I believe that as the City and School Boards serve the same constituents, the residents of Toronto, they must work more closely togther to make long-term and more comprehensive decisions.
A Lack of Accountability and Transparency on the Costs of the Scarborough Subway Extension
In today's Toronto Star, Jennifer Pagliaro wrote an important story revealing how many tax dollars will be wasted on sunk costs if the Scarborough LRT is cancelled (there may be more). The article also quotes City Manager, Joe Pennachetti, suggesting that the full amount is hidden within this year's City budget. Moveover, the City Manager has not reported back to City Council on Metrolinx sunk costs, as directed by Council. To read the full 2013 agenda item, please click here.
Action Being Taken to Combat Traffic Congestion
Traffic congestion impacts our ability to get to work on time, spend more time with our families at the end of the day and move goods and services around our city and region. As many of you know, I have been working hard on combatting gridlock with evidence-based initiatives since early on in the previous term of Council. While I recognize that the long-term solution is a greatly improved public transit system, there are specific measures we can take immediately to help improve the situation. Unfortunately, the previous administration had little interest in taking real action.
I am delighted that John Tory, our new Mayor, has acted swiftly since taking office. He has incorporated ideas, such as the motion I successfully moved in 2011, to increase fines and enforcement for drivers parking in curb lanes during rush hour. The first day of the Mayor's crackdown saw 29 cars towed during the morning rush alone.
I further commend Mayor Tory for signalling that he will take action on developers that block lanes for construction. In August of last year, I moved a motion asking City staff to look at the feasibility of increasing the upfront fee for blocking a lane, to encourage developers to look for alternate solutions that do not negatively impact residents. My motion also proposes implementing escalating monthly fees for blocking a street lane to encourage developers to use a lane for the least amount of time possible. I believe you will see the intent of this motion reflected in the Mayor's Gridlock Plan.
The long term goal should be to eliminate this practice altogether. Developers in New York are able to construct buildings without taking up traffic lanes or sidewalks; we should demand the same in Toronto. Please see this City News report for further information on this issue.
While it is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect Mayor Tory to solve gridlock overnight, I am proud to have a mayor who is prepared to take action, and make hard decisions, to improve the lives of our city's residents and get Toronto moving.
Toronto Ward Boundary Review Meeting: Have Your Say!
The Toronto Ward Boundary Review is looking at the size and shape of Toronto’s wards. This Review is being undertaken to ensure that each person in Toronto is fairly represented at City Council. The Review will look at the number of people living in each ward, as well as other factors such as geographic communities of interest and neighbourhoods, major physical and natural boundaries and population trends, to ‘draw the lines’ among Toronto’s wards. Any changes that occur as a result of the review will come into effect for the municipal election that takes place in 2018.
Public meetings are currently being held across the city as part of round one of the review's public consultation process. The meeting located nearest to Ward 22 will be held 6pm-9pm on Thursday, January 15 at Northern District Library (40 Orchard View Blvd., Meeting Room 224 ABC). If you are unable to attend the public meeting, please consider completing the online survey.
Crosstown Update: Highbourne Road Access at Eglinton Ave West
I was notified by Metrolinx today that Highbourne Road will be closed at Eglinton Avenue West on Monday, January 12th. Metrolinx has sent out notices to all Highbourne Road residents and local businesses, but I also wanted to take this opportunity to share this temporary road closure notice with you. For more information, please click here.
Basement Flooding has impacted many households across Ward 22. After every major rain storm, my office is contacted by residents who have suffered damages to their property as the result of basement or surface flooding. In fact, my family and I have had our own basement flooded- we've gone through this awful experience too.
I have been working with residents and City staff to address this problem in different areas across the ward. This past week, I met with the General Manager of Toronto Water and he has confirmed that a recommendation to conduct a Basement Flooding Study Area, that will cover the majority of the ward most impacted by flooding, will be brought forward to City Council by staff this winter for approval.
The objective of the study is to provide recommendations to reduce the risk of future flooding during severe storm events. The study will include a public consultation component that I will update you about, once confirmed.
