Council Approves Tenants First Report: An Important Milestone in Transforming Toronto Community Housing
I’m happy to report that City Council approved the Tenants First Implementation Plan, which will create better living conditions and experiences for seniors in senior-designated buildings and tenants of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCH) while ensuring their homes are safe and well maintained.
A few key elements of the plan include the creation of a new Seniors Housing Corporation to manage and operate 83 senior-designated buildings housing 27,000 seniors, phased implementation of an integrated service model for seniors housing, beginning with 10 sites in 2020 which will include a partnership with the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, and transferring TCH’s real estate development functions to CreateTO, the City’s real estate agency. As Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, this is a major step forward for seniors living in TCH across the City.
The report also specifically outlines changes to the governance of TCH’s business areas, while increasing the City’s oversight of TCH’s activities. These changes will increase collaboration between the City and TCH, mitigate legal and financial risk, contain operating costs and minimize disruption to tenants.
Toronto Community Housing Corporation will remain a City corporation whose mandate is to operate the 43,000 units in mixed and family buildings and will focus on developing a more tenant-focused service delivery model.
The Tenants First Plan also provided recommendations to transform how Toronto Community Housing redevelops housing sites. Learning lessons from the Regent Park and Lawrence Heights revitalizations, the City is transferring responsibility to the CreateTO agency, which is staffed by development professionals.
I was pleased that Council approved my motion to ensure that no land would be sold off as part of any redevelopment. As the need for public space continues to increase in our rapidly growing city it is important to retain as much public land as possible. Selling off City real estate assets would provide a short term windfall but ultimately cost us more down the road as land prices are only going to increase.
Standing Up for Parents’ Access to Affordable Childcare
This week I was pleased to join local parents, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, childcare service providers, and fellow Councillors to stand up to provincial cuts to affordable childcare in Toronto.
In a last second move, all too common with this government, the province notified municipalities that it would not provide operating funding for a promised 51 much needed childcare centres in Toronto. This move puts at risk spaces for 490 infants, 975 toddlers and 1,584 preschoolers.
Also in jeopardy are Child care occupancy grants that help keep child care fees from rising for 18,000 children in school-based child care. I want to thank Councillors Layton and Cressy for their motion to request the province to continue the grants and, if not, to prioritize the supports in the City’s 2020 budget.
Child care is a vital service that my own family relies on to provide our daughter with quality care while my wife and I are at work. Any move that makes child care even more unaffordable is a step in the wrong direction. I will continue fighting with you to ensure that as many families as possible can access safe, affordable child care.
For more information please see this news release from the Ontario Colaition for Better Childcare.
Council Opposes Doug Ford’s Developer-Friendly Planning Changes
City Planning Staff provided reports at Council this week on the developer-friendly changes to the Planning Act in Bill 108, and the complete rewrite of Midtown in Focus. I was pleased that my colleagues supported my motion on both items to formally request the province to rescind these measures.
Bill 108 the More Homes, More Choices Act threatens to remove the few tools the City of Toronto had to ensure that development is accompanied by infrastructure and social services that make communities livable. Section 37, and other measures under the Planning Act have been insufficient to meet the needs of fast-growing areas such as Yonge and Eglinton but they have allowed our community to provide affordable childcare centres, parks, playgrounds, and allocate funding toward important long-term projects Eliminating these measures could threaten many projects across Toronto that are currently in the City’s 10 year Capital Plan, including:
- 12 child-care centres with a cumulative 583 spaces
- 21 Toronto Public Library expansion and renovation projects
- 106 new or expanded parks
- 17 community recreation centres, 5 pools, 4 arenas and over 200 playground improvement projects
The Midtown in Focus plan was the result of a 6 year, community-led process to help ensure that the Yonge-Eglinton area had infrastructure and social services such as childcare, parks and recreations space to support the growing neighbourhood. Without any consultation, the Ford government ripped up these plans, making changes that support developers’ bottom lines instead of local residents. Changes that the province made to Midtown in Focus include:
- Building height allowances significantly increased
- Requirement to have 10% affordable rental in buildings above 80 units removed
- Office space requirements have been removed
- Requirements to ensure that new developments still allow for at least 5 hours of sunlight on sidewalks next to midrises, and not cast net new shadows on parks removed
- Minimum 12m setback for Eglinton greenline on North side of Eglinton removed
- All minimum setbacks in tower neighbourhoods removed
- Environmental initiatives such as minimizing heat loss/energy efficiency in buildings removed.
