The Cressy Courier December 11- Taking Action to End Homelessness, Road Safety and Cycling Improvements, and much more

Dear friends,

Cracks have continued to grow in our city: a longer wait for affordable housing, an extra full bus or streetcar passing you by in rush hour, parks that just aren’t maintained like they used to be. It’s the cost of a low-tax city. 

For years, Torontonians have demanded better. We hosted meetings, made deputations, and wrote op-ed’s. We made the case that to build the city we want and deserve, we must pay for it. 

Finally, last week Mayor John Tory announced that he will introduce a motion at the upcoming City Council meeting to increase property taxes an additional eight per cent over the next six years to fund $6.6 billion in transit and housing. 

For Torontonians who simply can’t afford longer waiting lists for childcare and affordable housing, or endless waits for the bus or subway to arrive, this is good news. For those of us who have long advocated to invest in our city again, this is a victory.

When we invest in the city, everyone wins. It means better public transit, better bike infrastructure, and better roads. It means better and more parks and community centres, active libraries and vibrant communities. And it means that the most vulnerable members of our community have access to the supports they need. 

As we celebrate this win, I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to build a city that is liveable and equitable for everyone. 

Please continue reading below for local and city-wide updates, and as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions or concerns. 

Sincerely, 

Joe


Taking Action to End Homelessness - Building Supportive Housing

Homelessness is a crisis in our city. We are trapped in a vicious cycle where our homeless population may be able to enter a shelter, but they don’t have a pathway out. Supportive housing is a critical component in addressing this crisis. We must act immediately and begin building supportive housing now if we are ever going to truly end homelessness.

On November 27th, City Council took an important and big step toward ending homelessness by supporting my motion, committing to creating new supportive housing. In a unanimous vote, City Council directed staff to create 600 units of supportive housing every year, starting in 2020. City Council also voted to call on the Provincial and Federal Governments to step up and provide additional operating and capital funding to ensure Toronto meets its target of 18,000 new supportive housing units (1,800 per year) over the next 10 years.

City Staff will now report to the February 12, 2020 meeting of the City’s Planning and Housing Committee with the details for how Toronto will create 600 units of supportive housing on an annual basis. Options identified for creating new units include converting existing city buildings, units in private rental buildings, and building new units on City-owned land.

The outcome isn’t perfect - we still have a long way to go in Toronto to end homelessness. But, it is a critical and important step as City Council has confirmed its commitment to not only advocating for new supportive housing, but actually building it

Yes, poverty and inequality are increasing in our province and city. And yes, it is a layered and complex issue that needs many social policy responses. Supportive housing is but one part of the large housing spectrum, including social housing and rent-geared-to-income supports, that needs investment. But, housing is the answer.


Moving Forward to Regulate Vaping

The more we learn about the health consequences of vaping, the worse it gets. Thankfully, when it comes to regulating vapour products we don’t have to reinvent the wheel – decades  of tobacco control has worked. The Toronto Board of Health voted unanimously this week to strongly urge the Provincial and Federal Governments - who have jurisdiction over the sale and advertising of vapour products - to regulate vaping just as we regulate smoking. The Board also directed that the City take action where we have jurisdiction, by working to amend our existing City of Toronto by-laws that prohibit smoking,  to incorporate similar prohibitions on vaping. This is in addition to the Board of Health taking a strong stand in 2014, making many of these same requests that went unanswered by Provincial and Federal governments.  

While vapour products, also known as e-cigarettes, are considered by some health authorities to be less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes, Health Canada and other health authorities have concluded that the long-term health effects from the use of these products are not yet fully known. Vaping can expose the user to nicotine, an addictive substance which is associated with negative impacts on adolescent brain development, and to other chemicals that are harmful to health. Use of vape products has also been shown to lead to subsequent tobacco smoking among youth and young adults. 

Without stringent regulation, vaping risks undermining decades of effective tobacco control. The Toronto Board of Health has voted to take stronger measures to reduce the prevalence of vaping. It’s time for all levels of government to act.


Protecting our Downtown Chinatown


Our downtown Chinatown is vibrant, multicultural and historic. As we grow and change, we must ensure we protect it. At the December 3rd meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council, Councillor Mike Layton and I initiated work on a Chinatown Study, to protect the unique character of Chinatown & build our community's vision for its future.

We requested that City Planning focus on the unique character of Chinatown and effectively plan for new development that will complement the existing built form and heritage attributes, work to preserve the unique retail character of Chinatown, contribute to affordable housing, and ensure that the public realm, parkland and community services meet the needs of the community.

Stay tuned for updates and how to get involved.


Digital Infrastructure and Data Governance Framework - Public Consultations

As technology advances, the collection of personal data is becoming commonplace in everyday life. Smart Cities – urban areas that use technology and data collection in order to manage resources, infrastructure, and day-to-day operations – are just one example of the increasing interconnectedness of technological advancement and cities.