Last month I was joined by families from across Ward 22 to celebrate the opening of our new Hodgson Ice Rink, and Arta Kadenaj from Aroma Espresso Bar (1407 Yonge Street) kindly donated coffee, hot apple cider and tasty treats for the event. Kind thanks to Arta for her generosity and helping to make our community skating party such a success!
Bienvenue à Holy Rosary!: New French Immersion Program in Midtown
Holy Rosary Catholic School is excited to announce that, along with their regular full-day kindergarten program, they will be offering a new French Immersion program in September 2015! The program will begin with a blended full day kindergarten class, including both Junior and Senior Kindergarten in 2015, and grow one year at a time alongside the current English stream. French Immersion Instruction is entirely in French until the end of Grade 2; English-language instruction is added in Grade 3. From Grade 5 to Grade 8, instruction is given 50 per cent in French, 50 per cent in English.
Admission to a Catholic elementary school is open to children who are baptized Catholic or who live with a parent who is baptized Catholic. A full list of all required documentation and admission criteria can be found on the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s website at www.tcdsb.org
All registration for September 2015 can be done online at https://soar.tcdsb.org or in person at the school, which is located at 308 Tweedsmuir Ave. For more information please call Holy Rosary Catholic School at 416-393-5225.
Spadina Museum Tours and Exhibits
See Spadina, and the history of Toronto, through the eyes of the Austin family, who made it their home. Business people, artists, socialites and philanthropists, the Austins were a prominent family whose struggles and triumphs were closely tied to those of Toronto as they entered the 20th century.
Meet the Austins: A Toronto Family Between the Wars at Spadina Museum
Saturdays and Sundays, beginning January 10
12:15 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Regular admission applies.
For more information on this event, please visit the City's Arts and Culture website.
I wish you a very, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Happy New Year! And on behalf of my family, Melissa and Molly, along with my Ward 22 team, Blake, Andrew, Chloe and Liz, I wish you and yours our very best for the holiday season.
Hodgson Artificial Ice Rink Update: It's New, Improved and Ready to Open!
I'm delighted to announce that the new and improved Hodgson Artificial Ice Rink will be open ahead of schedule, this Saturday, November 29! I'd like to thank my remarkable community for your patience and understanding as the construction took place, and also for your ongoing advocacy to ensure the rink was a top priority for Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff. I'm planning a community skating party for mid-December to celebrate the rink's opening- I'll update you with details about the time and date in my next enewsletter.
The "Skinnama-Rink" Natural Ice Rink near June Rowlands Park's Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground
I'm continuing to work with Lesley Stoyan and Chris Trussell of AppleTree Markets on getting our natural "Skinnama-Rink" up and running again this winter at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. We're now looking for community volunteers to help flood the rink over the course of the season. Please let me know, by responding to this email, if this is something you would be willing to assist with and I will gladly provide you with more details on how you can support our wonderful community initiative.
Shop the Eglinton Way!
During the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, I believe it's more important than ever to support our local businesses. This Saturday, November 28, the Eglinton Way BIA is participating in the Yellow Pages "Shop the Neighbourhood" campaign. Shop the Neighbourhood is a free national initiative which supports small businesses and reminds Canadians how local shopping makes a difference in all our lives.
Customers shopping the Eglinton Way between Chaplin Crescent and Oriole Parkway may use a free valet parking service. The locations are as follows:
- The Healthy Butcher at 298 Eglinton Avenue W.
- TNT Blu at 388 Eglinton Ave. W.
- One2One Studio at 506 Eglinton Avenue W.
For more information on the festivities, please visit the Eglinton Way BIA website.
Recent Local Flooding
There have been recent watermain breaks, such as one on private property that affected residents of the Brentwood Towers, and basement flooding due to storms on streets across Ward 22 (and throughout Toronto). I have been actively working with City staff on ways to improve both the City's response, and repair or replace the existing infrastructure which is in many cases 60 years or older. If you experience basement flooding, please call 311 immediately.
