The Cressy Courier: 2016 Budget, LGBTQ2S transitional housing, and more!

Dear neighbour,

Although we're still waiting for the winter weather to arrive, Budget season is well underway at City Hall.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, our annual Budget process immediately affects how we live in our city.  Unfortunately, the 2016 proposed Budget does not include the resources to maintain the city and services we have, let alone the resources to invest and build the city we want. Many critical programs and services were left out of this year's Budget.

The 24-hour winter cold-weather drop-in program, that so many neighbours and community advocates have called and fought for, was finally implemented for the 2015-2016 season. Unfortunately, the program was not included in the originally proposed 2016 Budget.  Community members and advocates spoke out, and pushed for funding to be added back into the Budget for it to continue.  We worked together, spoke up, and we won – funding has been added back into the proposed Budget for this critical service that saves lives.

I am glad that the Mayor has acknowledged the need to invest in this critical program, and that some other services, like the Toronto Youth Employment Program and additional Fire Prevention Officers, will now be funded in the 2016 Budget.  However, the Budget still does not allow us to fund the City we have or build the City we want. Investments in childcare, inflationary costs for our student nutrition program, parks maintenance and other key programs, are still left out of this year's Budget.

Our funding model at the City of Toronto is broken – the proposed solution, using unsustainable, one-time funding, only allows us to tread water this year.  At our recent Budget townhall, Councillor Mike Layton and I heard loud and clear that residents in our neighbourhoods want a City that can support all of its community members, that can deliver much needed services, and where we can work together to invest in infrastructure.  We heard loud and clear that our neighbours are ready to come to the table to talk about how we do just that.

Now, we need our Mayor and Council to commit to working together on a long-term fiscal plan, that includes a discussion on new sources of revenue.

Toronto is a great city, there's no question about that.  But, in order to build a city for the future, we're going to need to invest again – in people, services, and infrastructure. 

Sincerely,

Joe

恭喜發財 - Happy Lunar New Year!

Today, we usher in the Year of the Monkey! I always take great joy in celebrating the Lunar New Year around our strong and diverse community -- this year was no different!

I hope everyone has a healthy and prosperous year.


Always a wonderful time at the Scadding Court Lunar New Year Celebration

I look forward celebrating the New Year with many of you at one of the upcoming events throughout this week.


Welcoming Transitional Housing for LGBTQ2S Youth to Ward 20 


I was happy to join Mayor John Tory and partners from the YMCA, and the Annex Residents' Association on January 14, to welcome the start of transitional youth housing services for LGBTQ2S youth at YMCA Sprott House in Ward 20.  Approved in the 2015 budget, these services are one of two youth shelters for LGBTQ2S youth to open this year.  As outlined in the Torontoist, these services have been 10 years in the making and represent the largest program of its kind in Canada.

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; the statistic speaks to the need for specialized programming to assist this very vulnerable group.

The YMCA was selected to operate the program, a 25-bed transitional youth house, at Sprott House on Walmer Road.  The YMCA is currently accepting referrals through its website at https://ymcagta.org/youth-programs/youth-housing. Clients will become moving in any day, and the YMCA anticipates that all 25 beds will be occupied by the middle of March.

I am so proud of our Annex community for being such welcoming neighbours, and I look forward to continuing to work with our new neighbours in the future.


24-hour Cold Weather Drop-in Centres

After years of requests from community advocates, two 24-hour cold weather drop-in centres opened in our City this winter.  As I wrote in an op-ed for NOW Magazine, an average of 290 individuals used these sites each night in the first seven days of January (a relatively mild winter) – this shows us that the program is desperately needed in our City.  The centres are designed to be low-barrier, so that couples can use them, bring their pets, and access critical support services. In January 2015, we saw three people die on our streets.  City Council approved the funding for these centres last year, and I was happy to work with Council colleagues to ensure that they opened in time for the 2015-2016 season.

Unfortunately, the program was not included in the originally proposed 2016 Budget.  Without the addition of the $416,000 for this critical program, the lives of so many of our neighbours would have beeen in danger.  Community members and advocates spoke out, and pushed for the funding to be added back into the Budget.  We worked together, spoke up, and we won – funding has been added back into the proposed Budget for this critical service that saves lives.  Congratulations to the many who came and spoke to Budget Committee, sent letters, signed petitions, and pushed for this program to continue.

