The Cressy Courier: A year in review

Dear friend -- 

This week, our Ward 20 team marked 1 year in office – that's 1 year as your City Councillor, working hard together on development files, improving our green spaces and building liveable communities.  As I look back on this past year, it's clear that we have a lot to be proud of.

As a community we've all been shaken by recent events in Syria and around the world.  I was proud that City Council responded and approved my request for the City to develop a Resettlement program for Syrian refugees.  But residents of Toronto have also been leading this work - in our neighbourhoods, from North to South, local groups have stepped forward to sponsor families. Toronto at its very best, if you ask me.

We worked together on a partnership between the City and the YMCA, to build a brand new community facility at 505 Richmond Street W, that will include community space, youth programs, and full-size swimming pool.  The YMCA will be built into BUILD's overall plan for the building, which will include heritage restoration, residential development and enhancements to St. Andrew's Park.  We're also hard at work on the final design details for the new community centre, year-round market space, 2 schools, and childcare facility at Block 31, the open plot of land beside Canoe Landing Park in CityPlace

In Harbord Village, we've worked with the Residents' Association to develop the Harbord Village Green Plan, a comprehensive action plan to green forgotten concrete spaces in the neighbourhood - stay tuned for the full plan coming soon!  We're holding an open house in CityPlace on December 16 to discuss parks and open spaces in the community - the innovative "Project: Under Gardiner" proposal supported by a generous private donation, a new public park called Mouth of the Creek Park, and the new school grounds at Block 31 (east of Canoe Landing).  We announced a new park in the Entertainment District, Grassett Park, in partnership with the Ireland Park Foundation.  We're continuing work on the many parks projects across the Ward -  Margaret Fairley Park, Brunswick-College Parkette, Bellevue Square Park, Coronation Park, Stadium Road Park, Grange Park and others.  We're also looking forward to starting to plan projects for Ryan Russell Parkette and the Huron Street playground in the New Year.

We've also been working together to stand-up to aggressive development and to ensure that we are building neighbourhoods, not just adding density.  Council approved the Madison Avenue Heritage Conservation District just last month.  We're nearing the end of the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District Study and the King-Spadina Secondary Plan work, to ensure that we are protecting and managing development in the neighbourhood.  And, we're starting work on the Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District study.  We've initiated the Bloor Block Plan and the Davenport Triangle Study, we're working closely with the community on the University of Toronto Secondary Plan, and we worked together on 484 Spadina Ave (The Waverley/Silver Dollar Room), and we won.  City staff are also half-way through the TOcore study to develop a new master plan for the downtown to regulate and mandate more equitable and liveable downtown development. 

Ensuring that every resident has safe and affordable housing is an essential priority of mine, and of so many of our neighbours, and we need to work hard to ensure we're building affordable housing across our City.  In Alexandra Park, after months of work with our community-led working group, City staff and TCHC, City Council approved our plan to commit funding to affordable home ownership in the community, to expand the footprint of the Atkinson Housing Co-operative, and to allocate new funding for the creation of new affordable housing units in Phase 2 of the revitalization.  Work is underway on the 250 Davenport Revitalization, which will see the refurbishment and improvement of the building.  We're fast-tracking new affordable housing at Block 36 North in the railway lands.  And, we're allocating 10% of every Section 37 agreement to the creation of new affordable housing.

In the Toronto and East York District, our Community Council lowered the speed limit on all local roads to 30km/h.  We're working closely with neighbours across the Ward to continue to prioritize safety for all road users. On Bloor Street, we've started consultations on a bike lane pilot project to run from Shaw Street to Avenue Road - bike lanes on Bloor have been discussed for years, and we're continuing this work with local residents, businesses, transportation experts, and schools.  We've also expanded our bikeway network on Richmond-Adelaide, Simcoe Street and we'll see the installation of Peter Street and other routes in 2016.

After years of debate, the new Government of Canada confirmed they will not support re-opening the tripartite agreement to allow jets or the expanded runways at the Island Airport. In other words, jets are done. We now have the opportunity to re-focus all our energy on working together to build the neighbourhood we want, through the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan.  Ultimately the Neighbourhood Plan will guide how Bathurst Quay will grow and change over time, and how we determine the public investments that we need to advocate for.  Join me at our open house on December 15!