Holiday Gift Fair at the Central Eglinton Community Centre
The Central Eglinton Community Centre (160 Eglinton Avenue East) will be holding a Holiday Gift Fair on Friday, December 5 from 10 am to 2 pm. Gifts and one-of-a-kind items will be for sale, as well as a bake table, used book sale, door prizes, silent auction and a Snowflake Café.
For more information, please call 416-392-0511 ext. 0 or visit www.centraleglinton.com.
Let's Draw the Lines Together
The Toronto Ward Boundary Review is currently being conducted to ensure that each resident in Toronto is being represented at Toronto City Council. The review is led by an independent team of consultants who will make recommendations to City Council about the size and shape of Toronto's Wards.
In order to give feedback, residents can attend a public meeting or complete a survey online. For Toronto and East York areas, the meeting will take place Saturday, January 10 from 9 am to 12 pm at the Trinity St. Paul's Church (427 Bloor Street West). Learn more about the Toronto Ward Boundary Review project at drawthelines.ca.
Midtown Yonge BIA Poll Results: We're moving Forward!
I'm very proud to have initiated and worked with local merchants on a new Ward 22 Business Improvement Area (BIA) to improve local businesses, our local streetscape and the quality of life in our community. After much great work by the merchants in the Midtown Yonge area, the poll for proceeding with establishing a BIA has been approved. The results are as follows:
- 63 ballots submitted
- 2 spoiled ballots
- 50 ballots in favour
- 11 opposed
The next step is for City Council to officially approved the BIA in the new year.
Local Unicorn Day Care Spaces Saved!
I've been working very closely with Eric Mackey, the director of Unicorn Day Care, to ensure that a new home was found and local day care spaces were saved pending eviction from Brown P.S. I'm so pleased that the Church of the Messiah (240 Avenue Road) will now be the new home for Unicorn Day Care. I will continue supporting Eric through the next steps of the licensing process and will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Little Libraries & Bulletin Boards in Ward 22 Parks
As part of my initiative to improve parks across Ward 22, such as the new playgrounds we've constructed in Charlotte Maher and Forest Hill Road Parks, I'm delighted to announce the addition of a community bulletin board and little library in Oriole Park and June Rowlands Park. If you would like to discuss parks improvements in your neighbourhood, please let me know.
Election Day seems like much longer than a couple of weeks ago. I am deeply honoured to serve you here in our community and at City Hall. And we've been busy! I've been focusing on several neighbourhood and specific street priorities, along with city-wide policy initiatives, and will continue to provide you updates as they become available.
As I have done for the past four years, I intend to continue to ensure you are engaged and kept informed about the issues that matter to you with my regular email updates.
But today, on behalf of my family, my staff and certainly myself, I want to simply say thank you. I really love our community.
I hope this finds you well and that you had a great summer!
As I shared with you in my most recent update, I will be able to continue sending you regular updates after the municipal election on October 27th.
However, I do continue to keep my website, Twitter and Facebook pages very current with news and events from our Ward 22 neighbourhoods.
I've included information about a few items below that were considered at this term's final City Council meeting (held between August 25-28th) that may be of interest to you and your family.
Melissa, Molly and I hope to see you out in our community soon.
Motion Approved for a Potential Public Park at the Glebe Manor Bowling Club
As many of you are aware, a developer is in the process of purchasing the Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club property (196 Manor Road East) from the Club’s Board with the intent to build townhouses on the site.
This green space is very important to our community. In fact, we have a dearth of green space in our growing Midtown neighbourhoods. That's why I've been proactively working closely with local residents to acquire this property as a public park since this issue came to my attention several months ago.
Earlier this year, I successfully moved a motion at Council directing Real Estate Services staff to evaluate the fair market value of the property at 196 Manor Road East, and directing Parkland Acquisitions staff to begin negotiations with the current owner(s) for the purpose of purchase by the City and report back to Council's Executive Committee in August. I'm happy to report that both the Executive Committee and Council supported recommendations for the City to purchase the site if there is a willing seller. I also saw many of you at a public information meeting I held at Hodgson Sr PS on June 18.