I am glad that the Mayor has acknowledged the need to invest in this critical program - however, as I mentioned above, the Budget still does not allow us to fund the City we have or build the City we want. I remain hopeful that our Mayor and fellow City Councillors will commit to working together on a long-term fiscal plan, that includes a discussion on new sources of revenue, so that we can ensure funding for the 24-hour Cold Weather drop-in program is sustainable and long-term.


Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan

The City wants to hear from you about parks and recreation facilities

As we grow as a City, we must ensure we are building neighbourhoods and not just adding density.  As Toronto grows and changes, the parks and recreation needs of residents change. Parks, Forestry and Recreation is developing a 20-year Facilities Master Plan to prioritize investment in parks and recreation facilities such as community centres, sports fields, pools, ice rinks, bike and skate parks.

Learn more at www.toronto.ca/parks/facilitiesplan and share your opinion by participating in a town hall meeting, either in person or online. Find more information about upcoming town halls here.


250 Davenport Revitalization - Upcoming planning application consultations

Diamond Corp. and Metropia have recently submitted an application to City Planning for the development of a 28-storey residential building, with 315 units, and 39 back-to-back townhomes on the sold lands, which are adjacent to 250 Davenport.  In August 2013TCHC approved the sale of approximately 1.6 acres of land at 250 Davenport Rd. to Diamond Corp. and Metropia Inc., for the development of new market housing. This sale will result in a land payment, and a portion of any profits, to TCHC. As part of the Revitalization, the 449-unit building will be extensively refurbished and building systems will not just be repaired, but improved. 

The 250 Davenport community has come together to identify priorities that will drive this important community revitalization project, and have conducted extensive consultation with residents to identify building priorities. As a member of the TCHC Board and the local Councillor, I was happy to work with my fellow TCHC Board Members to bring forward the recommendations of TCHC Staff in December 2014 - to approve an additional $6.2million, for a total of $13.2 million – which will complete the majority of capital repair requirements in the building.

I am holding an upcoming meeting on the proposal - this will be an opportunity to learn more about the proposal, ask questions, and share your comments:

250 Davenport - Community Consultation Meeting (click here to view the meeting flyer)

Date: Thursday February 18, 2016
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Location: Church of the Messiah (240 Avenue Rd.)

I hope to see you at our upcoming meeting to discuss the proposal.


Public Consultations on Transit Projects

As part of ongoing discussions on improving transit in Toronto, the City is hosting a series of public consultations on upcoming transit projects. This is an opportunity for you to learn more and provide feedback on: SmartTrack, the Relief Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, electrified GO Service, new GO Stations, and integrated transit fares.

Transit Projects Public Consultation

Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm
Location: Metro Toronto Convention Centre; North Building, Room 203

For more information on the projects and the other consultations around the City, visit the project website here.


CityPlace-Fort York BIA

It's my pleasure to announce that a new Business Improvement Area (BIA) is being organized in the CityPlace and Fort York neighbourhoods. A recent poll of local businesses had positive results so the BIA will begin operating this year.

BIAs are tremendous partners for building vibrant and attractive communities. They are self-funded by local businesses and can undertake such initiatives as street festivals, special events, marketing, services like graffiti-removal, and public realm improvements. I am looking forward to working together with the new CityPlace-Fort York BIA.

CityPlace-Fort York BIA joins 11 established BIAs in Ward 20: The Waterfront, Toronto Entertainment District, Financial District, Queen Street West, Chinatown, Kensington Market, Harbord Street, Bloor Annex, Mirvish Village, Korea Town, and Dupont by the Castle. 


New City portal for supporting Syrian Refugees



I was proud to attend the launch of the City's newest resource to aid Syrian refugees settling in Toronto this past January. As part of the City of Toronto's Refugee Resettlement ProgramWoodGreen Community Services has launched a website called H.O.M.E., short for Housing Opportunities and Marketplace Exchange.  The website matches Syrian Refugees with housing, goods and services from donors, both businesses and individuals, to help Syrian refugees who are settling in Toronto.  Refugees, sponsors, landlords and donors can access H.O.M.E. online here.

WoodGreen, along with the donated services of Deloitte and Konrad Group have come together to create a new online portal to match Syrian refugees in need with offers of housing, goods and services.  Based on an application built by Vlocity, H.O.M.E. allows donors to post available housing, goods and services to help Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto.

