It was a pleasure to see so many of you at Davisville subway station today as we discussed the need to move forward with the Relief Subway Line, Toronto's evidence-based transit priority. I look forward to visiting many other stations to ask TTC riders to help see this vital project finally get built. We've waited far too long already.
This week at city council, despite unacceptable bickering by a few, divisive politics and strange dance party (yes, this really happened), I continued to work respectfully with my colleagues, focus on our priorities and am pleased to report that some very substantive work was accomplished on several important issues including snow clearing standards and traffic congestion. In 2014, I really want Council to have less drama. Council should be completely dedicated to professional, thoughtful, innovative, fiscally-responsible and city-building initiatives that serve Toronto's residents.
This past year has been challenging. But it has also been remarkably fulfilling. I feel so fortunate to be able to offer ideas to council that I believe reflect our community's priorities and improve our city as a whole. I also deeply enjoy working with local residents to create farmers markets, build playgrounds, improve our neighbourhoods' safety (I'm also advocating for safer school zones), revitalize our parks and main streets, advocate for more appropriate and well designed development and support our schools. I love our Ward 22 community and am deeply grateful to serve you. I am also grateful that my wife Melissa and I are raising our daughter Molly, who will be a year-old on January 4th, in such a remarkable part of Toronto. In other words, I want to thank you.
I wish you and your families a very, Merry Christmas and to all, a Happy New Year.
Traffic Congestion Management Plan
Since the day I was elected to represent our community I have been advocating that City Hall make tackling traffic congestion and grid lock a top priority as it's a significant problem for Toronto's motorists, public transit users and cyclists alike. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently noted that the Greater Toronto Area suffers from the longest work commute times in North America. This congestion costs the region's economy an estimated $3.3 billion per year while negatively impacting on the quality of life of our residents. I believe, like most residents I hear from, that this is unacceptable.
This week City Council endorsed in principle a five-year Congestion Management Plan to manage traffic congestion in the City of Toronto. This is a comprehensive plan which incorporates some initiatives that I have already brought forward to City Council such as increasing fines for vehicles that block traffic lanes on arterial routes during rush hour and improved traffic signal coordination (synchronization). I am very pleased that council supported the requests that I made on behalf of residents on these two initiatives.
Among the key elements of the congestion management plan are:
- upgrading the City's traffic signal management software to a new system by the end of 2014
- the re-evaluation and co-ordination of approximately 1,000 traffic signals
- the installation of 100 traffic cameras on arterial roads to better detect problems on these key transportation routes
- the addition of 13 variable message signs along the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway
- better management and use of curb lanes.
You can read more about this plan by following this link.
Winter Services - Driveway Windrow and Sidewalk Clearing Update
I have been actively advocating for improved standards when it comes to winter maintenance of public roads and sidewalks. The current standard, where many of our streets in Ward 22 do not receive driveway windrow clearing or sidewalk clearing by the City were put in place in 2008. I recognize that there are some barriers that make it more difficult for the City to provide the same level of service in many downtown wards as efficiently as they can in other areas of city. I strongly believe however, that the City needs to explore every opportunity to deliver these services to a more equitable level.
This week City Council considered a report from the General Manager of Transportation Services that would have maintained the status quo with regards to driveway windrow and sidewalk clearing for many of our residential streets. With thanks to my colleagues for their support, we have directed City staff to report back to Council on how driveway windrow and sidewalk clearing can be expanded to include the many streets in our ward that currently do not get this level of service for the 2015 winter season. I will continue to advocate for this more equitable service standard across the city, and keep you updated as we progress.
During and after heavy storms (like the one we're expecting soon), please call 311 if the City of Toronto can be of assistance. Let me know if I can do anything to support you.
Protecting Ward 22 at the OMB
The applicants for new developments at the Art Shoppe site and 95 & 99 Broadway, near Redpath, have taken the City to the OMB. I have ensured that our community's interests will be well represented by City Planning and Legal staff. I am also fighting to protect the South Eglinton community from major developments that are encroaching on single family homes on Soudan Ave. For more information on developments in Ward 22 please see this webpage and for more information on also please also learn more about you can help free Toronto from the OMB.
City Council voted to support tenants as a result of a motion I co-sponsored earlier this year. The motion seeks to make changes to the provincial Residential Tenancies act by:
· Eliminating the exemption for rent increases for rental residential units built or occupied after November1, 1991 in order to provide the same rent control protection for tenants renting these units that are afforded to other tenants in Toronto, many of them in new condo buildings
· Implementing an automatic rent freeze on all rent increases where there is non-compliance with outstanding work orders and asking the province to collaborate with the City in setting up an automated system for direct access for work orders to eliminate the need for tenants to provide proof of the work orders
To learn more about my campaign to support tenants and stop unfair above the guideline rent increases, please visit this webpage
Addressing Problem Hoarding
As many of you know, I have been working with Manor Rd. E. residents and City staff for several years to address problem hoarding. We took major steps with the support of Toronto Fire last month but there is significant work still needed to find a long-term solution in this specific case, and others across Toronto. That's why I'm pleased my colleagues supported the staff report, which was initiated by my 2011 motion, to help address hoarding from a municipal perspective and my amendment to ask the province for increased mental health resources and changes to the Mental Health Act that will address the roots of the problem. I also met with the local community about this a couple of weeks ago to ensure they were informed.
2014 City of Toronto Budget
In January, I'll be hosting a Budget Town Hall to inform you about what is being proposed and to listen to your feedback about both services and tax rates. I'll be sending you a notice after the holidays. Meanwhile, please click here to learn more about the staff recommendations.
Three years of regular updates to residents
Keeping you engaged and informed has always been a priority for me since I was elected as our city councillor in 2010. Please click here if you would like to read any archives of past e=newsletters I've sent you on literally thousands of issues important to Ward 22.