As always, I hope you find my latest update to you helpful, interesting and informative. I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful long weekend.
I hope to see you out in the community soon!
Provincial Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) Consultation Process Started: Make your voice Heard!
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an unaccountable, unelected and anti-democratic provincially-appointed body that has final say over our city’s planning decisions.
The provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Attorney General announced this week that they will begin a long overdue review of the way the OMB operates. As many of you know, I have been a long-time advocate of freeing Toronto from the OMB’s purview.
With our review of the Yonge and Eglinton Secondary Plan study and the Midtown in Focus Public Realm plan, I’ve also been actively advocating for a renewed focus on planning for people, rather than just condos- infrastructure such as pipes, wires, transit and roads along with social servies such as childcare, school capacity and recreation and much more must be the priority for planning communities.
While the Province has stopped short of eliminating the OMB altogether, there are a number of very positive reforms proposed in the consultation document 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 councils for re-evaluation before rendering a decision
- More actively promoting mediation to settle disputes, preventing adversarial hearings
- Better training OMB members, who are appointed by the Province
I look forward to constructively participating in this consultation and I encourage you to make your voice heard. For details on how you can participate, please visit the Ministry of Municipal Affair’s website and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Hydro One Clear Cut Update: Funding Approved to Replace Trees and Make Other Improvements in Robertson Davies Park
As many of you know, on , Hydro One cut down 29 mature trees in Robertson Davies Park. This action was in contravention of a 2012 agreement with our community in which Hydro One assured residents that mature trees would not need to be cut down in order to keep limbs a safe distance required from the overhead electrical conductors.
While the mature trees cannot be replaced, the neighbourhood and my office have been working to ensure that Hydro One make amends for its error to the fullest extent possible. At a September 28 community meeting at Cottingham PS, Hydro One committed to replacing the felled trees while also providing a noise barrier, and other park enhancements.
I am happy to report that I successfully moved a motion at Council this week which facilitated Hydro paying $200,000.00 for trees, shrubs, park furniture, and other amenities for park enhancements at Robertson Davies Park.
As part of the project, Hydro One will also work with Canadian Pacific Railway to construct a sound wall on the Railway’s property.
Rail Deck Park Takes Important Step Forward
Earlier this summer, Mayor Tory and local Councillor Joe Cressy announced an innovative idea to explore decking the rail corridor between Union Station and Bathurst to provide space for a large park. While the cost is significant, the rapid pace of growth downtown requires measures like this to ensure that residents have a reasonable quality of life. Midtown residents certainly understand this need.
While I have concerns about how the City will fund the project, given our unfunded list of capital priorities, I am happy to support Mayor Tory and my colleague Councillor Cressy (Ward 20) to move forward with studying the feasibility of this idea.
Expanding Hours for By-Law Enforcement Officers
A consistent concern from many residents is noise from construction and other activities occurring outside of permitted hours ( on weekdays, on Saturdays, no construction allowed on Sundays). That’s why I’m pleased to report that I successfully moved a motion at Council this week requesting the Director of Licensing and Standards to report on the feasibility of Staff working overnight and weekends to enforce noise and other by-laws.
If you are concerned about a potential noise by-law violation from construction or other activities in your neighbourhood, please do call 311.
Fighting Overdevelopment of Yonge-Eglinton at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)
This week at Council, I successfully passed motions to send City Planning and Legal Staff to fight several poorly-planned developments that are proposed for the Yonge-Eglinton area, including:
18 Brownlow Avenue
This application is for two towers (25 and 20 storeys) with 648 units facing Soudan, between Brownlow and Redpath. The site is far too small for this significant density. Further, heights and densities are supposed to decrease as sites move away from Yonge and Eglinton. This development is even taller than the OMB-approved 19-storey tower at Lillian and Soudan, which is closer to the major intersection.
City Planning has suggested that a midrise building would be more appropriate for this site and will be advocating for this solution at the OMB.
On a positive note, I was successful in moving a motion last March that secured a 10m green strip along Soudan, forcing the developer to set his building back further from the street regardless of the final outcome at the OMB.
For more information, please see the Staff Report.
This application is for a 36-storey rental apartment building containing 236 units. The tower would be attached to the existing 19-storey, 128-unit rental apartment building on the site.
This proposal is extremely disrespectful to the existing tenants who would have to endure years of intrusive disruption. Further, this ‘parasitic’ proposal contravenes the City’s Official Plan Amendment 320 which prohibits infill that creates “…high rise additions to existing apartment building(s).” The addition would create a massive slab building up to the 19th floor, with a combined floor plate of approximately 1,092 square metres. This is much larger than the recommended maximum floor plate for tall buildings in the Tall Building Design Guidelines of 750 metres.
