Homelessness crisis in Toronto
Spiraling rents, historically low vacancy rates, long wait lists for social housing, inadequate mental health supports, and other factors, have created a housing and homelessness crisis in Toronto. The City’s Public Health Division recorded 145 deaths of individuals experiencing homelessness, from January 1, 2017 to June 30th 2018. Four homeless residents have already lost their lives this year.
According to the City’s Daily Shelter Census, Toronto’s shelters were well over the Council-mandated 90% threshold on a bitterly cold Wednesday night this week. The benchmark is in place because people can still be left in the cold even if there is capacity in the shelter system as a whole. For example, a bed in a Scarborough men’s shelter doesn’t help a woman in Etobicoke.
I support taking every measure possible to help ensure that no Torontonian is left out in the cold. That’s why I stood with housing and healthcare advocates, as well as two of my fellow Councillors, to support the declaration of a State of Emergency to bring resources from senior levels of government to provide additional shelter resources.
For additional information, please see this article.
Mayor Tory’s Housing Now Plan Must be Improved
I applaud Mayor Tory for starting this term with a strong statement that providing affordable homes is a top priority through his Housing Now initiative. The strategy leverages public land in addition to waiving city taxes and fees to incent developers to build new housing. I completely agree with the mayor that this approach is worth serious consideration.
However, I do not believe that the details of this plan result in enough affordable housing options, nor I am I convinced that the type of housing proposed is actually affordable for many Torontonians who are struggling to find an apartment they can actually afford.
Developers bidding on the 11 Housing Now (City-owned) sites will have to provide affordable rents in only one-third of the new units constructed. Under the plan, “affordable” is defined as 80% of the market rate as determined by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. At present, that would mean a monthly rent of $1,136 as average monthly rents for a 1 bedroom was $1,420 in the old City of Toronto as of October, 2018. This places the program out of reach for many who need it. Further, the remaining two-thirds of new units are allowed to be split between market rental and market condos.
For the assets that we are giving up, almost 40 acres of land and $280 million in waived fees and taxes, I believe we can provide more for those in need of housing. That’s why I moved motions to request that 100% of the new units are rental and that the new landlords will not be able to raise the rent above the annual rate of inflation. This cap is more important than ever as Doug Ford’s provincial government recently allowed landlords to raise rents above the provincial guideline on newly constructed units. I also requested that the bids come back to Council so the public has an opportunity to evaluate the success of the program before any City land is sold.
Unfortunately, these motions, along with many sensible ones from my colleagues that would have improved Housing Now, were not supported by the mayor and Council. Regardless, I will continue to put forward reasonable and sensible suggestions for improvement and advocate to increase the supply of affordable housing to support Torontonians.
For more information, please see this article.
Midtown in Focus Update
To support the quality of life in our Yonge-Eglinton community, I helped initiate the Midtown in Focus review in 2015. After three years of intensive study by our dedicated City Planning Staff, we received a report that told us what we already know: social services and hard infrastructure have not kept pace with the rapid growth in this area.
More importantly, the Midtown in Focus study provided up-to-date policy to guide growth in the area and identified necessary capital upgrades, including the basics like pipes and wire capacity, along with expanded social services. City Council approved the strategy in July of last year. The plan is now awaiting final approval by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. My sincere thanks to the South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association who worked with my office to organize a letter-writing campaign to the Minister advocating on behalf of their neighbours.
When in place, Midtown in Focus will provide a coordinated framework through which individual development applications will be reviewed. In the meantime, there are five proposals for new residential buildings in the Davisville Village apartment neighbourhood, which lies in the south portion of the Midtown in Focus Review area, currently under appeal at the Land Use Planning Tribunal (LPAT). Through a motion at Council this week, I ensured that our city legal team will present a case that asks the LPAT to consider the cumulative impacts of these developments on community services, physical infrastructure, and neighbourhood character, instead of assessing each application on an ad-hoc basis.
Doug Ford Backs Down from Opening up Greenbelt to Industry Lobbyists
As I wrote in my newsletter to you late last year, I worked with Councillors Mike Colle, Mike Layton, and Gord Perks to advocate against the Province’s exemptions in Bill 66 allowing companies to override important environmental protections, without consultation or public notice, including the:
- Clean Water Act
- Great Lakes Protection Act
- Greenbelt Act
- Lake Simcoe Protection Act
- Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act
- Places to Grow Act
I know that many of you answered our call to let Premier Ford know that our natural heritage, including the Greenbelt, is not open for business. I am pleased to report that our campaign was successful. Last week, the Province announced that they would not exempt businesses from environmental legislation.
