Community update: June Council highlights, Pride week, and more!

Dear neighbour --

Summer is here…finally!  However, that doesn't mean our work stops.  We still have lots to do to build a stronger and more inclusive City.

As I've said before, building equitable communities is one of our most important responsibilities. In Ward 20, we’ve allocated additional funds for affordable housing in the Alexandra Park revitalization, worked closely with the residents of 250 Davenport on their upcoming revitalization, and secured millions of dollars in funding for new affordable housing.

Building equitable communities is also about making all residents of Toronto feel welcome, supported, and able to access services and resources in every corner of our City.  Last year, City Council passed an access without fear policy, ensuring that undocumented residents are guaranteed access to services in their communities.  Recently, we affirmed this commitment, and asked for further information on how the City is doing in implementing this policy.

For years, the African-Canadian community has spoken out against the unjust practice of carding and has organized to bring it to an end.  Over the last number of weeks, we've seen thousands of Torontonians join that call and speak out against injustice and racism in policing and in our City.  Over 7,000 residents have now signed a petition calling for an end to the practice of carding and I stand alongside those leading the efforts to abolish this harmful policy.

This past Friday marked the official beginning of Pride week, and yesterday I was honoured to join the Mayor and many Council colleagues as we raised the Pride Flag at City Hall.  As Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam remarked at the ceremony, raising the Pride flag to celebrate Pride week is the result of a decades-long fight to recognize the equal rights of the LGBTQ2S community.  Now a 10-day long festival, Pride Toronto is one of the biggest celebrations of the LGBTQ2S community in the world.  However, we know that the struggle is not over, and that we must continue to combat the homophobia and transphobia that exists in our society - we recently approved funding for 54 shelter beds for LGBTQ2S youth, in an effort to support this underserved and marginalized group of Torontonians.  We will also continue to look for ways to be better allies in fighting discrimination.

I encourage everyone to take part in this week's Pride festivities and to show your support for equality in our City.

Looking forward to seeing you on the Parade route!

Sincerely,

Joe

June Council Highlights

Gardiner Expressway East   

Council debated approaches for addressing the deterioration of the eastern section of the elevated Gardiner Expressway at our June Council Meeting.  Unfortunately, the clear case for removal was ignored by proponents of the hybrid option, and Council voted in favour of retaining the elevated expressway. The hybrid option will cost almost double what the Boulevard option would have, and prevents us from building the much-needed Waterfront East LRT with the savings.  

I am deeply disappointed that City Council, although only by a two-vote margin, has chosen not to plan for the future of our City but to continue to rely on an antiquated elevated expressway, while cities around the world tear theirs down, and build vibrant and active new transit and public spaces.  The Hybrid will include re-decking the elevated expressway east of Jarvis Street as well as the ramps that connect the Gardiner Expressway East to the Don Valley Parkway.  Council's action on this item included various directives to staff, as detailed in the decision documentation on the City's website here.

Bicycle lanes and cycle tracks      

Council authorized various bicycle lane and cycle track designations. Among them, bikes lanes were designated for specified sections of Cherry Street, Fort York Boulevard, Finch Avenue West, Finch Avenue East and Royal York Road. Authorization was provided for a Sherbourne Street raised cycle track south of Front Street as part of the re-construction of Lower Sherbourne Street.

Undocumented Torontonians          

Council agreed to ask the Toronto Police Services Board to report to the Community Development and Recreation Committee on, among other topics specified, the number of undocumented residents reported by the Toronto Police Service to the Canada Border Services Agency over the past five years. Last year, City Council reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that Torontonians without full status or full-status documents have access to City services without fear, and directed staff to improve undocumented Torontonians' access to City services.

Environmental policies in Official Plan

Council supported next steps in a process to revise environmental policies in Toronto's Official Plan over the coming months. This policy work, which includes public and stakeholder input, is intended to assist the City in meeting challenges presented by climate change and strengthen existing policies on topics such as energy conservation, biodiversity and environmentally significant areas.


Promoting road safety in our communities

I, along with many of my Council colleagues, am very concerned with traffic safety and speed issues in our neighbourhoods.  In the Toronto and East York District, our Community Council called a special evening meeting on June 22 to consider a staff report on reducing the speed limit on all local roads in the District to 30km/h.  I am pleased that our Community Council approved this change, and will be working closely with my colleagues and City staff to ensure that the necessary changes to signage, etc. are done as soon as possible.

