The Cressy Courier Aug. 22 - TIFF 2017, Rail Deck Park and more

Dear friend,

I hope you're all finding time this summer to spend with family, friends, and loved ones.

You've heard me say this many times before - Overdose is a growing crisis in our city. In 2015 - the most recent year for which we have complete data - we lost 258 people to overdose. It’s an overwhelming number — and one I think about every day. Every week more Torontonians are dying and the painful fact is these deaths are preventable.

In recent weeks the crisis has taken an alarming turn. The loss is staggering because these are not numbers — they are people. And overwhelmingly they are young people, who are mourned by those they leave behind: our neighbours, our colleagues, our friends. We now lose more young Ontarians to overdose than to traffic accidents, and it’s got to stop.

Drug use is complex. People use drugs for all sorts of reasons, including trauma, depression, self-medication, and recreation. The solution, therefore, is also complex. Tackling this crisis requires treatment, prevention, harm reduction, and the support of enforcement; a public health approach, rather than a criminal justice one.

Ten years ago this conversation was different - the stigma of drug use overwhelmed the conversation. The federal government of the day and many others prescribed a “tough love” approach, as if letting people die was some kind of lesson. These same critics told us to arrest our way to a solution, as if substance use and overdose could be solved by the prison system. These flawed views and policies simply did not work. 

Today the stigma has by no means gone away — sadly stigma still kills — but the discourse has changed. For the first time ever all three levels of government agree that treating substance use as a public health issue is the right approach. We agree on the solutions, the challenge is in the speed and scale of their implementation.

In Toronto we tried to respond proactively. In 2011, Toronto Public Health became the first health unit in the country to distribute naloxone, a life-saving antidote for opioid overdose. Through our Toronto Drug Strategy, adopted 11 years ago, we established an overdose co-ordinating committee and initiated a number of measures. In partnership with harm reduction agencies we developed prevention tools like the website www.reportbaddrugsTO.ca to provide a forum for people who use drugs to share information about negative drug reactions. We implemented harm reduction training programs within the broader community and supported opioid substitution treatment programs. Perhaps the most recognizable measure was the long fought for decision to open three supervised injection services.

In the last year, as the crisis continued, we worked with people who use drugs and front line experts to develop the Toronto Overdose Action Plan. Endorsed by the Board of Health in March, the 49-point plan calls for expanding the free distribution of naloxone, approving the use of diacetylmorphine (pharmaceutical heroin) as another form of opioid treatment, working with hospital testing labs to develop a drug-testing program, and publishing real-time overdose data.

While I believe our city has taken important and proactive steps to stem the tide, and am immensely proud of the response of our committed and talented city staff, the truth is more needs to be done. 

We need to open our supervised injection services right away - and I'm glad our very first interim site opened just yesterday. Naloxone should be distributed throughout the community, and carried by police and first responders. We need to better fund and support front line community organizations who work daily to keep people alive. We need drug testing programs opened. 

That’s not to say that the city can do it all on its own. Our federal and provincial counterparts need to scale up their own response. Frankly, it should have been scaled up yesterday. But, as the chair of Toronto’s Drug Strategy, I’ll be the first to admit we’re not doing enough.

This crisis is hard. People are dying and they don’t have to. Every day lost is a potential life lost. We must do everything we can to stop it. 

Please get in touch with my office any time with any questions or concerns about what you read below, or anything else.

Take care,

Joe 


TIFF 2017 - Festival Street and Other Important Information

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of our city's most important arts and cultural festivals, is just around the corner. This year, TIFF will be hosting its fourth annual Festival Street, a pedestrian promenade on King Street West, with events from Thursday, September 7, through Sunday, September 10. A portion of King Street will be closed for Festival Street to support the free pedestrian programming and ensure the safety of the large crowds who attend the opening days of TIFF.

I have worked closely with the TTC, Transportation Services, Economic Development and Culture, and TIFF to discuss the details of the closure over the past several months. We have worked hard to ensure that an extensive communication and mitigation plan is put in place to inform residents of the closure and the re-routing of the 504 King Streetcar and 514 Cherry Streetcar, as well as to minimize the impact on residents, road, and transit users.

