The Cressy Courier Feb 22- February Council Highlights, Support for Small Business, and More!

Dear friend, 

As we eagerly await the beginning of Spring, we continue to work hard to build our communities, and a fairer and more liveable city.

Below you’ll find updates on our work to support arts and culture, as well as local businesses in our communities and across the city. You’ll find information on the approval of the 2018 Budget, an update on the King Street Transit Pilot, our work to build community space at 250 Davenport, updates from our most recent Council meeting, and more.

We're also working hard to ensure more responsible and manageable development, address our city's shelter crisis, revitalize our green spaces and more – you'll find updates on that critical work below.

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

I look forward to seeing you around the neighbourhood.

Take care,

Joe


恭喜發財 - Happy Lunar New Year!

As we usher in the Year of the Dog, I would like to wish everyone a healthy and prosperous year. Thanks to those who welcomed me to your Lunar New Year events, I had a wonderful time celebrating throughout our community!


February City Council Highlights

Review of shelter and respite services

After working hard together with Councillors Wong-Tam and Fletcher, I am pleased that Council adopted numerous recommendations to guide a review of the City's current cold-weather respite and shelter services, including reaffirming a 90 per cent occupancy cap for shelters. Earlier this year, we released an open letter, with support from Mayor Tory and others, on our city's shelter crisis and the urgent actions we need to take to ensure we have a system where no one is left out in the cold, including ensuring we have the capacity in the system that we need, asking the Provincial government to provide desperately needed primary health and mental health services in our shelter system, and more. Funding for expanded shelter capacity was also considered, and approved, as part of the City's 2018 budget process.

Poverty reduction strategy   

Council adopted a 2018 work plan for TO Prosperity, the City's poverty reduction strategy. Actions include the implementation of a discounted transit pass for low-income residents. Designed as a 20-year strategy, TO Prosperity contains recommendations in the six core areas of housing stability, service access, transit equity, food access, quality jobs/livable incomes, and systemic change.

Supporting Small Business in Toronto

Council considered options for supporting Toronto businesses through tax measures and decided to provide that support by capping this year's total tax increases for the commercial, industrial and multi-residential property classes at no higher than 10 per cent over last year's taxes. Recent increases in provincial reassessments resulted in high property tax increases for many small downtown businesses last year. Please see below for more information.

Costs of waterfront/islands flooding   

Council approved steps to manage the financial impacts of last spring's extremely high water levels in Lake Ontario. The high water affected the entire Toronto waterfront and flooded Toronto Island Park, which was closed until the end of July. Staff estimate the impact on the City's operating budget at about $8.45 million to cover flood mitigation/repairs and revenue losses. Assessment of infrastructure damage is estimated at a $7.4 million at this time, with further damage assessment to inform the 2019 capital budget.

Plan for waterfront transit network     

Council endorsed a plan for Toronto's waterfront transit network and adopted a series of recommendations for implementation and reviews/studies on specific features of the network. Providing an underground transit link below Bay Street from Union Station to Queens Quay is a particularly challenging and important section of the network. The ultimate goal is an effective waterfront transit network from Long Branch and Lake Shore in the west to Queen Street and Woodbine Avenue in the east.

Data on Toronto's homeless population   

Council voted to have staff improve the tracking of admission and discharge of homeless individuals as they move among Toronto shelters, respite facilities and hospitals, and the tracking and reporting of in-house health care provided. Council also approved releasing data that City shelters collect on daily occupancy numbers – not using personal identifiers that would interfere with clients' privacy.

Toronto Community Housing - Tenants First Implementation

Council provided direction on a process to transfer ownership of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation's Agency House and Rooming House portfolio to non-profit corporations as part of the City's Tenants First strategy. The portfolio is to be maintained for its current housing purposes. In addition, Council adopted an interim process to appoint tenant representatives to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation Board for the 2018-2020 board term.

Municipal accommodation tax   

Council approved the introduction of a four per cent municipal sales tax on hotel accommodations effective April 1 and on short-term accommodations (such as those occurring in principal residences registered under the City's licensing regime) effective as early as June 1. In each case, guests pay the tax and the hotel or short-term rental operator collects and remits payment to the City. The Greater Toronto Hotel Association will administer the hotel accommodation tax and licensed short-term rental companies such as Airbnb will collect for short-term rentals.

