Ford Government's New Developer-Friendly Community Benefit Charge
Communities will pay more so wealthy developers can make more under the provincial government’s Community Benefits Charge (CBC). The new planning scheme
, which replaces the ways cities like Toronto receive funds from developers to support residents’ quality of life, appears to break the promise the province made to municipalities that any changes would be revenue neutral. Perhaps most concerning is the Ford government’s proposal that if municipalities move forward with a CBC they would lose the ability to require parkland from developers. The Parkland Dedication provision has allowed the City of Toronto to provide much-needed green space for local residents. Without the dedication provision, it will be very difficult to purchase new park space in many Toronto communities due to soaring land prices. The Ford government has also allowed for developers to recover interest on levies under the CBC in the eventof a successful appeal at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). This provision will provide the building industry with even more leverage in development application negotiations. The Community Benefits Charge looks like another Doug Ford giveaway to his developer supporters, at the expense of the people of Ontario and their communities. The CBC does not provide a single new tool to increase the supply of affordable housing, despite claims from the province and their friends in the development industry. Municipalities will see their ability to provide services such as parks, daycares, recreation facilities, and libraries reduced. These amenities are essential to ensuring that the communities most affected by rapid growth are able to enjoy a high quality of life. I encourage residents to write to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to let him know that you expect the province to uphold their promise that any changes to community benefits would be revenue neutral so that municipalities can continue to provide libraries, parks, recreation centres, affordable childcare, housing and other amenities that you care about. You can email Minister Steve Clark at [email protected]
, as well as submit a comment directly to the Ministry through this link
Metrolinx Finally Admits that the Scarborough Subway Does not Provide Good Value for Money to Residents Who Need Transit Now
Today, Metrolinx is admitting the Scarborough Subway is not a worthwhile project. The transit agency released the first public report that confirms what academics and transit experts have been saying for the past decade – that the ridership and large geography of Scarborough won’t be well served by a 3-stop subway.
The report also conclusively dispels the long-standing myth that the Scarborough subway extension will generate 14,000 riders during the morning rush hour- just on the verge of justifying a subway. This false figure was used by Scarborough Subway proponents to win a crucial City Council vote in 2013. The report estimates ridership between Scarborough Town Centre and Kennedy station at 12,300 passengers during the morning peak period, which is well within the capacity of an LRT (16,000 passengers per hour capacity).
Scarborough residents are finally being told the truth—that an LRT transit network will serve more people for far less money—and should be built before the SRT falls apart. For more information, please see this report from Metrolinx.
In This Update:
City Council Updates
Proposed 3-point plan to address unacceptable Eglinton Crosstown Delay
Earlier this week, we were upset to learn that Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, announced yet another delay to the Eglinton Crosstown. The transit project will not open for service until 2022, prolonging the construction impacts on community residents and businesses. Queen’s Park, Metrolinx, and their contractors need to get their act together. Along Eglinton, businesses have closed, residents are being kept up all night, and residential neighborhoods have become car drivers’ path of choice. Better transit is the dream, but its construction is a nightmare. That's why I joined Councillor Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence) in proposing a 3-point plan to mitigate the impacts of construction and speed up the project: 1. Compensation from the Province, through Metrolinx, for small business tenants and owners on Eglinton Avenue along the Crosstown construction route; 2. Immediate cleanup of all construction sites on the sidewalks and road allowances along Eglinton Avenue West; 3. Phase-In Plan to look at the feasibility of putting sections of the Crosstown into operation as soon as possible to allow residents to ride portions of the line, and allow our community and businesses to have unobstructed streetscapes sooner, without having to wait another two years. I'm happy to report at this week's Council meeting, our plan was approved by Council. We await the Ford government's response. For more information, please see this CBC news story
2020 City Budget Approved at Council
This past month, Council unanimously approved the 2020 City budget. While I continue to advocate for fact-based investments in infrastructure that do not see 44% of Toronto's 10-year Transportation Capital budget eaten up by the Eastern Gardiner Expressway Section rebuild, I was pleased that residents' active support for our campaigns led to new investments in housing, youth, libraries, and environmental programs. Budget notes, presentations, videos and reports are available at http://www.toronto.ca/budget
. Some of the budget highlights include:
Youth Spaces Plan approved!
