Last week's City Council meeting agenda featured hundreds of items on a wide range of issues including protecting seniors in community housing, funding transit and other infrastructure, electoral reform and alleviating traffic congestion. This week, I've been at several meetings each day and evening on city policy initiatives and local priorities, community consultation meetings and events, along with visiting with residents in every Ward 22 neighbourhood.
I do hope to see you tomorrow at my Community Environment Day (see below for a reminder of the details). As always, please feel very welcome to contact me if I can be of assistance to you.
Reminder: Community Environment Day
On Saturday, June 22nd from 10 am to 2 pm I will be hosting my annual Community Environment Day. The location is the North Toronto Memorial Arena at 174 Orchard View Blvd. Please bring any unwanted art supplies, books, toys, and used sports equipment. Cycle Toronto Midtown will be there to donate your used bikes to the non-profit organization Charlie's Freewheels. Facilities will be available to dispose of computers and other hazardous household waste. You can also replace your damaged green bin.
Naming a Ward 22 Playground to honour the Iconic, Canadian Performance Group, Sharon, Lois and Bram
I am delighted to announce that, with your support, I would like to name the playground inside June Rowlands (Davisville) Park the Sharon, Lois, and Bram Playground after the iconic Canadian children's music trio. As Bram Morrison is a local Ward 22 resident, I can see no better way to honour these Canadian music and television legends than by naming a children's playground after them here in Toronto.
As generations of children have grown up with their music, I ask you for your support in my efforts to name the Sharon, Lois, and Bram Playground in June Rowlands (Davisville) Park.
City Council Highlights
For your review, I have compiled a list of the items debated at Council last week that may be of interest to you. For the full Council Agenda, please click here.
Electoral reform in Toronto
Council adopted several motions on electoral reform in Toronto. The City will ask the Ontario government to amend legislation and allow permanent residents to vote in municipal elections whether or not they are Canadian citizens. This will not apply to provincial or federal elections. The City will also request amendments to the Municipal Elections Act to permit Toronto to use ranked ballots and instant runoff voting in its municipal elections. To learn more about this electoral reform, click here.
Review of ward boundaries
Council authorized a review of Toronto's ward boundaries. At present, there are significant discrepancies in population among wards. Communities like Midtown are experiencing significant population growth due to new condos, leaving an inequitable situation.
The City of Toronto Act gives Council authority to make changes to the ward boundaries. The review, to be conducted by an external consultant, will include consultation with elected officials, stakeholders and the general public.
Managing of traffic congestion
Council passed a motion to improve traffic signal synchronization at City Council. I am pleased that the Mayor and the Chair of Public Works made this a priority in response to my letter of September 2011.
Traffic congestion is a significant problem for Toronto's motorists, public transit users and cyclists. 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. The long-term solution to this problem is building a more accessible, extensive and efficient public transportation system.
In the meantime, we can take significant steps such as this to improve traffic flow in the short-term.
Supporting Local YWCA Women's Shelter
YWCA 1st Stop Woodlawn houses a 56 bed Emergency Shelter for single homeless women as well as 72 units of permanent housing for single women, creating a mixed community of women in various stages of their lives. YWCA 1st Stop Shelter's main purpose is to provide emergency shelter services and supports to homeless women and youth.
I was privileged to provide $45,000 through a motion that directed developer's fees toward the renewal of the shelter's outdoor green space which will provide:
· access to a safe, open meeting space for residents of the shelter and tenant community at 80 Woodlawn Avenue East where they can gather and relax outdoors
· offer an improved environment for social and recreation programming (BBQs, celebrations)
· improve the safety features of the property so that intruders cannot enter the shelter through the back door
This initiative will improve the shelter's mission to provide an environment where homeless women feel safe and secure, finding the strength and support they need to achieve their personal goals.
Seniors and Toronto Community Housing
Council adopted the recommendations of a report documenting the City Ombudsman's troubling investigation into Toronto Community Housing's eviction of seniors on the basis of their rent being in arrears. In addition, my colleagues supported my motions that will help ensure greater protection for vulnerable seniors facing eviction that live in local Toronto Community Housing buildings including Montgomery Place, George Baker Manor, Janet Magee and 900 Mt. Pleasant.
Community arts action plan
Council endorsed the 2013-2017 Community Arts Action Plan for Toronto, which contains recommendations from an external advisory committee to continue efforts to achieve the overall goal of barrier-free arts and cultural opportunities for all in Toronto. The new plan draws upon the previous five-year community arts action plan and related work on behalf of community arts.
Funding Toronto's transit and infrastructure
Council supported my motion to research the use of various kinds of municipal bonds that could be used to reduce the cost of servicing municipal debt and increase a city's ability to build and maintain its infrastructure. Governments in other jurisdictions, including the United States, have reduced interest rates and the cost of carrying municipal debt by implementing various tax breaks or rebates.
Taking Action on the Roots of Youth Violence
Please see my most recent update on this important initiative here and how you can be of support.
Eglinton Connects Planning Study
Eglinton Connects is a comprehensive planning study, led by the City Planning division, that is developing a vision for the future of Eglinton Avenue through public consultation, analysis of existing conditions/context and future growth, and interdivisional collaboration. The group presented their interim report to Planning and Growth Committee yesterday
Eglinton Connects incorporates:
· An Avenue study, including a vision for Eglinton Avenue that will guide decisions about private development and public investment. The Study identifies
o options for reallocating space between different modes of transportation
o potential for intensified development in the form of mid-rise buildings
o locations that could support higher density development
o heritage resources and strategies for protection of these resources
o public realm and streetscape plan
· A Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) that will make recommendations regarding the reconfiguration of the right-of-way along the portion of Eglinton Avenue where the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is underground (Black Creek Drive to Brentcliffe Road); and
· Site Plan review of the LRT stations and at-grade section as submitted by Metrolinx
Bits & Bites on Bayview
The Toronto Leaside Rotary Club and the merchants of South Bayview will be hosting the first Bits & Bites on Bayview Street Festival today from 4:30 to 7:30 pm, and tomorrow, Saturday, June 22nd, from 12:30 to 7:30 pm. Experience the food and boutiques of South Bayview (from Soudan Ave./Parkhurst Blvd. to Davisville Ave.) while enjoying live music and entertainment. Proceeds are going to a new fund to assist those in need in our community through the Rotary Cares-A-Community Fund. For more information, please visit http://www.bayviewbitsandbites.com/.
Say NO to Excessive Aviation Noise
The Toronto Aviation Noise Group (T.A.N.G.) has asked me to share the following with you:
T.A.N.G is working in Ward 22 to stop the excessive aviation noise stemming from the new concentrated flight path that takes planes right over our communities and neighbourhoods. A T.A.N.G. representative may knock on your door requesting all adults in the home to please sign the petition.
To bring peace and quiet back to areas affected by this noise, you can sign an online petition. You can also contact the GTAA by calling 416-247-7682 or register a complaint. Lastly, you can write to our local MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett and show your objection. Together, we can work to make our voice heard over the roar of jet planes!
Northern Secondary School's Northern Lakes Landscape Project
I am proud to support this wonderful project. Northern Secondary School is currently fundraising for its Northern Lakes Landscape Project, which will connect our school community to the once vibrant Walmsley Brook and its natural ecosystems. This project envisions recreating a dry river bed with trees, rock seating areas, planting and flagstone paths. If you are interested in donating to the project, please visit http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=27115.