Community Update: 2015 Budget, development consultations, and more!
Last week we passed the 2015 budget at City Hall. It was not perfect – not by a long shot –but it was a huge improvement over the last four years under Rob Ford. After four years of cuts, talk of so-called gravy and efficiencies, and a general race to the bottom, the 2015 budget proposed some modest new investments.
That being said, we can and must do better.
Every month it seems that a new Top 10 list comes out and lists Toronto at or near the top. The Economist labeled us the most liveable city in the world. KPMG named us North America's most tax competitive city. The lists go on and on…
However, just last week our city was put at the top of a very different kind of list. Last week the United Way produced a report stating that Toronto is now the inequality capital of Canada with the gap between rich and poor households widening at double the national average.
I've always believed that the critical test for a city should be how well we care for the people who live here. If as elected officials we do nothing else but care for our residents, we've done our job.
The 2015 budget we just passed included some important new investments in poverty reduction measures, in the TTC, and in our shelter system. These investments are not insignificant and will go a long way to getting our city moving and supporting those in need. You can find some key details from the 2015 Operating Budget below.
However, the budget did not make many of the necessary investments required to build a fairer and strong city. On affordable housing, childcare, and much needed long-term investments in infrastructure, the budget did not go far enough.
Over the next year and in the lead-up to the 2016 budget process, let's work to get it right and invest in our city again.
If you have any questions, please send me an email at email@example.com, or call my office at 416-392-4044.
Property Taxes & Utility Rates
Every year the City establishes how much it will cost to deliver services, and then sets a property tax rate to help raise revenue to fund the services that Torontonians rely on. This year, for a budget of $11.4 billion, the rate went up by 2.75%, which translates to about $83 more per household, for the year.
Council also voted to increase water rates by 8% and solid waste rates by 3% along with a reduction in the rebate program for this service. The cost of a small garbage bin will be $10.63, so many families can still reduce their overall spending on solid waste services by recycling and composting more.
Council approved Operating Budget - key details:
- Restoration of funding for security in public libraries, previously considered for cuts in this year's Budget
- New Public Health position to study climate-change impacts on health
- New shelter for LGBTQ2S youth and funding for over 4,000 emergency shelter beds across Toronto
- Poverty reduction initiatives, including more funding for student nutrition, the Toronto Housing Allowance Program, and Community Partnership Grants
- Funding for 105,000 tree plantings
- Restoration of Heritage Preservation staff, previously considered for cuts in this year's Budget
- $970 million over 10 years to rehabilitate the Gardiner
- Restored service cuts to the TTC
- 56 new paramedics and 25 fire prevention officers
For more information, click here.
Enjoy Toronto this week: City of Toronto March Break camp info
It's March Break this week, and the City of Toronto offers a range of great camps for youth ages 3 to 17 years old across the city during this time. They're a great way to stay busy during this final stretch of winter!
March Break Camps are available at: Trinity Community Recreation Centre, Bob Abate Community Recreation Centre, Hillcrest Community Centre, John Innes Community Recreation Centre, and many more.
For a full list of all available camps/times and to register, click here. Spaces fill up quickly so be sure to register as soon as you can.
If you can't get a space (and even if you can!), there are also family drop-in centres at various historic sites across the city operating all week. Take a look at the locations below:
Spadina Museum (near Bathurst and Dupont)
March 14 - 22
12 pm to 5 pm
Colborne Lodge (south end of High Park)
March 14 - 20
12:30 pm to 4 pm
Ages 3 & Up
Mackenzie House (near Yonge and Dundas)
March 16 - 20
Mon. to Fri.: 12 pm to 4 pm
Sat. & Sun.: 12 pm to 5 pm
Todmorden Mills (near Brick Works Park)
March 14 - 15 & 17 - 22
11 am to 4 pm (Closed Monday, March 16)
Constituency Hours - every Saturday!
10am-12pm at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West) - Call 416-392-4044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
Upcoming Development Consultations
Pre-application consultation - 602-620 King St. W, 30 Widmer St. and 23 Spadina Ave.
Date: Tuesday March 24th
Location: Metro Hall (55 John Street), Rm. 304
6pm - Presentation on 602-620 King St. W
7pm - Presentation on 30 Widmer St.
8pm - Presentation on 23 Spadina Ave.
316 Bloor Street West
Date: Thursday April 2nd
Location: University of Toronto Schools, Sidney Smith Building (100 St. George St.), Rm. SS1085
Note - City Planning will also be present to give an update on the development of a planning policy framework for Bloor St., from Walmer Rd to St. George St.
Pre-application consultation - 51 Camden St. and 19 Duncan St.
Date: Thursday April 7th
Location: Metro Hall (55 John Street), Rm. 308/309
6pm - Presentation on 51 Camden St.
7pm - Presentation on 19 Duncan St.
If you are unable to attend any of these meetings, please contact our office at 416-392-4044 or email email@example.com to learn more.
Central Tech Resolution
As you may know, after years of discussions, and at times rather difficult debate, a resolution to the Central Tech field has been found. In recent weeks, a successful mediation process has taken place at the Ontario Municipal Board. Parties representing the TDSB, Razor Management, the City, and different community groups were able to arrive at a resolution that all parties agreed to.
The mediated settlement represents a middle ground consensus that all parties felt they could accept, rather than risking it all at an OMB hearing.
Read more in the joint letter, written jointly with Councillor Mike Layton and TDSB Trustee Ausma Malik, here.
New transitional housing for LGBTQ2S youth announced in Ward 20
In the 2015 City of Toronto Budget, new funding was approved for 54 shelter beds for LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit) youth across the City. We are proud to announce that our office will be working closely with the YMCA and City Staff to support a new transitional house for LGBTQ2S youth in Ward 20.
