Midtown Community Hub Approved at City Council!
I am delighted to announce that, at long last and many years of work, City Council overwhelmingly supported my motion to build a Midtown Community Hub as part of the Davisville PS rebuild. The Hub will provide new and much-needed recreation opportunities for our community including:
- A 3-storey, approximately 30,000 square foot city-owned Aquatic Centre
- All-purpose community room
- Expanded double gym in the new Davisville PS open to community on evenings and weekends
Today’s announcement is a result of over five years of hard work in partnership with the Midtown Hub advocacy group and other local residents/parents, Trustee Laskin, City and TDSB Staff. Construction is expected to start after the new school is completed in 2020.
The Midtown Community Hub is a significant part of our strategy to provide more services and public space for our rapidly growing Midtown community-- and comes along with recent Ward 22 parks and playground improvements, new green space acquisitions, affordable childcare spaces and more that we've invested in.
I believe that we should be planning for our resident's quality of life in a great community, rather than just more condos. Today, we took an important step forward.
Council Rejects Evidence-Based 24-Stop LRT Network for Scarborough and Approves a One-Stop Subway
In a deeply disappointing move, Council voted for a one-stop subway and rejected my motion to redirect funding toward a;
- 7 stop LRT using the existing, traffic-separated RT corridor to link STC and Centennial College to Kennedy Station on trains with the same top speed as a subway (80 km/h), and;
- 17-stop extension of the Eglinton Crosstown through Kennedy, serving Kingston Rd, UofT Scarborough and several neighbourhoods in between
As I noted in last week’s newsletter, these 24 stops could have been built for the same City commitment as the one stop. Aside from the one-stop, all other transit proposals (including the Relief Subway) in the approved plan remain unfunded aside from studies.
There is no doubt that new, fast-moving transit of some kind needs to be built to serve the Scarborough Town Centre as the current SRT is factually nearing the end of its lifespan. While I believe that the wrong decision was made by Council, I also believe it would unreasonable at this point to do nothing. Scarborough needs our support.
Therefore, I intend to work constructively with my colleagues to ensure that the subway (even if its not my preference) is built as efficiently as possible. I can also assure you that I will continue to advocate strongly for evidence-based transit planning while being thoughtful with tax dollars.
I hope that Council can learn from this mistake and move forward with transit projects that best meet the urgent needs of all Toronto residents.
For more information, please see this article and this editorial.
City Planning provided a significant update to Council on the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan review this week. The current study, which I have been working closely with city staff and the Midtown community on, looks at growth, built form, hard infrastructure and social services in our community, and is the second phase of Midtown in Focus, our new public space Master Plan for Midtown.
This study will inform the development of up-to-date policy that will guide growth in the area and, in combination with necessary capital upgrades identified through the review, support the vitality and quality of Midtown Toronto. I frankly wish this had been done decades ago, but I am pleased that we are taking action, and moving forward, with this critical work now to improve the quality of life in our growing community.
I am happy to report that our Toronto Seniors Summit held at Toronto City Hall on June 18 was a great success! Thank you to the Honourable Laura Albanese, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Dr. Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University Health Network; representatives from the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, Lezlie Lee Kam, Chair of the Senior Pride Network and City staff for your participation.
City of Toronto divisions and community agencies were also present at the event to share information about services and resources available to seniors. Attendees also learned about ethno-cultural and LGBTQ-specific services and initiatives.
Overlapping the Seniors Summit was the appoinment of a new provincial Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs, Dipika Damerla. I was very pleased to meet with Minister Damerla (she's wonderful) last week and look forward to working closely together with her to build upon our respective seniors strategies and develop new, exciting initiatives to celebrate and support our diverse elder population.
Council Supports Improved Road Safety Plan; More Work Needed to create a true "Vision Zero" Strategy
Council took a significant step toward protecting pedestrians and cyclists this week with an improved Road Safety Plan. While I still think there is a great deal more we must do to keep our friends and families safe on our roads, the increased $12.2-million in new funding announced before this Council meeting is welcome after the underwhelming original version released last month. Altogether, the Plan will provide the Transportation Services Division with $80 million over the next five years to implement measures that will help reduce the risk of serious collisions, including:
- “watch your speed” radar signs
- street lighting improvements
- longer pedestrian crossing times
- creation of “pedestrian safety corridors” in areas notable for serious collisions which would be targeted for safety measures like lower speed limits and no-right-turn-on-red provisions.
