Dear Friends and Residents,
The past few months have been, to understate it, very busy at City Hall. Discussions about the City's budget and transit planning have dominated the agenda. However, each day I receive hundreds of emails and phone calls from residents about the day-to-day issues that affect our lives.
In this e-newsletter, I'd like to let you know more about the some of the projects and issues that my staff and I have been working on, and also to share with you other news from around the community.
- Best of Midtown
- Tenants Town Hall Recap
- Participatory Budget Meeting for Oriole Park
- Opening of new parkette and playground at Soudan and Dunfield
- 33 Tarlton Road Ontario Municpal Board Appeal
- Mint Nightclub Update
- Avenue Road watermain update
- Friends of the Belt Line Clean Up
- Other news and events from around Ward 22
Thank you for all of your feedback, both supportive and critical. I look forward to having many more conversations in the coming weeks and months. More immediately, don't forget that this Saturday, March 31th at 8:30pm is Earth Hour. I hope you'll join in and turn off the lights for an hour to help remind us all of the energy we consume on a daily basis. More than anything, Earth Hour can be a fun way to remind ourselves to practice conservation for not just one hour a year, but every day of every year.
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 22 – St. Paul's
1. Best of Midtown
There are so many remarkable small and local businesses in Ward 22 that contribute to the vitality of our community. My "Best of Midtown" awards are about recognizing the valuable role that these businesses play in our local economy and our quality of life. Look out for the "Best of Midtown" certificates in businesses around the Ward, and stop in to see why they deserve this recognition. For a full list of the "Best of Midtown" establishments please visit my website by clicking here.
2. Tenants Town Hall Recap
It's become difficult to be a renter in Toronto. Ward 22 has the highest percentage of tenants in the city at 63% and I consistently hear from many that their budget is being squeezed tighter every month.
This year's high guideline rent increase, coupled with Above the Guideline Increases (AGI) for basic upkeep and repairs have pushed rents up through the roof. In addition, the low vacancy rate has made it near impossible to find lower-cost alternatives elsewhere.
I heard these concerns, and many others, at a tenants' town hall I hosted on March 22nd. Renters from across midtown had questions answered by experts I invited from the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants' Associations, Greater Toronto Apartments' Association, Advocacy Centre for Tenants and City staff from Municipal Licensing and Standards.
Renters were able to voice their concerns and provide constructive policy ideas to support a more balanced relationship with landlords. I will continue to work with local tenants and advocacy groups from across the City to make rental housing more affordable.
3. Participatory Budget Meeting for Oriole Park
I'm excited to move forward with a pilot project for Oriole Park that will have the community determine future spending priorities for their local green space at a town hall meeting.
I have secured funding for improvements for the park and the adjacent portion of the belt line. This money will be allotted by the community through Participatory Budgeting.
This innovative process will involve proposals by local residents that could include amenities such as community gardens and seating areas or new recreational facilities such as a basketball court, soccer pitch or chess table. These proposals will be costed by City Parks staff and voted on by the neighbourhood.
If you live close to Oriole Park please join us at Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St. (entrance on Heath St.) on April 16th 6:30-8:30
4. Opening of new parkette and playground at Soudan and Dunfield & public naming contest
As spring brings us more consistently warm weather, we will welcome a new park to Ward 22 for our residents to enjoy. Complete with a brand new playground, the Dunfield Parkette will officially be opened soon.
Public naming contest
As this is a brand new neighbourhood park, I would like to ask for your help in naming this new addition to the neighbourhood.
If you have any suggestions for a name, to honour someone who truly merits this recognition, please forward them to my office.
5. 33 Tarlton Road Ontario Municpal Board Appeal
I recently accompanied several residents at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, to attend an appeal for a proposal to build a new home at 33 Tarlton. The property was purchased by a developer, who was seeking permission to tear down the existing home, and build a new one that did not comply with the City's Zoning bylaw.
I along with the local residents did not feel that this proposed new home was in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood. We successfully made this argument at the Committee of Adjustment, but like many similar situations before, the OMB over turned the decision of the Committee of Adjustment and approved the required variances to the zoning bylaw.
I am very concerned that the stability of our neighbourhoods is being threatened by developers who are buying more properties throughout the ward, demolishing the existing dwellings, and replacing them with houses that exceed the limits prescribed by the zoning bylaw. The Committee of Adjustment in many cases has said no to such proposals, only to see its decisions over turned with relative ease of before the OMB. It is for this reason that I along with Councillor Wong-Tam successfully brought forward a motion to initiate planning reform with Queen's Park.
Please read more about this initiative on my website by clicking here.
6. Mint Nightclub Update
I have been working on behalf of several local residents with regards to the ongoing disruption the Mint Bar has had on the Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton community.
In January 2011 the City of Toronto laid a charge against the owners of the Mint Bar for operating a nightclub without the proper license. After two requests for adjournment, the owners finally entered a guilty plea to this charge.