At this week's meeting, City Council approved funding for the YMCA to operate a 25-bed transitional house for LGBTQ2S youth that will begin serving Toronto's youth this coming summer.
Extensive research and community input make it clear that LGBTQ2S youth are an underserved client population within the existing shelter system in Toronto. Currently, more than 1 in 5 youth staying in shelters identify as LGBTQ2S; this statistic speaks to the need for specialized programming to assist this very vulnerable group.
The YMCA was selected to operate the program and the Walmer Rd. site, located in Ward 20, was selected as an ideal location and building for this important new initiative. Currently, the YMCA owns and operates a 25-bed transitional youth house at this location. The YMCA's proposal was one of the successful respondents to a 2014 request for Expression of Interest for the operation of emergency or transitional housing specifically for LGBTQ2S youth.
The 2015 City operating budget contains funding for up to 54 new beds for this vulnerable group. The Toronto Walmer Rd. Sprott YMCA Centre program will offer youth a chance to stabilize their lives, learn new skills, access education, employment and housing supports while living in a safe and supportive environment. The YMCA will also be partnering with a variety of youth-serving and LGBTQ2S serving organizations and community advocates to ensure optimal service delivery to the clients it will house.
Our office looks forward to working closely with the YMCA and Shelter, Support and Housing Administration at the City to support this vital new initiative.
For more information or if you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rooming House Review
A review of rooming houses is underway to address issues relating to the condition and regulation of rooming houses. The review will also look at any implications that changes in regulation may have for both tenants and the broader community.
The Rooming House Review is a co-led initiative from Municipal Licensing & Standards and City Planning in partnership with Shelter Support & Housing Administration and other divisions.
A key component of the rooming house review is extensive consultations with diverse stakeholders such as tenants, operators, neighbours and service agencies beginning in the first quarter of 2015. These groups will be engaged through a variety of consultation methods, including open houses, neighbourhood-based consultations, Stakeholder roundtables and online surveys. Two neighbourhood-based consultations, taking place to review rooming houses from a local perspective, will be taking place in our communities: one for Kensington Market and The Grange and another for the Annex/Harbord Village and surrounding area.
The dates for the public consultations are still being confirmed, but they will be sometime this Spring. City Staff and our office will keep residents up to date once meeting dates are confirmed.
For more information, please visit the City's website here.
Subcommittee on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
The Subcommittee on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption held its first meeting on March 2nd. Over 300 residents attended the meeting, more than 60 registered to depute, and we were deep in discussion until well after Midnight!
The goal of this first meeting was to gather perspectives and direction to use in the development of the Terms of Reference for the new Subcommittee.
As a lifelong environmentalist, I am excited to be a Member of the Subcommittee and to see how we can work to meet our targets of reducting greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 80% by 2050.
For more information and to view materials presented at the meeting, visit the Subcommittee's website.
New Park Coming to the Entertainment District!
Bloor and Bathurst - Honest Ed’s development
On Tuesday March 3rd, Westbank, the developer, held the second public consultation meeting to discuss proposed development at the Honest Ed's site.
This proposal is still in the ‘pre-application’ stage, which is a great time for community members to give feedback about the design. This is an early stage of an ongoing process, and we will be sure to update the community as things move forward.
To view the presentation from the public meeting, or to submit your comments on the proposal, visit Westbank's project website.
Streetcar track reconstruction
Living in Ward 20, we benefit from immediate access to many major transit routes, but that means we also have to deal with occasional repairs and overhauls. This spring, a major streetcar track reconstruction is coming to the intersection of Spadina and College.
Click here for more info: http://www.joecressy.com/track_construction.
Block 31 Community Consultation
Presentation slides from the Block 31 community consultation meeting can be viewed at www.toronto.ca/block31.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for this project. Building these facilities is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the neighbourhood, and your participation is the key to getting it right! You can email me at email@example.com or call my office at 416-392-4044.
Meeting Cancellation - King-Spadina Community Consultation, Wednesday March 25th
City Planning has postponed the King-Spadina Community Consultation, originally set for Wednesday March 25th. Stay tuned to future newsletters for details on a new date.
For more information or with questions about the Committee of Adjustment, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Of Toronto: Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards - Nominations Open!
Each year, the City of Toronto recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations for their contributions to promoting equity and access to civic participation with the Access, Equity, and Human Rights Awards. This is a great opportunity to acknowledge those who work to combat racism, sexism, homophobia, homelessness, illiteracy, and other barriers to social, cultural, economic, and political equity in Toronto.
The awards include: the Aboriginal Affairs Award, the Access Award for Disability Issues, the Constance E. Hamilton Award on the Status of Women, the Pride Award for LGBT Issues, and the William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations.
If you wish to nominate an individual or community group, please visit www.toronto.ca/civicawards.
The deadline for nominations is Monday, May 11, 2015 and award recipients will be honoured at a ceremony in December.
Please join me in recognizing those who are fighting for a more equitable Toronto.
Spring Safety Message: Exercise Caution Near Waterways
The Toronto Conservation Authority is reminding residents of dangers that exist near streams, rivers, ponds and lakes around this time of year and urge people to keep family and pets away from the edge of all waterways.
Spring is quickly approaching and with warmer temperatures, people look forward to getting outdoors. Warmer temperatures, however, also bring: rain, melting snow and ice which can contribute to higher, faster flowing water in watercourses. Slippery and unstable stream banks and extremely cold water temperatures can also lead to very hazardous conditions close to any body of water. This year, there is a higher than normal amount of snow and ice cover in TRCAs watersheds and this means a higher chance of ice jams and localized flooding during the melting period. Extra caution is required.
Please keep family members and pets safely away from any water’s edge and help make this an enjoyable spring.
For more information, contact the Toronto & Region Conversation Authority at 416-661-6514 or www.trca.on.ca.