Doug Ford Makes Surprise Changes to Toronto’s Wards and Cancels Current Election With No Public Consultation
Torontonians were shocked to see a report that Doug Ford was set to announce that he will cancel our city’s municipal election halfway through, and completely change the ward boundaries without any public consultation. This is unprecedented, anti-democratic and reckless. Candidates have already received donations from voters and have been knocking on doors for months, and the 47 ward boundaries were created after a 5-year expert-driven process that included extensive public consultation and considered quality of representation. To those who support 25 larger wards with larger populations, I respectfully submit that a decision regarding that proposal should be done with expert advice to ensure voter parity, and genuine public consultation- for the people.
It has been reported that Premier Ford discussed this change with Mayor Tory prior to the announcement about this change, yet City Council and the public were not advised. Premier Ford changed the nomination dates and election process for Council candidates but not for Mayoral candidates.
Chaos is not good for a healthy democracy. Creating turmoil is not a mere by-product of this move, it is a central part of Ford’s behavior as Premier, just as it was when he was at City Hall. Throwing our election upside-down is meant to waste time and energy instead of focusing on the issues that matter most to all of us.
We will not take the bait.
I know our Midtown community, along with most Torontonians, will remain focused on a thoughtful, responsible, creative and fact-based approach to improving our city- better transit, affordable housing, childcare, safer streets, more greenspace and many other real priorities that contribute to our quality of life.
Like you, I look forward to learning more details as they are shared with the public. And fight for our local democracy.
We need to take Real Action to Curb Gun Violence
I am heartbroken from the terrible tragedy on the Danforth last week. I can’t imagine the pain that the parents are feeling having lost their young daughters to this act of violence.
In the midst of our collective mourning, we cannot seek solace in the promise of easy solutions. Council supported the use of unproven “Shot Spotter” technology which identifies bullets after the gun has already been fired instead of stopping guns from being shot in the first place.
Recent history has demonstrated that there are no quick-fixes to address gun violence. The roots of this behaviour must be addressed if we are serious about making our city safer. Research has long demonstrated that violence is perpetrated as a result of mental illness, poverty, racism, trauma, and other psychological and social factors. To curb violence, we must address these factors. City Council recognized this fact when it approved my motion to address the roots of youth violence when it adopted the Youth Equity Strategy in 2014.
Unfortunately, like numerous government reports, many of the recommendations are just gathering dust.
I am pleased to report, however, that Council did take some positive steps in the right direction by providing significant funding to finally implement some important recommendations from the Strategy, including an additional $2.6 million through a motion that I was pleased to see unanimously supported by my colleagues. Council also backed a motion urging the federal government to ban handguns and crack down on illegal guns entering through the US border.
For more information please read this article
Midtown in Focus Approved at Council
I am very pleased to announce that Midtown in Focus, our new plan to improve the Yonge-Eglinton area, was supported unanimously by my colleagues at City Council this week.
To help address the issues facing our community, I worked with fellow Midtown Councillors in 2015 to initiate the Midtown in Focus review of growth, built form, and infrastructure issues in the Yonge-Eglinton area. The initial report validated our anecdotal observations by quantifying the problems we face. This final report allows the City, not developers, to direct growth. This report provides up-to-date policy which recognizes that capital upgrades and expanded social services are necessary to support Midtown residents.
The report acknowledges that we must build new school capacity, affordable childcare spaces, parks, and other amenities that create a livable community. While we had a major victory this week, there is more work needed to achieve our goals.
The Midtown in Focus Plan must be approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In addition, we also need time to allow for hard infrastructure and social services to catch up to the rapid development Yonge and Eglinton has seen in the past decade.
Unfortunately, under the provincial Planning Act, the City only has the authority to place ‘holds’ on individual development applications for a specific community benefit. The current rules do not consider the holistic needs of Midtown. We have reached the point where big-ticket projects like a new school and major transit improvements are necessary.
Significant infrastructure needs obviously cannot be satisfied by a single developer. That’s why I moved a motion that requests the Provincial Government to authorize the City to put a pause on all development until the much needed hard infrastructure and social services are in place to provide the high quality of life that our community deserves.
Please tell the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing to support our Midtown Community by approving the Midtown in Focus plan and placing a pause on development until hard infrastructure and social services are in place to serve the Yonge-Eglinton area:
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
777 Bay Street, 17th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
Affordable for Who? Toronto Needs to Change its Definition of Affordable Housing
The definition of affordability according to our official plan doesn’t actually reflect the reality of affordability for many Torontonians. The Mayor’s Open Door program provides tax breaks, free land, and other incentives to developers to build housing. While I strongly support efforts to build more affordable housing, I have concerns about directing public resources to support the construction of homes that prices out many low, and even moderate, income residents.
