Community Skating Parties This Weekend!
I’m co-hosting TWO community skating parties for Midtown residents this weekend – in the west with MP Carolyn Bennett and in the east, with Carolyn Bennett and MP Rob Oliphant. Lace up your skates and join me and my family!
Stop by Cedarvale Park’s outdoor arena (off of Arlington Avenue) on Saturday from 1:30pm until 3:30pm, or Hodgson Rink (off Millwood Avenue) on Sunday from 2:00pm until 4:00pm. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served, and free skate rentals will be available at the Hodgson location only. Hope to see you there!
Toronto Moves Forward with Ravine Strategy Implementation Plan
Toronto’s unique ravine system is one of our greatest and greenest assets. The scale and scope of this urban green space system – over 300 km and 11,000 hectares – makes Toronto the envy of urban areas across the world. In Midtown, we’re lucky to have several ravines that offer peaceful escape from our busy lives. That’s why I’m pleased that City Council unanimously adopted the Toronto Ravine Strategy implementation plan this week.
Ravines contain 87 per cent of Toronto’s environmentally significant areas, as well as forests and wetlands, and significant plant and animal species. Unfortunately, this critical part of our green infrastructure is threatened by invasive species, climate change, and direct impacts from resident use.
This action strategy wouldn’t have happened without advocacy from passionate residents in our community and across the city. Going forward, the City will not successfully address the challenges facing ravines without ongoing partnership with the public. To ensure that you and your neighbours will have an opportunity to be engaged for strategic advice and activities, including invasive species removal and litter cleanup, I moved a motion, supported by my colleagues, to formalize residents’ participation in ravine revitalization and stewardship efforts.
For more information, please read this detailed backgrounder on the City’s Ravine Strategy.
Province Looking at Allowing Developers to Hire Their Own Building Inspectors
Toronto’s Chief Building Official has sent Council a strong warning about the provincial government’s plan to allow developers to hire their own building inspectors. This report outlines the Province’s idea to permit engineers and architects hired by the private sector to perform their own Building Code reviews.
While these professionals hold legal and ethical obligations under their professional act, the conflict of interest concerns are too great to allow this idea to move forward. The Ontario Association of Architects has already opposed the plan.
In the City of Toronto, the public relies on the expertise of our qualified staff for an independent and objective review of construction. This regulatory oversight by our building inspectors provides the public with assurance that buildings meet all fire and life standard requirements while achieving other Code objectives such as environmental protections and accessibility.
Council endorsed the Chief Building Officials recommendation that the Province back away from this ill-conceived plan.
For more information, please see this CBC article.
Latest Update on Novel Coronavirus
Earlier this week, Toronto Public Health was notified of Toronto’s second confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The individual recently travelled to Wuhan and is a close contact of the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
While Toronto Public Health only learned the news of Toronto’s first confirmed case late last weekend, staff have been working around the clock to immediately act on this information and reach out to close contacts of the affected individuals. In addition, Toronto Public Health has established a hotline for people who travelled on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311, arriving in Toronto on January 22 from Guangzhou. People who were on this flight may call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with any questions they may have. This information line is also available for any member of the public to ask questions.
Health officials say the risk of infection to Toronto residents remains low. I will be certain to let you know directly if this changes. Upon the first reports of 2019-nCoV in China, Toronto Public Health experts and our provincial and federal health partners implemented response protocols and outbreak preparedness measures. These efforts are ongoing and they continually look for opportunities to refine and strengthen their response.
Please continue to take normal measures to reduce the risk of the transmission of flu and respiratory illness:
• Get a yearly influenza vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies.
• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
• If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
• Stay at home if you are sick.
The City’s Novel Coronavirus web page and the Toronto Public Health Twitter account, @TOPublicHealth, are updated regularly with up-to-date information for Toronto residents and visitors. Toronto Public Health also continues to operate their hotline for those with questions about this virus to connect with a health professional. I encourage people who have questions to contact them at 416-338-7600.
I cannot express how important it is that we be guided by facts, rather than fear – with respect to the virus itself and importantly, the nature in how we respond. Rumors being shared through social media or elsewhere that shame our city’s Chinese-Canadian community, both residents and small businesses, are false and hateful, and should be rejected by any reasonable person.
