Fighting Back Against Overdevelopment and Advocating For Social Services and Infrastructure- Have Your Say On the Times Group Proposal for 1951 Yonge Street
Last year, an application was submitted for two towers (34 and 25 storeys) at the northeast corner of Yonge and Davisville. In their report, City Planning Staff agree with me and the local community that the proposal from the Times Group is completely inappropriate, as it's a significant overdevelopment of the site. As it is currently proposed, the two towers would have unacceptable shadow impacts on the Davisville school field. Of further concern, is the potential traffic impacts to the local community, especially the area surrounding the school. I will fight the most recent proposal to add more traffic onto Millwood.
I am pleased to report that I was successful in moving significant motions to support our community against this development at this week's Toronto & East York Community Council meeting. In addition to ensuring that City Legal and Planning Staff will fight for us at the Ontario Municipal Board, I was able to have additional amendments added that, for the first time, requested that even if a development is approved, that the OMB order construction be halted until the necessary infrastructure and social services are provided:
- City Council direct the City Solicitor to request the Ontario Municipal Board to withhold the issuance of any order(s) on the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment appeal for the subject lands pending confirmation of:
- necessary transportation infrastructure from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the General Manager, Transportation Services; and
- public school capacity from the Director of Education, TDSB
- City Council direct the City Solicitor to request the Ontario Municipal Board to withhold the issuance of any Order(s) on the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment appeal for the subject lands pending confirmation of water, sanitary and storm water capacity from the Chief Engineer and Executive Director, Engineering and Construction Services, and pending receipt of a satisfactory Functional Servicing Report;
These motions were possible, and supported at Community Council, because of the extensive research that has been conducted as part of the Midtown in Focus initiative that has clearly demonstrated what we in Midtown already know: infrastructure and social services have not kept pace with the rapid rate of growth in our community.
The importance of these motions was recognized by the Toronto Star, which published two articles on successive days about this issue. Please see this article on the water capacity motion and this article regarding schools and transportation.
Please Save the Date on Monday, April 23rd at 6:30-8:30PM for a community meeting to discuss how we're fighting this proposal and demanding significant improvements. I'll send an update on the location when it is confirmed.
Toronto Needs a Long-Term Financial Strategy
It is standard practice for full City Council to have an opportunity to debate matters of strategic policy concerning the entire city at various stages in the process. That's why I was very surprised that only the Executive Committee was provided an opportunity to debate, and provide input on, Toronto's Long-Term Financial Strategy. The Mayor's excuse was that it was not a fully developed plan. But it is precisely at this point where full Council should weigh-in and provide direction to staff going forward that is supported by elected officials before investing further time and money.
This seemed unusual, so I looked back through some past Executive Agendas for similar matters of city-wide interest. A cursory look found several equivalent update reports that have indeed come to full Council, including Ex 29.1 - Smart Track Project Update and Next Steps and EX 29.2 - Rail Deck Park - Results of Feasibility Analysis and Next Steps for Implementation. Both items were interim reports seeking Council direction to follow a particular strategic path. Both items were considered by full Council after being presented to Executive Committee. These are just two examples of many.
As your representative at City Hall, I have a duty to represent you on issues that affect the future of our city. In this instance, my opportunity to carry out that duty was denied. If provided that opportunity, I would have stated, on your behalf, that we cannot continue to keep kicking the can down the road in regards to major decisions affecting Toronto's fiscal sustainability. As Staff clearly stated in the report, Toronto will face a $1.42B operating gap in 5 years if we continue on our current course.
We find ourselves in this position because we are making decisions that no other major world city is making. Under this Mayor, Toronto is spending over a $1 billion dollars to rebuild an elevated expressway, and well over $3 billion one subway stop. Further, the Mayor has made these decisions while actively working to not have evidence-based analysis conducted to inform those decisions.
In his report, the City Manager agreed with my previous motions to have Council conduct value for money audits and rank capital projects based on recognized urban planning principles.
We cannot wait any longer to put our city on a solid fiscal path. If the Mayor won't provide that leadership, Council should have had the opportunity to do it for him.
For more information on this issue, please see the second half of this article.