Festival Street Details

Beginning at 5 a.m. on September 7, King Street will be fully closed to vehicles between University Avenue and Peter Street, and John Street will be closed between King Street and Wellington Street. During this period, only westbound traffic will be permitted on King Street between Peter Street and Spadina Avenue. Both streets will re-open at 5 a.m. on September 11.

Motorized traffic will not be able to cross the Festival Street closure on intersecting streets such as Widmer Street or Simcoe Street. The cycle tracks on Simcoe Street will remain open and unobstructed, and people with bicycles will be asked to walk across the King Street intersection for safety among the large number of pedestrians.

Arrangements are being made for buildings affected by these closures and they will be notified directly. Please contact my office if you have any questions about your building or business.

Festival Street programming will include free outdoor concerts and film screenings. You will also be able to enjoy expanded patios along Restaurant Row. For more information, please visit www.tiff.net/tiff

TTC Service Plan

The TTC has worked to create a diversion plan that addresses some issues we have seen in past years and better supports transit riders along the King route.

TIFF TTC Plan

The 504 King streetcar will be diverted around the closure. Westbound streetcars from Broadview Station will divert north on York St., west on Queen St., then south on Spadina Ave. and back to King St. to continue the westbound journey.

Eastbound streetcars from Dundas West Station will divert north on Spadina Ave., east on Queen St., then south on Church St. and back to King to continue the eastbound journey. 

Supplemental 504 King buses that normally operate during rush hours will divert using Richmond and Adelaide streets between Spadina and University.

The 514 Cherry streetcar will follow the same diversion route as the 504 King streetcar, outlined above.

Notices are being posted in subway stations, at affected transit stops, and on the TTC's digital information screens. Regular audio reminders will be announced in subway stations. Information will also be published in an advertisement in the "24" newspaper. TTC Ambassadors will be on the street to remind rides, and to help during the four days of Festival Street.

Please visit the TTC's website to view a map and detailed description of all the route diversions, including overnight services, as well as Wheel-Trans service changes. 

During the remainder of the festival, from Monday, September 11 to Sunday, September 17, King Street will be open to general traffic including streetcars. For the safety of crowds during red carpet events, Toronto Police may determine that is necessary to temporarily close King Street. Dedicated TTC supervisors will be on site during headline red carpet events to ensure that any temporary diversions are handled smoothly for TTC riders.

Temporary Lane Occupations

As the Festival approaches there are several partial lane closures and traffic impacts that are important to be aware of as we plan to move around the neighbourhood during the Festival. Technical load-in has already started at some venues and load-out can be expected to continue for up to a week after the end of TIFF. Pick-ups, drop-offs, and parking will mainly take place only during the Festival, from September 7 to 17.

Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard St E)

Gerrard Street: north and south curb lanes, Yonge to Church, for parking, drop-offs, load-in and load-out.

Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge St)

Victoria Street: west curb lane, Queen to Shuter, for parking

Shuter Street: south curb lane, Yonge to Victoria, for load-in and parking

Yonge Street: east and west curb lanes, Shuter to Queen, for drop-offs and crowd control

Yonge Street: possible temporary full closure for safety during red carpets only, under supervision of Police

Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St W)

Richmond Street: south curb lane, John to Widmer, for drop-offs, line-ups, and crowd control

Widmer Street: east or west curb lanes, for parking

Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas St W)

Beverley Street: east curb lane, Dundas to Stephanie, for drop-offs and pick-ups

McCaul Street: west curb lane, Dundas to Stephanie, for drop-offs and pick-ups

Glenn Gould Studio (250 Front St W)

John Street: east curb lane, Front to Wellington, for drop-off and load-in/out

Front Street: north curb lane, Simcoe to John, for drop-off and load-in/out

Roy Thompson Hall (60 Simcoe St)

Wellington Street: north curb lane, University to John, for parking

King Street, north and south curb lanes, John to Simcoe, for parking

Simcoe Street, east or west curb lanes (bicycle lane to remain unobstructed), King to Wellington, for pick-ups and drop-offs

