Remembering Mona Piper: Announcing our Community’s new Mona Piper Playground
It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Mona Piper on January 31, 2018 at the age of 88. Mona passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loved ones in Sunnybrook Hospital’s palliative care unit.
Keeping children safe at the corner of Millwood and Cleveland for 43 years, Mona was the longest serving crossing guard in Toronto. She was very proud that in all her years of service not a single kid was hurt on her corner while she was on duty. She was recognized by MP Carolyn Bennett as an Outstanding Neighbour and was recognized for protecting children by the Provincial Minister of Education this past September.
Her last year was marked by health issues. She spent five months in hospital recovering from a broken leg and a stroke. Unable to perform her crossing guard duties in an official capacity, Mona still protected the neighbourhood children. After returning home from the hospital she sat on her porch, which overlooked the corner where she had worked, watching over local children just as she had for the past 43 years.
I am delighted to announce that the playground in our new community park on the Manor Road United Church site at the corner Forman and Manor Rd. will be named Mona Piper Playground.
A Museum of Toronto at Old City Hall!
Our campaign to finally establish a city museum of Toronto took a major step forward at Councilthis week as my colleagues voted to further develop a design and plans for Old City Hall that include a Museum of Toronto, in addition to a Toronto Public Library branch, and moving the wedding chamber currently at City Hall.
Since 2012, I have been actively working to establish a City of Toronto museum, first at Casa Loma’s under-utilized North Campus. At that time, Old City Hall was not available as it was in active use as a Provincial Court House. However, the courts are due to move in 2021 and I believe Old City Hall is a more desirable place for this purpose from a geographic, historical, and functional perspective. Old City Hall is one of the few sites in Toronto recognized by the Federal government as having historical value. This is a National Historical Site and has been since 1984. Indeed, it was our city’s seat of government from 1899 to 1966.
I am pleased that my colleagues supported my motion to save Old City Hall from becoming a mall in 2015 and, instead, have Staff investigate the feasibility of a city museum at this iconic site.
The initiative to establish a city museum began with former Mayor David Crombie forty years ago, yet Toronto remains one of the few cities of its size and prominence without a dedicated space to tell its stories. It is a shame that the majority of Toronto’s historical collection (comprised of over 1.3 million cultural artifacts and archaeological specimens) remains out of public view in warehouses.
Now that the incompatible court functions are no longer an impediment, we have a rare opportunity to finally move forward with housing a city museum in a building that truly merits showcasing Toronto’s rich socio-cultural and architectural history.
Successfully Protecting Davisville Village’s Heritage: Council approves heritage designation of 505 Balliol Street
It was brought to my attention by local residents that the owner of this historic house at 505 Balliol sought to demolish it. This architecturally and culturally significant house was constructed in 1889, and was later adapted to serve the community as grocery store until 1951.
With the support of Heritage Preservation staff, I successfully moved a motion at Council to protect it under the Ontario Heritage Act. You can read more about how the community and I worked together protect this local landmark here.
We Need Relief (Subway Line) Now!
As many of you experienced first-hand, Toronto’s already overcrowded subway system was thrown into chaos this week. The serious delays on Tuesday and Wednesday caused by signal errors, track problems, and other incidents, punctuated the need for the Relief Subway Line.
As any resident who rides the subway knows, the Yonge Line is already at capacity. During rush hour at stations like Eglinton it is common to wait for two or three trains before boarding and once on, you’re crammed in like a sardine.
The overcrowding is most critical at Bloor-Yonge station, which is already nearing capacity, with another 45% increase in users expected over the next twenty years. Even with signal improvements and the new, larger trains we can’t keep ahead of this growth without expansion elsewhere to alleviate the pressure. That’s why the Relief Line was named as Toronto’s top transit expansion priority by former Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, TTC CEO Andy Byford, Toronto’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and City Manager Joe Pennachetti .
