The Cressy Courier: 2016 New Year's Resolutions

Dear friend -- 

I hope you found some time over the recent holiday period to relax and spend some time with friends and family. 

After a great first year in office in Ward 20, 2016 promises to be a fast paced year with much on the go.  From planning studies in neighbourhoods from North to South, to park improvement projects, ongoing waterfront revitalization initiatives, and new affordable housing opportunities, here is a taste of a few of the things we'll be working on this year.

Park Improvements

Working with local communities, work is underway on improvements to Huron St. Playground, Brunswick-College Parkette, Margaret Fairley Park, Bellevue Square, Grange Park, Canoe Landing Park, Rees Street Playground, Stadium Road Park, and more.  We're also working hard on NEW parkland opportunities in the growing King-Spadina neighbourhood.

Creative public realm opportunities

Making connections and increasing our green spaces requires more than just new park spaces - it also requires creative use of existing spaces.  To that end, we will shortly be kicking off the design consultation process for the UnderGardiner initiative.  We're also working on 3 new and exciting laneway projects in Ward 20: a cultural animation laneway pilot in King-Spadina, a laneway greening plan in Harbord Village, and a laneway housing pilot in Huron-Sussex.

Community Facilities and Services

In our growing downtown neighbourhoods, we must continue to ensure we're adding the community services to build liveable communities. In 2016, we will be working with local residents to finalize details for the new YMCA/City of Toronto partnership in King-Spadina.  We will also be working with CityPlace residents to finalize the design for the new community centre, childcare facility, year-round market space, and 2 new schools beside Canoe Landing Park.

Affordable Housing

Our goal of building an equitable city will continue in 2016.  The RFP will soon go out for the 80 new affordable rental units in CityPlace we confirmed last December. The RFP for Phase 2 of the Alexandra Park revitalization is currently being finalized. And, the revitalization of 250 Davenport will continue with $13.2 million in capital repairs now underway.

Heritage Preservation

Protecting the unique character of our historic neighbourhoods will continue in 2016 with work on two Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD). In Kensington Market, our office will be hosting public consultations on the development of the new HCD and striking a community Advisory Committee. In King-Spadina, the long-worked on HCD for the entire district will come to City Council for approval.

Waterfront Revitalization

Our work to turn Toronto back into a waterfront city will continue in 2016. Working with local residents and stakeholders, we'll continue to develop the comprehensive Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan. Improvements to the Martin-Goodman trail will continue. And, working with Waterfront Toronto, we'll seek to address the Queens Quay pinch-point east of Bathurst with a new public realm project.

Cycling Infrastructure

Ward 20 has the second largest number of residents who cycle in the entire City. Our work to expand cycling infrastructure will continue with improvements to Simcoe Street, Peter Street, and of course the pilot bike lane on Bloor Street. Working with residents, businesses, and cycling advocates, in 2016 we'll seek to install a new dedicated pilot bike lane on Bloor (finally!).

Development and Planning

Our Ward now has ¼ of all proposed development in the entire city.  Proactively planning for new development, and managing the daily proposals that come in, is a full-time job for our residents associations, and our Ward 20 team.  In 2016, we'll continue work on proactive area studies including the Bloor Block Plan, Davenport Triangle Study, Bathurst and Bloor 4 Corners Study, College Street Study, University of Toronto Secondary Plan, King-Spadina East Precinct Secondary Plan, Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan, and more.  Of course, our practice of hosting pre- and post- application public consultations will continue unabated.

All of these initiatives, and many more, will make for a busy 2016 in Ward 20.  We'll also be doing important work on city-wide initiatives from advocating for essential new investments in the 2016 budget to our ongoing work overseeing the City of Toronto Syrian Resettlement Program.

Another year of working together to shape and improve our local neighbourhoods, together - I'm looking forward to it!

All the best,

Joe

December Council Highlights

Syrian refugee settlement in Toronto  

Council endorsed the actions of staff in support of Syrian refugee resettlement, including efforts to address local xenophobia and provide financial and organizational support to groups sponsoring refugee agencies such as Lifeline Syria. Staff received authorization to enter into agreements with community partners and use City resources to implement Toronto's refugee resettlement program. Council also designated me and my colleague Councillor Joe Mihevc as Newcomer Advocates, a role that entails promoting the inclusion of refugees in the civic, economic and cultural life of the city.

