January 2015 Newsletter
Dear friend --
Since I took office on December 1st (and in reality since the day after the election), I've been in non-stop meetings: with community groups, residents’ associations, BIAs, City staff, other elected officials, and more. And any time I haven’t been in meetings, I've been busy reading reports, emails, and letters. And I've got to tell you – I've loved every minute of it.
Ward 20 is a very exciting place. We have some of the most active residents, a huge portion of the City's economic activity and jobs, three universities, thousands of tourists, and a vibrancy that never seems to stop.
Looking back on my first two months in office, I’m amazed at what we've accomplished as a community, and I want to take the time to update you all on some of the great things happening in this Ward.
This newsletter is the first of many. Please forward it to your friends, neighbours and colleagues, and encourage anyone who didn't receive it to sign up for future editions at joecressy.com/newsletter.
City Councillor, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina
Development consultation – 400 Front St. W and 15-33 Mercer St.
On Tuesday, February 3, I'll be hosting a pre-application community meeting to discuss two new condo proposals in the King-Spadina area – 400 Front Street West, and 15-33 Mercer Street. Please join us from 6:30-8:30pm if you can. More info here: http://www.joecressy.com/feb_3_2015_public_consultation
Community Calendar - Upcoming events
In addition to this newsletter, my team at City Hall has set up a community calendar at joecressy.com/calendar. We need your help to keep making it better. If you know of any upcoming community events that might appeal to Ward 20 residents, please let my office know so we can post the event.
Upcoming events in the calendar include:
Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2015 - January 31, 11:45am-2:30pm, Trinity Bellwoods Park
Skating party with Councillor Cressy Sunday February 8, 1:00-3:00pm, Harry Gairey Rink, 275 Bathurst Street
Ward 20 Budget town hall meeting - Monday, February 23, 7:00pm - 9:00pm, City Hall
Kensington Market Pedestrian Sunday Consultation – Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 7:00pm - 9:00pm - location TBD
Kensington Market Community Meeting – Thursday March 5, 2015, 7:00pm - 9:00pm - location TBD
Redpath Waterfront Festival – June 19-21 - http://towaterfrontfest.com/
And more …
Contact my office now to get your event added!
In early January I started a new weekly practice of Saturday morning community constituency hours. For many residents, having a meeting during the week can be challenging with all the pressures of work and family. I hope this weekly Saturday morning option will prove to be a helpful alternative. Except when otherwise posted or announced, I’ll be at Scadding Court from 10:00am until 12:00pm. I’d encourage you to call my office and make an appointment, so you don’t have to wait in line. Otherwise I’ll be meeting with anyone who comes on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Board and Committee Appointments
In December, City Council approved appointments of City Councillors to Standing Committees for a two-year term (half of the full term of Council), as well as to other Boards and Committees. I'm thrilled to be working on a range of issues representing our Ward 20 communities and our City – here are some of the Boards and Committees I'll be working on for the next two years:
As many of you know, the 2015 City Budget was launched on January 20. As I wrote last week, this budget signals a shift away from the ‘race-to-the-bottom’ style of government we had at City Hall over the last four years. There are commitments to important investments in key areas, like shelter support and public transit. Most importantly, the Mayor is signalling that he is ready to start investing in this City again.
However, there are still big questions with this year's budget. The Budget tabled on January 20 counted on $86 million in Provincial funding, which we have recently become aware we will not be receiving. This amount was originally provincial funding for social housing that was cut by the Province last year. Instead, the province offered a line of credit to the City, at a high interest rate, meaning we would fall further into debt and pay more money in interest instead of investing in the services we need. Yesterday, the City Manager announced that the City would not be accepting the line of credit, and that other options would be explored to fill the hole that now exists in the Budget.
I am disappointed that the Provincial Government did not provide the much needed assistance for our City and our residents, but one thing becomes clearer with each step in this Budget process - we have a revenue problem in our city. Costs for delivering the services our communities need and rely on continue to rise. The capital repairs required on our roads, our transit system, to our housing stock and in our parks grow each year. Expanding recreation and park services, our transit system, shelter supports, our transportation network and other community services is continually becoming out of our reach. I, along with many Council colleagues, want to see us do better as a City.
The budget also doesn't provide investments in affordable housing or affordable child care, which is a serious need in our City. These, among other questions, are ones we are continuing to explore through the process, as we ensure that our communities' needs and priorities are reflected in our City's financial plan.