These are just some of the important initiatives that have characterized my first year in office – there are countless other local initiatives and issues that we've been working on, and I am excited to see what the next 12 months in office will bring.

I look forward to continuing our work together,

Joe 

November Council Highlights

Poverty reduction strategy   

Council adopted the vision, objectives, recommendations and actions for a poverty reduction strategy called TO Prosperity, with a work plan for 2016 that includes 75 City initiatives, many of them involving partnerships. Almost one in five adults between the ages of 18 and 64 in Toronto and more than one-quarter of the city's children below the age of six are living in low-income households, according to Statistics Canada.

Cold weather protocol   

I was happy that Council approved my motion for funding for the provision of cold weather drop-in services 24-hours-a-day in Toronto for this January and February. The original staff recommendation was to implement these services in 2017 – Council approved my Motion for these services to begin this winter, a full year earlier.

In addition, Council directed that the City must be prepared to offer the 24-hour cold weather drop-in services if needed in November and December. The City issues an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, with related services, when Environment Canada forecasts a temperature of -15 degrees C or colder or a wind chill of -20 degrees or colder. Council also addressed the City's shelter capacity during cold weather, as noted in the next item.

Waterfront transit reset    

Council called for a review of waterfront transit initiatives and options in response to the observation that waterfront transit planning has been incremental, lacking a comprehensive plan for a transit network that can respond to the rapid transformation of the entire Toronto waterfront extending east from Etobicoke. According to the report considered by Council, the absence of a comprehensive plan has resulted in little progress in securing funding for new transit infrastructure on the waterfront.  I am committed to continuing to strongly advocate for investment in waterfront revitalization, including the transit we need in the area.

Uber in Toronto  

Council adopted a motion calling for the City to provide additional information to the public about the current status of Uber in Toronto, including the risks associated with using the UberX ride service. The City is engaged in ongoing communications with representatives of Uber Canada about the City's taxicab broker application process and Uber's continued non-compliance with the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 545, Licensing.

Revitalization of distressed retail areas  

Council directed staff to establish a pilot Capacity Building Program in two neighbourhood improvement areas as part of a broader economic revitalization program to assist distressed retail areas. The revitalization program involves working with local business communities in distressed commercial areas so they are better positioned to address the economic challenges particular to the neighbourhood.

Future use of Old City Hall

Council voted to notify the Province of Ontario that its lease of the Old City Hall building at 60 Queen St. W. will not be extended/renewed beyond 2021. Council requested a feasibility study for museums and complementary public uses of the building, which currently houses provincial and municipal court operations. Staff have identified criteria to be considered in determining the best future use and tenant fit for the historic building. 


Building Affordable Housing - Block 36 North

I'm excited that Block 36 North has been identified as a priority site for fast-tracking the creation of new affordable housing in our City.  Originally listed earlier this year, we recently announced that 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 Blvd.  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 announcement last week was an exciting step forward in addressing our City's affordable housing shortfall – with 91,000 families on the waiting list, it is imperative that we do everything we can to increase our investment and stock of affordable housing in our City.  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 out CityPlace neighbourhood.


CAMH is here to stay

Back in July, news broke that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) facilities on College Street were being threatened by displacement.  This would have been a major loss for our community as CAMH provides essential medical services for a vulnerable population, including Ontario's only 24/7 emergency medical centre specifically for those experiencing mental health crises. 

Over 1200 people signed my letter opposing the displacement of CAMH from their current College Street location.  Our voices were heard.

Recently, CAMH announced that a court-appointed appraiser ruled in their favour.  They found that "fair market value" for the facility should be based on the existing institutional zoning, a position held by CAMH, the City of Toronto, and the surrounding community.  In his ruling, the appraiser assigned a fixed-rent for 20 years, starting in 2018, which will allow CAMH to remain.

To everyone who signed my letter, and to the Huron-Sussex Residents' Organization, the Grange Community Association, and the Harbord Village Resident's Association for their vital role in raising awareness on this important issue – thank you.

Your support has made this outcome possible. 


Statement of Unity

The recent hate crimes targeting Muslims, especially Muslim women, are unacceptable. We must recognize these acts as the hate crimes they are. We are unfortunately at a place where there are some in the world working to divide us, to make us fear each other. It is for this reason that it is more important than ever that we remain united.