Student TTC Fare Hike Press ConferenceStudent leaders from across Toronto and I came together this morning to demand that student fares shouldn’t be increased by far more than any other fare category. We should encourage students to take transit rather than make it less affordable to get to class. Please visit my website to learn more and sign a petition against this unfair increase.
2020 City of Toronto Budget and Community Town Hall – February 4thPlease join me and the City’s Executive Director of Financial Planning at a budget town hall to discuss the proposed 2020 City of Toronto budget. I look forward to hearing your feedback in order to ensure our community’s priorities are reflected. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 4th at 6:30 pm, at the Deer Park Toronto Public Library meeting room. This event is wheelchair accessible. For more information, please click here.
UPDATE: Yonge-St. Clair Planning Framework and Transportation Management Plan
I’m deeply concerned over the scale and pace of redevelopment that’s occurring in the Yonge and St. Clair community without strong planning policy in place to appropriately guide it. The current provincial government continues to weaken the City and residents’ ability to plan how we want our neighborhoods to grow by bringing back the OMB, reducing our ability secure community benefits from extra density and completely scrapping our long-term plans supported by years of consultation and study like Midtown in Focus or TOcore. That’s why it’s imperative we find ways to set a strong narrative that any new development must improve the quality of life for the community, rather than leave it up to the development industry to set the tone.
As a first step in the process to create a planning vision, I worked alongside the Deer Park Resident Group, City Planning Staff, and countless residents who attended meetings, sent emails, made phone calls and attended site visits, to develop the Yonge-St. Clair Planning Framework.
The Framework will provide guidance to:
- manage development pressure at the key intersection of Yonge and St. Clair and surrounding mixed-use area by identifying where higher heights are appropriate and how taller buildings should transition to other areas
- secure new open spaces and connections that will be high quality
- improve pedestrian connections, mobility and safety
- ensure that we have smaller retail frontages to support a vibrant main street
The new Planning Framework was approved at City Council this week, and you can see the 13-page document in detail through this link.
Through the consultation process, community stakeholders also identified other concerns that needed to be studied further.
Transportation and traffic-related issues was a major point of concern and one that was outside of the scope of the planning study. In order to rectify that, I moved a motion at Community Council and requested that a Transportation Management Plan for the Deer Park neighbourhood be created. This plan will guide the street network to evolve in a way that reinforces an integrated, transit-supportive, and walk/cycle-friendly transportation network. The City’s new Area Transportation Planning department will be taking on this project this year and will be doing public consultations as part of their process. We will ensure that everyone is properly notified of the consultations and given a chance to provide valuable feedback to the staff working on this plan.
The apartment neighbourhoods northwest and southeast of the intersection present opportunities for developers to make development applications like the infill tower at 33 Rosehill and 44 Jackes. The City’s current policy for our apartment neighbourhoods does not go far enough in contemplating how infill development can actually improve livability in these communities, rather than just taking away the limited open space between towers. That’s why I initiated the next phase of the planning framework that will look at how we can proactively manage growth in these apartment areas. Please keep an eye on my e-newsletter for upcoming consultation meeting dates.
International Holocaust Remembrance DayOn Monday, my office and I commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Together, we all have a responsibility to take a stand against Anti-Semitism and ensure the horrors of the past are never repeated or forgotten.
265 Balliol Street Update
Several years ago, the property owners of 265 Balliol St. filed a development application for an additional 29-storey tower at this site. In response, a community meeting was held in spring 2018 and I heard that the community had a number of very valid concerns about the development. Unfortunately, the 265 Balliol St. property owner filed an appeal to the provincial Ontario Municipal Board (now called the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal).
It is important to note that the positive changes to the planning process approved by the previous provincial government were reversed by the current one, which returned developer-friendly rules. Unfortunately, the current Doug Ford government also overturned the community-led Midtown in Focus plan, which would have limited this site to a midrise, rather than a tall building.