More information is becoming available as we review and debate the Budget, and I will continue to keep you informed. I would encourage you to get involved in the process, come to my budget townhall meeting, and make sure your views are heard – click here to visit my website and learn how you can get involved. Click here to complete my online budget survey.
Climate Change Sub-committee
At its January 12 meeting, the Parks and Environment Committee voted to strike a Climate Change Adaptation Sub-committee. Members of the Committee recognize that Climate Change is a crisis – an economic, environmental and human crisis. Cities like Toronto are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We are feeling the ecological, health and financial toll of climate change regularly – over the past year, we've experienced ice storms, flooding, heat waves and invasive species. Toronto must do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change, while we do our best to prepare for its effects.
Unfortunately, Toronto has fallen behind as a Global Leader on Climate Change work. We must work to change this, and to take decisive action on Climate Change.
I was happy to put my name forward to sit on the new Climate Change Sub-committee, and look forward to working with my Council colleagues to find ways to become a leader on Climate Change again. The first meeting of the Sub-committee will be in February 2015.
Toronto Youth Equity Strategy
In 2014, City Council adopted the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (TYES). The TYES recognizes that not all of Toronto's youth live in the same context of opportunity and support and when solutions are designed to meet the complex needs of the most high risk youth, all youth benefit. The TYES targets young people (aged 13 to 29) who are most vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime by taking steps to better coordinate youth service delivery in Toronto, and by identifying specific service enhancements to achieve equity in outcomes for these youth.
At its January 15 meeting, the Community Development and Recreation Committee recommended to City Council that I be appointed Toronto's first Youth Equity Champion. This will be formally voted on at February's Council meeting, but I am excited at the opportunity to work together with youth in our communities and across the City, to ensure that we are working hard to implement the recommendations of the Strategy, and that we work to support and achieve equity for Toronto's youth.
Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel
As part of my work with the Board of Health, I’m pleased to announce that earlier this month I was selected as Chair of the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel. This role will build on years of hard work by Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks.
The Toronto Drug Strategy was developed in 2006 with a comprehensive focus on harm reduction, treatment, prevention, and enforcement. It is an extremely important strategy to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, neighbourhoods and communities by creating a society free of the harms associated with substance abuse.
Review of rooming houses
The City of Toronto is undertaking a full review of rooming houses and other types of precarious housing this year. The purpose of the study is to identify ways to balance the need to create affordable, shared housing but to also address issues where housing is unsafe, for tenants, neighbours and communities. In addition to the Annex/Harbord Village, we have confirmed with City Staff that the Grange and Kensington Market communities will be two communities included in the review, and are on the list for sites of local consultations.
For more information, please see: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.EX44.21
The City continues to fine-tune its policy for applying conditions to liquor Licences, and is working to develop a productive partnership with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). We recognize that Ward 20 has a high concentration of licensed establishments, so we are watching this process carefully. Imposing conditions on liquor licences is an important tool for neighbourhoods trying to control the impacts of bars and restaurants. As more information on this process becomes available we will share that with everyone. We are committed to continue to seek conditions to make it clear to operators that we expect them to be good neighbours and work with us for stronger communities.
For more information, please see: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.LS30.5
Outdoor Curling at Harry Gairey Rink
On January 11, I was proud to help launch a brand new public curling initiative in Toronto. This winter, you can try your hand at curling, for free, right here in Ward 20.
Harry Gairey Rink (275 Bathurst Street, just south of Dundas) is now home to three recreational curling sheets. Equipment and instructors are on hand to show you the ropes.
Curling Rink Times:
9 to 11 am
9 to 11 am
9 to 11 am
9 to 11 am
9 to 11 am
9 to 11 am
9 to 11 am
4 to 6 pm
4 to 6 pm
4 to 6 pm
4 to 6 pm
To make a reservation, please click here: https://www.torontocurling.com/torontos-outdoor-ice-booking-schedule/
Home Energy Loan Program (HELP)
HELP is a new financing tool offered by the City of Toronto to help you improve your home’s energy efficiency and save money.
Low interest loans are available to qualifying homeowners who are interested in improving the energy and water efficiency of their home. Through HELP, the City will provide the funding required to complete the improvements and the homeowner will repay the City over time through installments on their property tax bill.