New Housing Applications Have Actually Dropped Since Provincial Planning Changes
It is important to note that the province’s stated reason for imposing changes to the Planning Act and Midtown in Focus was to provide additional affordable housing. However, analysis undertaken by my office has shown that these measures were always about increasing developer’s profits.
There have only been 50 new units applied for in the fastest growing Wards in Midtown and Downtown since the province introduced Bill 108. In contrast, an average of 3,700 units were applied for during the same 80 day period, our year-over-year review found.
Developers are waiting for the province to release the more limited benefits requirements in the hopes of contributing less to child care, parks, libraries, recreation centres, and other supports our community needs to enjoy a high quality of life.
For more information please see this Toronto Star article.
City-Wide Heritage Survey
Following the demolition of the iconic Stollery’s building at 1 Bloor West, and the wanton demolition of a 110-year-old Bank of Montreal branch at 2444 Yonge, it became clear that Toronto was lacking the necessary tools to proactively identify properties with heritage value, and protect them throughout a period of rapid growth and development pressure. That is why I moved a motion at council requesting our City Planning department to stay ahead of the wrecking ball, by studying the feasibility of initiating a citywide heritage survey.
I am pleased to announce that this week City Council unanimously supported implementing the first phase of the City-wide Heritage Survey. This will include conducting a detailed evaluation throughout the entire city to identify all properties that have heritage potential to ultimately recommend their inclusion on the Heritage Register. Once a property is listed, any demolition application submitted to the city will require a comprehensive heritage assessment to determine whether the building has heritage value and should be protected.
I am also very proud that I worked with Heritage Preservation Services and Community Planning to initiate the pilot for the city-wide heritage survey back in 2017. As part of the Midtown in Focus review, Council supported the unprecedented inclusion of 258 main street properties on the City’s Heritage Register.
Toronto has an important story to tell through its buildings and architecture. The work that Heritage is undertaking will help ensure that story can still be told many generations from now.
An Inspection & Enforcement Action Plan on Problematic Establishments Serving Alcohol
In Toronto-St. Paul’s, there have been a number of establishments serving alcohol that have impacted the safety and quality of life for local residents. These establishments, which often operate as unlicensed, after hour booze cans, are a hub for criminal activity that create disturbances and invite violence into our neighbourhoods.
As a result of the transient nature of the proprietors of these establishments, permanent closure is complex and requires the intervention, inspection and enforcement of the Toronto Police Service, Municipal, Licensing and Standards, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, Toronto Building and Toronto Fire Services. While the Toronto Police Service can lay charges under the Liquor Licence Act, Municipal, Licensing and Standards can issue notices of violation under the Toronto Municipal Code. Similarly, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has the authority to refuse, revoke or suspend a licence and both Toronto Building and Toronto Fire Services can collaborate to close a premise.
It is imperative that all services work in a coordinated effort that will strengthen their abilities to resolve these enforcement issues.
I’m happy to report that at this week’s Council meeting, my motion to direct the City’s Municipal Licensing and Standards, Toronto Building, and Toronto Fire Services divisions to consult with the Toronto Police Service, and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, to develop and implement a cross-jurisdictional action plan. This plan will strengthen each service’s ability to respond, manage and resolve the negative community impacts created by problematic establishments serving alcohol, as a coordinated unit. A report will be tabled at General Government and Licensing Committee in the fourth quarter of 2019 on the plan’s successes and needed improvements.
Neighbourhoods in our communities deserve to be safe and vibrant. Anything less is unacceptable to me and our community.
Bathurst and St. Clair Community Planning Update
Area Planning Framework
I’m pleased to announce that this week City Council adopted the St. Clair West and Bathurst Area Planning Framework. For the first time ever, a comprehensive planning framework informed by the local community and strong planning principles will guide development, rather than developers.