The City has still not received any indication from the owner that they are willing to sell the property with a purpose to preserve the green space. In fact, they seem intent to move forward with a townhouse development, which I am strongly opposed to. While Council supported my initiative to make the funds available to purchase the lawn bowling club, Staff have not had a willing seller to negotiate with.
I have been working with a group of the lawn bowling club shareholders, who are mounting an opposition to the current Board's decision to sell the property to a developer. They need your support and assistance. For more information on their efforts to keep this space green, and how you can help, please click here.
The community and I are dedicated to taking every legal means to preserve this green space in perpetuity. I will continue to update you every step of the way.
Making the Union-Pearson Express Fare More Affordable, Competitive and Fair
Metrolinx's Union-Pearson Express line is a welcome addition to Toronto's transit network. For too long, our city has been one of the few world centres without rapid transit to its International Airport.
While I'm certainly pleased that this critical infrastructure appears to be on budget and will be ready to open for the Pan Am Games next year, I moved a motion at Council expressing some major concerns with emerging cost details that limit the accessibility of this line.
While the passenger fare has yet to be confirmed, media reports have estimated that the new line could cost riders upwards of $30 per trip. This cost may, or may not, have an effect on business or international travelers but it would barely be competitive with taxis or limousines for residents. Common sense would dictate that if a resident living anywhere other than downtown (within close proximity to Union Station) can be picked up from their house and taken to the airport for $50-60, they may opt to spend the extra money to avoid the additional time as the cost differential is not that substantial.
Further, a couple or a family might actually find it more expensive to take the Union Pearson Express.
Another troubling consumer cost detail associated with the Union-Pearson Express is the $1.85 fee passengers are being charged for not parking at the airport. The City of Toronto and other municipal governments in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are actively encouraging residents to use public transit. This fee would penalize air travelers for making a choice that helps fight congestion.
New Playground for Eglinton Public School
As students and parents are all too familiar, the playground at Eglinton PS is in serious need of improvement and has been for many years. Over two years ago, I secured developers' fees for school upgrades through a nearby development. After extensive consultation with the school community, Trustee Laskin submitted a very exciting plan for a revitalized outdoor area, including:
- New landscaping
- Funnel ball game
- Tetherball game
- Bicycle racks
- New trees and planters
- New sandbox
- Custom water wall
- Additions to existing play equipment
- Stone seating wall
- Chess tables
- Custom puppet show booth
My motion, supported by Council, included a Community Access Agreement (which will have to be signed by the TDSB) securing access for the wider community to the enhanced play area during evenings and weekends.
Improving the Mount Pleasant Road Streetscape and Supporting Small Business
With the Mount Pleasant Crosstown station set to open at the intersection of Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant in 2020, it is imperative that the local BIA start developing a unified streetscape design as soon as possible.
That's why I moved a motion to provide the Mount Pleasant BIA with $30,000, fully funded by Section 37 community benefits, to design a Streetscape Masterplan that will start the process of adding new trees, street furniture and other enhancements in the coming years.
This plan will help improve the walkability and attractiveness of the street which will, in turn, help attract new businesses to the neighbourhood.
The new plan will be developed in consultation with the South Eglinton Residents' and Ratepayers' Association, the Davisville Village community and myself. Public meeting notices will be posted in early 2015.
Improving the Deer Park Streetscape at Yonge & St. Clair
As local residents know all too well, the public realm in the Yonge and St. Clair area is in great need of improvement. The sidewalks are cracked and the very few existing trees are in poor health, sitting in out-of-date planters that are used as a receptacle for cigarette butts and garbage.
To help improve the neighbourhood, I have directed developers' fees toward Section 37 streetscape improvements in the area. The motion allocates $200,000 for planting trees in new, City-standard planters and other street enhancements.
Beautifying Oriole Parkway
At present, the Oriole Parkway median is a mostly concrete strip separating the north and southbound lanes. I believe it has the potential to be a remarkable street with a more residential character.
My recent motion directs $315,000, entirely paid for through developers' fees, for the installation of planters for approximately 60 trees, new curbs, top soil and sod on the median between Eglinton Avenue and Imperial Street. In addition, the funds will be used to beautify the eastern boulevard of Oriole Parkway between Kilbarry Road and Lonsdale Road.
