While we remain in uncertain times, I am very optimistic that if we face the challenges in front of us over the next few weeks, and follow public health guidance, we will be in a far better place in 2022. And as always, our community will support each other and we will never lose sight of our priorities.
I wish everyone celebrating a Merry Christmas and a happy, and healthy, holiday season.
TransformTO – Taking Action on the Climate Crisis
The climate crisis grows more urgent every year. The window to make significant and lasting change is disappearing. Action must happen immediately and it must be at the necessary scale required to respond to this crisis.
In 2017, TransformTO was unanimously approved by City Council demonstrating Toronto’s commitment to a global call for action to limit global temperature rise in line with international goals. Since 2017, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown that to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, cities globally need to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and halve global emissions by 2030.
A significant factor in achieving these targets is the shift toward electric vehicles. That’s why I’m pleased that my motion to do more and move faster on this priority, including supporting curbside charging and incentivizing the use of EVs, was approved.
Creative Repurposing of Excess Underground Parking Spaces
Many of the apartment buildings in our community were built at a time when the City required an equal number of parking spaces for every unit that was constructed. Now, there are miles of underground parking spaces sitting empty. That’s why I moved a motion this past week at Council to have City Planning look into uses for this space including:
- Social enterprises;
- amenity rooms for apartment building residents;
- entertainment and cultural facilities such as bowling alleys or theatres;
- small retail such as personal services and convenience stores; and
- urban farming.
My intent, and hope, is for these excess spaces to be creatively repurposed towards improving the lives of residents throughout our city.
Bringing 467 Spadina Road Back to Life
The beautiful apartment at 467 Spadina Road, just north of Forest Hill Village, has been vacant since 2006 following a mass renoviction. Confirmed as heritage by Council in 2020, the property now sits as a derelict eyesore providing a home for rats instead of people.
A developer satisfied the rental replacement requirements under Section 111 of the Planning Act and was able to pursue a two-unit development that kept the original structure intact. That developer, however, did not follow through on their plans and sold the property.
Earlier this year, my office and City Planning were approached by the new owner of the property stating their intention to revitalize the building and convert it back to a 17-unit apartment building. It was determined by City Building that the applicant would have to go through Committee of Adjustment to change the project back to an apartment building after the previous two-unit project. Despite having support from City Planning and my office, the applicant deferred their August 2021 Committee of Adjustment date. Recently, the owner has put the property back on the market. That’s why I moved a motion requesting City Staff to report on any zoning amendments required to “legalize” the existing apartment to send as strong a signal as possible to both the current owner, and any prospective one, that the City of Toronto strongly supports a revitalized multi-unit apartment building at 467 Spadina Road.
Moving Forward With Sidewalk Snow Clearing!
I have been advocating for expanding sidewalk snow clearing programs, including on residential sidewalks in our community and across the city for many years. As you may know, we were successful in our efforts. Staff piloted sidewalk clearing in the 2020-2021 winter season, and I was proud to see council adopt the “Mechanical Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial” which was the final form of a motion I put forward at council back in September 2020.
I believe that sidewalks and streets should be for everyone, year-round, regardless of age or ability. The previous regime where property owners had the obligation to clear their sidewalk was not accessible, nor equitable, and I hope that with the introduction of the sidewalk-clearing vehicles we can open up the streets for everyone to enjoy safely and comfortably.
Staff have advised that sidewalk clearing will take place once snow accumulation exceeds 2 centimetres and clearing can be expected to be completed within 13 hours of the weather event ending. Given that this is a program expansion, I expect there may be issues in its rollout and unexpected challenges along the way. If there is a street in your neighbourhood that is missed, or you experience any other issues, please feel welcome to call 311 by phone or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19: Vaccine Eligibility & Testing Centres
The Province of Ontario has expanded booster vaccine eligibility has expanded to include anyone 18 years of age and older whose second dose was at least 84 days (three months) ago. Everyone born in 2016 or earlier is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, which includes children 5 to 11 years old. Click here to find out more.