In 2013, I moved a motion
for the City to adopt the provincial Roots of Youth Violence action plan to move forward with steps that were under the City's purview. This motion led to the creation of the Youth Equity Strategy
and was funded based on my motion at Budget proceedings that year. One of the key recommendations of the strategy was to open safe places for young people during after school hours. This recommendation informed the creation of a Youth Spaces strategy, which would see safe places in libraries or community centres open to youth ages 13-19. These spaces have facilities such as computers, photography labs, recording studios, and study spaces. Activities include: tutoring, homework help, employment resources, de-stressing activities, and special workshops such as financial literacy, poetry, writing, video editing, health and wellness, and dance. All programs are run by trained youth workers or librarians. Research has demonstrated that spaces like these can provide kids with options in life, making it far less likely that they would ever pick up a gun or join a gang. The first space opened in 2014, with several more opening over the course of the past four years. However, there are far too many at-risk youth that still did not have access to these spaces. That's why I proposed adding an additional 20 programs in existing community centres or at library branches, allowing almost every child in Toronto to be within a 2km (roughly 24 minute) walk to a publicly run program. I'm pleased to announce that Council has approved the full 20 additional youth spaces to be funded this year. Mayor Tory should be commended for listening to youth and residents like yourself after years of advocacy for this important initiative. I look forward to visiting these new community additions when they're opened later this year. For more information, please see this article
Additional Library Hours
In part to help facilitate the new youth spaces at libraries, Council voted to support an additional 5,000 hours at 8 branches this coming year. While the measure fell short of the $5.1M requested by the Library to fund its Open Doors plan that would see more branches open on Sundays and evenings, this is a positive step in the right direction. Libraries are crucial spaces for seniors to prevent social isolation and youth to provide positive, structured activities outside school hours. For more information on the campaign to open libraries for longer hours, please see this Toronto Star article
Eviction Prevention Support
Far too many Torontonians are at risk of homelessness due to upward spiraling rents. Weak tenant protections including above the guideline rent increases (AGIs), vacancy decontrol, and the elimination of any rent controls on new builds by the Ford government have exacerbated unfavourable market conditions. The long-term solution is to increase the supply of affordable housing and greatly strengthen tenant protection but, in the meantime, the City needs to do everything it can to keep those living in affordable apartments from losing their home. That's why I was pleased to support an additional $1 million in this year's budget for the Eviction Prevention in the Community Program (EPIC). The EPIC program recognizes that individuals are vulnerable to eviction due to the impact of structural factors and system failures. For example; the lack of an adequate supply of affordable rental housing, rising rental costs, and declining or stagnant incomes. The program provides wrap-around services to support these individuals staying in their homes by offering counselling, landlord mediation, rent bank supplements, and other supports. This program has benefits beyond the individuals it directly serves by decreasing pressure on the overburdened and expensive shelter system. For more information on this important program, please see this report
Ravines Strategy Receives Additional Funding
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 escapes from our busy lives. That’s why I’m pleased that City Council moved up funding to stop soil erosion and fight invasive species. 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
at the previous Council meeting, supported by my colleagues, to formalize residents’ participation in ravine revitalization and stewardship efforts.
Council Balances TTC Budget on the Backs of Vulnerable Students
Unfortunately, my motion against unfair student Metropass increases was not supported by Mayor Tory. At $122.45, a student Metropass in Toronto is already too expensive for young people struggling with high rents, tuition, and declining OSAP. The 2020 budget raised the price of a monthly transit pass for students by $5.70 – an above-inflation increase higher than any other fare category. My motion would have provided relief for students that are sometimes choosing between getting to class or getting breakfast. To offset the cost of the fare increase, I proposed a relatively small decrease in the reserve fund for non-essential (i.e. not emergency services) vehicles. It's disappointing that my colleagues placed a higher priority on the travel needs of City employees over struggling students. Toronto should be encouraging students to take public transit, not making it unaffordable just to attend classes. A fare increase that disproportionately affects one of Toronto's most financially vulnerable groups is poor public policy, and plainly unjust. In comparison, a monthly student transit pass in Montreal is $52, while in Vancouver it costs $56.
I will continue to fight for more equitable transit fares that don't disproportionately target those that can least afford it.