There will be a notice sent to Oriole Parkway residents in the new year to discuss what specific improvements should be made. The intention of this initiative is to create a more attractive public realm on Oriole Parkway for the neighbourhood to enjoy, while also alerting drivers that they should control their speed in this residential area.
Taking Back Our Streets – Getting Developers out of Traffic Lanes
As many of you know all too well, traffic congestion is a significant problem for Toronto's motorists, public transit users and cyclists. 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. Estimates have put the cost of congestion to our city's economy at $6 billion a year while negatively impacting on the quality of life of our residents.
Of course, the long-term solutions to this problem include building a more accessible, affordable, extensive and efficient public transportation system. But, in the meantime, we must take every opportunity to ease congestion.
The practice of allowing developers to block lanes of traffic for construction negatively impacts motorists, surface transit users, cyclists and pedestrians. This usage of our streets causes bottlenecks, backing up traffic several blocks on major arterial roads, and can lead to inconvenient and, in some cases, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
Toronto's streets must be used more efficiently.
To help address this issue, I successfully moved a motion at Council requesting Transportation Services staff to study the feasibility of eliminating the practice of allowing developers to occupy a lane of traffic for construction.
My motion also recognizes that the long-term goal of eliminating the practice of using lanes for construction may need some interim provisions to open traffic lanes for the public as quickly as possible. At present, there is little incentive for developers to keep their construction staging area on their own property, rather than impose on public space, since the applicant's fee is largely comprised of a modest up-front payment, followed by a very minimal monthly fee thereafter.
That's why I also requested City Staff to look at the feasibility of increasing the initial up-front fee for blocking a lane to encourage developers to look for alternate solutions that do not negatively impact residents, and the feasibility of escalating monthly fees for blocking a street lane to encourage developers to use that lane for the least amount of time possible.
Reducing the Cost of Paid-Duty Police Officers
As a member of the Council's Audit Committee, I set a process in motion to reduce the number of paid-duty police officers the City needs to hire at construction and work sites.
I, along with many residents, find it frustrating and wrong to see uniformed police officers standing by work sites while other budgets to important City services are being cut.
I am happy to report that my colleagues on Audit Committee and, subsequently, City Council, supported my motion requesting the province to follow Vancouver's lead by ensuring that lower-paid enforcement officials are monitoring construction sites. If permitted, this initiative will save the City of Toronto, businesses and community organizations millions of dollars while ensuring that the police are focused on what they're best at - serving and protecting us.
For more information, please read this article.
Along with many police priorities, I hear from Ward 22 residents every day, including from fellow parents, that traffic safety and more enforcement in our neighbourhoods should be an important place where police resources go.
I hope you find this update interesting and informative.
Following Toronto's municipal election rules (yes, I do that), I won't be permitted to send out e-newsletters after August 1st, 2014 and until the municipal election on October 27th. There are, however, two notable exceptions: I will be able to send you an update after the late August Council meeting, and in the case of an emergency.
As you know, work has begun on constructing midtown's underground Crosstown LRT stations. Today, Council approved Eglinton Connects, a long term plan to beautify Eglinton with wider sidewalks, new planters and well-designed public space. Council also considered changes to the Official Plan to facilitate redevelopment in areas such as the West Mall and Dufferin. To be clear, there was nothing in the report before Council this week that changes the zoning in our Midtown community.
Dear Mayor & Council,
As Presidents of the Eglinton Park, Oriole Park, Sherwood Park and South Eglinton Residents' Associations, we represent constituents on both sides of Eglinton Avenue between Mt. Pleasant and Avenue Roads. After several years of consultation and community engagement, it is unfortunate that both the process and the plan for Eglinton Connects have been misconstrued by a few isolated individuals in the community. In addition to the official community consultations held by City Planning, Eglinton Connects has been discussed and widely supported through the Midtown Planning Group and at our AGMs.
We have taken the Eglinton Connects plan so seriously because the Yonge-Eglinton area is fast becoming a very urban, densely populated node. Unfortunately, the infrastructure has not kept pace with this redevelopment.