Revitalization & Improvements Coming to Reggae Lane
Reggae Lane has been neglected for decades. Aside from the beautiful murals, it has been left derelict and unsafe. During the month of November, I held a walkabout with a number of neighbours, business owners, the York-Eglinton BIA and City Staff to develop an action plan on improving and revitalizing this important public space. More to come!
Follow-up Public Meeting: New Park at 44 Jackes
Thank you to everyone who attended the online meeting this fall regarding the new park at 44 Jackes. I heard a number of comments and concerns from you about the designs that were shared at that time. I’ve been working closely with City Staff and am pleased to announce that revised plans will be presented at an online meeting that I’m co-hosting on Thursday, January 27th at 6:30pm. I look forward to sharing these with you and receiving your feedback at this upcoming meeting.
For more information as to how to register, please click this link here.
63-91 Montclair Avenue Update
As mentioned in my update earlier this year, Parallax, the company that owns 63-91 Montclair Avenue, appealed their application in January 2021 to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Parallax, City Planning, the South Forest Hill Residents Association (SFHRA) and representatives from Lower Village Gate (LVG) have been partaking in mediation sessions at the provincial appeals body in recent months. As a result of the hard work and advocacy from SFHRA and LVG leaders, as well as discussions that I have had with the applicant based on feedback that I have heard from the community, the proposed heights have been modified to 18 and 19 storeys from the original proposal of 21 and 24 storeys. The applicant has made other improvements to their set-backs and circulation. I invite you to learn more, and make your voice heard, during an online meeting that I will be hosting during the evening of January 20th. Registration information can be found here: https://joshmatlow.ca/63-91-montclair/
NEW: Directory of Services for Seniors & Caregivers in Toronto!
As co-chair of the Toronto Seniors Strategy Accountability Table, I’m thrilled to announce the Directory of Services for Seniors and Caregivers in Toronto. This will help both seniors and caregivers learn more about and access the many services available to them. The Directory was co-created with the input and support of many seniors, caregivers and service providers across the city. With the support of organizational partners serving Black, Indigenous, Francophone, newcomers, Veteran and 2SLGBTQ+ seniors, there are also specialized chapters about targeted supports available for these communities.
An initial limited number of printed copies will be distributed later in the year through the Library, City and community partners working with seniors facing low-incomes, isolation, technology barriers and other vulnerabilities. Instructions on how to easily access information in over 150+ languages is included throughout the Directory.
A special thanks goes out to my co-chair Dr. Samir Sinha, Andrea Austen, Vanessa Campisi and their amazing Seniors Services colleagues, our partners at 211 and each and every member of the Accountability Table.
A Big Thank You from Women’s Cycling Network
Let’s Support Humewood House
Humewood House offers a range of pre and post-natal residential services, transitional housing, life skills, childcare, a high school program and counselling all delivered by highly qualified and dedicated staff in a safe and caring environment.
Three years ago, a small group of neighbours in the Humewood/St Clair West community started a fundraising campaign for a scholarship fund to support young women served by Humewood House (now known as the Humewood Campus of the Massey Centre).
Over the initial two years of the campaign, a total of $5,000 was raised to help young mothers pursue post-secondary education at accredited colleges and universities. Last year five scholarship recipients received $1,000 each to use towards their education. This was money our community raised. The funds raised go to the Humewood Community Scholarship recipients to prepare for a better future for themselves and their children.
The fundraising campaign for 2021 has now started and will continue until December 31, 2021. If you’d like to contribute, a donation can be made online (tax receipts will be provided), please click here. Thank you in advance for supporting this local initiative!
58th Toronto Scouts Christmas Tree Sale
Every year, my family and I support the 58th Toronto Scouts Christmas Tree Sale. Ontario trees and wreaths are available on the lawn at the Church of the Transfiguration (111 Manor Road East) on Thursday-Friday from 6:00pm-8:00pm and Saturday-Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm. You can order online for pick-up or delivery by clicking here.
Our Humewood & Wychwood Communities Welcome The Hillcrest Village Community Players to the Neighbourhood!