Yonge Street between Sheppard and the Finch St corridor is at the end of its lifecycle - the roadway was last reconstructed in 1975. Last week, Council debated what this section of Yonge will look like for generations to come. Yonge Street is the central transportation corridor and pedestrian promenade within North York Centre, one of four centres that have an important role in achieving the provincial growth objectives of the Official Plan where jobs, housing, and services will be concentrated. While the North York Centre is transforming into a transit-oriented and dynamic mixed-use area, the implementation of the street vision has not been fully achieved or kept pace with this evolution. Inconsistent urban design features, including sidewalks, crossings, and medians, and the lack of dedicated cycling facilities reduce the appeal of the street and present safety risks.
Staff recommended a number of opportunities that would both improve the streetscape and align the plans with Vision Zero road safety policies, including:
- improving streetscape by including street trees, lighting, paving, and street furniture
- expanding sidewalks and boulevard widths
- integrating adjacent parks and public open spaces
- enhancing the landscaped median
- improving safety for all users
- including cycling facilities on Yonge Street
- improving pedestrian crossing facilities
- re-configuring right-of-way and traffic lanes
Despite Staff recommendations and overwhelming support from urban experts and city leaders including former Mayor David Crombie and renowned urban planner Ken Greenberg, Mayor Tory supported a more costly option to put bike lanes on neighbouring Beecroft and keep Yonge as a 6-lane thoroughfare.
Thankfully, the vote on this item was deferred until the next term of Council where I hope a more thoughtful approach will be taken.
For more information, please see this Toronto Star article.
To see my speech supporting REImagine Yonge and Vision Zero Road Safety- please start at 1:06.
We Need Relief (Subway Line) Now!
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.
Standing up for Tenants
Rental Market Reality
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. That’s why I asked City Planning Staff to bring a report on current rental housing market conditions in Toronto. Planning Staff presented Council with a snapshot of the current housing situation that was even worse than most people feared. In fact, as the chart below demonstrates, purpose-built apartment rents increased the most in 15 years and vacancy rates reached the lowest in 16 years.
Transparency called on for Above the Guideline Increases
As many of you know, I have been requesting that the Ontario government eliminate or drastically reform Above the Guideline rent Increases (AGI). While the province's The Rental Fairness Act, 2017, improved tenant protections under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) by eliminating the post-1991 exemption and expanding rent control to all private units, the legislation only removed extraordinary increases in utilities from costs that qualify for above the guideline rent increases.
The RTA still allows private market landlords to apply for a rent increase above the guideline (AGI) if:
- The landlord did extraordinary or significant renovations, repairs, replacements or new additions to the buildings or to individual units; and
- The landlord's costs for security services increased, or the landlord began providing security services for the first time
These items should be the basic cost of a landlord's business and should already be covered in the substantial rent tenants pay. To make matters worse, AGI applications made at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) have very limited publicly available data, hindering the City's ability to analyze the impact of AGIs on tenants. A clearer understanding of the scale and scope of AGIs in Toronto would allow the City to better develop programs and policies to meet the needs of residents. That's why I'm pleased to report that my colleagues unanimously passed my motionrequesting the province to publicly release AGI data.
It's Official – Names Approved for Our New Community Parks!
I'm excited to announce that City Council supported our community recommendation to support the naming of our two new parks that are ready to enjoy this spring! Our new park at the former Glebe Manor Bowling club site will be named “Manor Community Green”, and our new park at Manor and Forman will be called “Cudmore Creek Park & Mona Piper Playground”. You can read more about the outcome of the survey and community parks naming process here
Please stay tuned for my "Save the Date" announcement for upcoming park opening celebrations and festivities!
Congratulations Toronto for Being Age-Friendly!
As Toronto's Seniors Advocate, I am delighted to inform you that at the inaugural Age-Friendly Community (AFC) Symposium on March 26th, 2018, the City of Toronto was selected to receive the 2018 Ontario Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award. This Award has been established to celebrate the work of Ontario communities that are striving to become age-friendly and to showcase promising practices across the province. I welcome you to come and check-out the award at City Hall!
SAVE THE DATE: Councillor Josh Matlow's Community Environment Day
On Thursday, May 31st from 4:00-8:00pm, I will be hosting my annual Community Environment Day. The event will take place in the parking lot of North Toronto Memorial Arena (174 Orchard View Blvd). Please drop off any unwanted art supplies, books, toys, and used sports equipment. Facilities will be available to dispose of computers and other hazardous household waste, or even replace your damaged green bin.