Toronto's supply of hotels  

Council asked staff to review and report on potentially implementing a City policy/strategy to protect existing hotel space in designated areas. Several Toronto hotels have been redeveloped into residential condominiums in recent years. Even though some new hotel properties have come on stream, the number of available hotel rooms in Toronto has stagnated since 2000. Hotel accommodation is a vital part of Toronto's tourism, hospitality and convention industries.

Day of Remembrance on January 29   

Council supported a motion to designate January 29 in Toronto a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia for future years, and to ask the Canadian and Ontario government to mark the date in a similar way. On that date in 2017, a gunman carried out an act of terrorism at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in Quebec City. Council reaffirmed that Islamophobia, like all other forms of racism, hate, xenophobia and bigotry, has no place in the City of Toronto.


Supporting Arts and Culture - New Creative Co-location Facilities Tax Class

Cities are more than bricks and mortar and places where people live. Great cities are vibrant and dynamic. And, great cities contribute to this by investing in arts and culture, not because they are a 'nice to have' but because they make our cities liveable.

After nearly two years of work, City Council has now approved a new tax class for Creative Co-location Facilities - With this decision, 401 Richmond and other creative hubs in our city will not only be here to stay, but will thrive. I was thrilled that City Council adopted my motion to formally begin the process of establishing Toronto's new Culture and Creative property tax sub-class last fall. Through the 2018 Budget, approved last week, the new tax class recommends reducing the tax rate paid by a limited number of creative hubs around the city to 50% of the commercial tax rate, which more accurately reflects the non-profit nature of the organizations that occupy these spaces.

This is a milestone for recognizing and supporting the importance of arts and culture in our city.

I would like to recognize and thank Margie Zeidler and the urbanspace team, the many tenants of 401 Richmond, Artscape, and the many other creative hubs around our city, and countless Torontonians who wrote letters and emails and signed petitions, for all their work and advocacy. This news would not have been possible without their tireless commitment.

Investing in arts and culture builds a stronger economy and more liveable city. Today 174,000 Torontonians work in the culture sector, including nearly 25,000 working artists who call Toronto home. These artists build skills for the new economy, support local businesses, and add dynamism to our City. With this work, their work will continue.


Support for small business - approved!

I am delighted that the recommendation to cap annual tax increases on commercial properties, to support small business in our communities, was approved by City Council earlier this month.

Over the last year, I have heard from many small businesses in our community that increasing economic pressures in many neighbourhoods are making it more and more difficult for small and independent businesses to survive. From local grocers and raw food vendors in Kensington Market, to restaurants across our Ward, many have been sounding the alarm regarding the impact large and unexpected property tax increases can have on their ability to stay afloat.

After working closely with City Finance staff to try and find solutions to the growing problem, they have come forward with a recommendation to cap annual tax increases on commercial properties as an effort to support local business across our city. The approved cap is a maximum possible increase of 10% of the prior year’s taxes on an annual basis - rather than an undetermined, and often prohibitive amount, for some businesses.

Progressive taxation is a critical part of how our city funds and supports the services we all rely on. At the same time, our taxation system should be fair for all, including the local business that make our communities and economy thrive.


Toronto Island Bird Sanctuary - Request for Review Approved by City Council

Our Waterfront - home to tens of thousands of our neighbours - is a destination for Torontonians, and millions of visitors alike. The Toronto Islands are a jewel within our Waterfront community. In addition to being home to hundreds of residents, they represent a significant destination for residents and visitors from across our City, providing a way to enjoy and respect the natural environment, mere minutes from downtown. The Toronto Islands are a sanctuary for all of us.

By their very nature, they also create a significant natural habitat for many plant and animal species. Many areas of the Islands have been designated Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest by the Ministry of Natural Resources, demonstrating their high value for conservation, study and education. Portions of Muggs Island, Hanlan's Beach and Centre Island are also designated as Environmentally Significant Areas by the Ministry, a designation for areas of particular significance and sensitivity, and which require additional protection to preserve their environmental qualities and significance.

Earlier this month, I was delighted that City Council approved my motion asking the Federal Government to review the Toronto Islands for designation as a Bird Sanctuary. The request now goes to the Federal Government, who have jurisdiction over the review and designation of Bird Sanctuaries.

Thank you to the dedicated residents and community groups who have been working to protect our Island and Waterfront Habitat for so many years.


King Street Transit Pilot - Update

The King Street Transit Pilot is about moving people better on King Street, and making the street work for everyone. Working together, we're able to make improvements as we go to continue to build a street that works for all.