Highlights from the plan include:
- A vision, set of goals and principles stating that growth must be supported by a remarkable public realm, open space and well-designed buildings. Ensuring that housing remains affordable, our main streets remain vibrant and attractive and also recognizing the environment are all core values included the plan
- The study area has been broken up into six distinct character areas (see map below) that provide specific direction on how these areas should grow and develop
- A Community Services and Facility Review to identify our current social infrastructure (childcare, schools, libraries etc.) and what we will need for the future
I am deeply grateful to our city planning staff and the hundreds of community members who contributed their time and innovative ideas to create a plan that reinforces great public realm, open space and distinct character of this vibrant community.
You can read more about the guiding principles, detailed vision and implementation of the plan here.
The six distinct character areas envisioned by the Planning Framework
Sketch by the City’s Urban Design team depicting a potential public space at Vaughan and Bathurst
65-83 Raglan Avenue
City Planning received a development application this spring to construct a 33-storey condominium building on the mid-block of Raglan Road. Many of you joined me at a well-attended public meeting held in May, where the local community and City Planning made it clear that this development proposal does not represent good planning and would not be supported.
Issues with height, built form, density and transition to other buildings are just some of the reasons this application was refused by City Council this week. You can read the decision and final report here and here
We’re not totally out of the clear though. As many of you know, City Council does not have the final say on development applications. The developer can ultimately appeal to the Local Planning Appeals Body (LPAT) and be granted a new hearing. In the event of an appeal, I will be sending our City Legal and City Planning Staff to oppose this at the Provincial Tribunal. Any updates will be posted in my e-newsletter
Vision Zero & Cycling Network Update
This week, City Council has approved two important transportation-related programs: the Cycling Network Update and the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan Update (Vision Zero 2.0).
The approved Cycling Network Plan update includes a prioritized short-term plan (currently 2019 to 2021), as well as a longer-term plan (beyond 2022). The approach will help improve coordination of the overall cycling network with neighbourhood planning, improve accountability with an aim to deliver routes and safety enhancements on time, and continue to grow the network. More information on Toronto’s Cycling Network plan and cycling in Toronto is available at toronto.ca/cycling. The Cycling Network Plan update report is at this link.
The update to Vision Zero outlines Council’s and my own commitment to make the roads, sidewalks and public spaces safer for all road users, especially the most vulnerable ones. The updated road safety plan can only be effective as long as we have adequate police enforcement to assist with all the design, signage and educational aspects of the changes that are to be implemented. I have been pushing the Toronto Police Services Board for more adequate funding for traffic enforcement, and my office has been told that we are getting an update on that before the end of the summer. I will be closely monitoring developments on this and pushing for enforcement as it is a crucial step to actually achieving the goals of Vision Zero. You can see more information about the update to the Road Safety Plan at this link.
Solar Stage’s Jillian Jiggs Production
Solar Stage, a registered charity, was founded in 1976, and has been a cultural destination for Toronto families for over 40 years. They create award-winning, progressive, original, Canadian family theatre with a focus on inclusive, diverse, optimistic and inspritational storytelling. My family, along with families in Midtown is fortunate to have this theatre in the heart of our community and I would encourage everyone to come out and see their shows!
On Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm now through September 1st, the Jillian Jiggs production is back by popular demand! For further details on how to attend, please click here.
Josh’s daughter Molly on-stage at Solar Stage’s “Alex in Wonderland” production
Staying Healthy In The Heat
It’s hot out there! As the heat wave continues, make sure you stay mindful of the impact the weather can have on your health. Heat-related illnesses can include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, muscle cramps and more. Click here for tips and tricks on staying safe in the heat, including an interactive map of air-conditioned locations near you. Stay cool!
Toronto-St Paul’s Farmer’s Markets
Ward 12 is lucky to have a variety of wonderful farmer’s markets across our neighbourhoods. Join me at the markets listed below to see friends, neighbours and buy fresh produce and other food. See you there!
Davisville Farmer’s Market: Every Tuesday between 3:00pm and 7:00pm at June Rowlands Park.