There are two more charges coming to court in April, one for violations of the noise bylaw and the other for again operating a nightclub without a proper license. We have asked staff to continue enforcement.
In December I met with the owners of Mint Night Club to express the community's concerns with their current operation. They indicated that they would be reconsidering the operations in light of the charges against them and their impact on the neighbouring residents. I advised them that as long as they continued to operate as a nightclub - and to impact the neighbourhood with unreasonable noise from both inside and outside the club - I will continue to work with staff to ensure full enforcement.
It is important to note that the requirement for a special Nightclub license is a relatively new provision in the City of Toronto. Through this experience we are discovering that there are areas of this provision that need to be improved in order to better support the residential communities that the provision was designed to protect. I will be taking these experiences forward with the appropriate staff at both the bureaucratic and political levels to help bring about the changes required.
Please click here to learn more.
7. Avenue Road water main update
I have had many conversations with residents, the media and of course city staff with regards to this certainly necessary - yet frustrating project. The Avenue Road Watermain project has been ongoing since before I was elected to city council in 2010. The good news is that we are getting closer and closer to the completion of the section of the project within Ward 22. It has been an incredible exercise in patience for many residents who live in close proximity to affected sections of Avenue Road, throughout the many phases of the project.
For the most part the major construction is behind us. There will be some slip-lining work done on Avenue Road between McMaster and Poplar Plains from June through until August, and some odds and ends work to be completed in the general vicinity through until the fall.
This spring, the work up at Oriole Parkway and Kilbarry and in and around Oriole Park will also be completed. The section of Oriole Park at Chaplin and Oriole Parkway that was taken over by this project will soon be reinstated. This includes improvements to the park, with new plantings and landscaping. I am currently reviewing the new park plans with City Staff.
8. Friends of the Belt Line Clean Up:
Once again I will be participating with the Friends of the Belt Line Clean up on Saturday April 21st. Last October I had the pleasure in participating in the first "Friends of the Belt Line" clean-up day, and I look forward to doing this once again. I will send out more details as we get closer to the date, and I encourage people to come join us for what should once again be a fantastic day.
9. Other news from around Ward 22
a. David Wright, future Olympian, needs your help
Toronto resident David Wright recently qualified to represent Canada and our great city at the Olympic Games this summer in London, England. David, an eight year member of the Canadian Sailing Team in the Men's Singlehanded division, confirmed his position on the team with his first World Cup podium performance and will be looking to maintain that performance level at the Olympic regatta.
Like other full time athletes preparing to represent us he has limited resources and must actively fundraise through both individual donations and corporate partnerships to pay for competition, travel and equipment expenses. You can follow his journey and get involved in his campaign by visiting his website www.davidwrightsailing.com.
b. Toronto Youth Cabinet seeking candidates
The Toronto Youth Cabinet is holding its next elections this spring. The Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC) is a youth-driven advocacy organization which strives to improve the quality of life of Toronto’s youth. In working together with City Councillors and through fostering partnerships among youth organizations, the Cabinet is dedicated to providing young people with a forum in which they are able to build an equitable, youth-friendly Toronto. TYC membership is open to any youth between the ages of 13 and 24 who live, learn, work, or play in the City of Toronto. Membership is composed of youth that are reflective of Toronto’s youth population, in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, geography, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status. For a detailed list of Executive positions, the TYC's electoral protocol and nomination form please visit: www.thetyc.ca.
c. Nominations open for City of Toronto Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards
Do you know someone who is working to eliminate violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, homelessness, hate crimes, hunger, poverty or illiteracy in Toronto? Do you know someone who is building a city where everyone can participate in the social, cultural, economic, recreational and political life of Toronto? Recognize a human rights champion by nominating them for a City of Toronto Access, Equity and Human Rights Award.
The City of Toronto recognizes the ongoing work of residents in five categories: Aboriginal Affairs; Disability Issues; Status of Women; Race Relations, and; Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual and Two Spirited Issues.
The deadline for nominations is Monday, May 7, 2012.
d. Northern Secondary School champions teen mental health awareness
Northern Secondary School has been making significant efforts to raise awareness about mental health issues affecting teens. Please consider attending the following event.
Northern WellNSS- “Mental Health Matters” presents a collaboration evening with The New Mentality discussing and sharing about Mental Health and Stigma
Where: Northern Secondary School Resource Centre –Basement (851 Mt. Pleasant Rd.)
When: Tuesday April 10th, 2012 – 7:00 – 8:00pm
The Adolescent years are a critical period of adjustment for both teens and families. Teenagers go through many physical changes during adolescence, but they are also dealing with many mental and emotional changes as well. As parents and as community members it is important to be aware and understand how teens develop the challenges that youth face, and the ways in which family can help them stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible.
Talking to teens about the issue of mental health can be difficult, but it is the best way to understand what they are going though and if they need to get help. The New Mentality engages youth, parents and professionals to improve mental health services and reduces the stigma of mental illness.