City Council has unfortunately featured transit debates long on rhetoric and short on facts. The Relief Subway Line would provide an alternative to our existing subway system that’s already overcrowded during rush hours, curb gridlock on our city’s streets and increase access to jobs and attractions. It is the evidence-based subway expansion project that would be an integral part of a comprehensive network approach that would most improve Toronto’s economy and residents’ quality of life.
For more information and how to take action, please visit this webpage
Protecting our Natural Heritage: Vale of Avoca Masterplan moves forward
The Yellow Creek and Vale of Avoca are important parts of Midtown’s natural environment. They allow us to escape the hustle and bustle of our big city without ever leaving it. Unfortunately, due to spills, degradation of the ravine slopes, and the natural course of time, Yellow Creek is in urgent need of maintenance.
Working closely with local residents, led by representatives of both the Summerhill Residents’ Association and the Deer Park Residents’ Group, Councillor Wong-Tam and I have written in the past to the City’s Parks & Environment Committee, requesting a masterplan be created to support the restoration of Yellow Creek and the Vale of Avoca.
Councillor Wong-Tam and I put forward recommendations that were approved by Council to direct City Staff to evaluate the status of the ecological integrity of Yellow Creek and include an inventory, including the state of good repair, of existing facilities and features – including the trail network, invasive species and the health of the tree canopy, and identification of the departments or agencies responsible for implementing and maintaining these assets. This will be done in coordination with the Geomorphic Systems Master Plan Environmental Assessment and the recommendations of the Ravine Strategy.
Council also directed staff to do this evaluation in consultation with a working group comprised of relevant community stakeholders. Staff have also been directed to establish a timeline for the major works required, with the hope of also identifying immediate projects that the City, along with the community, can address immediately.
This push forward has been due in large part to the active stewardship by local residents, again led by the Summerhill Residents’ Association and the Deer Park Residents’ group. It has been my absolute pleasure to work with them, along with my colleague Councillor Wong-Tam.
Save the Regent Theatre! UPDATE
The iconic and historic Regent Theatre on Mt. Pleasant is under threat. Since learning that the 1927 heritage building was put up for sale, I have been working with local residents, representatives for the owner, and arts organizations to develop a plan for saving this important landmark.
Coming out of a very productive public meeting last week, I’m continuing to work with stakeholders to develop viable models to keep the theatre operating. Our goal is to ensure that any plan will include protecting the Regent Theatre’s built form, as well as its cultural purpose, which contributes so much value to our community and city. Please keep following my community e-newsletter for future updates.
Yonge & St. Clair’s Exciting Transformation Continues with New Business Improvement Area (BIA)
Yonge & St. Clair is currently undergoing a renaissance. I have been working with the local residents and businesses to create vibrant main streets by substantially improving the public realm with new planters and an iconic mural overlooking Scallywag’s Patio. I am happy to report that City Council supported the creation of a new BIA. I want to thank the local merchants who are working together to continue to improve Yonge and St. Clair’s streetscape and it’s re-emerging success. You can view the boundaries of the BIA and the Council item here.
Protecting Tenants’ Rights – Important Meeting of the Tenant Issues Committee
As Chair of the City’s Tenant Issues Committee, I advocate for renters across Toronto. Please feel welcome to attend our next meeting on Friday February 9th at 1:30pm in Committee Room 2 at City Hall where we will be looking at critical issues affecting housing in our city. I have provided the Agenda items below for your review. If you would like to make a deputation on any of these items please contact the Clerk – firstname.lastname@example.org.
For your information, here are the priority items that will be on the agenda:
Toronto Fire Services – High Rise Residential Inspection Portal
In the wake of last year’s Grenfell Tower Fire tragedy in London, I requested Toronto Fire Services to undertake a more transparent fire inspection process for tenants throughout our city. I was impressed with how quickly they delivered an online portal that allows tenants to review fire inspection results on currently 1541 high-rise apartment buildings. Toronto Fire Services will give a demonstration of their High Rise Residential Inspection Portal. Please read this article for more information.
Municipal Licensing and Standards – Update on Heat in Apartments
Last fall, many Midtown tenants suffered during a late September heatwave. Some residents reported temperature readings of over 30 degrees Celsius in their units as a result of their landlords turning on heat and/or not turning on air conditioning.
