The Cressy Courier: Freezing heritage demolition in King-Spadina and more

Dear friend -- 

Today we took a significant step in protecting our heritage, ensuring more appropriate development, and building a more liveable community in King-Spadina.  City Council passed my motion for a 1 year demolition freeze on all heritage buildings in King-Spadina, by enacting a Heritage Study Area By-law.

If we want to create liveable and complete communities, we have to recognize and conserve the heritage character that makes each neighbourhood unique. As neighbourhoods like King-Spadina grow and change, that must not be at the expense of our past.

Recommended by City Planning staff, the Heritage Study Area By-law puts a 1 year freeze on demolition of 303 heritage buildings in King-Spadina, identified through the work on the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Plan. Since the work on the HCD Plan began over three years ago, at least 4 "contributing" buildings have been lost – and, at least 17 more buildings are at high risk of demolition by landowners. As the HCD Plan nears completion and implementation, this temporary freeze ensures that critical heritage structures, 163 of which currently have no demolition protection, are not lost.

Over the last 10 years, King-Spadina has been experiencing unprecedented growth and change. In addition to the critical work to create new parks through Rail Deck Park and more, new community spaces through the coming YMCA at 505 Richmond and community centre in CityPlace, and new child care facilities in the recently-approved mixed-use development at The Well, this significant move to ensure good planning principles doesn't freeze the area in time, but helps guide and manage growth in the future.

See below for more information, and for answers to questions you may have. There are also critical updates below on the start of our City's budget process, development studies, and countless other Ward and City initiatives.

Take care,

Joe

Protecting our community's heritage: Freezing heritage demolition in King-Spadina

Today, I introduced a motion, passed by City Council, calling for a 1 year demolition freeze applied to all heritage buildings in King-Spadina. This is a significant step in our work to protect our community's heritage, ensure appropriate development, and build a more liveable downtown.

Protecting our heritage

The now-approved Heritage Study Area By-law puts a 1 year freeze on demolition of 303 heritage buildings in King-Spadina. These buildings have been identified through the work on the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Plan over the past 3 years, 163 of which currently have no demolition protection.

Since work on the HCD Plan began, we have lost 4 contributing buildings – and, we are aware of at least 17 more buildings currently at high risk of rash demolition by landowners. As the HCD Plan nears completion and implementation, this temporary freeze allows us to ensure that we do not lose critical heritage structures throughout our community.

Ensuring appropriate development

The Heritage Study Area By-law prevents heritage buildings from being demolished without planning review and approval. However, it does allow appropriate development to continue. Development applications that have already been reviewed and approved can move forward. New development applications can still be submitted, and if approved, demolitions can still take place.

Implementing the one year freeze allows for appropriate development, while stopping the wild- west demolitions practices we've seen recently in the downtown.

Building a more liveable downtown

Over the last 10 years, King-Spadina has been experiencing unprecedented growth and change. Since I took office in late 2014, we have been working hard together to address our community's deficit in the vital services that make communities liveable. We're working hard to secure new parkland, through planning on Rail Deck Park and more. We're building new community spaces, with a city-partnership on a YMCA in the Waterworks Revitalization, and a new community centre in CityPlace. We're securing new child care facilities in the mixed-use development at The Well. Ensuring good planning practices is a critical part of this work – protecting our heritage doesn't freeze the area in time, but helps us guide and manage growth in the future.

If we want to create liveable and complete communities, we have to recognize and conserve the heritage character that makes each neighbourhood unique. As neighbourhoods like King-Spadina grow and change, that must not be at the expense of our past.

For more information, and answers to questions you may have, please click here.


Ward 20 Holiday Party!



You're invited to join me and my team for a community holiday party on December 19th! Come out to celebrate another year of working together and meet your neighbours from around the ward. We'll be at The Rivoli from 5-7pm and I hope to see you there.

We will also be collecting warm clothing, to be donated to newly arrived Syrian refugee families, so please bring along your gently used coats, mittens, toques, etc.!