Manor Road Co-Op Nursery Turns 80
Manor Road Co-op Nursery School is celebrating its 80th anniversary! Past, present and future families of the school are invited to attend this event. There will be a bouncy castle, crafts, refreshments, tours and a silent auction. Please drop-in between 3:00 and 6:00pm on Saturday April 28th. 111 Manor Rd E (inside the Church of the Transfiguration). For further details please click here. Hope to see you there!
Forest Hill Art Club: 2018 Art Show & Sale
The Forest Hill Art Club (FHAC) invites you to attend their annual art show and sale of member's work from April 27th- 29th at 666 Eglinton Avenue West. The FHAC is closing in on seventy years of providing a space to artists, both amateur and professional who work in a variety of media. For more details, I welcome you to check-out the following webpage.
Bayview Leaside BIA: Public Consultation Meeting & Earth Day Community Clean-up
I welcome you to join the Bayview Leaside BIA team on Tuesday April, 10th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at The Smokin' Cigar (1540 Bayview Avenue), for a public consultation meeting on the Bayview and Millwood Parkette. View the plan, ask questions about the proposed changes and meet our Bayview Leaside BIA team!
Remember to mark your calendars on Saturday April 21st from 9:00am to 12:00pm to attend the Bayview Leaside BIA's Earth Day community clean-up. Rain or shine, I hope to see you at the corner of Bayview and Millwood ready to sweep our streets! Don't forget to bring your own broom! More information on this event can be found here.
Community Clean-Up Days
Spring has finally arrived (at least on the calendar) and it's time to give Toronto a good spring cleaning together! April 20, 21 and 22 are this year's Community Clean-Up Days for schools, businesses, and neighbourhood organizations. You're invited to visit Live Green Toronto to register your local clean-up or to join an existing clean-up.
Please call my office at 416-392-7906 or email me at [email protected] and I can provide you with free bags for trash and recyclables. I would also be delighted to join you and help clean-up your corner of the community- just let me know the time and location! And of course, please feel welcome to contact me if you need any assistance with organizing your own clean-up event.
SAVE THE DATE: Toronto Council on Aging's Town Hall Meeting
The Toronto Council on Aging and I invite you to attend our town hall meeting taking place on Wednesday May 9th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church (1985 Yonge Street) to celebrate the age-friendly approaches our local businesses are incorporating in their storefronts. Stay tuned for more details to come!
Have your Say: Consultation on the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB)
TLAB is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that was created last year to replace the Ontario Municipal Board's (OMB) jurisdiction over the adjudication of typically smaller scale land-use planning disputes that are heard through the Committee of Adjustment. The City is seeking your feedback on this newly formed local appeals body by either providing written submissions or attending a public consultation meeting.
The meeting will take place between 2pm-5pm on Wednesday, April 18th at the Scarborough Civic Centre (150 Borough Drive) in the Council Chambers. Alternately, written submission can be sent via email, fax or by mail. Written submissions without an accompanying oral presentation will receive the same serious consideration as those accompanied by an oral presentation. To make an oral and written submission, a registration form and written submission can be sent by email, fax or by mail to:
Email: [email protected]
Mail: Toronto Local Appeal Body
40 Orchard View Boulevard, Suite 211
Toronto Ontario M4B 1R9
All submissions must be received by the Toronto Local Appeal Body no later than Friday, April 6, 2018. For more information on TLAB and its processes, you can access the public guide here.
Yorkminster Park Meals on Wheels
Yorkminster Park Meals on Wheels is a not-for-profit charity that has served the North Toronto Community for 51 years. Located in the Yonge and St. Clair community at Yorkminster Baptist Church, this volunteer-run charity delivers hot and frozen meals to seniors or adults who are chronically ill, have a disability, convalescing from surgery or illness, or undergoing medical treatment. If you or someone you know would benefit from receiving Meals on Wheels, please call their office at 416-482-0549.
PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: 265 Balliol Avenue Public Meeting
A rezoning application has been submitted to City Planning to construct a 29-Storey residential tower containing 264 purpose-built rental units. This is an infill application on a site with an existing 26-storey residential building. You can view a copy of the preliminary report here
Please join me at 6:30pm on Tuesday, April 10 at Greenwood College (443 Mount Pleasant Road), for a meeting to discuss the proposed development. City Planning staff will be in attendance to answer any questions you may have.
PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: New Public Space for Cottingham Square
A community meeting will be held about improving the closed-off road allowance between Gange Avenue and Cottingham Street (on the south side of Cottingham Park).