For more info, click here: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=7e00643063fe7410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Pan Am Parapan Am Games Road Closure Moratorium
Please note that the City has 'paused' all applications for nearly all street closures and special events from May to September of this year due to Police staffing concerns caused by the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. It is expected that police officers will be working a lot of overtime during the Games and this will be balanced by many taking time off and vacations in the months before and after. There is a concern that there may not be enough police to staff all the special events that happen each summer in Toronto. Greater clarity is expected as the Games approach and plans are confirmed. We have been assured that Police staff will not be diverted from community policing duties for the Games. For more information, contact City of Toronto staff by calling 3-1-1.
Have a question about City services? Need to submit a service request? 311 is a three-digit phone number that you can use to get information about City of Toronto services or programs, or to make a request for service.
Callers can get information about everything from Toronto Public Library hours of operation, to reporting a missed garbage pick-up, to finding out where the closest flu clinic is located. All you have to do is dial 3-1-1, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also place requests for service online at toronto.ca/311, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEIGHBOURHOOD NOTES (roughly North to South):
In August 2013, TCHC approved the sale of approximately 1.6 acres of land at 250 Davenport to Diamond Corp. and Metropia Inc. for the development of new market housing. This sale will result in a land payment of $30-$35 million, and a portion of any profits, to TCHC. This will allow further investments in the extensive capital repair backlog at the TCHC, which is currently estimated at $2.6 billion. As part of the Revitalization, the 449-unit building will be extensively refurbished, addressing a large majority of the capital repairs required at 250 Davenport. The goal of the Revitalization is not just to repair building systems, but to improve them and to provide long-term solutions for residents.
Vermont Square Park Update
Plans to finalize Vermont Square Park are moving along. Residents are working with staff to finalize the details of the last phase of work and repair some ongoing issues. We can't wait to see the final park, and get back out there with a soccer ball.
Bathurst-Bloor Four Corners Study
A study is currently underway to examine the mixed-use neighbourhood surrounding the intersection of Bathurst and Bloor, including the Honest Ed's site, which will be redeveloped in the next few years.
The study, as described by the City, “will create a vision and ultimately policy for the Bathurst-Bloor four corners area including but not limited to recommendations for achieving public realm improvements, pedestrian and cycling connections, heritage conservation, open space, new parks, the relationship of transit stations with their surroundings, built form, a full range of residential unit sizes and affordability and land use.” At a community consultation meeting on December 9, 2014, City Planning presented emerging principles for the future of the Four Corners and asked for your feedback on them. If you missed the meeting, you can see the presentation materials here.
There have already been numerous consultations with community members, residents’ associations, BIAs, and other stakeholders, with many residents providing valuable insight and feedback. Please stay tuned for future updates on this initiative.
For more information on the study, please see: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=00aa1b9fadf4a410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextchannel=4b4452cc66061410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
I’m happy to announce that the Huron Sussex Neighbourhood Planning Study has recently won an ‘Excellence in Planning Award’ from the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.
The Planning Study for the University of Toronto's Huron Sussex Neighbourhood re-envisions the City's traditional approach to intensification, proposing strategically located laneway housing and midrise buildings within a low-rise neighbourhood to increase housing, while protecting the existing scale and architectural character.
To learn more about the study, click here:
To learn more about the award, click here:
Canadian hero Norman Bethune has recently been commemorated in Harbord Village, with a plaque in front of his childhood home, at 136 Robert St.
Bethune Henry “was a Canadian physician, medical innovator, and noted anti-fascist… Dr. Bethune effectively brought modern medicine to rural China and often treated sick villagers as much as wounded soldiers. His selfless commitment to the Chinese people made such an impression on Mao Zedong that generations of Chinese students were required to memorise the Chairman's eulogy to him.” [source]
For more information, see: https://nowtoronto.com/news/norman-bethune-commemorated-in-harbord-village/
[photo by Heritage Toronto]
Silver Dollar Room Heritage
Earlier this month, The Silver Dollar Room was granted an official heritage designation. The iconic Spadina and College music venue has helped launch the careers of many Canadian bands, and remains a vibrant hub for live music to this day.
While a heritage designation doesn't offer a guarantee that the venue will never be torn down, it does offer the City another tool to protect important aspects of the space as the neighbourhood evolves.