First Steps of New Rail Safety Measures Don't Go Far Enough
The federal government announced new measures that would cut in half the speed limits for trains carrying hazardous goods through major cities like Toronto. The new federal order, which took effect earlier this month, will require trains travelling through metropolitan areas to limit their speed to a maximum of 32 km/h, and 40 km/h everywhere else. Before the order, trains were required to limit their speed to 64km/h in metropolitan areas, and 80 km/h everywhere else. Limiting speed is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done, including transparency around exactly what hazardous materials are being transported, and getting rid of the remaining DOT-111 tank cars involved in the deadly rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec in 2013. For more information, please see this CBC article
Ford Government Stacks Deck on Planning appeals Tribunal by Hiring Development Lobbyist and Firing Environmentalists
In the Ford government's continued giveaway to the development industry, the province has named a former chief lobbyist for Toronto’s real estate development industry to the province’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board, while stripping it of four adjudicators with environmental backgrounds. In December, the government appointed Bryan Tuckey, who served as president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Mr. Tuckey, also a former chief planner of York Region, was a vocal critic of elements of the previous Liberal government’s anti-sprawl policies while at BILD. The province has also declined to renew the appointments of four LPAT adjudicators with environmental backgrounds, including a former staff lawyer for Ecojustice, a former University of Windsor environmental law professor, a lawyer who worked for the World Wildlife Fund and Ecojustice, and an environmental lawyer.
For more information, please see this Globe and Mail article
New Colour-Coded Rating System for Toronto's Apartment Buildings Has Renters Seeing Red
The long-awaited RentSafe signage program has been released by City Staff. The apartment building rating system, similar to the City's "Dinesafe" program, will require landlords to post a colour-coded sign that displays the City's rating in a prominent, publicly identifiable location, along with posting the same information to the City's website. RentSafe signage has the potential to contribute to Toronto's renters living in homes that are clean, safe, and healthy. The new colour-coded rating system is an important first step, but must be more flexible to reflect residents' actual day-to-day experience and hopefully the progress made by landlords to improve the quality of life of their tenants.
The City released draft signage (shown above) for the rating system through an online survey
as part of the consultation
for the program. While the colour-coded system follows the successful display of the City's DineSafe program, there are concerns with the proposed evaluation method. The draft signage program would be based on annual audits instead of regular work orders, which would provide a more up-to-date reflection on the state of a building. Under the proposed plan, if a tenant reported a pest infestation or other property standards violation, it would not be factored into the colour coded rating posted on their building. Only the results of the City's RentSafe audit of common areas would be factored in to the colour received. I was pleased to attend a drop-in consultation session at City Hall this week to discuss the proposed rating system with residents, and hear them provide City Staff with feedback.
Vacant Storefront Tax Cannot Be Toronto's Focus
At yesterday's City Council meeting, Councillor Bradford moved a member's motion
to request the General Manager of Economic Development and Culture to report on the feasibility of implementing a vacant storefront tax, prior to the launch of the 2021 budget. I certainly recognize and agree with the intent of Councillor Bradford's motion, as there are far too many vacant storefronts due to speculative developers. However, there are also many property owners that can only dream of having a successful shop or restaurant in their building, but simply cannot, due to challenges such as the Eglinton Crosstown construction. It would be unfair to tax them for this. There is also no legal way to tax some and not others. Unfortunately, Councillor Bradford's motion was approved by Council. I believe that a vacant storefront tax, which is not even allowed due to provincial legislation, is not what council should be focusing on. I described it at council as, "like trying to paint a wall with a hammer". I'm hopeful that the General Manager of Economic Development and Culture will report on a more thoughtful and realistic range of policy options used in jurisdictions internationally that address vacant storefronts and support vibrant and successful main streets.
I will continue to actively support business owners throughout Toronto.
Update on NIA Centre for the Arts
This week at Council, my member's motion
to support the building of NIA Centre for the Arts' new arts and culture space was approved. NIA Centre showcases and promotes arts from the African-Diaspora and is an active contributor to the well-being of our community. I look forward to further supporting this exciting project.