For more information, please see the Staff Report.
This application is for a 47-storey tower containing a total of 455 residential units on the site of an existing office building. The application represents overdevelopment of a small, mid-block site that doesn’t allow the developer to meet tower separation distances of a minimum of 25 metres, as requested by City Planning.
This proposal also contravenes OPA 231, which legislates full replacement of office space. It is important that Yonge and Eglinton contain a mix of work and commercial spaces in addition to the new residential development to ensure that the area does not become a bedroom community.
For more information, please see the Staff Report.
Glebe Manor Parkettes (on Belsize Drive) Update and 4th Annual Pumpkin Parade
Many of you have noticed that the fencing around the portion of the Belsize Drive parkettes (Glebe Manor Square) between Harwood Road and Forman Avenue is still up, despite the anticipated removal date of September 24.
I have been speaking relentlessly with Parks staff about re-opening this space to the community. They have been consistently monitoring the status of the re-seeded areas and continue to express real concerns about how the exceptionally hot summer weather affected the grass and have told me, in no uncertain terms, that they are not ready to take it down. Their estimate is that the fencing should remain until the end of October.
I know this is frustrating but I recognize that it would be wasteful and irresponsible to ignore staff’s professional advice, given the large investment that we’ve made into beautifying our park for the long-term.
Join us at this year’s community Pumpkin Parade on !
Despite this setback, I’m excited to announce that our 4th Annual Pumpkin Parade will still take place at Glebe Manor East parkette! This year, we will be holding the event in the eastern portion (between Forman Avenue and Boyton Road). Staff have advised me that, even if the fencing is removed from the western half, it wouldn’t be wise to have the newly germinated grass trampled by possibly hundreds of people at once.
Please join me, my family, Apple Tree Markets, friends and neighbours, for the Pumpkin Parade at on . This is a fun community event where everyone brings their pumpkins for an encore performance from Halloween the night before. I’ve arranged for your pumpkins to be picked up by the City if you’d like to leave yours at the park!
New Resource to Help School Communities and Residents Improve Traffic Safety
As many of you know, I’ve been working with parents and residents in every Ward 22 neighbourhood on traffic safety concerns on streets across our community. As your councillor and as a local parent myself, there is no higher priority.
The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) is pleased to release the Guide to Safer Streets Near Schools: Understanding Your Policy Options in the City of Toronto, a new resource created to help school communities and residents improve traffic safety in their neighbourhoods.
The guide complements the newly released Road Safety Plan by the City of Toronto, and is designed to further enhance the accessibility of the relevant policies for residents.
“The Guide to Safer Streets Near Schools explains the processes for requesting street improvements in the City of Toronto in a simple and easy to understand format. This resource can help empower school communities by providing direction and tools to assist in advocating for neighbourhoods with slower vehicle speeds and safer street crossings, thereby enhancing the communities in which we live, work, and play,” shares Richard Christie, the Senior Manager of Sustainability at the Toronto District School Board.
The resource is available as a PDF for download from saferstreetsnearschools.ca,where readers will also find a web version that includes downloadable templates and samples from the accompanying toolkit.
Recreational Opportunities at City of Toronto Attractions on Thanksgiving
The City of Toronto encourages residents to make the most of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday on . The following attractions and activities will be available to the public on the Thanksgiving holiday:
Toronto Island Park (ferry located at 9 Queens Quay W.)
Just minutes away from downtown, Toronto Island Park is a great place to walk, cycle, explore and view the city skyline. Ferries will run on their fall schedule. More information is available here.
Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester St.)
High Park Zoo (on Deer Pen Road)
The High Park Zoo, featuring domestic and exotic animals including Toronto’s famous capybaras Bonnie and Clyde, is open daily from to dusk. The llama pen is open from on weekends and statutory holidays. More information is available here or by calling 311.
Parks, trails and green spaces
Torontonians can get outside and enjoy the parks, trails and green spaces their city has to offer, with hundreds of public parks and about 600 kilometres of trails. More information is available on the City’s website:
- parks information at http://toronto.ca/parks
- trails information at http://toronto.ca/trails
- green spaces information at http://toronto.ca/nature.
L’Amoreaux Tennis Centre (300 Silver Spring Blvd. in Scarborough) will be open from on the holiday . Scarborough Winter Tennis Club members can book six days in advance. All non-members can book a day in advance. Prime-time rates apply. More information is available here or by calling 416-396-4041.