The sidewalks, for example, are already inadequate to accommodate the number of pedestrians in the area. In addition, there are very few trees and not enough street furniture. The present condition of Eglinton Avenue near Yonge Street will soon become untenable when the numerous condos currently under construction, or in the midst of the approvals process, are completed.
Right now, Eglinton doesn't work for drivers, transit users, pedestrians or cyclists. With the removal of the nine bus routes currently crossing Eglinton between Mt. Pleasant and Avenue Road being replaced by the underground Crosstown LRT, a significant amount of the right-of-way will be freed up.
We look forward to a complete street with widened sidewalks suitable for the many seniors that live in the area, as well as parents with strollers and residents with mobility issues. Our neighbourhood desires an animated streetscape with outdoor cafés, public art, separated bike lanes and pocket parks. The space afforded for large trees along Eglinton is especially supported by our memberships.
We have also had concerns about traffic movement on Eglinton and possible infiltration into our neighbourhoods. That's why we have been proactively working with Councillor Matlow to address these issues and are pleased to have provided input on his motion to help ensure Eglinton has right-hand turn lanes and synchronized traffic signals with technology to address queuing in left turn lanes. "Zebra stripes" at intersections and other measures are also needed to protect our local neighbourhoods.
While we recognize that no Neighbourhood Transition Areas (NTA) or expanded laneways are proposed for our community, we support Councillor Matlow's motion that requires fulsome consultation should either be proposed.
The Eglinton Connects plan is supported by us, the Presidents of our respective Residents' Associations, because it envisions Eglinton as a beautiful Main Street for all Torontonians that balances a number of priorities, not just as a highway for people passing through.
Tom Cohen Ben Daube
President, EPRA President, Sherwood Park Residents' Association
Greg Russell Chris Sellors
Past President, SERRA President, Oriole Park Association
June has been a very busy month working for our community. Hundreds of meetings during the days, a community meeting almost every night and the weekends have been filled with fun community events where I've been able to see, and hear from, so many of you and your families. From school graduations to the world's largest LGBTQ wedding at Casa Loma, it's been a great joy to work- and celebrate- with you in Ward 22. Some of the events that I, and my office staff, have hosted or attended this past month include:
- Relief Line Public Community Meeting
- Toronto Museum Visioning Workshop
- Eglinton Way BIA Social Mount Pleasant Village BIA "Restaurantacular!"
- Deer Park Residents' Group AGM, Brentwood Towers Tenants' Association and 112 St. Clair Avenue West AGMs
- Tim Horton's Camp Day
- Oriole Park Garden Committee Meetings
- Davisville PS and Oriole Park PS Parents' Night Outs and Fundraisers
- Cottingham PS, Davisville PS, Eglinton PS, Maurice Cody PS, Brown PS, Oriole Park PS, Hodgson Sr PS and Forest Hill Jr & Sr PS Fun Fairs/Garden Fetes
- Balliol/Davisville Laneway Party and Banff Road Annual Street Sale
- Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club Public Meeting
- Manor Road United Church Green Space Meeting
- St. Clair West Planning Study Public Meeting
- 31 Roehampton Tenants' Meeting
- 123 Eglinton East Town Hall Meeting
- Hodgson Sr PS, Northern SS, Deer Park Jr and Sr PS, Cottingham PS, Davisville PS and Eglinton PS Graduations
Please feel welcome to contact me if there's an event in your neighbourhood that you would like me to attend at [email protected]
I do hope you're able to enjoy everything our vibrant city has to offer this season. Whether you've been dancing at Toronto's NXNE music festival or the Toronto Jazz Festival, celebrating World Pride or simply having fun with your friends, neighbours and family.
I wish you all a very Happy Canada Day. I hope to see you soon in our community.
St. Paul's Canada Day Picnic with the Honourable Carolyn Bennett MP
This Tuesday, July 1, you are invited to join our Member of Parliament, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, at her annual St. Paul's Canada Day Picnic. The event will take place at Wells Hill Park (470 St. Clair Avenue West at Hilton Avenue) from 12 pm to 2:30 pm and will include face painting, live music, dance troupes, family friendly activities and a barbeque. I hope to see you there!