Alexandra Park Update
On February 11, 2014, the Alexandra Park community came together to break ground on Phase 1 of the Alexandra Park Revitalization. Over the last six years, residents, TCHC, the Atkinson Housing Co-operative and the City have worked together and developed a plan to renew aging infrastructure and expand community facilities in Alexandra Park. The 10-15 year Revitalization project is being lead by a community-based working group, and includes members of all the partners of the project. The Revitalization is divided into two main phases - Phase 1, which includes the area between the newly named Paul Lane Gardens going South to Queen Street West, and Phase 2, which includes the area from Dundas Street South to Paul Lane Gardens.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
This application proposes to build a 14-storey residential building at McCaul Street and Stephanie Street, along with a 3-storey art gallery at McCaul Street and Grange Road. The latest public meeting was held in November, 2014. Early in January, I met with the applicants to discuss their commitments to revise their plans based on community feedback. They will be sharing updated plans with neighbours in the spring at a community meeting, and I will include meeting details in a future newsletter.
John Street Cultural Corridor
When I took office in December, I inherited a project that stands to become a centrepiece of downtown Toronto – the John Street Cultural Corridor. This project runs along John St from Front Street – just in front of the Rogers Centre – to the Grange Park – just behind the AGO. This strip will feature significantly widened pedestrian areas designed to be used as community animation spaces, unique lighting fixtures, and one-of-a-kind streetscaping. The revitalized space will create a unique space for cultural events in downtown Toronto, connecting many attractive destinations.
While the project is currently in the early design stage, there will be public consultations about the project in the coming months, hosted by City Planning staff, which we will help to promote and participate in.
For more information, see:
Princess of Wales Theatre - Heritage Designation
City Council's heritage designation of the Princess of Wales Theatre, originally approved by Council this past August, came into effect on December 11, 2014. This helps to protect the heritage attributes of the Princess of Wales, the last large theatre built in Toronto in the 20th century, including the scale, form, and materials of the King Street façade. In the Mirvish-Gehry plan for redevelopment on this block of King Street, the Princess of Wales Theatre is to be maintained.
King-Spadina East Precinct Study
The King-Spadina neighbourhood is one of the fastest growing and most challenging areas with respect to managing development. Not that long ago, the area had only a few dozen residents; now it has thousands. The King-Spadina East Precinct Study is a chance for us to examine the unique history and growing community in the area, so we can make sure that future development builds a neighbourhood, and not just towers. Public meetings will be announced in the coming months, which we will include in future newsletters.
You can find out more information here: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=10a50621f3161410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextchannel=4b4452cc66061410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
You can also find out more information about the earlier King-Spadina Secondary Plan Review Study here: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=43a50621f3161410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextchannel=4b4452cc66061410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Richmond Adelaide Cycle Tracks:
In 2014 the City installed cycle tracks (separated bike lanes) on Richmond St., Adelaide St., and Simcoe St. These are a "pilot project" for demonstration, testing and evaluation, before a decision is made on whether they should be made permanent (with possible upgrades). Your feedback will help the City decide if we should keep, expand and/or modify these cycle tracks.
If we are committed to building a more livable city, and reducing congestion, we must invest in cycling infrastructure. I am committed to seeing the cycling grid expanded, and I look forward to seeing the role these tracks may play in that expansion, once the evaluation is complete.
Please read more and share your thoughts here: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=ae48a00f92dd5410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Changes to the Entertainment District
The 14th Division and the 52nd Division of the Toronto Police Services are undertaking a review of the entertainment district, to assess its current state, and to address ongoing security and traffic concerns. Over the last few years, the main cluster of nightclubs and bars has shifted progressively west, from the 52nd Division’s policing area, into the 14th Division’s. As such a reevaluation is necessary to determine how best to deploy TPS resources, as well as addressing shifting traffic issues and ongoing security challenges. I have met with Police Services on multiple occasions, and my office will share updates about the review as it progresses.
As a young neighbourhood, there are a lot of exciting ideas and initiatives underway in CityPlace.
One project I am particularly excited to work on is the empty block immediately east of Canoe Landing Park – Block 31. Within five years, there will be two new elementary schools, a community centre, and a childcare facility on this land. Creating this community infrastructure is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and the only way to get it right is through a robust process of community consultation. The first public meeting to introduce the project will be held in late February, but the details are still to be confirmed.
This past December, the residents and businesses of CityPlace got together to do some good, in a food drive event called CityPlace cares. You can see great photos and video from this successful event here:
The event raised 5,000 pounds of food for the Daily Bread Food Bank!
Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan
Toronto’s Waterfront Secretariat is currently carrying out a consultation with the goal of creating a Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan. The goal of the plan is to create “a long-term vision for the Bathurst Quay community. The study will develop recommendations for public realm and transportation improvements, pedestrian and cycling connections and facilities, and open space and park facilities. The study will also develop an approach for the future of the Canada Malting silos and address traffic and access issues related to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.”
As new development and the prospect of an expansion of the Island Airport put increasing pressure on this vibrant, unique neighbourhood, we need to carefully chart out the values, challenges, and successes of this community so we can create a healthy plan for the future. The future of the neighbourhood should be guided by the people who live, play, and study there. As home to thousands of residents, a vibrant school, and a well-loved community centre, it’s crucial that the community’s vision for their home guides future plans, not corporate appetite for airport expansion. I’ve been happy to be a part of the public consultations so far, and our office will continue to play a role in this project as it rolls out.
Island Airport Runway Environmental Assessment
At the same time as the Neighbourhood Plan consultation is underway, PortsToronto (a.k.a. the Toronto Port Authority) is carrying out an environmental assessment of the short-sighted proposal to expand the Island Airport to allow commercial jet traffic. The proposal would see a significant extension on either end of the runway, severely impacting access to waterways around the island, and bringing air traffic much closer to our newly restored waterfront.
Standing alongside thousands of waterfront residents, I remain opposed to any expansion of the Island Airport, in size or operation. Toronto has a world-class waterfront that has been the subject of a massive revitalization program that is still underway. Waterfront Toronto has invested more than $1.3 billion in revitalization, resulting in $3.2 billion in economic output, 16,200 full-time years of employment, and $622 million in government revenues. The investments have also attracted $2.6 billion in private sector funding.
What's your vision for Toronto's waterfront? Mine is a simple but ambitious one. I believe Toronto should aspire to be a waterfront city. A city where the waterfront – from Mimico to Scarborough – is our collective front yard. Is this possible? Yes. Is it going to happen? It's already underway, but the future is somewhat uncertain.
There are many valid concerns about expansion, ranging from health, to environmental, to infrastructure, and traffic. But in my mind it all comes down to what our vision for the waterfront is: the waterfront is for people, not jets.
I urge you to get involved in the process, and make your voice heard. Please see http://www.bbtcarunwayea.org/ for more information about submitting your concerns before February 6, and to stay up to date about any future public meetings.
Tip Top Lofts sign restoration
On December 2, 2014, I had the pleasure of ‘flipping the switch’ on the newly restored ‘Tip Top’ sign at the award-winning Tip Top Lofts.
It’s great to see pieces of our heritage preserved in meaningful ways as the neighbourhood changes and grows.
Queens Quay Revitalization
Waterfront Toronto has done an impressive job rehabilitating and revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront.. The international recognized project includes the well-loved Wave Decks, the Cherry Beach Sports Fields, and Sugar Beach. But this project has not been without its challenges.
For many residents and visitors of our waterfront, the ongoing repair work to Queens Quay has been frustrating. I’m happy to tell you that the end is in sight, with the work on-track to be finished this spring, before the Pan Am Para Pan Am Games descends on the City. The ‘heavy lifting’ – the streetcar and road work – has largely been completed, with work now moving forwards quickly on sidewalks, waterfront promenades, and the overhaul of the Martin Goodman Trail, all the way to Stadium Road.
For more details on the project, see: http://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/explore_projects2/central_waterfront/queens_quay
The City and Waterfront Toronto are working together to close the final gap in the Martin Goodman Trail between Lower Spadina Avenue and Stadium Road. This spring, a two-way cycle track will be installed on the south side of Queens Quay West through the Bathurst Quay neighbourhood, connecting across an improved Bathurst Street intersection to a multi-use path running eastward. It will open at the same time as the Queens Quay Revitalization on June 19. With these two new pieces, the Martin Goodman Trail will run uninterrupted between the Humber River and the Don River.
As well, we expect to see work begin on a revitalization of Coronation Park and Stadium Road Park begin this spring. We look forward to announcing public consultations about the process soon, so we can plan the parks together, as a community.
Family Day on the Waterfront
On February 16, 2015, the Waterfront BIA is running Family Day events all day along the waterfront. Events include guided tours of the Queens Quay Terminal, Canine All Stars at the PawsWay, and free hot beverages for folks who bring a travel mug. Hope to see you there! For more info, call 416-596-9821, or visit waterfrontbia.com