All community centres and indoor pools run by Parks, Forestry and Recreation will operate on their regular schedule on Friday, October 7, , and will be closed on for the Thanksgiving holiday. Regular programs and services will resume on .
All five City of Toronto golf courses will be open on Thanksgiving Day, with the first tee-off at and the last nine-hole tee-off time at Holiday rates will be in effect. More information is available here.
Thanksgiving Day at Toronto’s Historic Sites
Two of the City’s 10 historic sites will offer tours on Thanksgiving Day ( ) as described below.
Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York Blvd.)
Fort York National Historic Site will be open from on , featuring tours and new exhibitions. Regular admission applies.
Spadina Museum (285 Spadina Rd.)
Spadina Museum will be open and offer afternoon tours themed on the Austin family, which originally made Spadina Museum its home, on . Regular admission applies. Museum hours are
All of the historic sites except Zion Schoolhouse will be open and this weekend. Operating hours and activity details vary by location. Please click herefor more information.
Sarah and Claire’s 9th Annual Food Drive Community BBQ
Please join me on Saturday, October 8 for a community BBQ at Valu-Mart (1500 Bayview Avenue), co-hosted by Mike Tufts of South Bayview Valu-Mart and Patrick Rocca. The event will run from and feature a BBQ, cotton candy, and a visit by Pawsitively Pets.
Save the Date: Oriole Park Association AGM
Please join me for the Oriole Park Association’s Annual General Meeting at on at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (200 Eglinton Avenue West).
The meeting will commence with the President’s report followed by the election of board members and presentation of the Garden of the Year award. Upcoming community events will also be discussed.
I will be giving an update to attendees on local and City-wide priorities at the meeting. Following that, Steve Paikin, anchor of TVO’s “The Agenda”, will talk about his recent book Bill Davis: Nation Builder and Not So Bland After All. The evening will conclude with a book signing.
Upcoming Mid-Term Appointments
Do you want to make a difference in your city? Toronto residents are needed to serve on a range of City boards and committees. Board members provide oversight of their agency or corporation, bring a community perspective to board discussions, and help to reflect the needs and interests of Torontonians.
This fall, the City of Toronto will be recruiting for more than 70 public member positions across 20 boards. Bring your skills and experience to the table. To learn more about these opportunities and apply online, please click here.
Sign up for the public appointments e-updates to receive information about application deadlines, vacancies, and new opportunities to join a City board here.
New – Diversity Dashboard
To enable the City to achieve its objectives for access, equity, and diversity and to assist the City in its efforts to appoint boards that collectively reflect the diversity of the community, applicants are encouraged to complete a voluntary, confidential diversity survey as part of their application. We recently added a diversity dashboard to our website which provides an overview of the demographic data for board applicants and appointees. The dashboard can be found here.
Nominations Open for the 37th YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards
Do you know a woman who is making a difference and improving the lives of women and girls? The YWCA wants to celebrate her. Every year, YWCA Toronto honours the work of remarkable women who are creating new opportunities for women and girls in our city and around the globe in a wide array of areas such as business, education, social justice, advocacy, arts, health and philanthropy.
Nomination deadline is .
Save the date: the 37th YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards will take place on at The Carlu.
CERA’s Eviction Prevention for Seniors Project
390-398 Spadina Road Development Proposal Update
City Planning recently issued a refusal report to construct a 9-storey mixed-use building at 390 Spadina Rd, consisting of 46 residential units. Unfortunately, the developer has appealed this decision to the OMB.
While this development is actually located in Ward 21 (on the west side of Spadina Road), it will obviously impact many Ward 22 residents directly across Spadina Road and throughout the Ward 22 portion of Forest Hill Village.
In February 2014, I successfully moved a motion requesting City Planning Staff to study Forest Hill Village (located along Spadina Road) and prepare Urban Design Guidelines to protect the small town feeling of this distinctive area. The mandate for the Forest Hill Village Urban Design Guidelines is to maintain the small town character of the area by identifying the appropriate urban character, materials and building rhythm and articulation for future developments and/or renovations within the study area. This includes a Staff recommendation for a maximum of four storeys street wall for the Village.
These new guidelines will help strengthen City Planning’s position when assessing future development applications for the Village. To learn more about the new guidelines, please see this City report that was approved today by Toronto & East York Community Council.
To ensure you are informed and engaged about development proposals being proposed for sites near your neighbourhood, I’ve created an interactive webpage.
My Proposed Developments webpage 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.
Please click here to learn more about what you can do to help free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).