At the provincial Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), solicitors of the City (representing Councillor Matlow and City Council), the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), and South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SERRA), registered as a “Party” to oppose and fight the application. Also, several residents individually registered as “Participants” and joined in opposition to the development. As part of the LPAT process, an option exists for Parties to participate in a mediated settlement, with the intent to reach a compromise that might be acceptable to the various groups participating in the LPAT appeal and the local community.
A mediation session was held November 21-22 of 2019 and a potential agreement was reached. While we continue to challenge the provincial system that gives an unelected body the last say over local planning decisions, we believe that a better development outcome was achieved through this process than what was originally proposed at the last community meeting. Further, we are concerned that if we do not accept the settlement offer and continued to oppose this application at a full LPAT hearing, we will lose a number of gains that have been made and end up with an even worse development approved by the LPAT.
Changes to the development achieved through the mediation include:
- Height reduction from 29 storeys to 27 storeys (not that material and which was much less than the neighbourhood and I wanted)
- 10% affordable housing units in the new building
- 271m2 of additional green, open space
- Commercial use at the base of the building for a café, convenience store or other light service use
- Securing an easement for a future mid-block connection onto Merton
- Funding for the future Davisville Aquatic Centre
- On-site improvements to 265 Balliol, as well use of amenity spaces in the new building for existing 265 Balliol tenants
Before approving the agreement, I ensured that the proposed LPAT resolution would be made public, and I hosted a community meeting joined by City Planning and the South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SERRA) at Greenwood College on January 21, 2020 to share the new plan and get feedback from local residents. While those in attendance did not support the development, they were largely convinced, based on the facts, that it was the best outcome achievable, given the reality. While I personally would have liked to continue opposing the agreement, I knew it would be irresponsible given that it was clear, based on the City planner and solicitor’s advice, that the Ford government’s new rules would have favoured the developer in a full LPAT hearing.
This development highlights the deep concerns I’ve expressed about the Ford government’s changes to the Planning Act and Midtown in Focus. Please tell Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that he must cancel these decisions to protect our quality of life in Midtown.
Hon. Steve Clark
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
17th Floor, 777 Bay St. Toronto,ON
HAVE YOUR SAY! Public Consultation Meeting for a Development Proposal at 1601 Bathurst
City Planning has received an application to permit an 8-storey apartment building containing 79 new units. The proposal seeks to retain the apartment building at 1603 Bathurst, but demolish the 4-storey apartment building at 1601 Bathurst. The City has strict rules to protect affordable and mid-range rents so any new building would be required to replace these units and offer them to existing tenants first.
Please join me on February 12th at the Forest Hill Jewish Community Centre (360 Spadina Road) at 6:30pm to review the plans and share your feedback with the City’s Planner who will also be at the meeting.
If you would like see the plans before the meeting, they’re posted on the City’s development portal. Just follow this link and click the “Supporting Documents” arrow and a drop down menu will show you the entire application submitted to the City.
Please feel welcome to contact me or the City’s Planner reviewing the application if you have any questions
Interested in Volunteering for Councillor Matlow?In order to keep our residents informed, I host a number of community meetings and events throughout our ward. If you’d like to get to know your neighbourhood and neighbours, while engaging in our community’s needs and priorities, I welcome you to email me to learn more about the volunteer opportunities we have available. My team and I look forward to hearing from you!
Oakwood-Vaughan’s Stakeholder Meeting & Service Provider Fair
Earlier this month, I hosted a stakeholder roundtable meeting with elected Federal and Provincial officials, AGCO, Toronto Police Service, City Staff, local service providers and TDSB representatives to review the feedback I received from our community meeting and develop an action plan on how we can address the neighbourhood’s priorities, which include public realm improvements, access to youth services and safety.
In this spirit, I also hosted a service provider fair, in order to give youth and other residents an opportunity to connect with local service providers and organizations located in the heart of Oakwood-Vaughan. This event was organized to directly respond to the feedback I received in my survey.
Let’s continue to work together to ensure that our neighbourhoods are not only safe and vibrant places to live, but also, improve our quality of life.
Follow my updates on Social Media!