Thank you for your advocacy!
For more information, please see this article
Metrolinx Affirms that Relief Subway Line Needed Before Yonge St North Extension
Metrolinx has acknowledged that the Relief Subway Line must be built before expanding north into York Region. In a report released on Thursday, the regional transit agency stated: “Transit network forecasts show that Relief Line South needs to be in operation before the Yonge North Subway Extension. Relief Line North provides further crowding relief for Line 1.”
As Midtown residents who often wait three or four trains just to get on during rush hour can attest, addressing the overcrowding on our existing subway must be done before adding more pressure on the system. Transit must be planned based on facts, rather than politics.
Take Action to support the Relief Line!
For more information, please see the Metrolinx Relief Line report
St. Clair & Bathurst Planning Study – Getting Ahead of Development
As many local residents know, there is increasing development pressure in the St. Clair and Bathurst area. That is why I am pleased that City Council unanimously supported my motion (link here) to initiate a holistic planning study for this neighbourhood. For the first time, there will be an opportunity for the community to work together on creating a planning framework for this neighbourhood, rather than it being determined by developers.
Over the coming months, there will be opportunities for you to provide valuable input on what you envision for your community. Any updates relating to the study will be provided in my future e-newsletters.
Protecting & Preserving the Columbus Centre:
The Columbus Centre is the GTA’s preeminent destination for the arts and culture serving the Italian Canadian community and beyond. That is why it was my great pleasure to second a motion by my friend and colleague Councillor Mike Colle to protect and preserve the Centre as a heritage property. This motion was passed unanimously by Council, which was a huge win for the community!
HAVE YOUR SAY: Community consultation for 2010-2016 Bathurst Street
A rezoning application has been submitted to the City to permit an 8-storey mixed use building with 26 residential units and 40 below-grade parking spaces.
Please join me at 7:00pm on Monday, February 11th at Holy Blossom Temple (1950 Bathurst Street), for a meeting to discuss the proposed development. City planning staff will be in attendance to answer any questions you may have.
Councillor Josh Matlow’s 2019 City of Toronto Budget Town Hall Meeting
It’s very important to me that I accurately reflect our community’s priorities, and represent you, when I vote on our behalf of the City of Toronto’s budget. On Thursday, February 21st at 6:30pm, I’ll host my 2019 Budget Town Hall for the residents of Toronto – St. Paul’s. The meeting will take place at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church (611 St. Clair Avenue W.).
The City of Toronto’s budget will affect virtually every City service so I encourage your feedback.
If you would like more information on the proposed 2019 City of Toronto Budget in advance of my Town Hall meeting, please click here.
Toronto-St. Paul’s Community Safety Forum:
There is nothing more important than the safety of our community. On Thursday February 28th at 6:30pm at St. Michael and All Angel’s Anglican Church (611 St.Clair Ave. W.), I’m hosting a community safety forum to provide an opportunity for residents to ask important questions to the Toronto Police Service about a number of crime-related concerns that have been affecting our local community, and neighborhoods across the city. I’ve also asked City of Toronto staff to be in attendance. I look forward to seeing you there!
I encourage you to report any incidents or suspicious activity directly to the police. You can do so online at: https://www.torontopolice.on.ca/core/ or by telephone at 416-808-2222. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS(8477) or online at: www.222tips.com
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 10th for a fun, family-friendly afternoon with free coffee and hot chocolate. Check out our flyer here. I look forward to seeing you there!
SAVE THE DATE – Beltline Stations Consultation
My family and I are avid users of the beltline. Whether it be getting some exercise, or just finding a quiet place to walk and reflect, the beltline provides a natural sanctuary throughout the heart of our Midtown Toronto neighbourhoods.
Along with appreciating its natural features, there are also some really special stories that I believe we should share about the history of the beltline railway, and the communities that it ran through. I have visited other former urban railroads, turned recreation trails, and observed how these jurisdictions creatively improved wayfinding, shared the local history, and really brought the heritage trails to life for future generations.
I believe we have an opportunity to make creative improvements together on our historical beltline and am excited to initiate the Beltline Stations Project. Using the ‘lost stations’ between Eglinton and Mount Pleasant as focal point, we will be creating a design concept to celebrate the historical, cultural and botanical features of the Beltline.
Please join me, Parks and Recreation Staff and Fred Victor Consultants on the evening of February 25th to review preliminary concepts and share your feedback (details on time and location will be coming soon!)