Data continues to show the pilot’s success

Our bold move to improve King Street, the year-long King Street Transit Pilot, is now 3 months in. The third round of data, collected during the month of January, was released last week, and shows us that the early successes of the pilot are not only continuing, but things are getting better and better.

Overall ridership has jumped to 84,000, from 72,00 before the pilot. Travel times continue to improve, both on average and for the slowest trips. And, reliability is at 85% - 85% of the time, streetcars are coming on time, and are moving faster across the corridor. Vehicular impacts have been minimal and pedestrian counts are on par with Queen Street just a block north. And, data also shows that business transactions are in line with seasonal spending pattern over the last years.

To continue to build streetcar capacity, the TTC has added 25% more capacity on the street, which is now carrying 12,000 more passengers than before the pilot.

I am also continuing to strongly advocate to bring "two-hour transfers" to King Street as soon as possible, in advance of the city-wide launch later this year. This means that each time you pay your TTC fare, you would be able to hop on and off the streetcar as much as you like within two hours. By getting it on King Street now, transit riders could hop off the streetcar, grab a coffee or run an errand, and hop back on to continue to their final destination. The larger number of riders on King Street will have an easier time patronizing local businesses on King Street.

Click here for full details on all the data that has been released so far. Updated data and additional metrics will be published every month during the Pilot. For more information on past updates and our efforts to continue to build a street for all, click here.

WeLoveKing Campaign

Recently, a coalition of over 20 residents’ associations, business improvements areas, community organizations and business joined together in support of build a successful King Street Transit Pilot, and of building a street that works for all. Overing the coming months, they will be working together to advocate for positive improvements, to support local business, to help animate the street and much more to ensure the pilot works for all.

To show your support for the campaign, sign the pledge at weloveking.ca.

King Street is Open for Business

As I mentioned above, the King Street Transit Pilot must work for everyone. The data released last week, secured by the City from Moneris solutions - who holds the largest market share of debit transactions in the country - shows that business transactions are in line with seasonal spending patterns over the last few years. However, we continue to work together to ensure that this pilot continues to work for everyone.

After hearing some early concerns from local business, we came together to make improvements. After multiple meetings with myself, the Mayor and local businesses, we put in place a number of initiatives to ensure the pilot could work for everyone. We introduced 2 hour free parking adjacent to the pilot area. We launched Everyone is King, the public realm design competition to animate the new public spaces on King. We've commissioned electronic signage to improve communication, and are continuing to review more improvements. We launched a Toronto-wide advertising campaign, reminding people that King is still accessible to all, and indeed open for business. And, the City is working to secure additional economic data from additional point of sale outlets to continue to inform the review of the pilot.

Yesterday we launched Food is King - a partnership with Ritual, a local King Street business with a high concentration of businesses and customers in the pilot area. The partnership provides a King Street pilot discount to new and existing users visiting a King establishment they’ve never visited before. A two week promotion, you can use the Ritual app to order online and skip the line when you pick up your meal. Commuting is faster, and so is picking up your favourite meal. As well as promoting the initiative, it will also be advertised on both the King and Queen streetcars.

For more information on the 2-hour free parking promotion, public realm competition and more, click here.

Your feedback and comments to my office at councillor_cressy@toronto.ca and to the project team at kingstreetpilot@toronto.ca is important, along with the data we are collecting, for ensuring that we can make the King Street Pilot work for everyone. I appreciate hearing about your experience.


Budget 2018 concluded 

On February 12, City Council approved the 2018 Operating and Capital Budgets. Throughout the Budget process, you heard me say many times that it was imperative that we send a message to the Mayor and Council that investing in the critical needs of our city, our most vulnerable, seniors in our communities, and families, is critical.

Again this year, the 2018 budget did not make the investments needed to truly make our city better. At the same time, the budget did not increase spending on programs based on population growth – and we know all too well in Ward 20 that our population is growing rapidly, along with the need for services in our communities. What does this mean? Our population is growing, but we're not spending more on the services we all rely on – so, we're actually spending less.

Our waiting list for affordable housing has grown to 181,000 people – a number that has steadily grown over the past year. This budget did not include the resources to house more of our friends and neighbours. It does not make the affordable housing crisis in our city better.

Our public transit system is facing the growing pressure of an increasing population, and those who want to ride the TTC. But, this budget will not address that crowded subway train, the long-wait in the winter for the bus, or other needed improvements.