Planning and Development Meetings
The City has recently received two applications to amend the zoning by-law in Ward 12. As part of the development review process, the City holds public consultation meetings to share details of the proposal and gain important community feedback. Please join me at these meetings or feel welcome to call or email me with your questions, concerns or feedback.29-39 Pleasant Boulevard
This proposal is for a new 34-storey residential building with 302 units and 106 parking spaces. You can review the application details here
Where: Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge Street), Community Hall, 3rd entrance along Heath St. W. from Yonge Street When: Thursday, March 5th 6:30-8:30pm City Planner Contact: Email: [email protected]
Phone: (416) 338-5740 Mail: 100 Queen St. W., Floor 12E Toronto ON, M5H 2N2
24-26 Imperial Street
This proposal is for a new 9-storey residential building containing 30 new units and 21 parking spaces. You can review the application details here
Where: Glebe Road United Church (20 Glebe Street East) When: Monday, March 9th 6:30-8:30pm City Planner Contact: Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-338-2575 Mail: 100 Queen St. W., Floor 12E Toronto ON, M5H 2N2
Active Transportation and Pedestrian Safety
Proposed Oakwood Neighbourhood Cycling Connections
The City's Cycling Infrastructure Unit is looking at improving the cycling network in the Oakwood-Vaughan area and is looking for resident feedback. The proposed network improvements would see a contra-flow bike lane on Glenholme Ave (from Vaughan Rd to Rosemount Ave), which would connect with the Vaughan Rd bike lane and future bike lanes on Rosemount Ave. The final public consultation meeting for this project is taking place on Wednesday March 12th, 6:30pm-8:30pm, at the Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre (341 Oakwood Ave). You can see the public notice for the drop-in event at this link
. If you cannot make the meeting, there is an opportunity for residents to provide additional feedback until March 26th by calling the Cycling & Pedestrian Projects unit at 416-397-4675 or by emailing [email protected]
. You can see more information about the entire cycling connections project here
New Study Shows Speed Limit Reductions on Local Roads Greatly Improved Safety
A new study in the BMC Public Health journal has demonstrated that safety has been greatly improved on local roads since my motion
at Community Council was approved in 2015. The motion, featured in this news article
, which saw speed limits lowered to 30 km/hr on local roads in the Toronto and East York districts, led to 28% fewer pedestrians hit by motorists on these roads after the speed limit was reduced. The number of people killed or seriously injured on these roads plunged 67%. I will continue to strongly advocate for improved police enforcement
of the Highway Traffic Act as there is a clear dearth of police presence on our roads when far too many drivers choose to speed, ignore stop signs and drive recklessly and/or distracted. For more information, please see this Globe and Mail article
Update on Toronto's Sidewalk Snow Clearing Measures
Our fight to get sidewalk snow clearing for streets in our ward, and equitably across the city, continues. As many of you may recall, a local Toronto-St. Paul’s residents association, The Deer Park Residents Group, initiated an advocacy campaign
to harmonize the City's sidewalk snow clearing policies. These efforts helped lead City Council to call
for City staff to improve standards for sidewalk snow maintenance in Midtown and across our downtown core. The response from Transportation Services staff was to create a sidewalk snow clearing pilot to explore new equipment that would allow for sidewalk clearing in areas previously without this service. Unfortunately, City staff's pilot did not go far enough to meet the equity, accessibility and safety requests made by myself and some of my colleagues, in large part due to the very limited geographic area included in it. I believe the city should make the sidewalk snow clearing permanent on new streets that have had their sidewalks cleared this year, and I’m requesting an expansion in our ward, and ultimately, in neighborhoods across the city. I’ve met with the General Manager of Transportation Services, Barbara Gray, to advocate for this and have emphasized that this is an issue of accessibility and safety that impacts our community's basic quality of life. Ms. Gray is aware of my concerns and I’m convinced she shares our goal of improving service levels for our residents. I will continue pushing and am hopeful we are making progress. Thanks again to the Deer Park Residents Group for their leadership role. We are working as a team to convince the mayor and City Council to ensure that every sidewalk, in every neighborhood in our city, is safe and accessible to every resident.
I'll be sure to keep you updated on our efforts.
Josh in the Community
Hillcrest Village BIA Break-In
Over the family day long weekend, small businesses along the Hillcrest Village BIA on St.Clair Ave. W., were broken into. These shops are owned and run by people we know, care about and strongly support. I've personally reached out to the BIA to discuss how I can actively support them. Meanwhile, please remember to shop local! They really need us.