We will providing updates on this in the coming months, and look forward to continuing to promote safety for all road users and community members.


Pan Am Street Closures 

The Pan Am / Parapan Am games will take place on July 10-26 and August 7-15 respectively. There are some scheduled road closures near venues to facilitate athlete movement during the Games. Please review the list below to help plan your travels accordingly.

Varsity Stadium

Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto will primarily be used for archery events during the Games.

To accommodate this, Hoskin Avenue will be closed between Devonshire Place and Queen's Park Crescent from June 22 to August 22.

Cyclists will be asked to dismount on Hoskin Ave between Devonshire and Queen's Park. There is signage placed along Hoskin starting at Spadina and Queen's Park Crescent notifying cyclists of the closure.

Opening Ceremonies (July 10)

During the Pan Am Opening Ceremonies on July 10, there will be lane closures and parking suspensions around the Roger's Centre to accommodate athletes and their families. These closures will begin rolling out at 1pm and all affected streets will be re-open by midnight.

Affected streets include Front Street (north and south curb lane parking suspension between Spadina Ave and Draper St), Bremner Boulevard (local traffic only permitted from Navy Wharf to Van de Water Cres W), Rees Street (closed to public traffic from Lake Shore Blvd to Bremner Blvd), and Wellington Street (between Church St and John St).

Temporary High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes

There will be a temporary HOV lane on Lake Shore Boulevard west of Spadina in the westbound direction, and west of Rees Street in the eastbound direction. These lanes will be in effect from June 29 – August 18.

Road Events

Lake Shore Boulevard will be closed west of Strachan each weekend of the Games for Triathalon, Marathon, and Road Cycling events.


City of Toronto Committees to review service levels

As part of efforts to make the City of Toronto budget process more transparent and accessible, Committees will be undergoing service level reviews for their respective City divisions and you're invited to be part of the discussion.

Each of the standing committees will assess pertinent service plans to make sure they align with Council's strategic directions and will consult with the public for input in setting municipal service priorities.

Toronto residents can attend the committee meetings to learn more about the service levels proposed and can share their views by making a presentation to the committee or by submitting their comments in writing. 

The agendas for each committee meeting will be made available a week before the meeting is held. More information is available here.

I look forward to further efforts to improve the public consultation process for the City of Toronto budget.


Expanding the Richmond/Adelaide pilot and separated bike lanes on Simcoe Street



At the June 17 meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, staff presented an update report on the Richmond/Adelaide cycle track pilot.  Through on-line surveys and many other consultation efforts, as well as measurements of the impact on cyclists and other road users, the pilot has been found to be incredibly successful thus far.  The number of cyclists using Richmond and Adelaide has nearly tripled since the installation of the pilot, and the impact on road travel times for cars has been virtually non-existent.  Staff also recommended expanding the pilot further East to Parliament Street, connecting to the Sherbourne cycle track and expanding our City's cycling grid further east, and I am happy that the Committee approved this recommendation.

I am also thrilled to have worked with the Committee Chair to pass a motion for a report on implementing separated bike lanes on Simcoe Street, south of Front Street.  Simcoe Street currently has separated bike lanes North of Front, as part of the Richmond/Adelaide pilot.  However, it's important that we continue to expand this infrastructure to connect with our Waterfront communities.  Staff will be reporting back to Committee in September, and I look forward to hearing how this can be incorporated into the City's cycling network plan!


Toronto Pride Week celebrations!


(Photo courtesy of NOW Magazine)

I was extremely proud to attend the Pride flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on June 22 to celebrate Toronto Pride Week. It is so important to affirm the rights of LGBTQ2S individuals and continue to combat discrimination of all kinds.

Pride is one of the most exciting events of the year and I'm looking forward to all of the celebrations this week. Be sure to check out their website for a list of events happening all week. 

See you at the Pride Parade on Sunday when City Council marches with PFLAG!