November City Council Highlights

Decision on the Toronto Ward Boundary Review     
Council voted in favour of moving from the current 44 wards to 47 wards. The 47-ward structure will achieve an average population of 61,000 people in each ward, with one councillor elected for each ward, reflecting the principle of effective representation. Certain parts of the city have experienced significant population growth since ward boundaries were previously reviewed in 2000. The intention is to have the new ward boundaries in place for the 2018 municipal election. For more information on understanding the Ward Boundary Review approved recommendations and boundaries, you can review the item for maps and other helpful information.

Cold weather services this winter  
Council authorized the addition of beds to the emergency shelter system for temporary winter services, as well as new locations and funding as needed to support other measures to help homeless people in Toronto cope with the cold this winter. The City's Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division works with community partners to deliver a range of winter services, including during extreme cold weather alerts. In addition to improving my motion in October to allocate funds for desperately needed capital repairs to our 24-hour cold weather drop-ins, I am very pleased that City Council endorsed these efforts, as the need has been clearly demonstrated in the past.

Aboriginal flags at City Hall       
Council voted in favour of installing the flags of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Metis peoples, the Haudenasaunee and the Huron-Wendat at Toronto City Hall on a permanent basis, demonstrating the City's support for its First Nations communities. Toronto is situated on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the Metis peoples. As a Member of the Aboriginal Affairs Committee at City Hall, I am happy that we are finally taking steps to support real partnerships with our First Nations Communities.

Licensed childcare in Toronto       
Council adopted measures to support the development of a multi-year growth strategy for the City's licensed childcare system, which involves working with the provincial and federal governments to address capacity and affordability. On another agenda item involving childcare in Toronto, Council approved the establishment of a new funding model to support agencies providing home-based licensed childcare under contract with the Children's Services division. We must advocate for increased investments from the province, but also work hard to secure increased investment from the City to ensure that we all have access to affordable, quality child care. Without subsidies and operating funding, childcare programs will continue to be unaffordable for thousands of families in our communities and across our City.

Use of service animals      
Council endorsed amending the Toronto Municipal Code on the subject of service animals. The changes, which update the definition of service animal and provide exemptions for people with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal, are intended to ensure the equitable treatment of people with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals.

Training for servers of alcohol    
I was pleased to work with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam on a motion, that Council adopted, to ask Ontario's alcohol and gaming commission to include in its Smart Serve training program – training for alcoholic beverage servers – instructions on identifying and intervening when incidents of sexual assault, harassment and violence occur involving colleagues or customers. Research has shown that bars, nightclubs and other establishments where alcohol is served have relatively high rates of sexual violence in and around them.

Live music venues in Toronto   
A motion calling for the City to devise a strategy for the preservation of live music venues in Toronto received Council's support. There are concerns that gentrification and redevelopment, especially in the downtown core, could have a negative effect on the city's live music industry.

Skateboarding in Toronto
Council approved a skateboard strategy to serve as a guide for the City in creating a network of skateboard facilities and programs in Toronto, including for deciding on the locations of future skatepark facilities. Toronto currently has 14 outdoor skateparks. Council also supported a motion pertaining to informal, do-it-yourself skateboard spaces.


City of Toronto 2017 Budget and Long-Term Financial Plan

The first phase of the development of our City's Long-Term Financial Plan is underway – a critical conversation we need to have together. This phase includes asking for the public's input on challenging questions on how we build a fair, liveable and equitable city. This week at City Council, we also decided to move forward with implementing revenue tools to address the immediate challenges we face to support our city services. I support reviewing a broad range of options, including road tolls, property taxes, and additional measures, to ensure that we are raising revenue in a progressive and equitable way.

We have also just begun the 2017 Budget process at City Hall.

At its core, the annual Budget debate 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, we need your help to ask critical questions – are we building a fair and supportive city? Are we making our city, the lives of our friends and neighbours, better?

In the next couple of days, I will be sending more details on this year's Budget and how it impacts you, and how to get involved as well as more information on the process to build our Long-Term Financial Plan. In the meantime, information on the 2017 Budget is available here.  


Addressing Toronto's Overdose Crisis

Preventing overdose deaths should be a top public health priority for our City. Over the last 10 years, we have seen a 77% increase in the number of deaths due to overdose – from 146 in 2004 to 258 in 2014. The numbers are staggering. Over the last number of weeks, we have also seen reports of the continually growing overdose crisis across our country, one that continues to grow in urgency in Toronto.