City staff have been working hard on implementing the Syrian Refugee Resettlement program since October.  The program aims to mobilize existing supports, facilitate enhancements, and focus on strategies that can create the most impact.  Staff are working to coordinate, enhance, and integrate services in partnership with organizations on the ground working to sponsor refugees, and preparing and providing supports as they arrive.

If you have any questions about the program or want to get involved, visit the City's Syrian Resettlement Program website.

Block 36 Affordable Housing

I'm excited that Block 36 North was approved by Council for fast-tracking the creation of new affordable housing in our City.  Staff will be issuing a Request for Proposals to non-profit and private sector organizations to build affordable rental housing on the land owned by TCHC on Block 36 North in the CityPlace neighbourhood.  This area is the land across the street from the Fort York Library, at the corner of Bathurst Street and Fort York Boulevard.  This space has been earmarked for affordable housing for over 20 years, however there has been no movement on the development of much-needed affordable housing units for a number of reasons.  The proposal will require a minimum of 80 affordable rental units to be built on the site. We are also allocating $3 million in Ward 20 Section 37 funds to the Block 36 project.

As with all proposals in Ward 20, I am committed to ensuring that good planning principles will guide the Request for Proposals to be issued in January, as well as the project going forward. 

As we continue to plan the new community centre and schools at Block 31 (beside Canoe Landing Park), work on designs for Mouth of the Creek Park (adjacent to Block 36 North), ensuring that Block 36 North contributes new affordable housing in our City is an essential component as we continue to build equitable and liveable communities.  Expanding green space, affordable housing and community facilities are my most important priorities and I am happy that we are working hard to do this in our CityPlace neighbourhood.

Project UnderGardiner

Council authorized the City's acceptance of the generous $25-million donation from the Judy and Wilmot Matthews Foundation to create more than 4 hectares (10 acres) of new public space and 1.75 kilometres of multi-use trail beneath the elevated expressway from Spadina Avenue to just west of Strachan Avenue.  The project will transform 10 acres of vacant space with public art, landscape improvements, space for festivals and markets, and a pedestrian and cycling trail. The City and Waterfront Toronto will manage the project.

The project envisions a dynamic new public space that creates connections between some of Toronto's newest and most dense neighbourhoods, including Liberty VillageNiagaraFort York NeighbourhoodCityPlaceBathurst Quay and Wellington Place. The project will knit these communities together with innovative programmable spaces that will showcase Toronto's unique cultural and related offerings – music, food, theatre, visual arts, education and civics, dance, sports and recreation.  

The trail will create a new east-west corridor that helps to connect attractions across the waterfront, including Molson AmphitheatreBMO FieldFort YorkToronto Music Garden and the revitalized Queens QuayHarbourfront Centre, the CN TowerRogers CentreToronto Railway MuseumRipley’s Aquarium, the Air Canada Centre and the Toronto Islands via the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal.

Action on intimate partner violence 

Council supported taking a series of steps to address intimate partner violence against women, in response to a report from the Medical Officer of Health and recommendations by the Toronto Board of Health. In Canada, one in three women has experienced abuse at some point in her life. Toronto police data indicate 4,695 women were victims of intimate partner violence in Toronto in 2013. Toronto Public Health (TPH) has created an action plan to guide the City in the prevention and early identification of, and response to, intimate partner violence.

Aboriginal employment  

Council called for the creation of an internship strategy giving aboriginal youth experience working in councillors' offices as part of the City's strategy supporting aboriginal employment. Staff were also asked to consider making the hiring of people who identify as aboriginal part of the City's Social Procurement Policy requirements. In addition, Council endorsed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action and directed staff to work with the Aboriginal Affairs Committee on implementing those calls to action in the municipal government context.

Water rate and garbage bin fee for 2016

Council approved Toronto Water's capital and operating budgets for 2016, including an eight per cent increase in the municipal water rate for flat-rate consumers. A three per cent increase in the fee for garbage bins was approved with Council's adoption of the 2016 capital and operating budgets for Solid Waste Management. A third rate-supported budget – that of the Toronto Parking Authority – also received Council's approval.