- 50 mid-block pedestrian crossings
- 100 new audible crossing signals to 20 intersections per year
These measures are borrowed from the “Vision Zero” strategy concept which shares responsibility for safety becomes with street designers as well as users. This approach recognizes that the built environment can be improved to mitigate and, hopefully, avoid the impacts of inevitable human error.
The City’s implementation strategy is based on three main pillars:
- Design - Traffic calming measures cited above plus others found in the report
- Enforcement - Toronto Police will be reporting back with enhanced enforcement including increased funding and staffing
- Education - Aggressive driving and distracted driver campaigns
I will continue to challenge city hall to go further to support road safety, what must be a top priority, in every part of Toronto.
For more information, please see this article.
Game On!: Ball Hockey Ban Finally lifted
I am happy to report that City Council voted to end the ban on street hockey. I was happy to get the "ball rolling" with my initiative in 2011 which assisted Councillor Carmichael-Greb, whose motion finally helped us reach our "goal" this week. Sorry about the puns, I couldn't resist :)
The previous and unnecessary by-law sent the wrong message to our children, who we are encouraging to go outside and play, instead of staring at screens all day. I am pleased that we can now say “Game on!” to children in our neighbourhoods.
For more information, please see this article
Keeping this space green is very important to our community. That's why I worked closely with local residents and City Staff to acquire this property since this issue came to my attention over two years ago. This has been a very difficult challenge but we were resolved to create a park.
I look forward to continuing to work with the local neighbourhood residents to design the park shortly. I'll send out a community consultation notice when we're ready to proceed with the creative design phase!
Today’s announcement is part of our strategy to address the dearth of green space in our growing Midtown community. This includes the acquisition of a new park last year at Manor Road United Church (240 Manor Road East), which also avoided another townhouse development on local green space.
In Fall 2015, City Council approved a refocussing of the Community Investment Funding programs. The Community Investment Funding programs are time-limited, project-based funding totalling $3 million. The purpose of this review is to ensure that the grant programs advances the City's Council-approved strategic directions, find ways to better support new and emerging community groups, and respond to the changing needs of the community sector.
The City wants to hear feedback from grass-roots groups and organizations in order to generate practical ways to strengthen grant making. Staff want ideas on all grants processes, including making it easier for both grassroots and larger groups to apply for funding, what the City's role would be in providing resources to strengthen groups to fulfill their mission, what the range of project grant amounts should be, and how long projects should be funded.
Your input will reshape the current grant programs and processes to make them more accessible, transparent and accountable. A staff report of recommendations gathered from input will be presented to Council for approval in fall 2016 and the new grant programs will be launched in 2017. The grants budget of $3 million will not be reduced as a result of the review.
There are three different ways to share your ideas:
Community Investment Strategy Review Survey (fill out information about your group's needs by clicking here) Roundtables for Community Groups (register by clicking here) Community Town Hall (on September 27; to get your feedback on the draft staff report based on input from the Survey and Roundtables. Register by clicking here.)
Residents Invited to Help Shape the Future of Toronto's Ravines
The City of Toronto has been working with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and consulting with the public and a wide range of stakeholders since early 2015 to develop a strategy on Toronto's ravines.
To date, a vision and set of principles and actions have been developed to represent the core ideas and values that will guide the City in future decision-making related to ravines. Before finalizing the principles and recommendations, the City would like to hear from the public.
All Torontonians are invited to provide input by participating in the upcoming Ravine Strategy pop-up consultation. Some have already taken place, but please see below for upcoming dates:
Sunday, July 17, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Thompson Memorial Park (behind museum along main path), 1007 Brimley Rd. Saturday, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Community Environment Day in Ward 1, Albion Centre, 1530 Albion Rd. Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Junction Farmers Market, 2960 Dundas St. W.
As additional sites may be added, residents are encouraged to check http://www.toronto.ca/ravinestrategy for the most up-to-date schedule as well as more information about the strategy.
For ongoing council and community news, my contact information, along with a calendar of events, please visit www.joshmatlow.ca. Click here to read my previous city hall and community updates.