If private partners are going to pursue tech-focused projects in our city, Toronto needs to first develop its own vision. We need to decide how data should be collected, managed and used to ensure it's in the best interest of all. We must lead so our partners can follow.

Earlier this year, City Council approved my motion to develop a City-wide policy framework and governance model associated with digital infrastructure, such as Smart Cities. Now, City staff have begun public consultations as a part of the first stage in the process in developing a Digital Infrastructure Plan to guide future technology decisions. Two sessions have already been held, with one more currently scheduled. You can also view the livestream from the consultation that was held at City Hall here. 

Next public meeting: 
December 12, 2019 -- North York Central Library (5120 Yonge St), 1:30 - 4 p.m.
View the flyer here for more information.


Victory for Regulations on Short-term Rentals 

In a city grappling with a housing crisis, last month’s ruling to uphold the City Council approved regulations on short-term rentals was an important victory.

For years we argued that ghost hotels were harming rental housing supply and affordability. In his decision, the adjudicator agreed: “One fact is indisputable: each dedicated short-term rental unit displaces one permanent household. That household must find another place to live”

In order to address the loss of these rental units, in early 2018 City Council approved regulations for short-term rentals in Toronto. Among other components, the new rules, which permit short-term rentals in a principal residence only, require short-term rental companies to obtain a licence and short-term rental operators to register with the City and pay a Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) of 4 per cent, were set to come into effect on June 1, 2018. However, the City’s zoning bylaw amendments to permit short-term rentals as a use were appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) by landlords who operate short-term rentals through platforms such as Airbnb.

On November 18, 2019 the LPAT issued a ruling that dismissed the appeals and upheld City Council's adopted zoning bylaw amendments for short-term rentals, and the short-term rental zoning bylaw amendments are now in force. The amendments permit short-term rentals, (any rental that is less than 28 consecutive days), across the city in principal residences only. Within their principal residence, people can rent up to three rooms or their entire home.

With this decision, the Licensing and Registration Of Short-Term Rentals Bylaw has come into force. The City is moving forward with the implementation of the bylaw, as adopted by City Council. Once the licence and registration system is built, short-term rental companies will be required to obtain a licence and operators will be required to register with the City and pay the MAT of 4 per cent.

City staff are engaging stakeholders and partner Divisions to advise and educate on the implementation details. We will continue to share more about implementation, timelines, and how the licensing, registration, and the MAT will work.

This decision at the LPAT is a tremendous victory for the City of Toronto and our efforts to regulate short-term rentals, while at the same time protecting our much needed rental housing supply. Now, it’s time for AirBnb and the various platforms to finally comply with the law.

For more information on the new regulations, click here.


Road Safety Improvements on Niagara Street

As a City, we must prioritize and accelerate measures to make our streets safe and accessible for all road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists.

In 2015, Toronto and East York Community Council directed that all roads within the district classified as local streets be reduced to a 30 km/h speed limit. Despite its local residential character, Niagara Street is technically classified as a collector roadway, and as a result the speed limit remained at 40 km/h.

In order to address this and improve safety on Niagara Street, I introduced a motion at the October meeting of Community Council to reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h. Additionally, at the December Community Council meeting, I introduced a motion to install speed humps on Niagara Street between Bathurst Street and King Street West. 

I would like to thank all of the residents who initiated and signed petitions to implement these safety measures in our community. 


Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan Construction Progress

One month since breaking ground on the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan public realm improvements, construction work is progressing well.

 

The photo above shows the rehabilitation of the Western Channel dockwall, one of five overlapping projects underway, which will become an attractive public promenade on the waterfront

I have allocated $5.4 million of community benefits funds from local developments toward this work, in addition to $7.3 million contributed by the City of Toronto and its agencies. Ports Toronto is directly delivering about $3.0 million of construction, and the Ireland Park Foundation is also investing directly in repair and renovation of the Administrative Building.

 

To learn more about the long-term vision of the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan, including building a new aquatic centre and relocating all parking and traffic underground, please see the presentation panels from our November 2016 public meeting.


Making the Bathurst-Lake Shore-Fleet Intersection Safer

 

On Monday, November 25, the westbound lane of Fleet Street between Bathurst Street and Iannuzzi Street was finally permanently pedestrianized. The lane is closed to vehicles and remains open for pedestrians and cyclists.

With the strong support of the local community, I have been working hard for years to make the Fleet-Bathurst-Lake Shore intersection safer. It hasn’t been working well for anyone. It was a danger and a barrier for pedestrians, it was confusing for drivers and had a high rate of vehicle collisions, and it delayed two streetcar lines. Most recently, I moved a motion at City Council in October of this year to expedite and prioritize the implementation of improvements here.