Proposed Peak Hour Extensions public meetings

The City of Toronto is proposing to change or extend some of the peak hour restrictions along three major downtown streetcar routes between Roncesvalles Avenue and Parliament Street, including: Dundas StreetCollege/Carlton Streets, and Queen Street W.

I encourage everyone to come out to the meeting on Thursday, June 25 to hear about the plans and provide feedback on these proposed changes. This meeting will take place at Scadding Court Community Centre from 6-8pm

Click here for more information.


Complete Streets Guidelines public engagement

The Complete Streets Guidelines project is about developing a holistic approach for how we design our streets, building on many of the City's existing policies, guidelines, and recent successful street design and construction projects. The project is being led by the City's Planning and Transportation Services Divisions.

A Complete Streets design approach considers the needs of all people using the street - pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and transit users - and considers the needs of all ages and abilities. The approach also considers other street uses, like sidewalk cafes, street furniture, street trees, emergency services, utilities, and many more.

Take the online survey

Visit the website to learn more about the project, and take the online survey and provide your feedback. The survey will be open until July 2


Bloor Street United Church - Heritage Evaluation

For 10 years, the property located at 300 Bloor Street West, containing the Bloor Street United Church, has been listed on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Property.  The site has recently been the subject of inappropriate and overwhelming development proposals that present a threat to the building's cultural and historical value, as well as the local neighbourhood. The church building, representing the Gothic Revival style, dates back to the late 1800s. It has seen The Annex neighbourhood grow up around it.

I believe that this site has significant Heritage value, and that it should be evaluated in order to mitigate the impact of any future development.  At the June 16 meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council, my request that this site be evaluated for designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act was approved.  Staff will be reviewing the site, and reporting back to the Preservation Board on their findings.


Block 31 Update

This past Saturday, I was very pleased to meet with many CityPlace residents who took time on a beautiful sunny afternoon to come out to a public meeting about "Block 31", the two new schools, childcare facility, and community centre that will be built on the empty property immediately east of Canoe Landing Park

The Block 31 project team presented more detailed plans that were developed based on feedback from the first public meeting which was held in the winter. Presentation slides will be posted on the project website shortly: www.toronto.ca/block31. Please feel welcome contact my office if you have any questions or feedback.


The Globe and Mail Lands Update

The development proposal for the Globe and Mail lands (between Front and Wellington, west of Spadina) known as "The Well" has reached an important step in the review and consultation process. As presented at a public open house on the May 26 at Metro Hall, City Planning staff are recommending an Official Plan Amendment that sets the broad outlines for how the property will be redeveloped. Community Council has endorsed this direction and forwarded the recommendation to City Council for a final decision.

The proposal is for seven mixed-use buildings arranged around an east-west pedestrian spine and north-south connections that include two generous open spaces. There will be retail at ground level and each building will have commercial space, residences, or a mixture above. The tallest building will be an office tower at the corner of Spadina and Front, with the other buildings transitioning to lower heights to the north and west, respecting the unique characters of Draper Street and Wellington Street.

The finer details of the proposal remain to be resolved through a re-zoning application and this is subject to further community consultation and feedback. Please let my office know if you would like to be added to the contact list for future meetings about The Well.


Grange Park update

On June 4th, the Grange Park Advisory Committee hosted its final public meeting on the redesign proposal before construction is to begin. To view a summary of the meeting, please visit their website.

I look forward to finalizing the plans and to have construction begin later this year!


Re-zoning applications for 400 Front St W and 15-33 Mercer St

The City has recently received two re-zoning applications in the Entertainment District: 400 Front Street West and 15-33 Mercer Street. Back in February, I hosted a pre-application meeting to discuss both of these proposals. You can find the presentation materials and some notes from the Q&A portions of the meeting on my website. The next step for each of these proposals is that City Planning will host an official consultation meeting to share the latest information and get your feedback. These meetings have not yet been scheduled but please let my office know if you would like to be added to the contact list to receive notice.


Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan update

Preliminary directions for the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan were approved by Community Council this month and have been forwarded to City Council for endorsement in July. The process to develop this plan was only launched last winter, and in the past six months there have been more than 40 meetings with the public, local stakeholders, each residential building in the neighbourhood, and a working group to develop a vision and a plan for Bathurst Quay. I would like to sincerely thank the many residents and local organizations that have been deeply engaged in the process so far. We have heard clearly that we need to think big, refining "Concept 3" that was presented at the Community Workshop on April 22

You can view Concept 3 and other materials on the project website. City Planning staff will be working through the summer with local stakeholders, and additional public meetings will be held in the fall of this year.