City funding has enabled WoodGreen (located at 815 Danforth Avenue) to also launch an in-person Housing Help Service to provide ongoing support to Syrian refugees and their sponsors by providing assistance in locating housing, as well as providing referrals to other service providers and linking them to other useful resources, including language training, employment, education and healthcare.

The City began actively implementing the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program, which has included launching http://www.toronto.ca/refugees, last October.  Activity has included hosting information fairs to connect sponsors, refugees and potential sponsors with agencies that provide settlement services and entering into service agreements with community agencies to increase supports and resources available to new Torontonians and their sponsors.


Davenport Triangle Urban Design and Built Form Study - portal launch

The Davenport Triangle, the area bounded by Davenport Road, Dupont Street and Bedford Road is facing development pressure on all sides and my office is working together with residents to affect the future of their neighbourhood. 

City Planning staff have set up a community portal for interested residents with information on the applications, their status and all documentation specific to the sites. Staff are still working on adding all of the sites, but you can check out progress here to learn more about what is being proposed in the area.


Encouraging evidence-based Drug Policy - Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

As the Chair of the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel, I recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau encouraging a return to evidence-based drug policy.  The Toronto Drug Strategy provides a comprehensive approach to alcohol and other drugs based on the four integrated components of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement used in many other countries around the world.

Over the last decade, the federal government instituted many regressive measures related to drug policy.  In the early days of the new administration, it is important to inform the Prime Minister of our City's approach, and to encourage evidence-based decision making and a comprehensive approach to drug policy based on health, safety, and collaboration in our communities.

You can read my letter here.  For more information on the Toronto Drug Strategy, click here.


Bathurst-Bloor Four Corners Study 

Earlier this week, the City held its 3rd Community Consultation meeting to get feedback on proposed draft Official Plan policy for the study area.

At the meeting, staff presented Official Plan Policy on built form, heritage, public realm, movement and land use. These draft policies will be forwarded to City Council for approval in May.

City Planning will be accepting comments on the study until February 16 - visit the study website to review the materials presented and provide your comments. 

For more information, please see the City's website on the study here.


Approved: New traffic signals for Fort York Blvd and Dan Leckie Way

Community Council has approved new traffic signals for the intersection of Fort York Boulevard and Dan Leckie Way. I asked Transportation staff to study new signals at this corner because many community members have contacted my office with traffic safety concerns.

Although, according to traffic counts conducted this past summer, the current vehicle volumes through the intersection are just short of levels that officially warrant traffic signals, I advocated for early approval of the traffic signals because we know that new towers will be occupied in CityPlace soon, and there are large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists already crossing the street here. It is important to invest in infrastructure for the safety of people on foot and on bikes, because these ways of getting around are affordable and healthy, make our streets vibrant, and help reduce congestion.

The City now needs to budget the funding and resources to physically install the new traffic signals. My office has requested an update on the timeline from City staff.


Untapped Potential - animating our local laneways

Downtown communities like ours face unique challenges and countless opportunities. Almost every day, in conversations at our local coffee shops, in public meetings, and as we connect with our neighbours, we look for ways to work together to build our communities. We look for opportunities to enhance our parks, support our neighbours, and to create new public spaces.

Tucked away near the places we live, work, and play are spaces that can often be forgotten. Places that we can, together, creatively transform to help us enhance our vibrant neighbourhoods: laneways.

Read about three exciting projects we're on, collaboratively with our communities, in Harbord VillageHuron-Sussex, and Queen West in my op-ed in this edition of the Annex Gleaner. 


316 Bloor St. West - OMB Appeal

It has been almost a year since State Building Group, submitted their application to the City for a 42 storey mixed-use residential tower at the North West corner of Bloor St. and Madison Ave.

Attempts to push the applicant to make significant changes to the application and to respect the interests of our community have failed and they are appealing their application at the Ontario Municipal Board.

Please read my letter on my stance and commitment to working with the community to vigorously oppose the application.


 

Seaton Village Open House

Throughout the first year into my term as your City Councillor, I have had the pleasure of working closely with the Seaton Village Residents’ Association. Whether it’s discussing traffic issues, Committee of Adjustment applications or the ongoing consultations about the coming development at Honest Ed’s and the concurrent Four Corners Study, I look forward to continue building these relationships and working in collaboration with the residents of Seaton Village.