Right to a healthy environment  

Council approved a Right to a Healthy Environment declaration for Toronto. The declaration is an expression of support for a campaign led by the David Suzuki Foundation to obtain municipal declarations as a way of encouraging actions by provincial and federal governments to strengthen their environmental rights legislation. The campaign's ultimate goal is to see environmental rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

TOcore planning initiative  

Council approved a series of actions for City divisions to pursue as the second phase of TOcore, an interdivisional initiative led by City Planning. TOcore is intended to ensure that ongoing growth of the city's core (including Ward 20) contributes to making the downtown a great place to live, work, learn, play and invest. The resulting secondary plan for downtown, expected to be completed before the end of 2016, will provide policy direction to shape future growth linked to the provision of the needed infrastructure investments.


Yonge Street Mission Relocation

In November 2015, the Yonge Street Mission (YSM) announced it will be moving to a new location at 365/367 Spadina Avenue by the end of 2017. The Yonge Street Mission is a non-profit organization committed to addressing poverty and inequality in Toronto. The Yonge Street Mission provides critical and important services to a vulnerable population of street youth, particularly in the downtown core.

At this location, YSM will continue their work offering daytime programming, including health services, employment services, and food services, among others. These uses are permitted as of right under Zoning By-law 438-86 and The City Wide Zoning By-law 569-2013. There will be no shelter beds at this site. No application or approval process is required by the City of Toronto.

Since the announcement of the new location by YSM in November, my office has been facilitating discussions in the community. To continue the conversation and our work together, I will be holding public consultations in the new year which will offer community members opportunities to learn more about YSM, share concerns, ask questions, and provide input in this early stage of the design process. Representatives from YSM, Toronto Police Services and the City of Toronto will be present to ensure concerns can be appropriately addressed during this stage.

Please attend one of my public consultations this month (note that the same information will be presented at both meetings): 

Tuesday January 12,2016, 6pm – 8pm                                   
University Settlement (23 Grange Rd.)
* With Mandarin and Cantonese Interpretation  
  

or

Thursday January 21, 2016, 6 - 8pm   
Steelworkers Hall (25 Cecil St.)


Harbord Village Green Plan

I am thrilled to launch the much anticipated Harbord Village Green Plan, a collaboration between my office and the Harbord Village Residents' Association (HVRA)!

Over the last year, I have been working with the HVRA on a plan to identify opportunities to expand and enhance green spaces in the neighbourhood. This plan includes laneways, flankages, corners, and other spaces that could be used to promote green infrastructure -- and this is just the beginning!



You can see the plan on my website here.

Moving forward, we will be working with City Staff to codify this plan and begin a plan for implementation.

As development in the downtown core continues to move ahead, we have to ensure that we are creating liveable neighbourhoods -- finding opportunities to create green spaces is an important part of that liveability. I hope to use this plan as a blueprint for other neighbourhoods in the future.

Special thanks to Kahlin Holmes and the HVRA for their support and assistance with this initiative.


Budget 2016 - Who's left out?

At its core, the annual debate on our City's budget is about people. Decisions made during the budget process immediately affect how we live in our city; how we interact with our parks and greenspaces; how we get around – whether on foot, bike, transit or car; and how we support each other.

In this budget cycle, we need your help.

The fact is that this year, the 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. 

So, who's left out?

This year's operating budget does not include the resources to continue our 24-hour winter cold-weather drop-in program in 2016/2017; a program that saves lives.

It does not include the resources to continue our Youth Employment Program that helps young people get a start.

It does not include the Council directed new Fire Prevention Officers to help educate our friends and neighbours, and keep our communities safe.

And it does not include a number of critical services recommended by the Mayor's Task Force to improve the lives of over 100,000 of our neighbours living in Toronto Community Housing.

How you can help

In addition to registering to depute at Budget Committee (more information on that here), please come out to my joint Budget Town Hall with Councillor Layton.

Councillors Cressy and Layton's Budget Town Hall
Monday, January 25th, 2016

CSI - Annex (720 Bathurst Street)
7:00pm


I hope to see you there.


Waterfront Revitalization for Bathurst Quay

It is time to finally bring waterfront revitalization, which has proven so tremendously successful east of Spadina, westward to include Bathurst Quay. Our tool to deliver this will be the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan.