Princess of Wales (300 King St W)

Pearl Street: for pick-ups and parking

King Street: north and south curb lanes, John to Duncan, for drop-offs and crowd control

King Street: possible temporary full closure for safety during red carpets only, under supervision of Police

Duncan Street: east and west curb lanes, King to Adelaide, for holding drop-off vehicles prior to red carpets

TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St W)

King Street: north and south curb lanes, Widmer to John, for drop-offs and crowd control

John Street, west and east curb lanes, King north to rear lane, for drop-offs and parking

Widmer Street, east and west curb lanes (possible temporary full road closure) for security during events and press conferences


Dupont Station Construction Notice

As part of TTC's commitment to provide accessible transit, work is underway at the Dupont and Spadina intersection to install new elevators that will make Dupont Station accessible to all customers. 

Elevator 1 (E1) and Elevator 3 (E3) construction work will begin on the southeast side of the intersection within the City right of way. Traffic lanes will be reduced until the end of 2018.

Crews will be refreshing the traffic lines at this intersection on Tuesday, August 22, and on Wednesday, August 23, 2017. Crews will also set up the work zone on the south east corner of the intersection. Work will take place overnight for crew safety and when the traffic volumes are lower. Noise and vibration associated with construction can be expected with this work as jersey barriers are moved. Efforts will be made to keep levels at a minimum.

Scheduled Start Date:
 Tuesday, August 22 2017 (2 a.m. to 6 a.m.)
Rain Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 (2 a.m. to 6 a.m.)
*Timelines accurate as of August 18th

Dupont Intersection

TTC Contact: Denise Jayawardene, Community Liaison, 416-393-6937, denise.jayawardene@ttc.ca
Customer Service: 416-393-3030 (daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed holidays) or @TTChelps
TTY Line: 416-481-2523 (daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed holidays)


Rail Deck Park - Public Meetings in September

As our community grows, we must focus on building neighbourhoods and not just condo towers - that's why we've been working hard together to make critical and worthwhile investments in community facilities in Ward 20, and continuing efforts to secure much-needed parkland downtown.

Last August, Mayor Tory and I announced Rail Deck Park: a new 21-acre public park over the rail corridor. The size of 16 football fields, it will be a new and critical resource for our neighbourhoods, and a new central park for all of Toronto. City Council has already approved taking the first steps to move this bold and ambitious plan forward. Along with detailed implementation plans, cost estimates, and funding options, we have initiated an Official Plan Amendment process to formally review re-designating the space above the rail corridor as parkland.

After the plans for Rail Deck Park were announced, the City of Toronto received a private application to change the Official Plan to allow a large new development above the rail corridor, including a parking structure for 1,225 vehicles and 9 buildings up to 59 storeys tall.

To be very clear, I completely oppose any private development over the rail corridor because it would diminish the size and usefulness of Rail Deck Park. We have plenty of other sites downtown for more towers, but there are no other sites for a new 21-acre downtown park.

The Ontario Planning Act legally requires the City to review, hold public meetings, and make a decision on every private development application, no matter how obviously inappropriate it is, which is why a meeting is taking place on this application. And we also have to be prepared to defend that decision if it is appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which has the power to overturn any of City Council's planning decisions.

These public meetings are a crucial opportunity to make sure your voice is heard in this process. Please attend and speak out in support of Rail Deck Park. We desperately need this major new park today and it will be a legacy we leave for future generations.

Rail Deck Park: City-initiated Official Plan Amendment

Date:              Monday, September 25, 2017
Time:              6:00 pm
Location:        City Hall – Council Chambers (100 Queen Street West)

Private Rail Corridor Development Application

Date:              Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Time:              7:00 pm
Location:        Renaissance Hotel
                       Northern Lights Ballroom
                       (1 Blue Jays Way)


Metrolinx Construction - Union Station Rail Corridor

The Union Station Rail Corridor, which runs through our communities just south of Front Street, is owned and operated by Metrolinx, the Province of Ontario's transit agency. Work often occurs overnight and nearby residents may be affected by the associated noise and light.