This space will continue to be closed, to prevent traffic from going through the neighbourhood, but we do have an opportunity to make significant improvements to its aesthetics and purpose. I want to ensure that your feedback and ideas are heard before any plans move forward.
Please join me and Cottingham Square Community Association in a conversation with your neighbours at 7pm on Wednesday, April 11th at Trust Daycare (29 Birch Avenue). Representatives from the City’s Public Realm department will be in attendance to answer any questions you may have.
City of Toronto Fair Pass Discount Program
Effective April 4th, the City of Toronto is offering the Fair Pass Discount Program to residents receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) assistance who are not in receipt of any transportation supports equal to or greater than $100.
The Fair Pass Discount Program is only available on a PRESTO card (clients must meet eligibility requirements). Cardholders must load money or an adult TTC Monthly Pass on their card to take advantage of the Fair Pass Discount Program. For more information about the Fair Pass Discount Program please click here.
Public Consultation on the Noise Mitigation Initiatives Engagement Plan
Toronto Pearson is fast becoming one of the world’s leading airports. As we meet the demand for air travel, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) and NAV CANADA have been studying Six Ideas that are aimed at reducing noise impacts for residents around the Greater Toronto Area. The technical analysis of the Six Ideas is now complete, and the GTAA and NAV CANADA will be meeting with the community to present recommendations. Public consultations will run from March 3rd to April 20th with 15 sessions being held in communities surrounding the airport. The locations and dates for the community consultations can be found on the Toronto Pearson website.
Toronto's 4th Street Needs Assessment Seeks Volunteers
For the fourth time, hundreds of volunteers, members of community agencies and City staff will take to the streets and shelters to ask people experiencing homelessness about the services they need to get and keep permanent housing. Survey responses help the City shape improvements in current programs and plan for future service delivery. Residents whom are interested in volunteering during the evening of Thursday April 26th are welcome to visit the following webpage to learn more.
Residents Invited to Provide Input on City's Poverty Reduction Strategy
Toronto is a vibrant, prosperous city. It is also a city of growing disparity and inequity trends that will challenge its long-term success. That's why in October 2015, City Council unanimously adopted a 20-year plan that includes 17 recommendations focused at improving access to residents who face barriers related to affordable housing, social services, transit, food and quality jobs. The strategy and recommendations can be accessed here.
In the lead up to the strategy's three year launch, the City will be hosting a series of panel discussions to generate public input on the next phase of the City's poverty reduction strategy for the 2018 to 2022 term of City Council. The #TacklePovertyTO panels will convene on five Monday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., starting March 12 and concluding April 23. The remaining panel discussions are as follows:
- April 16, City Hall rotunda – Transportation Equity: What are the next steps to achieve active and public transportation equity?
- April 23, City Hall rotunda: Housing Stability – What strategic actions can the City take to address the housing crisis?
You can also provide your input directly to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office by emailing
Hi-RIS Financing Program
Do you own an apartment building with three or more storeys in Toronto? Are you planning to increase energy efficiency, lower utility costs, and enhance tenant comfort? If so, the City of Toronto’s Hi-RIS program is for you.
Funding is available for a range of improvements including:
- upgrades and replacement of mechanical systems
- lighting and water conservation retrofits
- building envelopment improvements and;
- renewable energy technology
Building owners can access low-cost, fixed rate financing with terms of up to 20 years. This funding is offered for a limited time so inquire soon!
Contact [email protected] or 416-392-9688 for more information.
17th Annual Community Stewardship Program
The Community Stewardship Program gives residents the opportunity to learn about Toronto's ravines and how they're managed with hands-on activities to keep these places healthy. Volunteers, led by experienced City staff, meet weekly from May – September to plant native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, remove invasive species (a leading cause of biodiversity loss), maintain sustainable trails, and monitor site conditions through citizen science. I welcome volunteers to attend the volunteer orientation on Wednesday April 25th, from 7:00pm-8:30pm at the City of Toronto Archives. Email [email protected] to RSVP and to learn more!
Let LEAF Help You Create The Backyard You've Always Dreamed About
With support from the City of Toronto and Toronto Hydro, LEAF offers subsidized planting programs that help residents plant native trees and shrubs in their yards - all at a reasonable price!
LEAF will help you:
- Assess the conditions in your yard
- Understand what will grow best
- Select trees, shrubs, and garden kits that you will love
- Ensure everything gets planted properly
- Do it all at a reasonable price
For more information and volunteer opportunities, I welcome you to visit this webpage.