Over the past year, there have been dozens of meetings with Bathurst Quay residents and stakeholders to come up with our collective vision for the neighbourhood. I have been hearing consistently one of the biggest problems is that airport traffic accesses the ferry and tunnel by a single local road past the park, school, and community centre, which is causing traffic congestion, aggressive driving, illegal parking and idling, and safety concerns. This is a significant challenge that we have to work to resolve.

I have also been hearing from community members that there is a desire for new and improved parks, and for public spaces that are attractive, vibrant, and make residents proud. Many people have told me that there is a need for more local services and job opportunities, and that we should improve and expand our existing public facilities to better serve the community.

And while there are diverse opinions about conserving the heritage silos, everyone agrees that this corner of Bathurst Quay has the potential to be a unique and transformative jewel for the neighbourhood. The silos and public lands around them require special care and attention to become an integral part of our community again.

Ultimately the Neighbourhood Plan will guide how Bathurst Quay will grow and change over time – it will also guide us as we determine the public investments that we need to advocate for, such as a new public pool.

On December 15, I hosted an open house meeting with City Planning staff to provide an update on the work so far on the Neighbourhood Plan. We heard some great comments and there is still time for you to share your thoughts, and let me know if you have any questions by emailing councillor_cressy@toronto.caPresentation materials for the open house will be posted on the project website soon. The next public meeting will be in the winter of 2016.


CityPlace Parks Consultation Online Survey!

On December 16, 2015, I co-hosted an open house meeting with the CityPlace Residents' Association (CPRA) to discuss parks and open spaces in the neighbourhood.

There are a number of exciting parks initiatives underway in the community, not least of which is the innovative "Project: Under Gardiner" proposal supported by a generous private donation. A new public park called Mouth of the Creek Park will also be built north of the Fort York Library, and the new school grounds at Block 31 (east of Canoe Landing) will be open to the public after school hours.

This meeting was an opportunity to learn more about these new parks, ask questions, and help shape the future of parks in CityPlace. City staff from the Parks, Forestry & Recreation division were also be present to discuss the current state of parks in the neighbourhood, including Canoe Landing Park, and hear any concerns or issues you may have. Presentation materials from the meeting are posted at the bottom of this page.

CityPlace has been growing rapidly and, as everyone living in a condo or apartment knows, in a vertical neighbourhood the local park serves as everyone's back yard. This means that our parks are asked to be a lot of different things all at once, from the home to major community events like CityFest to a space for quiet contemplation and relaxation. It's important to sustain an ongoing conversation about what's working and what could be improved, to be sure that our local parks are great parks. That's why we are asking for your comments on existing and future CityPlace parks and open spaces. Please click here to visit the CityPlace Parks Survey.

December 16 Open House Presentation Materials

Mouth of the Creek Park presentation boards

Project: Under Gardiner website

Block 31 website and presentation boards


Grange Park Revitalization update 

As part of the Grange Park Advisory Committee, I am happy to announce that the final design for the Grange Park Revitalization has officially been sent out for bid, with an anticipated construction end date of July 2017.

Thank you to everyone who came out to one of the three community meetings held on this project, and for providing us with valuable feedback that was incorporated into the final design.

The revitalized Grange Park will include:

  • 60 more trees than currently exist in the Park today
  • Larger and updated play structures for children
  • New and expanded seating
  • Many more exciting and innovative features

For a full list of what's coming and to view the plans, please visit the updated Grange Park website.

You are also invited to attend an Open House to hear about plans for the incoming Dog Off-Leash Area. 

The Open House will take place on January 23rd from 2-5pm. The location is to be determined; please email my office to be notified when the location has been set.


Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade

I am proud to support the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade, which celebrated its 26th anniversary last month. This is a wonderful community event that is put on by Red Pepper Spectacle with support from the Kensington Market BIA, the Kensington Market Action Committee, and the City of Toronto.

The Parade draws people from across Toronto and is an excellent showcase of local talent and artistry.


As always, I had a great time getting dressed up and parading through the streets of Kensington!

I look forward to continuing to support the Winter Solstice Parade next year, and for many more years to come!


Grange Fitness Centre Now Open!