POPS Plan Passes Planning & Growth Management Committee
I'm delighted to report that my initiative to identify Toronto's Privately Owned Public Spaces, or "POPS" for short, and create design guidelines, including a POPS signage template and logo, passed Planning & Growth Management Committee last week.
As Toronto continues to grow, there is an increasing need and demand to revitalize existing parks and open spaces as well as to create new parks and open spaces.
In order to provide this much needed open space within Toronto’s dense urban landscape, the City often negotiates with private developers to include POPS as part of the development application and review process. POPS are a specific type of open space which the public is welcome to enjoy, but remain privately owned.
Save the Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club Green Space!
As many of you are now aware, a developer is in the process of purchasing the Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club property (196 Manor Road East) from the Club’s Board with the intent to build townhouses on the site.
It is clear from the overwhelming response that this green space is very important to our community. That's why I've been proactively working very hard to acquire this property as a public park since this issue came to my attention several months ago.
Earlier this month I successfully moved a motion at Council directing Real Estate Services staff to evaluate the fair market value of the property at 196 Manor Road East, and directing Parkland Acquisitions staff to begin negotiations with the current owner(s) for the purpose of purchase by the City and report back to Council's Executive Committee in August. I also saw many of you at a public information meeting I held at Hodgson Sr PS on June 18.
While it has became clear that this issue is primarily a private one amongst Board members and shareholders of the Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club Board, I have engaged City legal staff to further assess the City's interest in this matter. I can assure you that if there is a willing seller, I will work to have developers' funds directed toward the purchase of this property.
For more information on the efforts of local residents I have been working with to keep this space green please visit: glebemanorlawnbowling.com
New Traffic Light Coming to Yonge and Roehampton
For as long as most of us can remember, the intersection of Yonge and Roehampton has needed to better managed and safer for pedestrians and drivers alike. It had become clear to me and most residents that a stop sign was no longer sufficient for the volume of foot and car traffic at that corner.
Responding to the current situation and the influx of development coming to the area, I requested City staff to act on this priority and for Council to direct developers' funds toward the installation of a new traffic light at the intersection. I'm very happy to report that the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee approved my request at its most recent meeting.
For more information please read this staff report. The matter will be considered by full Council in a couple of weeks.
Forest Hill Village Green P Parking Lot
There has been some discussion about the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) and the Forest Hill Village BIA's proposals to develop the Green P parking lot at the corner of Thelma Avenue and Spadina Road in the Forest Hill Village. Please see my letter that I sent to residents in July 2013 regarding both my position on growth in the Village and my ethical responsibility to recuse myself from voting on this specific matter. However, although I am legally unable to vote on this matter, according to legal advice I've received along with what the City's Integrity Commissioner has told me, I am certainly allowed to keep you informed, and offer my opinion, as I always want to.
I am delighted to report to you that the Forest Hill Village BIA members overwhelmingly voted against the retail expansion proposal and for an expanded surface parking lot at their recent Annual General Meeting on June 24, 2014 at Grace Church on-the-Hill on Lonsdale Road. They supported moving forward with simply expanding the existing surface lot onto the adjacent residential lot to the north that is already owned by the TPA. I believe this is very good news for local residents and for the merchants themselves who would've otherwise been without the Green P during the proposed retail expansion construction period.
The purpose of the meeting was for the BIA's members to instruct the board about which TPA scenario they would support for the Thelma lot. James Parakh from the City of Toronto's Planning department was also in attendance to describe the scope of work for the Forest Hill Urban Design Guidelines Study I brought to Toronto City Council to protect the fabric and character of our village. The temporary bump-out I had installed at Thelma & Spadina, to create safer sightlines, will soon be replaced with a permanent bump-out and lay-by parking constructed on the south side of Thelma, across from the TPA lot.