These are just a couple of the ways that the 2018 operating budget is, in fact, not addressing critical needs in our city. As we continue our work together to build a fairer and more inclusive city, I look forward to our continued dialogue to encourage others at City Hall to make the investments we need to truly build our city for all.


250 Davenport Revitalization - New Amenity Space

As we move forward with the revitalization of 250 Davenport, I am committed to implementing Transition 250: Our Community Action Plan. The Plan, developed by and for the 250 Davenport community, charts the main priorities in continuing to build the 250 Davenport community – safety, health and community services, employment, income and food security, connections/relationship and resident leadership. We have been working hard together to continue to focus on the priorities in the Plan, and to identify new ways to move forward.

In order to do this, we worked hard to identify ways to create new space for residents in the building as part of the ongoing Revitalization. We came together in late 2016 and decided to create a brand new amenity space on the first floor of the building, and to decide together how it would be used.

Late last year, we began the discussion of the use of the new space, and over the coming weeks, we will be in the community to continue that discussion. How can the new space meet the objectives set out in Transition 250? How can this space add to your lives and create a more inclusive and enjoyable living experience?

In the coming weeks, you are invited to talk to us about the new space, and how best the programming in this new space can address our community's priorities.

Representatives from my office will be available in the main lobby on the following dates:

    Thursday February 22nd, 2018 12:00 - 2:00pm
    Wednesday February 28th, 2018 2:00 - 4:00pm
    Thursday March 1st, 5:00 - 7:00pm

If you are unable to speak to my office during the above times, please don't hesitate to send your thoughts to councillor_cressy@toronto.ca I am committed to continuing to focus on building our 250 Davenport community, and am very much looking forward to having a fruitful and engaged discussion about the future of 250 Davenport.


Northwest PATH Extension Update


The City of Toronto has been studying options for an extension of the PATH network northwest from Union Station to relieve pedestrian congestion, improve connectivity, and reduce travel times.

To learn about the different options and the outcome of the study, including the recommended Northwest PATH extension alignment, please visit the project website. You can provide comments and feedback through on online survey until February 28: http://cityoftoronto.fluidsurveys.com/s/nwpath/.


New Simcoe Ramp and Harbour Street are open


After 10 months of demolition and construction, Phase 2 of the new Simcoe ramp project is complete, with the opening of the new ramp and reconfigured Harbour Street to vehicles on January 29, 2018. Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists should continue to take care and be aware of the new traffic signs and signals, and how others are sharing the street, while everyone gets used to the new situation. The project website has diagrams and descriptions of the traffic changes at each intersection.

With the old ramp out of the way, the parcel of open space at the corner of York Street and Queens Quay is free to become a new public park. We held the first public meeting to talk about the exciting opportunities here, as well as at the Rees Street parking lot, on January 22. To sign up for future updates about designing this new park, please email info@waterfrontoronto.ca.

Some of the finishing touches including landscaping and permanent concrete sidewalks will be installed later this year when the weather is warmer. An additional construction notice will be circulated before that work begins. You can email simcoe-ramp@toronto.ca to ensure you are on the contact list to receive construction updates.


TDSB March Break Sports Camps at Central Technical School

Registration is now open for TDSB March Break Sports Camps at Central Technical School.

Full day, one week basketball and multisport camps are available for a range of ages.

View the flyer here for full details or visit centraltechnicalschool.ca


Public Meetings

Community Consultation: Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection
Thursday, February 22, 2018, 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Daniels Spectrum - Ada Slaight Hall (585 Dundas Street East)

Waterfront Toronto is hosting a community consultation to share information about Port Lands Flood Protection, a seven-year project that will re-naturalize the mouth of the Don River, create a new river valley through the Port Lands, a new island, and new parks, roads and bridges. Presentations are scheduled for 7:00 pm and 7:45 pm. For more information and updates, join the Facebook event or contact info@waterfrontoronto.ca.

Development Consultation: 400 Front St W and 49 Spadina Ave applications
Wednesday, February 28, 6:30 pm
Metro Hall, Room 310 (55 John Street)

These two development applications are on the same block and have both been appealed to the OMB. Community Planning staff will make a single presentation about both proposals, followed by individual presentations from each applicant, and then there will be an open Q&A session.

400 Front St W is an application that proposes to construct four residential towers that range in height from 24 to 60 storeys, with a total of 2,236 residential units and retail at ground level.

49 Spadina Avenue is an application that proposes to construct a new 20-storey office tower immediately east of the existing six-storey heritage building.