Recreation Programming Space in South Hill
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Latvian Church at 200 Balmoral has just renewed its lease with the City to continue providing much needed seniors, adult, and children recreational programming for the community. Just some of the programs offered include: line dancing, fitness classes, as well as summer camps for children. I'm deeply grateful to the congregation for continuing to partner with the City and community. You can access the City's recreation guide here
Welcome Toronto Soup Co.!
It was my pleasure to attend Toronto Soup Co.
's grand opening this past weekend with family and friends from our community! They are located at 571 Vaughan Road and open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 2:30pm-6:30pm. If you miss their kitchen hours, they also deliver! Check them out on Facebook
Standing With ETFO Educators
My daughter Molly and I were very proud to stand with her teachers and ETFO educators from across Midtown Toronto. Together, we're fighting for quality education!
Community Skating Parties
Thank you to everyone who braved the cold and joined me, MP Carolyn Bennett and MP Rob Oliphant at two community skating parties across the ward! It was wonderful to spend a snowy and beautiful weekend seeing so many friends from across Toronto-St. Paul's and Don Valley West.
The Stop Trivia Night
Thank you to everyone who participated in this month's The Stop Trivia Night. We had fun together as a community and supported critical work being done to reduce social isolation, boost nutrition, and help develop life skills among homeless and socially isolated people. I look forward to seeing you all next year!
Black Futures on Eglinton Reggae Night
I enjoyed an amazing evening with my friend, the legendary Jay Douglas, my family, and community at the NIA Centre celebrating Little Jamaica and Black culture at the Black Futures on Eglinton Reggae night!
Republic Residents' Association AGM
It was my great pleasure to participate in this month's Republic Residents' Association AGM. We're working closely together and focusing on the priorities of our Yonge and Eglinton community.
Community Events and Announcements
Oakwood Village Community Organization AGM: Our Community-Our VisionOakwood Vaughan Community Organization (OVCO) and Unison Health and Community Services are hosting a community dinner and discussion on community safety. On Mar. 9, at the former VRA (current Davisville/Spectrum), 529 Vaughan Rd., residents will:
- share a community dinner
- discuss how we can work together for a safer community
- create a call to action
Music will be provided by EZM Productions DJ Soundwave. Participants are also welcome to attend OVCO’s Annual General Meeting following the discussion. Dinner and forum 6:00 PM. Child care will be provided Please bring your reusable mugs if you have one.For more details, please click here
Toronto St. Paul's Summit
Please join me and my colleagues on Sunday, March 1st from 3:00 to 5:00pm for a Toronto-St. Paul's Summit on working together. In addition to myself, the event will feature MP Carolyn Bennett, MPP Jill Andrew, TDSB Trustee Shelley Laskin and TDCSB Norm Di Pasquale. I hope to see you there! For more details, please click here
Free Income Tax Clinic
Do you need help filing your Income Taxes this tax season? Let the Central Eglinton Community Centre's (160 Eglinton Avenue East) trained volunteers prepare your income tax return. The centre will be offering free appointments on weekdays, evenings, and Saturdays from March 2nd through April 24th. Phone 416-392-0511 ext. 0 to make an appointment. Please note that space is limited and that this program is intended for those with modest incomes only. Fore more details, please click here
Seniors Information and Active Living Fair- Healthy Brain, Happy Life
On Tuesday, March 31st from 9:30am to 3:30pm at Central Eglinton Community Centre (160 Eglinton Avenue East) a Seniors Information and Active Living Fair will be taking place. Come out and enjoy free seminars about memory and aging, fatigue management, and fall prevention. Please note that there will be a free lunch and trade show. For more details, please click here
Volunteer for the Together ProjectTogether Project
, a charitable initiative of Tides Canada, connects refugee newcomers with "Welcome Groups" of 5 or more local volunteers who can help them get settled in their new communities. Together Project’s goal is to help newcomers make social connections that can assist with their integration into Canadian society. If you are interested in volunteering with Together Project or learning more, please visit www.togetherproject.ca
or email [email protected]
Learn About Take-Away ContainersGreen Neighbours 21 and St. Clair Reduces are hosting an event this month to showcase three different types of re-usable containers. Stop by to learn more about how you can play your part in creating a sustainable environment. The event will be held at St. Matthew's United Church (729 St. Clair West) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm on March 2nd.
Take Steps to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Cold 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!
Follow my Updates on Social Media!
I’m grateful to be able 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.