St. Clair Avenue West Planning Policy Review
St. Clair Avenue West, between Avenue Road and Spadina Road, has a unique planning regime under Policy 221 of the Official Plan. The area is not considered an "Avenue" as is much of the rest of St. Clair West and the Policy was written well before the introduction of the streetcar right-of-way. For these reasons, and others, City Planning has advised me that Policy 221 is an insufficient tool to protect our community from inappropriate development.
It is clear that action needs to be taken as the City has recently lost two hearings at the OMB regarding applications on St. Clair Avenue West. While inappropriate development will likely continue to affect our neighbourhoods until Toronto is freed from the jurisdiction of the OMB, I believe that the current efforts to strengthen outdated Area Specific Policy parcels, such as Policy 221, could help communities avoid the OMB.
Last Wednesday I attended a public meeting hosted by City Planning staff to hear directly from the community as part of this policy review, to ensure that residents' voices are heard. I truly appreciated the thoughtful and constructive feedback received by those of you in attendance at the meeting, as well as others who have taken the time to write me on this issue. Throughout this entire study process, I will continue working with local residents and City Planning to help ensure new development better fits into the fabric and character of our community. That means not only trying to limit height and density, but achieving greater setbacks and appropriate transitions between St. Clair Avenue and our neighbourhoods. Developers should also be required to facilitate streetscape improvements such as trees, planters and benches.
Sustainability for Manor Road United Church, More Green Space for Ward 22?
Manor Road United Church (MRUC) has been reviewing long-term sustainability options and decided that half of the church's current property at Manor Road and Forman Avenue would more efficiently serve the needs of the present congregation and community programs. The MRUC site is comprised of four city lots fronting on Manor Road; the church aims to continue to own/occupy the two westernmost lots (containing the church proper) and sell the two eastern lots.
I am delighted that MRUC recently reached out to me, rather than a developer, about the possibility of having the City purchase the eastern half of the church property. Earlier this week I attended a roundtable meeting with City staff, MRUC's Reverend Debra Schneider, congregation members and other local residents, to discuss MRUC's vision for a more sustainable existence on the western portion of the property and the potential for a much-needed local green space adjacent to Forman Avenue for the benefit of both ongoing church activities and the community at large. I am currently arranging a follow-up meeting with City staff and MRUC's development committee chair to discuss further the feasibility of this exciting proposition. I will be sure to keep you updated on this matter through my website and e-newsletter, as more information becomes available.
377 Spadina Road Public Meeting
I've heard from many Montclair residents who are very interested in knowing as much information possible about a potential rezoning application for 377 Spadina Road. The new owner has advised me of his plans to build townhouses flanking Montclair Avenue and an underground commercial parking lot accessed off of Spadina Road.
I would like to invite you and your neighbours to an important meeting to discuss this potential rezoning application. I have asked the applicant to meet with Montclair residents directly to have an open dialogue about their plans in detail, and they have agreed to attend this public meeting to be held Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 7pm in the Parish Hall at Grace Church on-the-Hill (300 Lonsdale Road).
Is it too Hot in your Apartment?
I've heard from many tenants over the last few years that their unit can be uncomfortably hot, especially in late spring when landlords are mandated by the City to have the heat on even when it is warm. That's why I moved a motion in 2012 asking staff to report on the feasibility of changing the date on which landlords can turn off the heat from June 1st to an earlier one.
While staff has presented some compelling data in their report suggesting there are still too many cold days in May to change the date on which the City allows landlords to turn off the heat in apartment buildings. For large buildings it is not as simple as turning a switch off and on. Once the heat is turned off, it cannot reasonably be turned on again. However, there are still an increasing number of warm days in May and, throughout the summer as a whole. We cannot ignore this issue.
Toronto tenants have the right to a comfortable and healthy home. I have asked staff in a letter to the Licensing and Standards Committee to go back and look for real solutions to this issue, including a request that the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto review whether mandating maximum temperatures in rental units is feasible. The Committee endorsed the majority of my recommendations. The matter will be considered by full Council in a couple of weeks.
To ensure that you are informed and engaged about development proposals that are being proposed for sites near your neighbourhood, I've created an interactive webpage with locations, staff reports and public meeting notices. Please click here to learn more about what you can do to help free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).