This past July, City Council stood united in response to this growing crisis, and voted to implement supervised injection services in our City. On December 1, World AIDS Day, Toronto formally submitted our exemption application to the Federal government for permission to operate supervised injection services in our City. We fully expect a quick and favourable response from the Federal Government approving this application, as a critical and necessary part of the work to combat our City's Overdose crisis. The sooner these sites open, the more lives will be saved – and the more people we can move into treatment at the same time. Once we have approval from the Federal Government – and confirmation from the province to fund these health services – we will be able to move quickly in offering these services.

Given the severity of the growing crisis, the Board of Health approved my motion last week to develop a Toronto Overdose Action Plan, to ensure we have a plan to do everything we can to save the lives of our friends and neighbours. City staff will be reporting back quickly, to the January Board of Health, with an update on immediate actions and next steps in developing the Plan.

Overdose deaths are preventable, and now is the time to act. I look forward to confirmation from both the Provincial and Federal Governments on supervised injection services, and to working together with community partners and advocates on addressing the Overdose crisis in our City. 


Shop Local - Jingle Bells on Bloor this weekend!




Last minute shopping to do? Head over to Bloor Street West to shop locally, and for unique gift ideas from shops up and down the street. Join Cycle Toronto, the Bloor-Annex BIA and the Koreatown BIA in supporting our local business community, this Sunday December 13, from 11am-3pm. Visit booths both West and East of Bathurst for a hot drink, and to check out what's happening on the street!


City of Toronto Action Plan on Intimate Partner Violence

I was proud to join Councillor Mike Layton this December 6th, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, to hand out White Ribbons in Nathan Phillips Square in recognition of the day and our commitment to ending violence against women. Councillor Layton and I hand these out each year, to encourage men to speak up and take action on this critical issue in our communities.

At the December meeting of the Board of Health, we also heard an update on the City's Action Plan on Intimate Partner Violence. This critical work consists of a series of actions to enhance the City's capacity to prevent, identify early, and respond to those affected by Intimate Partner Violence. Staff have been working over the past year to begin to identify ways to implement the plan, and will be reporting back in 2017 on this progress. They also identified early, the need to enhance the plan to address the unique issues faced by further marginalized groups, beginning with Indigenous and LGBTQ2S communities. There is still much work to be done to combat violence against women, and vulnerable groups, in our communities.

To that end, the Board of Health approved my request to develop a City of Toronto public education campaign to address Intimate Partner Violence, to address norms, gender and economic inequality, discrimination and other factors that perpetuate this Violence in our City, including encouraging bystander intervention and partnerships with community organizations.

I look forward to continuing to be an ally, and to partner with community advocates, on this critical work. 


Monsignor Fraser Greening Plan

On November 30th I joined local TCDSB Trustee, Jo-Ann Davis, the Principal of Monsignor Fraser, Marcello Mancuso, the Seaton Village Residents' Association, and local residents to hear feedback and discuss the plan to add green space and programming to the current empty parking lot at the school.

For years, the community and the school have seen this lot as an opportunity to add green space into Seaton Village. As such, TCDSB has been working with Forest and Field Landscape Architects to develop a Master Plan and phased project timeline to accomplish this goal. I am also committed to working together to find a way to fund this critical work to expand greenspace in the community.

I look forward to working with the local community, the TCDSB and Monsignor Fraser to finalize the vision and to transform this space into a community asset for residents and students alike. If you were not able to make it to the meeting, please see the plan and further details here: http://www.jo-anndavis.ca/blog/greening-msgr-fraser-annex-campus/.


328 Dupont - Development proposal update 

On October 25th, I held a meeting to discuss recent events regarding the 328 Dupont Ontario Municipal Board appeal. I released a letter with a further update, including information regarding City Council's recent decision on the matter. For further details, you can read the letter here.

Managing development to ensure we are building neighbourhoods is critical. Being forced to the OMB to negotiate development proposals is frustrating for all of us, but I believe we have made a critical decision to ensure we protect the interests of our community.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact my office at any time. 