Eglinton Way Farmer’s Market: Every Sunday from 8:am to 1:00am at 125 Burnaby Blvd.
The Stop Farmer’s Market at Wychwood Barns: Every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm at 601 Christie Street (Wychwood Barns)
Midtown Market: Every Thursday from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at 1585 Yonge Street (Yorkminster Baptist Church)
On The Hill Events
The Church of the Transfiguration (111 Manor Road East) will be hosting their “On The Hill” events throughout the summer. Join them on Sunday, July 21st at 1pm for Fun on the Hill, an afternoon of children’s entertainment and sing-a-long fun. Then, stop by on August 23rd at 8pm for Movie Night on the Hill, featuring The Princess Bride. Live music events will also be hosted throughout the summer! Click here for a full listing of the 2019 On The Hill series.
Best Of Midtown
I’m proud to bring back my Best of Midtown awards, recognizing the local businesses that make our communities the wonderful places thatthey are. This month, I was happy to present the awards to a variety of small business owners around Ward 12, including my good friend Anne Sorenti at the re-opening of The Oakwood Hardware. If there is a local business you feel deserves a Best of Midtown award, please reach out and let us know!
Art Starts Street Festival
The Art Starts Street Festival is a full day of street performances, collaborative art-making, and exhibits. Join this established Toronto Charity and over 15 local artists in celebrating community arts in the Eglinton-Oakwood area. The festival runs 11 AM – 5 PM on July 27th and is open to all ages! You can expect dancing, puppet making, ukulele and spoken word workshops, and so much more! Click here to learn more about this fun family opportunity.
Oakwood Village Urban Market
Molly and I had a fun time together (including an impromptu father-daughter Hula Hoop contest) at the Oakwood Village Urban Market this month! Together, our community is animating our public spaces and bringing us all closer together. The next market is taking place on August 17th from 11am to 5pm at Charles Brereton Park!
York Eglinton BIA’s Sounds Of Eglinton
Sounds of Eglinton is back for its second year! On August 17th, from 12-9pm the York Eglinton BIA will be hosting the music and food festival along Eglinton Ave W from Marlee to Dufferin and in Reggae Lane. Stop by for Reggae, Latin and Palestinian music as well as face-painting, bead work, and other family activities. Click here for more information and to register for a free ticket!
Yonge and St. Clair Public Realm
Yonge & St. Clair needed some TLC. We purchased new planters and benches, invested in public art and parks and created the new Yonge + St Clair BIA. Together, we are making our Deer Park streetscapes come to life. Much more to come!
What’s New in Cedarvale Park
Located in the heart of the riding, Cedarvale Park and Ravine is a wonderful green space for Ward 12 residents to explore. On Monday July 22nd, join Friends of Cedarvale Park for a Pollinator Walk, lead by Susan Frye, a Forestry PhD candidate at U of T. The walk will begin at 6:30 at the Heath St subway station entrance and end in the community garden in Cedarvale Park. Also feel free to become a member of the Cedarvale Community Garden by joining them on Thursdays from 4pm to 8pm or Sundays from 10am to 2pm. For more information on membership and what it entails, please email email@example.com.
Grande Parade 2019
Join Caribana Toronto on August 3rd for the 2019 Grande Parade. The fun annual event includes dance, steelpan music, live street art and more. The parade travels from Exhibition Place and along Lakeshore Boulevard, and takes place from 8:30 am until 6:00pm! While there is a small fee to enter Exhibition Place, watching the parade along Lakeshore Blvd is absolutely free. Click here for more information!
Share your Input on Upcoming By-law Reviews
The City of Toronto is reviewing by-laws related to temporary signs, payday loan establishments, property standards and building maintenance, and wants your feedback! Feedback from these consultations will be used to inform reviews of these by-laws. Reports will go to City Council at the end of this year. Please click on the following links for detailed information on the Sign By-Law Review, the Property Standards Review and the Payday Loan Establishments Review.
Happy Pride Toronto!
It was my privilege to proudly march in the Pride Parade this month. Happy Pride everybody!
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