Please join me and City staff from Community PlanningTransportation Services, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and representatives from Toronto Police Services 14 Division to talk about issues and initiatives in Seaton Village and how we can work together with City staff on building a better future for our corner of the City.

Hope to see you there!

Seaton Village Open House

Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Location: Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Church (823 Manning Ave)


Waterfront Artisan Market coming to HTO Park - Seeking Vendors!

For six weekends this year, the Waterfront BIA will be bringing the Waterfront Artisan Market to HT0 Park on Queens Quay. Their operating partner, Toronto Market Company, produced the popular Union Station food market on Front Street last year.

They are currently seeking designers, artisans, chefs, entrepreneurs, bakers, and makers to participate in the market. Anyone who is interested can find the application form here: http://www.torontomarketco.com/wam-application-2016. The deadline to apply is February 20.

Market weekends in 2016 will be: Gangways Open Weekend (May 28-29), Father's Day (June 18-19), Canada Day and Redpath Waterfront Festival (July 1-3), Civic Holiday (July 30-August 1), Labour Day (September 3-5), and Thanksgiving (October 8-10).


Thank you to CityPlace ice rink volunteers!

I would like to recognize the time and hard work that a number of people have put into building a natural ice rink in Canoe Landing Park. After hearing from many residents that they would like an ice rink in the area, I requested that the City install an all-season water supply in the park in order to make this possible. In December, the City installed this water supply and since then, volunteers have been out on every cold night to build up layers of ice and create a natural rink for the CityPlace community.

The only thing missing has been winter weather! The past few months have been unseasonably warm and Toronto is easily on track to have the least-snowy winter on record. A natural ice rink needs consistently sub-zero temperatures and it helps to have lots of snow to keep each fresh layer of water from running away before it freezes.

Residents and businesses who work together to improve their neighbourhood are critical for sustaining the kinds of healthy and vibrant communities we all want to be a part of. Volunteers invest their own time and energy into creating the positive change. The volunteers behind the Canoe Landing Park natural ice rink deserve our collective thanks and support.

If you would like to help build and maintain the ice rink next winter, you can be in touch with the volunteer group through their Facebook page.


NBA All-star Game

Next Sunday, February 14, Toronto is hosting the NBA All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre. Much like the Pan Am Games, this makes Toronto a more interesting place to live and work, but it will also be a source of congestion and disruption in some neighbourhoods.

Activities relating to the All-Star Game will require partial road or lane closures between Thursday and the Sunday of the game. City staff are still working to coordinate all these activities so the exact times and locations may change in the next week, but I want to take this opportunity to let you know where to expect additional activity and potential congestion. Please contact me office if you would like more details about a specific location.

Bremner Blvd – York St to Lower Simcoe St (westbound curb lane)
Feb 11 - 14

Front St W – fronting the MTCC & Intercontinental Hotel to Lower Simcoe St (eastbound curb lane)
Feb 11 - 14

Front St W – pay-and-display spots north side of Front St W east of Bay St and Layby at Royal York Hotel
Layby: Feb 11 - 14
Pay and Display Spots east of Bay St: Feb 12 – 13

Maple Leaf Square – street closure fronting ACC from the east side of the condo driveways to Lake Shore Blvd W
Feb 12 - 14

Mercer St – John St to Blue Jays Way
Feb 13 - 14 - 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm south curb lane closure.  Full street closure from 5:00 pm to 6:00 am

Queens Quay W – Bay St to Yonge St (existing Motorcoach Loading Zone on the south side fronting the Westin Harbour Castle)
Feb 11 -14

University Ave – Richmond St W to Adelaide St W (southbound curb lane)
Feb 13 - 14

University Ave – existing Motorcoach Loading Zone between Adelaide St W and Richmond St W (northbound curb lane)
Feb 11 - 14

Wellington St W – Bathurst St to Portland St (north side lane)
Feb 11 - 14

Wellington St W – John St to Simcoe St (westbound curb lane)
Feb 11 - 14

York St – Layby at Royal York Hotel and east side curb lane Adelaide St W to Queen St W
Layby: Feb 11 - 14
East curb lane Adelaide St W to Queen St W: Feb 11 - 14

York St – Lake Shore Blvd W to Front St W (northbound curb lane)
Feb 12 - 14

Yorkville Ave – Yonge St to Bay St (westbound curb lane and layby at the Four Seasons Hotel)
Feb 11 - 14

temporary event venue is also being installed in Roundhouse Park to support live music and other special events associated with the All-Star Game. It will be dismantled after the weekend and the production company will be responsible for returning Roundhouse Park to good condition. 