New GO Stations: public update on environmental studies
Thursday, March 1, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Lithuanian House (1573 Bloor Street West - near Dundas West TTC station)

The City of Toronto and Metrolinx are working together to design and build a number of new GO Stations, including one located at the south-west corner of Spadina and Front. The project team will be providing an update on potential environmental effects and mitigation measures, and seeking your input. At a later date in the spring, additional public meetings will be held to provide updates on the station designs. For additional meeting locations, background studies, and more information visit www.metrolinx.com/newstations.

Development Consultation: 582-590 King St W, 471-473 Adelaide St W & 115 Portland St
Tuesday, March 6, 6:30 pm
Metro Hall, Room 308 (55 John Street)

A re-zoning application has been submitted to construct a new 12-storey office building at the corner of Adelaide and Portland. Community Planning staff will make a presentation, followed by a presentation from the applicant, and then there will be an open Q&A session.

Community Consultation: Davenport Triangle Planning Study
Monday, March 5th from 6:30 to 8:30pm
Location TBD

With developments/proposals at 314-326 Davenport, 350 Davenport, 342-346 Davenport and 115 Dupont, the Davenport Triangle is currently facing unprecedented levels of development pressure. Staff from City Planning, Urban Design and Transportation Services will be sharing their preliminary report on the Davenport Triangle Planning Study with the community. Feedback and questions are encouraged, as we want to ensure responsible development in this area into the future and we cannot do it without local input!


Community Events

University Settlement Lunar New Year celebration event
Saturday, February 24th 11:00 to 1:00 pm
University Settlement, 23 Grange Road (Free Admission)

University Settlement is hosting their fun-filled event to celebrate Lunar New Year this Saturday. Come join us to celebrate The 2018 Lunar New Year together. This year will mark the Year of the Dog. Celebration will include a Lion dance, Kung Fu demonstrations, Traditional Korean Dance, and a visit by the God of Wealth. Light refreshments will be served.

For tickets, please contact your program department Director or call 416-598-3444 x. 233 to speak to Maggie.

Coldest Night of the Year
Saturday, February 24th 5:00-6:00 pm
Kerr Hall Gym, Ryerson University, 379 Victoria St. (best accessible off of Gerrard Street, just east of Yonge)

The Coldest Night of the Year will be taking place on February 24th this year. WALK Day is a super-fun, family-friendly fundraiser for hungry, homeless, and hurting individuals and families across Canada. Please join us to make a difference and help Toronto become the top location this year! Registration opens at 4:00 pm and all walkers must check-in and sign a waiver form before participating. For more information, please visit their website https://cnoy.org/location/toronto

The Annex Residents’ Association Neighbourhood Skating Party
Sunday, February 25, 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Jean Sibelius Square (50 Kendal Ave)

Come share the love of winter! Annex Residents’ Association is inviting everyone to their skating party. Free cookies and hot chocolate will be served so bring your mug and join us!

Fort York Food Bank Open House
Tuesday, February 27, 7:00 to 8:00 pm
230 College St.

The Fort York Food Bank invites the community to an open house in their new space to learn more about their services, meet members of the FYFB board, and ask questions.

Future Cities #3: Home Not Housing
Sunday, February 25, 2:00 to 4:30 pm
Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge St)

This installment of “Future Cities” -- Waterfront Toronto’s talk series in partnership with Toronto Public Library -- will be hosted in collaboration with author and placemaker, Jay Pitter. As a powerful proponent of inclusive city-building, Jay will uncover the intimate nature of our city’s housing challenges by inviting a diverse range of individuals to share music, personal narratives and design expertise in a homey “living room” environment. For more information and to register for a ticket, visit the Eventbrite page.

Celebrate Toronto
Tuesday, March 3-6
Nathan Phillips Square

This March 3-6th 2018, Celebrate Toronto will be returning to Nathan Phillips Square for a free 4 day festival honouring Toronto’s 184th Anniversary. In collaboration with local artists, entertainers and businesses, this event will celebrate Toronto's "Past, Present, and Future" while highlighting it's accomplishments and diversity, bringing the city together in pride. Please visit the website for more information, http://www.celebratetoronto.ca


Construction Updates

Click here to view a list of scheduled sewer work in Ward 20 for the month of February.


Stay in touch with Trustee Malik

Sign-up to Trustee Ausma Malik's e-newsletter for regular updates from her: http://eepurl.com/9xckn.


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.