In 2017, under the program, the City’s incentives totalled at least $128 million for 1,224 units. That is a considerable subsidy to secure market rents as the city currently defines affordable housing as anything at or below average market rent. In 2018, the average market rent, as defined by a CMHC survey, for a one-bedroom was $1,202 a month and $1,426 for a two-bedroom unit. While these rents are cheaper than the going rate to enter into a lease right now, they are still beyond the means of many Torontonians.
That’s why I’m pleased that my motion to conduct a value-for-money analysis of the Open Door Program, and to review the City’s definition of affordability under the Official Plan, were both supported by Council.
For more information, please see this article
Let’s Put an End to Developers Occupying Sidewalks and Streets!
Traffic congestion is a significant problem for Toronto’s motorists, public transit users and cyclists. A British firm recently discovered that Toronto has the worst commute times in North America and estimates have put the cost of congestion to our City’s economy at $6 billion a year while negatively impacting on the quality of life of our residents.
Of course, the long-term solutions to this problem include building a more accessible, affordable, extensive and efficient public transportation system in addition to encouraging carpooling and other modes of travel. But, in the meantime, we must take every opportunity to ease congestion.
The practice of allowing developers to occupy traffic lanes for staging construction negatively impacts motorists, surface transit users, and pedestrians. This usage of our streets causes bottlenecks, backing up traffic several blocks on major arterial roads, and can lead to inconvenient and, in some cases, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
For too long, developers have submitted designs without providing enough land to actually build what they are proposing with the expectation that the City will later provide public land to facilitate construction. Enough is enough.
I moved a motion at this week’s Council meeting requesting Staff to look at the feasibility of eliminating the practice of occupying the City right-of-way for construction purposes and requiring developers to submit construction plans at the same time as their rezoning application. This will demonstrate that they can build what they are proposing without impacting our community. Developers should be prepared to stage construction on their own property and provide the necessary setbacks to do so.
As part of my initiative to stop this practice across the whole city, I moved a motion to stop a specific attempt by a developer to take up a lane of traffic on Avenue Road, south of St. Clair, to build a new condo.
For more information, please see this article.
Council Unanimously Supports Making Toronto’s Long-Term Care Homes more Caring, Respectful and Supportive
As Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, I’m happy to report that my motion was passed unanimously by Council to take the first steps toward transforming care within the City’s 10 Long-Term Care Home and Service units. Through implementing emotion-centred models such as the Butterfly and Greenhouse Project approaches, staff will be able to focus on the emotional well-being of residents with dementia, and all seniors, in their care.
Presently, the Butterfly service approach is being utilized within a municipally-operated Long-Term Care Home in Peel Region and has reportedly shown positive outcomes for residents, improved job satisfaction for staff and annual savings of over $50,000 as a conservative estimate. Evidence collected from the application of this approach in British Columbia demonstrates improved health and safety outcomes for seniors, including a 43 percent reduction in falls, 58 percent reduction in violent incidences, and 100 percent reduction in the use of pain medication.
Mid-rise in Midtown
For years now I have been very vocal about supporting a Parisian-type mid-rise scale as part of our broader vision for Midtown Yonge Street. Many developers have argued with me that building midrise is simply not economically feasible and used this argument to justify that constructing high-rise towers is the only way for them to both make a profit and provide housing.
That’s why I was surprised and pleased when a developer brought a very reasonable proposal for a nine-storey, mixed commercial-rental building to our community at 1982-1984 Yonge Street. Through consultation and discussion with the community, City Staff, and the applicant, we received unanimous support and were able to secure an affordable housing unit, and come to an agreement to recognize the cultural heritage of the existing building.
You can see City Planning’s final report here.
Toronto Launches HomeShare Pilot Program
I’m pleased to share that as part of Toronto’s Seniors Strategy Version 2.0, which was passed unanimously during May’s City Council meeting, the City of Toronto, in partnership with the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE), has launched the Toronto HomeShare Pilot Project! With funding from the Province, Toronto HomeShare is about older adult homeowners (age 55+) sharing space in their homes with someone who is looking for affordable housing, HomeSeeker. In exchange for reduced rental costs, the HomeSeeker agrees to provide five to seven hours a week contributing to the dynamics of the home, which could include sharing a meal together, helping with chores, yard work, walking a pet, etc.
