

The Deer Park and Mount Pleasant Toronto Public Library branches are offering many exciting programs this summer. To learn about the programs being offered, please click here

You can also stay up-to-date with the latest library news and upcoming programs by signing up for the their What’s On at the Library enewsletter.

Summer Officially Kicks Off with the Opening of Outdoor Pools

Last week marked the official kick-off of the 2017 summer season with the opening of 59 city-wide outdoor pools and over 100 wading pools.

The City's outdoor pools will remain open, weather permitting, with varying schedules, until Labour Day weekend. For information about pool hours, operations and locations, please click here or call 311.

Supervision or swimming ability requirements are in place for children under 10 years of age. Leisure swimming is free for all ages.

Over 90 splash pads are open across the city and will remain open until September 17. Splash pads operate daily from 9am to 8:30pm and are activated through push-button features. Caregivers are reminded to supervise their children at these unsupervised water play areas.

More than 100 supervised wading pools are also open for the summer. Each will operate on individual schedules until September 3, weather permitting. Wading pools are shallow water areas for children located in parks. Caregivers are reminded to supervise children at all times in these areas.

Have your say! Protecting Toronto's pollinators

The City is inviting residents to share their views on a proposed strategy to protect Toronto's bees and other pollinators. The purpose of the strategy is to identify actions that can be taken by the City and the community to protect, enhance and create habitat for Toronto's pollinators. Toronto is home to more than 360 species of bees, and more than 100 species of butterflies and other pollinators. Some species are in decline. Learn more and share your views.

Volunteer Toronto: Becoming a Board Member Workshops

Are you a professional interested in volunteering in a leadership role? Volunteering as a non-profit board member may be the role for you. To find out what's involved and meet non-profits who are actively looking for volunteers to join their board, visit one of Volunteer Toronto’s upcoming workshops. 

For upcoming workshop dates and locations, please click here.

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.

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