Permanently closing this 200-metre portion of westbound Fleet Street is a critical "Vision Zero" street safety measure. It will shorten crossing distances for pedestrians, reduce the risk of collisions by making vehicle turns much less complex, and reduce transit delays for the 509 and 511 streetcars. No number of injuries or deaths on our streets is acceptable.


This initial step will be followed by monitoring, installation of beautification features in the spring, and a technical review of the larger intersection for further safety improvements. High-level long-term plans to completely rebuild and reconfigure the intersection were approved as part of the Waterfront Transit Network Plan in 2018.

For more information, visit my website page on plans to make the Bathurst-Lake Shore-Fleet intersection safer.


New Crossing Guards for Our New CityPlace Schools

I am happy to be able to confirm that the City of Toronto will provide new crossing guards to support the safety of students travelling to and from our two new elementary schools in CityPlace: Jean Lumb Public School and Bishop Macdonnell Catholic School.

Crossing guards will be in place starting on the first day of school in January 2020 at the following locations:

  • Spadina & Bremner/Fort York
  • Fort York & Brunel

These crossing guard assignments and locations were determined in consultation with the principals of the two new schools, and with the support and advocacy of our local school trustees, Stephanie Donaldson and Norm DiPasquale. 

Once the schools are open and operating, there will be a study of student travel patterns in the spring of 2020 to determine if the location and number of crossing guards is effectively supporting school safety. 


New Bike Lanes on Blue Jays Way


New bike lanes have recently been installed on Blue Jays Way, from Navy Wharf Court to Wellington Street West, providing a safer cycling connection over the rail corridor and connecting CityPlace with the downtown core. The bike lanes tie into the multi-use path along Northern Linear Park, providing a traffic-free route for cyclists across Spadina Avenue.

The Blue Jays Way bike lanes will be extended north to King Street, connecting directly to the Peter Street cycle track, in 2020 following removal of existing construction staging zones from the curb lanes. 


Osler Playground Revitalization - Community Visioning Session Tonight

Join us for our first community visioning session on tonight to kick-off the Osler Playground Revitalization:

Date: Wednesday December 11th, 2019
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Senor Santo Cristo (currently being used by University of Toronto Schools), 30 Humbert St.

Osler Playground is an important green space in the Ossington community, with many local residents who enjoy the park on a daily basis. Many families with young children and dogs share the space, so it is crucial that we ensure the safety of everyone in the park. Over the last few years, Councillor Mike Layton who previously represented the Osler Playground area, had been working with local residents on solutions for a dogs-off-leash area at Osler. 

I am pleased that we have been able to identify funding for a full-scale revitalization of Osler Playground, which will include the addition of a dogs-off-leash-area (DOLA), playground upgrades, track improvements and other water feature and park improvements. In partnership with City Parks staff, we will be hosting a Community Visioning kick-off meeting to start our work together in re-visioning this critical community space.


New Bike Lanes Coming to Wellington and Duoro Streets 

If we are committed to creating safer streets, we must invest in expanding our network of safe cycling lanes across our communities.

On December 9th, the City held a public consultation on new bike lanes coming to:

  •    Douro Street between King Street West and Strachan Avenue
  •    Wellington Street West between Strachan Avenue and Niagara Street

The new bike lanes will provide dedicated spaces for people cycling, and improve safety and comfort for all road users. You can read more and access the presentation panels here. 


St. Lawrence – Distillery - Enhancing road safety and cycling connections

In our St. Lawrence community, the City of Toronto is proposing to install cycling infrastructure on The Esplanade, Mill Street and Berkeley Street (from The Esplanade to Shuter Street) as well as associated improvements for increased safety for all road users. 

A number of options will be developed and presented to the community for feedback and input, with a final recommendation set to be recommended to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and City Council in 2020, followed by implementation in late 2020 or 2021.

This work is part of Cycling Network Plan Update approved by City Council in July, 2019 which builds on the Ten-Year Cycling Network Plan to connect, grow and renew cycling infrastructure across the City. The Network Plan includes both a long-term overall proposed network and three-year Near-Term Implementation Program. 

Please visit the Cycling Network Plan and map of existing bike routes for more information.

Click here for more information on this project, and to subscribe for updates.


Liberty Village Park Improvements - Community Open House

Over the past number of months, my office has been working closely with City of Toronto parks staff on plans for improvements to Liberty Village park. Join us on December 12th to review the updated plans, which now include the addition of a splash pad:

Date: Thursday December 12th, 2019
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Location: 69 Lynn Williams (Liberty on the Park), party room

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2020. See you on the 12th!