Upper Village BIA AGM
The success of our local businesses and main streets is important to our economy, quality of life and property values. On Wednesday February 20th at 7:00pm at the Village Shul Aish HaTorah Learning Centre (1072 Eglinton Avenue West), I welcome you to attend the Upper Village BIA’s annual general meeting! Both the BIA’s program and budget for 2019 will be discussed.
McMurrich Jr PS Visits City Hall!
Last week, it was my pleasure to host 5th and 6th graders from McMurrich Jr PS at city hall! I enjoyed a really thoughtful conversation with some amazing kids about our local community and city.
CNIB Phone Drive- #PhoneItForward
Smartphones are critical tools that revolutionize daily life for people who are blind – providing portable, all in one communications and accessibility solutions. But for some, smartphones are out of reach. The unemployment rate for persons with sight loss is triple the Canadian general unemployment rate, making accessing and affording a mobile device difficult for many people who are blind.
Phone It Forward gives Canadians a unique opportunity to donate their old phones, receive a tax receipt and empower people who are blind in the process.
Through a partnership with Fixt Wireless Repair, donated smartphones are wiped to the highest data security standards, loaded with accessible apps and provided to people with sight loss who need them, along with one-to-one technical training. Join us at our Community Hub for our first Phone Drive event in support of #PhoneItForward!
Drop by to donate your used smartphone and get a tax receipt for the value of your phone. Don’t forget your passwords to help us ensure your phone is properly wiped!
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Location: CNIB Community Hub, 1525 Yonge Street, Toronto ON, M4T 1Z2
Donate your smartphone today and help directly support Canadians with sight loss in your community.
To learn more about the program and phone eligibility visit phoneitforward.ca.
SAVE THE DATE: Brown School Family Movie Night & Playground Fundraising Event
Brown School Parent Council is coordinating a playground donor drive event in combination with their movie night at 6:00pm on Tuesday February 26th at Brown Public School. The donor drive kickoff will be from 6:00pm-6:30pm. Please come out to support our local school!
Living Well with Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshop Series
Learn how to manage chronic disease and gain confidence and motivation to deal with challenges living with chronic disease. This is a series of 6 workshops with a maximum of 15 participants. Each workshop is 2.5 hours long. All classes are held on Tuesday and participants who have attended a minimum of 4 sessions can receive a Certificate of Attendance and a $10 grocery card. For more details, please review this flyer for more details.
The Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns
Come out and visit the Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns (601 Christie St.) every Saturday, year round, from 8:00am to 12:30pm to enjoy local, sustainable and organic products and great music! The Stop’s Market Café is also open during the same hours as the Farmers’ Market and serves delicious breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, and desserts prepared by Stop chefs using ingredients sourced from the market. Check it out in The
Stop’s Green Barn (Barn 4) every Saturday. I look forward to seeing you then!
Walk in the Park- Walking for Fitness & Fun
Walk in the Park will help select groups in Toronto establish community-led walking clubs for seniors. These clubs will help seniors in your community get fit while helping build connections with nature and with other community members. For more details on how you can get involved, click here
My family and I hope to see you there soon!
HAVE YOUR SAY – Official Plan Review
As part of the Official Plan Review, the City Planning Division is undertaking a review of the transportation policies related to transit, cycling, street related maps and schedules, and automated vehicles and shared mobility services found in the Official Plan. This is the second phase of the transportation component of the Official Plan Review, the first phase of which concluded in 2014. This review was directed by Planning and Growth Management Committee (PGMC) at its meeting of July 5, 2018
City Planning staff are undertaking city-wide consultations on proposed draft transportation policies. Four public meetings will be held from February 11, 2019 to February 19, 2019 as follows:
All meetings will be held from 6:30p.m. to 8:30p.m.
Mon. Feb. 11, 2019
Etobicoke Collegiate Institute
86 Montgomery Road
Tues. Feb. 12, 2019
55 John Street
3rd Floor, Room 308
Wed. Feb. 13, 2019
Scarborough Civic Centre
150 Borough Drive
Committee Room 1
Tues. Feb. 19, 2019
North York Civic Centre
5100 Yonge Street
Committee Room 3
Feedback from the consultations will be incorporated into proposed draft policy changes which will be presented to Planning and Housing Committee on April 4. Pending Committee approval, a further round of public consultation will be conducted in Q2 2019. This phase of the Review is anticipated to be complete in early Q3.
To learn more about the Official Plan Review, please click here.