Landlords are currently required to ensure that the temperature in a rental unit not be lower than 21 degree Celsius, but that rue does not require a building’s heating system to be on. Unfortunately, some landlords misinterpreted the City by-law and turned on the heat in their buildings. Others reported being concerned that if they turned off their heat and/or turned on their air conditioning that they could be fined should the temperature suddenly drop.
I asked landlords to use common sense when making these decisions and assured them that our by-law officers would do the same. A request was unfortunately the only tool I had available during this fall’s heatwave. It is unacceptable that members of our community were baking in their apartments this past fall – everyone has the right to a comfortable and healthy home. That’s why I’m eager to receive an update from City Staff on their response to my motion on better regulating room temperatures in apartment buildings.
For more information, please see this article.
City Planning – 2018 Rental Housing Market Conditions in Toronto
As many of you know, there is a rental housing crisis in Toronto. Vacancy rates have been hovering around 1% in the past year and very few of the limited apartments available are affordable.
City Planning will provide an overview of current conditions in Toronto’s rental housing market. The presentation will review key data and trends in rents, vacancy rates, the stock of rental housing, proposed and under construction rental units, and other metrics to better understand the rental housing context in the City.
For more information on my work to improve affordability for renters, please see this article on ending unlimited rent increases in apartments built after 1991, and this information pamphlet on eliminating rent increases above the provincially mandated guideline.
Update on RentSafe TO –Apartment Building By-law
The new Tenant Protection by-law was passed by Council last spring to provide much needed protection for Toronto renters. The provisions of the by-law have been in force by July of this year.
This comprehensive new by-law includes several motions I moved to support tenants, including:
- A “Rentsafe” rating program for buildings modelled off of the “Dinesafe” program for restaurants. This would require 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
Municipal Licensing and Standards Staff have audited every large apartment building in Toronto over the past year and will be providing an update to the Committee on their initial findings.
For more information on this ground-breaking legislation, please see this article.
PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: Consultation on Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan
In 2015, I helped initiate the Midtown in Focus review of growth, built form, social services and infrastructure issues in the Yonge-Eglinton area. I believe this work should’ve been done two decades ago, before the condo boom. After two years of intensive study by our dedicated City Planning Staff, we now will have an up-to-date policy that will guide growth in the area and, in combination with necessary improvements identified through the review, support the vitality and quality of life in Midtown Toronto.
The report, approved by Council late last year, tells the rest of Toronto what we as Midtown residents already know: social services and hard infrastructure have not kept pace with the rapid growth in our community. This has to change.
I successfully moved a motion with Councillor Robinson requesting City Planning to further support local residents by reporting on potential measures to help ensure that social services and physical infrastructure can accommodate existing and projected growth in the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan area. Please see below for the meeting details.
Date: Saturday, February 10, 2018
Time: 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Location: North Toronto Collegiate Institute, Cafeteria, 17 Broadway Avenue
10:30-11:30: Proposed Secondary Plan / Parks and Public Realm
11:45-12:45: Community Services and Facilities / Transportation
1:15-2:15: Proposed Secondary Plan / Parks and Public Realm / Community Services and Facilities / Transportation
If you would like more information about the Open House or the study, please contact the Senior Planner at email@example.com or 416-392-3529
Toronto-St. Paul’s Roundtable on Homelessness
Please join me, my fellow elected officials and representatives from local organizations to participate in a round table discussion with an audience of community members on Sunday February 11th from 3:00pm-5:00pm at Holy Blossom Temple (1950 Bathurst Street, south of Eglinton) in the Philip Smith Congregational Room. Our aim is to engage, educate, and inspire the community members present to be part of the solution. I hope to see you there!
Community Skating Party with Josh Matlow, Rob Oliphant & Carolyn Bennett!
I’m excited to be co-hosting a community skating party with our local MPs, Rob Oliphant and Carolyn Bennett at Hodgson Ice Rink (East of Mt. Pleasant, entrance off Millwood/Harwood, behind Hodgson PS).