To sign up for regular email updates about construction from Metrolinx, please contact Michael Paolucci at 416-202-4425 or michael.paolucci@metrolinx.com.


Filling the Gap in the Martin Goodman Trail

When the Martin Goodman Trail was extended across the central waterfront in 2015, as part of the Queens Quay Revitalization and the Pan Am Path, a small portion could not be completed near Dan Leckie Way. At this one spot, Portland Slip bring Lake Ontario too close to Queens Quay to be able to fit in both the Martin Goodman Trail and a sidewalk, so on a temporary basis cyclists have been required to dismount through the 60-metre gap. Although we have had full funding and a design ready to implement for some time, overcoming challenges including the historically high level of Lake Ontario has meant that construction could not start until this month. However, work has finally begun to fill the gap in the trail, and complete this critical cycling trail along our Waterfront!

Martin Goodman Trail

During construction of a new deck to widen the waterfront promenade, the sidewalk along Queens Quay will always remain open to the public. A small portion of the water's edge will be closed for safety throughout construction, and additional area will occasionally be needed for the concrete pouring and the delivery of materials only.

For full details, see the construction notice from Waterfront Toronto here: mailchi.mp/waterfrontoronto/queens-quay-construction-notice-155-june-26-2015. To sign up for any future update please email info@waterfrontoronto.ca.


Public Consultations - Vacant Home Tax in Toronto 

Vacant Home Tax

The City has launched an online survey and will be hosting a public consultation at City Hall about a potential implementation of a tax on vacant residential units.

As part of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan, the Province of Ontario introduced legislation that would empower the City of Toronto to introduce a tax on vacant residential units in order to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out, and address concerns about residential units potentially being left vacant.

Vancouver, facing a similar issue with housing affordability, adopted an Empty Home Tax in late 2016.

City staff presented the report EX 26.4: Implementing a Vacant Home Tax in Toronto to Council at its meeting of July 4-7, 2017. The report was adopted and Council requested City staff to undertake public consultation about:

1) Whether Toronto should implement a tax on vacant residential units
2) Potential public policy benefits of a property tax on vacant residential units
3) Potential implementation of a tax on vacant residential units in Toronto

Privacy rights prevent the use of personal or private information, such as water or hydro meter data, from being used as a means of identifying potentially vacant units. Therefore, the City is considering three options that could be used to identify vacant homes for taxation:

• Mandatory declaration of occupancy status by all property owners
• Self-Reporting Model
• Complaints Basis

Decisions when Council considered EX 26.4: Implementing a Vacant Home Tax in Toronto can be found at: app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2017.EX26.4

In response, staff have prepared the following:

Website and Online Survey
Residents are encouraged to visit toronto.ca/VHT to take the online survey that will be available until September 5. Results of the survey will be summarized in a report to Council in the fall.

Link to website: www.toronto.ca/VHT
Link to survey: www.cityoftoronto.fluidsurveys.com/s/vacant-tax-home

Public Consultation
You can share your views at a public meeting:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
6 - 8 p.m.
Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 1
100 Queen St. W.

Opinion Poll
The City has also engaged a private firm to conduct a poll on the proposed vacant home tax of which results will be summarized in the fall in a report to Council.


Toronto Police 14 Division Community Day Open House

The 14 Division of Toronto Police is having an open house! Come out on Saturday, September 16th for a free BBQ with hot dogs and refreshments. You can meet the marine unit, the horses from the mounted unit, look at some interesting police equipment, and meet your local officers.

Saturday, September 16th, 2017
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
350 Dovercourt Road
416-808-1400


MyWaterToronto - Online Water Use Tool

MyWaterToronto

Track your water use online – anytime, anywhere!
Summer is finally here and warmer temperatures mean your water use can increase by 20 per cent around the house. MyWaterToronto is an online tool that can help you become more aware of your water use habits and identify any water leaks. View your total and average water use by day, week, month or year in an easy-to-read graph or chart format.

Look for ways to save water and money in three easy steps.