I’m grateful to provide you with regular updates through our e-newsletter. Make sure you don’t miss a beat by connecting on social media as well! Follow me on Facebook (Josh Matlow), Twitter (@JoshMatlow), and Instagram (@joshmatlow) to keep up with the latest news from our community and City Hall.
200 Madison Avenue Welcome PartyThanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate our newest community members at 200 Madison Ave today! This beautifully-designed building brings up the neighborhood, provides real affordability and a supportive environment for people of every ability. I’m proud to represent them.
POINT’S Senior Walking Club
POINT’s Senior Walking Club is a biweekly event occurring Tuesday and Friday mornings at 11am at the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre indoor track. It is a great opportunity to stay active during the winter months, socialize with your peers and increase your agility and mobility. No matter your fitness level, all are welcome. If you have any chronic medical conditions, please check with your physician before attending sessions.
For more information and to register please call 416-487-2390. Location: 200 Eglinton Ave W (at Lascelles blvd) 2 blocks west of Eglinton subway station.
Visiting Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home & Scarborough Village Residence
As Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, it was my great pleasure to speak with residents, staff, and caregivers at Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home in Scarborough, as we work and advocate together to bring a new, emotion-focused approach to long-term care in our city. In addition, I visited Scarborough Village Residence, a remarkable homeless shelter for older men. Every month, since opening in April 2019, 4 to 5 clients per month have found housing. I want to take this opportunity to thank our City Staff who work around the clock at this shelter to ensure the men live in a safe, supportive and caring environment.
Ward 12 Family Day Carnival
The Ward 12 Family Day Carnival will be held at Fairbank Memorial Community Centre (2213 Dufferin Street) on Monday, February 17th from 12-3pm. Stop by for a Family Day of fun including dance workshops, arts and crafts, games for all ages and snacks and refreshments. Please contact (416) 394-2473 for more information.
Wychwood Barns Trivia NightJoin us on February 8th for a night of food, drink, and fun-filled trivia in support of The Stop’s Wychwood Open Door! This beloved fundraiser is the city’s largest live trivia event. Test your knowledge for a chance to win prizes (and bragging rights). Tickets at http://thestop.org/trivia.
Castle Hill Neighbourhood Association MeetingI had a wonderful time visiting the Castle Hill Neighbourhood Association’s AGM this month. We spent the evening discussing important priorities for local residents. I’m excited to be your City Councillor!
Forest Hill Village BIA Streetscape Master Plan Community ConsultationIn their ongoing efforts to make the Village more ‘villagey’, the Forest Hill Village BIA is now working towards the design and implementation of the next phase of the streetscape master plan project that has been underway for the past decade. On Tuesday February 4th from 7:00pm-8:30pm at Grace Church-on-the-Hill (300 Lonsdale), please join the BIA to review and discuss pedestrian safety and greening improvements as well as the on-street public parklet. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Yvonne Bambrick, firstname.lastname@example.org or at 416-488-4819.
Black Futures on Eglinton
Black Futures on Eglinton is a project focused on exploring the culture and cultural impact of Black residents along the Eglinton Avenue West and Little Jamaica neighbourhood. Led by CP Planning and community partner Black Urbanism TO, this project seeks to engage Black communities in the remembering and envisioning of Black culture in this area.
To do this, the project aims to collaborate with the community to better understand the heart of culture in the Eglinton Avenue West and Little Jamaica neighbourhood.
If you have been to, lived in, or currently live in the Eglinton Avenue West neighbourhoods between Keele and Allen (includes Oakwood and Vaughan area), please fill out and share this survey. The study will look at what cultural strengths make up the neighbourhood, and identify cultural resources that may help shape its future. This is very important considering the ongoing gentrification and displacement taking place.
Take Steps to Prevent Frozen PipesCold weather can cause your water pipes to freeze, which can cause your water to be cut off and expensive damage to your property. The City of Toronto has created a guide with steps you can take to protect your water pipes from freezing. Click here to learn more!
Wychwood Barns Farmers Market
The Stop Farmer’s Market at Wychwood Barns runs all year long! Remember to join me Saturdays from 8:00am to 12:30pm at 601 Christie Street. Stop by to see friends and neighbours and buy fresh produce and other food. See you there!