Join us for an interactive and informative discussion and sharing experience with two young speakers from The New Mentality – Molly and Shannon , as they share their personal stories of mental illness, and implications to whichstigma affected their journeys.
This is a Free parent workshop and information session
e. Free income tax clinic at Central Eglinton Community Centre
Central Eglinton Community Centre is hosting a free Income Tax Clinic*, March 1, 2011 – April 23, 2011. Let Central Eglinton Community Centre's trained volunteers prepare your income tax return. Income tax returns will either be prepared by hand for you to mail, or filed electronically by computer, depending on availability. Various morning, afternoon, evening and Saturday appointments offered. No death returns. You must book an appointment to access the clinic. No walk-ins.
Central Eglinton Community Centre is located at 160 Eglinton Avenue East, at Redpath (near Yonge & Eglinton). Call 416-392-0511 ext. 0 to book your appointment on or after February 14, 2011
*For those with modest incomes only. Certain income guidelines will apply. The clinic cannot process returns involving business, or self-employment, bankruptcy/post bankruptcy, rental income, or capital gains.
f. Town hall meeting on new sports field permit fees for youth
Following the motion adopted at the March 5 City Council meeting, a Parks and Recreation report about the new City sports field permit fees for youth will be debated at the April 10 City Council meeting.
Public deputations or statements are not allowed at City Council meetings so a group of Councillors has organized a Town Hall to give sports associations and their members an opportunity to tell all of us about the impact these new fees have on their ability to run quality programs for Toronto's youth.
You are invited to attend the Town Hall on New Sports Field Permit Fees For Youth on Tuesday, April 3, in Council Chambers, starting at 7:00 pm.
g. Child Care Matters to Me campaign
A message from the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care:
As you may be aware, we are in a state of change in the world of early learning and child care. High quality, safe and affordable child care matters to the future of Ontario and we need your support to share the message with families and the community.
Does Child Care Matter to You?
Safe and affordable licensed child care matters to Ontario’s children, families and to our economy. It matters to Ontario’s future. Only an immediate investment and fix to the funding model will keep our licensed, non-profit child care centres and licensed home child care spaces from eroding. Tell your MPP to stand up for high quality child care that gives our kids the best start in life and protects Ontario's already fragile economy.
How you can help:
- Go to www.childcarematterstome.ca and spread the message that Child Care Matters to You.
- Sending out e-mails to MPPs and spreading the word is a click away – go to the website
- Like the Facebook Page so we can build support as quickly as possible.
- Share the message and the website with your contacts and colleagues.
Spread the message: Child Care Matters to Me
h. Global News' News from the Neighbourhood
A new segment and initiative is being launched by Global News in Toronto. Their plan is to reach out and connect with as many community groups, residents associations, BIAs and individuals as possible in order to help tell their story. If you as an individual or as a member of a community group have a message or a story to get out, you may be interested to read the following message about this initiative.
"This is news right where you live; it’s over the fence, across the street, around the corner, in your community. These are the stories of your Toronto - your wins, your losses and your determination to fight another day. Your stories need to be told. Global’s Mark McAllister is the guy to tell them.
NEWS FROM THE NEIGHBOURHOOD gives voice to the issues, the concerns and causes that matter to you.
i. New Automated Water Meters are coming to Ward 22
The City of Toronto is beginning the second phase of a six-year project to install automated water meters across the city. Our ward is part of phase two, and will be begin to receive new meters beginning in April.
Under the mandatory Water Meter Program, approximately 465,000 customers across the city will either receive a meter or have an existing meter replaced. The new automated meters will be more efficient and will be able to remotely transmit water meter readings for billing, eliminating the need for City staff to enter homes to obtain readings.
Once the new meter is installed, billings will be based on actual water use. This includes flow that may be related to leaking household fixtures. Therefore, it is important to ensure that plumbing is in good working order and leaks are repaired prior to the meter being installed. Following some simple tips can help you conserve water, be more efficient and save money. Visit toronto.ca/watereff/ to learn more.
Watch your mailbox for details about the program. Installers will typically be in an area for two weeks, so it’s important to schedule an appointment when you receive an Appointment Notice Request. Appointments can only be scheduled once you have received this booklet.
j. City of Toronto website helps residents, visitors navigate city roads
The City of Toronto has a website that makes it easier for motorists to find their way around City streets.
The site, toronto.ca/torontostreets, shows on-going and emergency road construction, existing travel conditions on City roads and a variety of special events taking place.
The goal is to help residents and visitors get around the city as easily as possible. By making this site one of your favourites and checking it before you leave home, you can find the best route for where you want to go.
Of course, Toronto is known for its wide range of special events and community activities and using this website will help you get to these locations more easily. If you are trying to get somewhere else, however, we can also help you steer clear of busy areas in the city so that you can get to your destination, hassle free.
The City is also offering those interested the opportunity to receive e-mail information about emergency road closures as they happen. To subscribe to receive these updates, visit www.toronto.ca/e-updates.