Bloor Street Bike lanes – Pilot Project Feedback Survey

If we are committed to alleviating congestion and building a more active and liveable City, we must invest in cycling infrastructure.  We work hard to update and advocate for investments in our transit and pedestrian infrastructure.  As more and more people choose active modes of transportation, including cycling, we must invest to ensure residents can access these modes safely.

Earlier this fall, we moved forward in doing just that with the installation of the Bloor Street bike lane pilot project. This is an opportunity for a new way of doing planning in our City – to implement a project, study it and collect real data to make sure we get it right.  The project is being reviewed and analyzed for impacts on cyclists, but also on traffic, other road users, local business and the local neighbourhood.  This work includes video traffic counts along Bloor Street, but also on adjacent major streets like Dupont and Harbord, and neighbourhood streets, to analyze the impact on surrounding conditions. 

The City of Toronto has now launched a survey to collect public feedback on the project. As this is a pilot project, we are able to make adjustments where needed – public feedback is a critical part of this process. The City has already been working closely with many stakeholders to respond to questions and suggestions, and work together to build a project that works.  We are implementing a number of initiatives to analyze conditions in the area, including monitoring of intersections and certain safety concerns, improving signage, ensuring accessibility and reviewing signal timing and dedicated turn-lanes, as a result of conversations with community members since the project's installation.

There are also a number of other updates that the City has compiled that those throughout the community can expect in the coming days. A project update and survey notification is being delivered to all residents and business along the corridor. A handout for customers of local business with helpful information and updates will be available at all businesses along the Street. And, the feedback survey is now live to collect feedback from all road users and stakeholders.

Take a few minutes to complete the survey and let us know what you think of the project!


Kensington HCD Study - update

The Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study is nearing completion! City Heritage staff and the consultants have been working closely with the community Stakeholder Advisory Committee to more fully understand Kensington's cultures and intricacies, and how that can inform the HCD Study.

They are now preparing for the final public meeting early next year where they will present their findings to the broader community. Coming out of that meeting, the consultants will incorporate these final comments into their recommendations to the Toronto Preservation Board (TPB). Pending approval from the TPB, Heritage staff will commence the process to retain a consultant to work on the HCD Plan – this is when the nuts and bolts of the heritage protections would be worked out.

The details of the final public meeting have not yet been finalized, but please contact my office if you would like to be notified when the date/location have been confirmed. 


Huron Street Playground



Those who frequent the East Annex may have noticed that the heavy machinery has moved on and large swaths of fencing are down. In place of the construction site at the corner of Huron and Lowther, we now have a great looking playground!

The Huron St. Playground improvements have wrapped up right on time for our first snowfall and already folks are making great use of the playground. I'm thrilled that we have been able to leverage playground improvement funds for this new play equipment -- and that's just the first phase. 

Hearing from the local community, we understand that there is also a need for more space for dog owners to use. While I am working closely with staff to explore what options are available, for the short term we have resolved to retain sections of the existing perimeter fencing while also creating a more inviting park by enlarging the points of entry and egress. 


Bellevue Square Park

The much anticipated improvements to Bellevue Square will begin in earnest in the spring of 2017!

Thanks to the help of the great staff in the Parks Department, we have made arrangements with our contractors to get a head start by moving ahead with preliminary demolition and site preparation on the east side of the park. This work will consist of the demolition of the existing washroom structure and wading pool and should only take a few weeks, after which the area will be returned to a stable and safe condition and the construction hoarding removed so that folks can used the whole park for the remainder of the winter.

Take a look at the fantastic plans for what will be our new public space in Kensington Market:


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

December 18, 2016

Jingle Bells on Bloor (11am-3pm)
Bloor Street W, from Avenue to Shaw

Shop local this weekend at Jingle Bells on Bloor! On December 18th, support local businesses and visit the booths at Bloor/Howland & Bloor/Clinton for a chance to win gifts from local stores.

December 19, 2016

Ward 20 Holiday Party (5-7pm)
The Rivoli (334 Queen Street W)

Join me and my team for a holiday celebration at The Rivoli! Meet your neighbours from across the ward and participate in our warm clothing drive for newly arrived Syrian refugees.


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.