CityPlace pedestrian safety update

The CityPlace neighbourhood has experienced rapid growth over the past decade, and is now maturing into a vertical neighbourhood. I am hearing from residents of CityPlace that pedestrian safety and comfort is an increasingly pressing concern, which will only become more important when the schools at Block 31 open, to be attended by 1,100 students every day.

Spadina Avenue is currently a major barrier and bottleneck for pedestrians travelling between the east and west parts of CityPlace. There is only one pedestrian crosswalk at grade between the Gardiner in the south and the railway in the north, with an additional underpass via Northern Linear Park.

I have directed Transportation Services and City Planning to take a close look at potential pedestrian improvements to Spadina Avenue and the wider neighbourhood. My office will be working with City staff on engagement opportunities for community members to give feedback and make suggestions later this year. 

Please let me know if you would like to be added to a contact list to receive notice of meetings.


Entertainment District Policing update

Following a community safety meeting last fall, 14 Division has been working with a task force to respond to the migration of "entertainment district" activities to the west of Spadina Avenue, which was historically the geographic limit. As a result, the task force will be recommending to Police management this month to re-define the "Entertainment District" for policing purposes to include areas west to Bathurst Street and slightly beyond. This gives 14 Division access to additional City-wide and Provincial resources specifically targeted at these issues.

The task force is also proposing to place some CCTV at the following intersections:

  • King and Brant
  • King and Portland
  • King and Bathurst
  • Queen and Bathurst

In addition, my office will be working with 14 Division and Transportation Services to address the persistent congestion that is affecting King and some other streets in the early morning. We will essentially create an additional "rush hour" when standing and parking are not permitted at the curb, so two lanes will be open for traffic. Clearing congestion should reduce the problem of taxis honking and it will help to clear people off the sidewalks after last call.


Our New Queens Quay



Our new Queens Quay officially opened last Friday night with the ceremonial cutting of a 650-metre long ribbon by hundreds of Torontonians! It was my pleasure to share the celebration with so many friends and neighbours. 

If you have not already had an opportunity to visit, I encourage to come down to the waterfront to enjoy the wide granite promenade, the new double row of street trees and high-quality furniture, the protected Martin Goodman Trail connection, and of course the many shops and businesses of the Waterfront BIA


Coronation Park and Stadium Road Park update

On June 1 at the Fort York Visitor Centre, I hosted a community consultation with Parks staff to present the heritage restoration plans for Coronation Park and to discuss ideas for Stadium Road Park. You can download the presentation slides from the meeting here.


Living Life to the Full

The Harbourfront Community Centre is the heart of the neighbourhood in Bathurst Quay. It hosts a wide variety of programming in support of the diverse and vibrant community. 

In this video, participants in Living Life to the Full mental health promotion course talk about their experiences and the benefits of the program for older adults.


Upcoming Development Consultations

Pre-application Community consultation - 46 Charlotte Street

Date: Monday, June 29th
Time: 7-8pm
Location: Metro Hall (Room 308)

Click here to view more information on this development application.

Community consultation - 36-60 McCaul Street

Date: Tuesday, July 14th
Time: 6:30-8pm
Location: University Settlement (23 Grange Road)

Click here to view more information on this development application.


Upcoming events

June 25th, 2015

Public meeting on proposed peak hour extensions (Scadding Court Community Centre; 6-8pm)

Come hear about the City's plans to extend peak hour restrictions to improve traffic flow along Dundas, College/Carlton, and Queen, and offer your feedback.

June 28th, 2015

Toronto Pride Parade (starts at Church & Bloor, down Yonge to Yonge-Dundas Square; 2pm start)

Celebrate Toronto's LGBTQ2S community with the world-renowned Toronto Pride Parade! 


Constituency Hours!

A reminder that I hold constituency hours every Saturday morning from 10am-12pm at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West).

Please call 416-392-4044 or email councillor_cressy@toronto.ca for an appointment.