Winter Warm-Up on King Street


Embrace the winter weather and enjoy free weekly pop-up events at rotating parklets on King Street every Saturday in December! Enjoy live music, a cozy warming station, hot drinks and baked goods, and more. 

Please visit the City’s King Street Events webpage for more information. King Street hosts a variety of events year-round, so be sure to check for regular event updates.


The Bentway Skate Trail - Back for Another Season!


Returning December 20, The Bentway will transform into a uniquely urban winter wonderland with the opening of the 220 metre skate trail. An on-site winter village will offer hot chocolate and other beverages for skaters and spectators, while warming stations will help visitors get toasty before getting back on the ice. Recurring free skate lessons will be offered for kids and adults. On-site skate rentals will be available daily.

The skate trail will be open between noon and 9 p.m every day over the holiday season, from December 20 to January 5. Visit The Bentway’s website to learn more, and to find opening hours for January and February.


New “No Water Map” Interactive Web Page

The City has created a new interactive web page to help give you quick access to emergency and planned water service disruption information. If you’re experiencing no water services to your home or property, you can visit the web page and navigate to your area or search by address to find out the cause and estimated restoration time. 

Visit www.toronto.ca/nowater to use the No Water Map.


Not Down the Drain

Do you know what can and can’t go down your drain? Putting the wrong things in your pipes can cause basement flooding, pollute rivers and Lake Ontario, and clog municipal pipes.

To help keep pipes working well, please do not flush or put the following products down the drain:

  • Hygiene products (i.e. sanitary supplies, condoms, wipes).
  • Fats, oils and cooking grease.
  • Medication (i.e. pills or liquid).
  • Household hazardous waste (i.e. paints, pesticides, cleaning products).

For more information, please visit http://www.toronto.ca/notdownthedrain


Public Meetings

Osler Playground Revitalization - Community Visioning Session
Wednesday December 11th, 6:30-8:30pm
Senor Santo Cristo (currently being used by University of Toronto Schools), 30 Humbert St.
I am pleased that we have been able to identify funding for a full-scale revitalization of Osler Playground, which will include the addition of a dogs-off-leash-area (DOLA), playground upgrades, track improvements and other water feature and park improvements. Please join me at the Community Visioning kick-off meeting to start our work together in re-visioning this critical community space.

Liberty Village Park Improvements - Community Open House
Thursday December 12th 2019, 6:30-8:00pm

69 Lynn Williams (Liberty on the Park), party room
Over the last number of months, I have been working closely with City of Toronto Parks staff on plans for improvements to Liberty Village park. Join us to review the updated plans, which now include the addition of a splash pad.


Community Events & Updates

Union Holiday - Free Skating
Until January 4th
Sunday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Weather permitting).
Union Station on Front Street

Celebrate the Holidays at Union Station with free ice skating on Front Street! Torontonians have a new place to spend some time skating over the holidays. A temporary skating rink in front of the station will open for visitors, local residents, office workers and families to skate for free, with free skate and helmet rentals and free lessons 

Visitors can shop for gifts at one of Union Station’s many retailers in the Front Street Promenade on the lower level below the Great Hall and from December 9 to 24 have their gifts wrapped for free at the gift-wrapping station in the West Wing.

More details on the ice rink as well as the full event listings of performances inside Union Station are available at www.torontounion.ca/tdunionholiday.

The Festival of Cool
December 10-15, Times vary
Harbourfont Centre (235 Queens Quay W)

For nearly 20,000 years, humankind has populated the Arctic – a region that evokes both fascination and adversity. In these times, this part of the world is often seen only through the lens of international climate talks – as it is melting away overnight.

The second edition of Festival of Cool looks north to the Arctic Circle to explore the diversity of its people and Indigenous languages through contemporary music, film, visual art and thought-provoking panels – proving that extreme cold can be cool.

Free Skating at Natrel Rink
Sunday - Thursday, 9am-10pm; Friday -Saturday, 9am-11pm
Harbourfont Centre (235 Queens Quay W)

Set against the beautiful shoreline of Lake Ontario, the city’s most scenic rink awaits! The Natrel Rink has been an unparalleled skating destination in Toronto for more than 30 years. It has a heated indoor change room with lockers and washrooms. Best of all – skating is FREE!


Call for Members - Trinity Bellwoods Community Association
The Trinity Bellwoods Community Association is re-activating and will be accepting applications for new directors, committee members, and general members. Please stay tuned for the next newsletter for the formal call for new members. In the meanwhile, follow them and tweet at them on twitter at @TBCA_Toronto!


Get in Touch with Trustee Stephanie Donaldson

Municipal Ward 10 (Spadina-Fort York) is part of TDSB Ward 9, Davenport and Spadina-Fort York. Stephanie Donaldson is the School Board Trustee for TDSB Ward 9. Stay up to date and get in touch with her here.


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