City of Toronto Program Offering Community Grants for Innovative Ideas to Reduce Waste
Applications are now being accepted for the City of Toronto’s 2019 Waste Reduction Community Grants Program. Grants of up to $25,000 are available to support innovative community-based projects that reduce residential waste and/or increase participation in the City’s waste diversion programs.
The Waste Reduction Community Grants Program is part of the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy, which identifies the need to support grassroots initiatives that reduce waste. Initiatives eligible for funding include those that promote waste reduction and reuse, increase waste management education and engagement, and align with the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy.
Priority will be placed on initiatives that promote waste reduction in apartment buildings and condominiums, and involve multilingual communities, equity-seeking groups and Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. Groups eligible to apply for funding include resident, tenant, neighbourhood and business associations, service clubs, community organizations, registered charitable organizations, environmental organizations and school groups, clubs and councils.
March 1st is the deadline to submit an expression of interest. For more information about the Waste Reduction Community Grants, the 2018 recipients and the application process is available here.
City of Toronto invites residents to consultations on noise bylaw review
The City of Toronto is inviting residents to public consultation sessions on the noise bylaw review. The review aims to introduce updates that reflect Toronto’s growth and vibrancy, while enhancing noise standards that protect residents.
At the public consultation sessions, staff will present and seek feedback on developing updates to the bylaw. Feedback will be used to recommend updates to the bylaw in a report going to Council in spring 2019.
There are currently two public consultation sessions left:
- Construction noise (such as restrictions on time and noise management)
Tuesday, February 5, 6 to 8 p.m.
Centre for Social Innovation Regent Park Lounge, 585 Dundas St. E.
- General noise (such as playing instruments and residential noise)
Wednesday, February 6, 6 to 8 p.m.
The Garage, 720 Bathurst St.
Feedback can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents are encouraged to sign up for e-updates on the Noise Bylaw Review here.
Preventing Water Pipes From Freezing During Extremely Cold Weather
With extreme cold temperatures forecast over the coming few weeks, the City of Toronto is reminding residents how to prevent drinking water pipes in their home from freezing. There are also steps that residents can take if they have no water and suspect their pipes are already frozen. Frozen water pipes can lead to significant property damage should they burst. We urge residents to follow these tips, especially if the pipes inside the home are prone to freezing.
Tips to avoid frozen water pipes in the home
- Consider leaving a tap open enough for a pencil-thin stream of flowing water, so there is some movement of water in pipes that might be vulnerable to freezing. Leave a pencil-thin stream flowing 24 hours a day until daytime and nighttime temperatures have returned to normal seasonal averages.
- Open kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around plumbing.
- Outdoor faucets are the first to freeze. Unscrew any hoses, turn off the outdoor water supply and let those taps drain.
- Insulate pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls and in crawl spaces, attic and garage.
- If your pipes are prone to freezing, consider contacting a plumber for advice on how best to protect your home.
Steps to thaw frozen pipes
- Turn on a tap in the basement, preferably the cold water faucet in the laundry room.
- Use a blow dryer to warm the suspected frozen pipe for one to two hours. Check the blow dryer regularly to ensure it does not overheat.
- Place a warm towel or rag around the suspected frozen pipe.
- Depending on the outside temperature and the extent of freezing within the pipe, the thawing process could take between one and six hours.
Public Appointment Opportunities in 2019
The Public Appointments Secretariat is currently recruiting over 300 public members across 50 boards of City boards, committees and tribunals. A full list with the number of potential vacancies is here. These upcoming appointments are a great opportunity to serve Toronto. To support this work, the City is currently recruiting for this wide range of board positions – everything from local arena boards to quasi-judicial bodies to City corporations.
As you may know, in 2014 Council approved moving to a system of continuous recruitment for public appointments. This means applicants can submit an application for any board at any time and we will keep it on file for two years. As the upcoming vacancies are considered, we will review all applications in the system. Existing applicants and incumbents will be contacted to reconfirm their interest and be advised that they do not need to apply again.
StreetARToronto and Civic Hall Toronto launch new online map and more for 2019
StreetARToronto (StART) will keep the city vibrant and colourful by delivering new and enhanced street art programs in 2019. Highlighting this year’s work is an online map, developed in collaboration with Civic Hall Toronto, to better help residents and visitors explore street art located throughout the city.
In addition to the map and funding portal, 2019 will see the StART team expand its photo exhibitions and publicly debut an award-winning short film by celebrated Toronto filmmaker Karl Man. Click here for a full list of upcoming events and programs from StART.