The new Grange Fitness Centre is now open! 

University Settlement, located on Grange Road (off McCaul) has quadrupled the size of its fitness facilities and now has new fitness equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, spin bikes, circuit machines, free weights, squat racks, heavy bags, bench presses and more. 

They will also offer length swim, aqua fit classes, recreational swim, Yoga classes and drop in badminton. For membership information, drop by or call 416-598-3444 ext. 245 or 230.


Union Station Rail Corridor Construction

Neighbours of the Union Station Rail Corridor may already be familiar with Metrolinx's ongoing construction activities. This construction activity often must occur overnight to avoid interrupting transit service, which can have an impact on neighbours.

If you would like to receive regular construction updates by email, please contact unionstation@gotransit.com. You can read past construction updates at http://www.gotransit.com/unionstation/en/community/


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

698-706 Spadina Avenue / 54 Sussex Avenue - Pre-application Consultation
Date: Thursday, January 14th, 2016
Time: 6:30-8pm
Location: Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George Street)

This is a proposal by the University of Toronto and The Daniels Corporation for a mixed-use building at the corner of Spadina and Sussex. This pre-application meeting is an opportunity to hear more about the proposal, ask questions, and offer feedback.

8-20 Widmer Street Redevelopment Proposal – Pre-application Consultation
Date: Tuesday, January 26 
Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Metro Hall, Rotunda (55 John Street)

The property owner of 8-20 Widmer Street has expressed interest in redeveloping that site with a tall building. This pre-application community consultation meeting is your opportunity to see the early development concept, ask questions, and give your comments. 

350, 370, 390 Queens Quay West – Pre-application Consultation – Stay Tuned!

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. Please email my office to be added to the contact list to receive when the meeting details are confirmed.


Upcoming events

January 12th, 2016

Public Consultation on the Yonge Street Mission Relocation w/ Mandarin and Cantonese Interpretation (6 - 8pm)
University Settlement (23 Grange Road)

Learn more about the upcoming relocation of the Yonge Street Mission (YSM). There will be presentations by YSM and City Staff, and an opportunity to provide comments and ask questions.

January 13th, 2016

York Quay Neighbourhood Association (YQNA)- January Meeting (7 - 9pm)
Radisson Hotel (249 Queens Quay)

I will be providing an update at the meeting on local and City-wide issues affecting the neighbourhood.

January 14th, 2016

602-620 King Construction Management Meeting (7pm)
134 Peter Street, 17th Floor

This is an opportunity for neighbours to ask questions, learn about what to expect, and create open lines of communication with the developer. Having this conversation in advance of construction can help to avoid unexpected negative impacts and unnecessary challenges. Please see the event flyer here.

January 19th, 2016

Gardiner East Environmental Assessment Public Meeting (6:30-9pm)
Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street), The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon

The City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto are carrying out the Gardiner Expressway / Lake Shore Boulevard Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment (EA) and Integrated Urban Design Study. At an upcoming public meeting on January 19, findings related to the evaluation of design alternatives for the preferred Hybrid option will be presented, along with urban design concepts.  

For more information, please see the event notice here.

January 21st, 2016

Public Consultation on the Yonge Street Mission Relocation (6 - 8pm)
Steelworkers Hall (25 Cecil Street)

Learn more about the upcoming relocation of the Yonge Street Mission (YSM). There will be presentations by YSM and City Staff, and an opportunity to provide comments and ask questions.

January 23rd, 2016

Open House on the Dogs Off-Leash Area in Grange Park (2 - 5pm)
Location: TBD

Come out to learn more about the incoming dog off-leash area in the revitalized Grange Park, and share your feedback! Please contact my office to be notified when the location for the Open House has been finalized.

January 25th, 2016

Councillors Cressy and Layton's City Budget Town Hall (7pm)
Centre for Social Innovation - Annex (720 Bathurst Street)

This is your opportunity to learn more details about the City's 2016 Budget, ask questions, and share your views.

January 26th, 2016

St. Andrew's Playground Revitalization Launch (6:30 - 8pm)
Metro Hall, Rotunda (55 John Street)

Funding is available to expand and improve St. Andrew's Playground. This will be the first public consultation meeting to discuss what you like and what you want to see changed about this important heritage park. 


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.