Step 1: Get your utility bill
Step 2: Locate on your bill:
      • Account Number and Client Number
      • Last name or business name
      • Postal code and payment method
Step 3: Visit toronto.ca/mywatertoronto

Water use facts
• A leaky toilet can lose up to seven litres per minute or 420 litres per hour, which equals over 10,000 litres or 10 cubic metres of water a day. At a cost of $3.62 per cubic metre, this could add more than $1,100 to a customer's water bill in just one month.
• Water use typically increases between 15 and 20 per cent during the summer months.
• The average household uses approximately 765 litres of water per day.


Cycle Toronto Rides the City 101 - Bike Tours

Cycle Toronto is committed to getting newer cyclists out on the road and so this year, they're leading free guided group tours to teach people about Toronto’s bike infrastructure and highlight where they can ride with confidence. This 14 km downtown loop is at a leisurely pace and makes lots of stops along the way to talk about Cycle Toronto’s role in building public and political support to create a connected bike network. If you or someone you know is thinking about riding in the city and would like some support, join the next Ride the City 101 Bike Tour September 6 here.


Community Farmer's Markets - Reminder!

Summer and Fall is the season for Farmer's Markets. Find your nearest market with this helpful list:

Queen St W

John Street Farmers’ Market
May 31– October 11
Wednesdays 3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: St. George-the-Martyr Anglican Church

Nathan Phillips Square
May 31 – October 18 (There will be no market on June 21, 28 and July 5 due to Canada 150 activities)
Wednesdays 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Nathan Phillips Square

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers' Market
Tuesdays 3pm-7pm
Location: Trinity Bellwoods Park


Entertainment District

Indulge at David Pecaut Square
May 25 – October 12
Thursdays 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Location: David Pecaut Square

Metra Hall Farmers Market
Thursdays 8am-2pm
Location: Metro Hall

Urban Market at Concord CityPlace
Saturdays, 10am-5pm
Location: Concord Presentation Centre


Bloor/ Annex

Bloor/Borden MyMarket
Wednesdays 3pm-7pm
Location: Parking lot at Bloor and Lippincott

Harbourfront Farmers Market
Thursdays 2pm-8pm, opening June 15 2017
Location: Harbourfront

Kensington Market
Pedestrian Sundays 
June 25, July 30, August 27, Sept 24, Oct 29; 10am – 7pm


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 events

August 22nd, 2017

Vacant Home Tax Public Consultation (6pm-8pm)
Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 1, 100 Queen St. W.

This meeting offers the public an opportunity to voice their comments and concerns about a potential Vacant Home Tax.

September 12th, 2017

Private Rail Corridor Development Application (7pm)
Renaissance Hotel, Northern Lights Ballroom, 1 Blue Jays Way

This meeting is to discuss the application put forward by the development group ORCA to build condominiums above the rail corridor.

September 14th, 2017

Social Planning Toronto 60th Anniversary (6:30pm-8:30pm)
Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, 789 Yonge St, Toronto Reference Library, 2nd Floor

This 60th anniversary event will be an evening reception, celebrating and featuring voices from the past, present, and future of the organization, the community, nonprofit sector, and the broader city. Be part of its future — enjoy an evening of conversation and engagement with colleagues and friends as they look forward to the years to come.

September 15th, 2017

Kensington Market Jazz Festival (5pm-7pm)
Tom's Place, 190 Baldwin Street

This event is the festival kick-off. Kensington Market Jazz Festival continues Friday night, as well as Noon-11pm on Saturday Sept 16th and Sunday September 17th.


September 16th, 2017

Toronto Police 14 Division Community Day Open House (11am-2pm)
250 Dovercourt Rd

The 14 Division of Toronto Police is having an open house! Come out on Saturday, September 16th for a free BBQ with hot dogs and refreshments. You can meet the marine unit, the horses from the mounted unit, look at some interesting police equipment, and meet your local officers.


September 17th, 2017

Open Streets TO (10am-2pm)

Experience your city streets in a whole new way at Open Streets TO. Learn more about Open Streets TO and the activities that will be taking place near you at www.openstreetsto.org


Constituency Hours!

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

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