I joined the Mayor, all Toronto City Councillors, all Toronto District School Board Trustees and all Toronto Catholic District School Board Trustees in signing this Statement of Unity - this is the first time we have all stood united.



I'd like you to join us and add your name, then share this commitment to remain united against Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, and hate.  

Thank you to Councillor Mike Layton for organizing this Statement of Unity.

See the statement & sign on here: http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/statement-of-unity.

Share on Twitter by clicking here

Post to Facebook by clicking here


 

Snow clearing

It's that time of year again - when we all prepare for the onset of winter!  The city works hard to ensure that our roads and sidewalks are clear and passable during the winter months, and works hard to respond to conditions as they arise throughout the season. 

Prior to the onset of a storm, Transportation Services will apply a layer of salt to hills and bridges throughout the city.  The application of salt brine is intended to prevent the snow from bonding to the pavement and to make it easier to plow the snow to the side of the road.

As soon as the snow begins, Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks to the expressways and main roads.  Local roads and laneways are salted soon after this.  When two centimeters of snow has accumulated then plowing will begin on the expressways and, when five centimeters has accumulated, plowing will begin on the main roads. Plowing on the expressways and main roads will continue until the operation is complete.

When the snow stops and if the snow accumulation reaches eight centimeters, local road plowing will begin.  Plowing on local roads is usually completed between 14-16 hours after the snow stops falling. 

After clearing ice and snow from some bike lanes as part of a pilot project for the past three years, the City has identified a priority network of bike lanes and cycle tracks in the downtown core that will receive enhanced winter maintenance this winter, including snow plowing and salting to improve safety for cyclists.

Staff work hard to clear roads as soon as possible, but it can take time for them to get to each and every road in the City.  If you have questions about your street, call 311 or my office any time.


Update - Syrian Refugee Resettlement

I am proud that City Council approved my request to develop a City of Toronto Syrian resettlement program to assist with the current crisis.  The City has a history of responding to refugee crises when they arise, and like we saw after the 2004 Tsunami, a similar program is being developed to respond to the Syrian Crisis.  The program, set up in response to a letter I wrote to Executive Committee, resulted in the creation of an inter-divisional team at the City to lead the project, an inter-agency team (including the Canadian Red Cross) to coordinate services across the City, continued support to Lifeline Syria and other settlement agencies, and a number of post-arrival supports.  To read the report and see the full details, click here.

City staff have been working hard on implementing the recommendations over the past month. 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 to prepare and provide supports once they arrive.

As I mentioned in the opening to our e-newsletter, we've seen residents from around the Ward and across the City come together and respond – many have coordinated their efforts to sponsor refugee families.  On December 8th, the City of Toronto will be holding an Information Fair for sponsors of Syrian Refugees at City Hall (see the event flyer here).  The fair is an opportunity to speak to representatives from City divisions and community agencies, and learn about the services offered and how they can support your sponsorship efforts.

Our City is ready to welcome Syrian refugees, and we will continue to work hard to coordinate supports and assistance as they arrive. 


A new dynamic public space in the heart of downtown



Today, the City of Toronto, together with philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews and Waterfront Toronto, announced a $25 million partnership that will create a new public landscape beneath a section of the Gardiner Expressway in our community.

The generous gift will fund the creation of 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 initiative, temporarily called Project: Under Gardiner, will transform the areas beneath the expressway into vibrant community spaces that will play host to a range of cultural programming – creating a new outdoor living room for the use of the 70,000 residents in nearby neighbourhoods and for visitors who use the many amenities and attractions in the area.

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.

For more information on the project, including more initial drawings and upcoming public consultations, please visit the Project: Under Gardiner website and see their special preview video here.


It's time to re-focus on revitalizing our waterfront together

After years of debate, last month the Government of Canada confirmed they will not support re-opening the tripartite agreement to allow jets or the expanded runways at the Island Airport. We now have the opportunity to re-focus our energy on working together to build the neighbourhood we want. 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.

I am hosting an open house meeting with City Planning staff on December 15 at Harbourfront Community Centre to provide an update on the work so far on the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan. I hope to see you there! If you cannot make it, please contact my office to learn more.

Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Drop in: 4:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Harbourfront Community Centre (627 Queens Quay West)


CityPlace Parks - Open House Meeting

You are invited to an open house meeting this month that I am co-hosting with the CityPlace Residents' Association to discuss parks and open spaces in CityPlace.

There are a number of exiting 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 is 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 will 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.

Please drop in at any time during the open house. A short presentation will be repeated over the course of the evening.

Date: Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Drop in: 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Location: Fort York Visitor Centre (250 Fort York Boulevard)


26th Annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade

Join the Kensington Market community on December 21st to celebrate the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade! In its 26th year, this annual event draws crowds from across the city and is a wonderful showcase of local artists.

Along with several other community partners, including Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, the Kensington Market BIA, and the Kensington Market Action Committee, I am proud to support this locally-organized event.

Date: Monday, December 21, 2015

Parade start time: 7:00pm

Meeting location: Corner of Oxford St and Augusta Ave

For more information, visit the Red Pepper website here.


Toronto Tree Canopy Survey

Parks, Forestry and Recreation is developing a Tree Planting Strategy aimed at inspiring action to reach the City's target of 40 per cent tree canopy cover for Toronto by 2050. You are encouraged to share you views on the subject by participating in a survey.


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 (Open House)
Date: Saturday, December 5, 2015
Time: 1-4pm
Location: JJR Macleod Auditorium Foyer (1 King's College Circle)

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. A pre-application community consultation will be held in January.

342-346 Davenport Road (re-zoning application)
Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Time: 7pm
Location: Huron Street Junior Public School (541 Huron Street), Gymnasium

This is an application to build a new mixed use residential building at 342-346 Davenport Road, backing onto the Designer’s Walk Laneway. City Planning staff will be in attendance and will use the discussion to inform their preparation of a Preliminary Report on the application. This consultation will be followed by another public meeting and presentations from both Planning staff and the applicant, after the Preliminary Report is issued.


Upcoming events

Novemer 28th, 2015 - January 1st, 2016

Spectacle of Lights on Toronto's Waterfront

See the four exciting installations along the Waterfront at the Toronto Music Garden, the Westin Hotel, the Fire Hall, and the Harbourfront Centre. For more information, and to see the other events happening along the Waterfront this winter, visit the Waterfront BIA website here.

December 7th, 2015

College Street Study Public Meeting (6:00pm)
Lillian Smith Library (239 College Street)

The College Street Study, being led by City Planning, will help determine appropriate growth and development for this critical street. Join us to hear about their findings and offer your feedback.

December 8th, 2015

Information Fair for Sponsors of Syrian Refugees (6:00 - 8:00pm)
City Hall (100 Queen Street West), Rotunda

The City of Toronto's Newcomer Office and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) invite sponsors of Syrian refugees to an information fair. Come by to speak to representatives from City divisions and community agencies, and learn about the services they offer and how they can help support your sponsorship efforts. Register here: http://informationfairforsponsors.eventbrite.ca.

See the event flyer here.

December 9th, 2015

Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (TYES) Town Hall (6:00 - 8:30pm)
City Hall (100 Queen Street W), Committee Room 2

TYES is a City of Toronto strategy aimed at building resiliency and supportive systems for youth most vulnerable to involvement in violence & crime. Join us at at the annual Town Hall for updates and discussion. For more information, see the event flyer here.

December 15th, 2015

Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan Open House (4:00 - 7:30pm)
Harbourfront Community Centre (627 Queens Quay West)

I am hosting an open house meeting with City Planning staff to provide an update on the work so far on the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan.

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.

December 16th, 2015

CityPlace Parks Open House (6:00 - 8:30pm)
Fort York Visitor Centre (250 Fort York Boulevard)

This is 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 will 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.

December 21st, 2015

26th Annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade (7:00pm)
Parade starts at the corner of Oxford and Augusta

This fantastic annual event celebrates the best in local art and culture - join us for the parade and spectacular finale in Alexandra Park. For more information, visit the Red Pepper website here.


Constituency Hours!

A reminder that I hold constituency hours every Saturday from 12pm-2pm (except Saturday, December 5th, which will be from 10am-12pm) at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West).

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