Older adult residents who are interested in finding more about the HomeShare Pilot Project are encouraged to attend an information session. For further details, please review this flyer.
Commemorating Jeffrey E. Mann
Nearly two years ago I was approached by Deer Public School Teacher, Nicholas Manning, who shared with me the tragic passing of his beloved friend and colleague, Jeffrey Mann. I learned of Jeffrey’s inspiring decade as both a committed educator and community leader, and was honoured with the request to find a way to commemorate his achievements in the Deer Park Community. As a physical education teacher, he taught hundreds of children civic leadership and to strive for excellence. For example, he helped organize a triathlon with nearly 300 hundred students that helped raise nearly $15 000 for cancer research.
In consultation with his friends and colleagues, we were able to identify a small green space at the top of the steps leading to the Vale of Avoca Ravine and behind Deer Park public school as an appropriate place to commemorate Jeffrey. I was delighted that city council this week supported our request to rename the space “Jeffrey E. Mann Landing” and install a plaque this fall that honours his legacy to the community.
Playground at Cottingham Square Renamed “Bill R. Davis Playground”: Long-time Volunteer of the Boys and Girls Club
As a city, we often give recognition to the politicians who served our communities through the renaming of our parks and plazas. However, I have learned over the years that there are countless leaders who make deeply meaningful contributions to our communities every single day, and go unrecognized. That is why I was so supportive of an initiative led by local Cottingham Square residents, Olga Fischer, John Scott and Andrea Kiss, to honour the extraordinary achievements of an individual who has inspired thousands of children.
Bill Davis has run the Boys and Girls Club throughout the Summerhill Community for nearly 60 years! This is a program that simply allows kids to come together, use their imagination and play. Bill’s model has been organize a number of old fashioned and uncomplicated games for children to participate in after school. Since we began this initiative, my office has received dozens of letters from people of all different age groups, and across the city, sharing fond memories of how positively Bill’s program impacted them.
Not only am I delighted that Toronto East York Community Council supported the renaming of the playground, but also that I had the opportunity to celebrate the announcement with Bill’s family, friends and the community!
Heritage Toronto Public Consultation Session
Heritage Toronto is a charitable, arms-length city agency that has been promoting a greater appreciation for heritage across our city for over 60 years. Every election year, Heritage Toronto takes stock of the state of heritage across the city through consultations, research, and a city-wide survey to produce a report on how well the city is preserving and celebrating cultural, natural, and physical heritage.
On Tuesday, July 31st at 6pm, Heritage Toronto will be holding a public forum on Toronto’s State of Heritage at the newly restored The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West). They will also be drawing for door prizes for attendees! You can register and learn more about the event here
Our Community’s Davisville Village Farmers’ Market
I’m delighted to support AppleTree Markets, a local non-profit organization, who will once again transform June Rowlands Park every Tuesday between 3:00pm-7:00pm into a vibrant “town square” for the seventh year of out community’s farmers’ market. The market is a place where you are sure to see friends and neighbours, while buying fresh produce, chocolate, and so much
more. I look forward to seeing you there!
Toronto- St. Paul’s Tenant Associations Network
Have you heard about the Toronto-St. Paul’s Tenant Associations Network? It is a non-partisan group of tenants and tenant associations in the Toronto-St. Paul’s riding (Ward 21 and Ward 22). They are working on building a strong community of tenant associations and to advocate for tenant rights in the city and province. Are you a tenant? Take the survey here
SAVE THE DATE: Central Eglinton’s Community Centre Fun & Fundraising Auction 2018
I welcome you to join CECC for their annual auction on Monday October 15th at 6:00pm at the Granite Brewery! Proceeds collected contribute to the various programs and initiatives that serve families with babies and young children, adults, seniors and community groups. For more information, please review this letter.
SAVE THE DATE: 18th Annual Bayview Art Tour
The Bayview Art Tour and Sale has been shining a light on the works of local artists for the past 16 years. Now in its seventeenth year, we are expecting to repeat our fantastic numbers from 2017, in participants and visitors. 2017’s tour dates are Saturday, October 13th & Sunday, October 14th, 2018 in various venues throughout your local neighbourhood. The Bayview Art Tour venues lie in the general area bounded by Mt. Pleasant Road, Laird Avenue, Broadway Avenue and East Moore Park. Each venue hosts 1+ artist(s) who display and promote their unique and original artwork. BAT venues are distinguished by bright yellow balloons marking each location and are promoted extensively throughout your local community and the GTA. I look forward to seeing you there.