It has been such a pleasure seeing so many of you throughout our community. I always appreciate your feedback on both local community and city-wide issues. Along with my update below, I've been meeting with residents on an array of priorities every day (and most evenings), working on ways to improve our public spaces and main streets, improving traffic safety on our neighbourhood streets and bringing forward initiatives to city council to improve our community and our city as a whole.
To our Jewish community, I wish you and your families a very Happy Hanukkah. I also wish Ward 22 residents who are U.S. citizens a Happy Thanksgiving this evening.
On a personal note, I can't express well enough how much I appreciated the many birthday wishes I received yesterday. I really love our community and it was special to celebrate my birthday (my first as a dad) with my wife Melissa and Molly who's now almost 11-months old already.
And as always, feel welcome to contact me if I can be of assistance to you. To read past community updates, click here.
Ward 22 Parks Improvements Update
This fall, I brought forward a motion to name the playground at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park the “Sharon, Lois & Bram” playground. My proposal was successfully referred to City staff to undertake a study and this important next step includes consulting with local residents. Staff will bring their report back to a Community Council meeting for a vote in early 2014.
Last week, I hosted public meetings regarding improvements to Charlotte Maher Park and the parkettes on Belsize Drive. Input from local residents is very important to me so that I can help determine what changes our community would like to see in our parks. If there is a park in your neighbourhood that needs improvement, please do contact me!
I welcome you to join me on Thursday, December 5 at 7 pm to discuss playground improvements for Forest Hill Road Park. The meeting will take place at Grace Church on-the-hill, in the Parish Hall, at 300 Lonsdale Road. I hope to see you there!
Snow Update: The City of Toronto can do better
As you may recall, following the large volume of snowfall experienced last February, I wrote a letter to Transportation Services proposing several improvements to snow removal in Toronto. I was promised by city staff that the levels of service provided were going to be reviewed, and reported back to city council this fall.
At the October City Council meeting I brought forward a motion to request the General Manager of Transportation services report directly to the November 19th Community Council meeting with an update of the winter services review and proposed changes to service standards to provide fair and effective winter service across the city. I felt that it was important that this matter be discussed at Community Council, as our district of Toronto and East York with more narrow streets, lack of boulevards and dependency on on-street parking has more unique challenges when it comes to handling snow removal.
Unfortunately this request was not supported by my colleagues, and the request was referred to the Public Works Committee.
I am extremely concerned that the current level of service does not provide enough snow removal, particularly on streets where residents rely on on-street parking. When we get hit with volumes of snow like we did last winter, residents are left with little options to park on the street, and windrows also create unique challenges for getting and out of their driveways. I met with City Staff earlier this week on site at some of our more challenging streets in the ward. They have insisted that they will do be monitoring some of our more challenging streets and will remove snow to enable their standard 5m clearance.
They have also indicated that they have been developing ways to enhance communication with residents, 311 staff, other city departments and contractors to improve the cooperation and awareness during severe weather. GPS technology is further being utilized to aid with the management of contractors.
The majority of winter roadway maintenance services are delivered through outside contractors. The contractors are to fulfill the level of services approved by council. The current level of service was approved in 2009, and we are bound by this contract until 2015. The General Manager of Transportation Services has reviewed the current service levels and submitted his recommendations on the proposed level of services to be fulfilled for the 2015-2022 year terms to the Public Works Committee last week and these recommendations are going to City Council in December for approval. The report can be found here. http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-63459.pdf
While there is a recommendation to enhance level of service for sidewalk clearing in high volume pedestrian levels (along arterial roads, in school zones, transit and accessibility areas), this report more or less reconfirms that the service levels of the current contract. While snow removal can be more challenging and costly on narrower streets with more obstructions such as on-street parking, I am extremely concerned about the impact on local residents when these streets are not adequately cleared.
I will continue to advocate for a more equitable level of service across the city,that will have a positive impact on the flow of services in our area. As I did last year, when severe snow events occur I will work closely with city staff to help address any immediate issues and concerns during major snow events this season.
Taking Action on Problem Hoarding at 313 Manor Rd.
Yesterday morning, representatives from Toronto Fire, Toronto Police, Animal services, Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) and Public Health will began cleaning the inside of 313 Manor Rd. This is another step in the long process to address the unfortunate problem hoarding at this address. Through a lengthy and unprecedented process, Toronto Fire and City Legal have received a court order allowing the removal of personal property from 313 Manor Rd. Toronto Public Health's Vulnerable Adults Unit have been on hand to provide counseling to the individual at this address. Please read my letter to local residents for more information regarding this issue.
Update on Porter Airlines' Proposed Billy Bishop Expansion
Over the past several months, I have heard from many Toronto residents expressing their voice about Porter Airlines and the proposed expansion of Billy Bishop Airport (BBTCA). I have, and continue to believe, that it is important to understand the facts, both benefits and concerns, to ensure that Council's decision is fully informed. The City of Toronto is currently undertaking a review of the request to amend the 1983 Tripartite Agreement between the City, the Government of Canada and the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), which would permit the landing of commercial jets at BBTCA. Council requested City Staff to report back with evidence and recommendations regarding Porter's request. This study was paid for by the Toronto Port Authority. Please click here to read City Staff's recommendations to the City of Toronto's Executive Committee that it would be premature to support Porter's expansion request before all relevant facts are made available.
2014 Budget Launched
The 2014 staff supported budget was introduced at Budget Committee this week. Staff recommended a 2.5% property tax increase that includes funding for the ill-advised Scarborough subway. I will spend the next few weeks and the holiday season reviewing the documents in detail in preparation for the City Council meeting on the budget in the New Year. As always, I will advocate for services that are important to our community including transit, parks, tenant supports, recreation programs for young people and childcare in a fiscally responsible manner. Please review the budget documents here.
Addressing the Roots of Youth Violence
City Staff are bringing specific recommendations to address the roots of youth violence to Community Development and Recreation Committee in response to my motion from earlier this year. Proposed actions to support at-risk youth will include: employment training/counselling, mental health supports and a program in cooperation with the Toronto police that explores alternatives to criminal charges for minor crimes.
Build the Relief Subway Line Now!
What subway expansion project does Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, TTC CEO Andy Byford, Toronto's Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and City Manager Joe Pennachetti all agree is Toronto's top transit priority? The Relief Subway Line. The 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. Please visit my webpage to take action
Stop Inappropriate Development! Free Toronto from the OMB
The OMB is a quasi-judicial, un-elected and un-accountable provincial body that has the final say on all planning decisions in the province of Ontario. Please visit my webpage to help bring control of our neighbourhoods back to your democratically elected City Council.
Is your Rent Out of Control? Stop Unfair Rent Increases
An AGI is a rent increase above the "Guideline" increase that a landlord can apply for through the Landlord and Tenant Board to cover the cost of capital repairs such as replacing elevators or balconies. As a result of this provincial law, tenants are being unfairly burdened for the landlord’s cost of doing business. Tell the provincial government to end this unfair practice here.