New and exciting news! Based out of the Humewood and Wychwood area, on St Clair Avenue West comes Hillcrest Village Community Players: a new theatre company established this year! Everyone involved in the Community Players joins the organization from diverse backgrounds, all driven with two key values: a passion for theatre and a love for our community. Hillcrest Village Community Players is entirely volunteer based and already directly involves over 110 people from across the community and the City.
The Community Players’ plans to make its home at St. Matthew’s United Church, a heritage church with beautiful acoustics that is a hub for community groups. February of 2022 will host the inaugural show of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical! Anne of Green Gables is, at its core, a story of belonging, family, and community. The upbeat dance tunes, the intergenerational relationships, and the strong sense of pride for where one lives are three of the many reasons this production was chosen as the first from the Community Players.
Donations & Sponsorship
In order to successfully stage a full musical, the Community Players also is calling out for financial support. Funds received will be used to mount the show, while also promoting our incredibly vibrant community and the businesses within it. By becoming a sponsor, your business or organization will be advertised in tandem with the production to the audiences and media. Everyone from the performance teams to the media, from public advertising to the audience members, will know of your business through the production!
Your donation will help Hillcrest Village Community Players keep ticket prices affordable and accessible. Building a production from the ground up would not be possible without you. Sponsor the show today, and help to bring this show to life!
You can see Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at St. Matthew’s on February 4 and 5 at 7PM, as well as February 11 and 12 at 7PM with a special matinee performance at 2PM on February 12. Tickets are available for purchase here.
Play at the Barns DesignTO Festival 2022
“Play at the Barns” is an exhibit organized by Urban Minds in collaboration with the Friends of Wychwood Barns Park and my office as part of the city-wide DesignTO Festival 2022.
This exhibit will showcase the design ideas of community members, local artists, and youth to reimagine Wychwood Barns Park as an accessible and inclusive playground and outdoor gathering space for the community.
We will also be showcasing student submissions from the 1UP Design Competition in the Peter MacKendrick Gallery from January 22 to January 28, 2022. All of this preliminary design thinking is integral to the overall planning and visioning for our new Wychwood Barns Park slated for 2023-2024. Stay Tuned for more information on that in the New Year!
As part of this exhibit, we invite the community to join us on January 22, from 9am-1pm, at the Wychwood Barns Farmer’s Market, to get creative! We look forward to welcoming all contributions to our co-created communal art piece. Let’s colour the Park inspired!
Community Breakfast at Christ Church Deer Park
On most Saturdays from 8-9:30 am, the team offers a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, and toast in a safe, inclusive, and family-like atmosphere. Guests are welcome to come just as they are: no payment is required, no personal questions are asked, and no means test is applied. This ministry is about trust and mutual respect between team members and guests. This breakfast program supplements Calvin Presbyterian’s long-running biweekly breakfast program. Team leaders from both churches continue to communicate, and although both breakfasts operate independently, we are proud of our ongoing ecumenical collaboration. To check out which Saturdays breakfast will be available, click here.
WBCA’s Holiday Market Round-Up
It was my absolute pleasure to support the WBCA’s Holiday Market in early December. From the live music to the 40+ vendors that came out, I know that our community had a fun-filled Saturday
Local Issues at Community Council in January
Toronto and East York Community Council’s responsibilities include making recommendations and decisions on local planning and development, as well as neighbourhood matters including traffic plans and parking regulations. Community Council reports to City Council but they also have final decision-making power on certain items, such as fence by-law exemptions and appointments to local boards and Business Improvement Areas. To check out what’s happening at community council, please visit my website here.
The Stop’s Farmer’s 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! I look forward to seeing you then!
Reduce Waste During the Holiday Season
Put holiday waste in its proper place. Find out what holiday items goes in the Blue Bin, Green Bin and Garbage at toronto.ca/wastewizard
Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) Offering Free Virtual Events
As Board Member of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, I’m pleased to share their exciting free webinars and e-learning activities, guided hikes, festivals and other seasonal events, educational workshops, and public consultations. Come explore nature, culture, and the environment in Toronto and the GTA! To learn more, please click here.