Stay in touch with Trustee Malik

Sign-up to Trustee Ausma Malik's e-newsletter for regular updates from her: http://eepurl.com/9xckn


Upcoming Development Consultations

350, 370, 390 Queens Quay West – Pre-application Consultation
Date: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
Time: 7:30-8:30pm
Location: Harbourfront Community Centre (627 Queens Quay West)

The property owner of 350, 370, and 390 Queens Quay West (Maple Leaf Quay) has expressed interest in constructing an addition to the existing complex. I am organizing a pre-application community consultation meeting where you will be able to see the development concept, ask questions, and give your comments. For more information, see the event flyer here.

35 McCaul Street - Pre-application Consultation
Date: Monday, February 22, 2016
Time: 6:30-8pm
Location: Steelworkers Hall (25 Cecil Street)

This is a pre-application consultation on a proposal to construct a three-storey commercial addition over the existing four-storey commercial building. City Planning and Heritage staff will also be in attendance to hear community feedback and answer questions.

University of Toronto St. George Secondary Plan - Pre-application Consultation
Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm
Location: Room 108, Koffler House (569 Spadina Crescent)

For many months, we have been working with the University of Toronto, the Annex Residents' Association, the Huron Sussex Residents' Association, the Harbord Village Residents' Association and the Grange Community Association to develop a community-oriented and sustainable Secondary Plan for the future of the St. George Campus.

The University of Toronto has retained Urban Strategies Inc. to update the Secondary Plan for the St. George Campus area. Since the current Plan was adopted in 1997, the University, the City, and the provincial planning framework, have undergone numerous changes.  This pre-application presentation is an opportunity to hear more about the proposed Secondary Plan framework.

Please visit the website to learn more and add your voice online.

333 College Street 
Date: Thursday, February 25, 2016
Time: Chinese Meeting - 5:30-7:00pm; English Meeting - 7:30-9:00pm
Location: St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Church (103 Bellevue Avenue)

This is public consultation on a proposal to construct a 13-storey building and a row of 5 townhomes at the south end of the property. The developer will present their revised plans to the community and hear feedback. City Planning will also present their comments on the proposal.


Upcoming events

February 11th, 2016

Job Fair - Harbourfront Community Centre (5:00 - 8:00pm)
Harbourfront Community Centre, Gymnasium (627 Queens Quay West)

The Harbourfront Community Centre is holding a job fair for positions at the Aramark/Rogers Centre. For more information, see the event flyer here.

February 17th, 2016

Town Hall - Roadmap for Community Transportation (4:00 - 6:00pm)
Trinity St. Paul's United Church, Chapel Room (427 Bloor Street West)

The City of Toronto is working with community partners to develop a coordinated, city-wide transportation plan for seniors and residents with mobility issues. A series of town halls is being organized to get community feedback on this important issue. For more information, please see the event flyer here.

February 24th, 2016

Public Consultation on Transit Projects (6:30 - 8:30pm)
Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, Room 203 (222 Bremner Boulevard)

Come out to learn more about upcoming transit projects in the City and provide your feedback. For more information, visit the project website here.

March 1st, 2016

Huron Street Playground Revitalization (6:30 - 8:30pm)
Huron Street Junior Public School, General Purpose Room (541 Huron Street)

Join me and City staff from Parks, Forestry and Recreation to participate in a discussion and share your ideas and perspectives on how to enhance Huron Street Playground.

For more information, please see the event flyer here.

March 2nd, 2016

Public Consultation on Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market (PSK) (7 - 8:30pm)
St. Stephen-in-the-Fields (103 Bellevue Avenue)

I will be hosting a public consultation on this year's PSK events. The Kensington Market BIA will present their plans for this year's events and I will present the results of my office's PSK survey. 

March 3rd, 2016

Seaton Village Open House (6:00 - 8:00pm)
Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Church (823 Manning Avenue)

Please join me and City staff from Community Planning, Transportation Services, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and representatives from Toronto Police Services 14 Division to talk about issues and initiatives in Seaton Village and how we can work together with City staff on building a better future for our corner of the City.


Constituency Hours!

A reminder that I hold constituency hours every Friday afternoon at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West).

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