Please join us from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, February 4th for a fun, family-friendly afternoon with free coffee and hot chocolate.
I look forward to seeing you there!
PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: Making Further Improvements to June Rowlands (Davisville) Park
Last year, the City of Toronto constructed a new Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground at June Rowlands Park. This was done after a community consultation process that chose the new design. However, since the new playground was constructed, I’ve heard residents express concerns over the design, and request our playground include more features for younger children.
On Tuesday, February 20th at 7pm City Staff will be joining me at Greenwood College, Room 174 (443 Mount Pleasant Road) to discuss how we can further improve the playground design. Your thoughtful feedback throughout this process will help ensure the playground be inclusive of all users.
PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: 368-386 Eglinton Avenue East Development Meeting
This development application proposes to amend the Zoning By-law to permit an 11-storey addition to an existing 13-storey rental apartment building. The proposed addition would add 96 new apartment units and 42 parking spaces. You can read the preliminary staff report here for more details about the proposal.
This public meeting will take place at 6:30pm on Wednesday, February 7 at the Best Western Roehampton Hotel (808 Mount Pleasant Road).
To speak to the planner directly, please contact Alex Teixeira at Alex.Teixeira@toronto.ca or 416-392-0459 . Also, you may mail your comments to the planner at Toronto and East York District, 100 Queen St W Floor 18 E Toronto On, M5H 2N2.
Toronto Seniors Forum Seeking New Members
The Toronto Seniors Forum is a diverse group of Toronto residents age 60 and above. The Forum is comprised of members who meet monthly to examine, advocate, and advise on seniors’ issues that matter to older Torontonians. If you are interested in applying to become a new member, please review this flyer. Selected applicants will be invited for an interview for membership.
Have an innovative idea to reduce waste in your community?
Grants of up to $25,000 are available to support innovative community-based efforts to reduce residential waste and increase participation in Toronto’s waste diversion programs. Priority for funding will be given to projects that reduce waste in apartments and condos. Examples of projects that could be eligible include waste education and engagement programs and initiatives that align with Toronto’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy, such as the repair, exchange, swapping and sharing of goods. Applications close February 23, 2018. For more information and to submit an Expression of Interest click here.
Know Before You Throw! Ask the Waste Wizard
Don’t know what to do with your old skates or plastic takeout containers? Unsure whether a certain item or type of packaging goes in the Blue Bin (recycling)? Not entirely clear on what is considered Green Bin (organics) material? When in doubt, ask the Waste Wizard, the City of Toronto’s online search tool that provides information on how to properly dispose of over 2,000 items. It’s quick and easy to use. Simply visit this webpage and type in the item you’re wondering about.
Support Your Local Out of the Cold Program
For the past few years, volunteers at the apartment towers at 400 Walmer Road, supported by management, Vertica Resident Services, have been collecting and redeeming the liquor, wine and beer bottles and cans which the residents have discarded. The proceeds have been directed to the Out of the Cold program at St. Matthews United Church, on St. Clair Avenue. Although the 21 ‘Out of the Cold’ programs in Toronto run for 5 months, this is really a year-round effort, which cover a significant portion of the cost of food for the guests. This is an ideal project for apartment residents who wish to support their local Out of the Cold program. For further information, contact outofthecold.400walmer@gmail
St. Cuthbert’s Annual Pancake Supper
Please join my friends at St. Cuthbert’s Church for their annual pancake supper held in their Lamb Hall from 5:30pm-7:15pm on Tuesday, February 13th. Tickets can be purchased after the 8:00am or 10:00am Sunday service on February 4th, and 11th or from the Parish Office 9:00am-1:00pm Tuesday – Friday. For more information, please click here.
Programs & Classes Available at Our Local Libraries
Do you love to read or want to join a yoga class? I welcome you to check-out the following webpage to review all the programs and classes that are available during the months of February and March at Deer Park and Mt. Pleasant Toronto Public Libraries.