The Cressy Courier January 11 - December City Council Highlights, Rally 'Round Ontario Place, and more!
The New Year is now well underway at City Hall and we're working hard to continue to build our communities, and a fairer and more liveable city.
As the City Councillor for Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, I am excited to work together with all our diverse neighbourhoods - from Liberty Village to the Distillery District, the Grange to our Toronto Islands - to continue to build liveable and equitable downtown communities.
As you may know, the new term of City Council is bringing significant changes to representation in our city. Below you will find a reminder of our new municipal governance process, in response to the cutting of City Council last year.
Read on for updates on critical city issues, projects and upcoming events across our new expanded Ward 10. Stay tuned for information late this month on the 2019 Budget.
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?
I look forward to working together with all of you to build the city, and communities, of our dreams.
Reminder - New ward boundaries and municipal governance
As you may know, the new term of City Council is bringing significant changes to representation in our city. This past summer, Doug Ford’s conservative government slashed the size of City Council from 47 to 25 Wards, without consultation. This presents a significant challenge to ensuring that we can continue to work together to build our neighbourhoods, and to provide the representation that our communities deserve.
At its inaugural meeting, Council approved a number of changes to our municipal governance structure in order to respond to this change. You can find more information here.
Committee and Board Appointments
In addition to significant changes to our municipal governance model, City Council passed Committee and Board appointments at its December meeting, for the first half of this 2018-2022 term of City Council.
I am pleased to have been appointed to:
- Economic and Community Development Committee
- Board of Health
- Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors
- Exhibition Place Board of Governors
- Art Gallery of Ontario Board of Trustees (as the local Councillor for Ward 10)
- Harbourfront Centre Board of Directors
- Artscape Board of Directors
You can find a full list of Committee and Board appointments here.
December City Council Highlights
In addition to changes to governance and committee and board appointments, here are highlights from the first meeting of Council for this term:
Housing Now action plan
Council adopted recommendations and motions aimed at increasing Toronto's supply of new, affordable housing – including approval to develop 11 City-owned surplus sites identified for the development of affordable housing in mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented communities. Council approved a set of guiding principles to facilitate delivery of the City's Housing Now initiative.
Cannabis stores in Toronto
Council voted in favour of permitting provincially-licensed cannabis retail stores to operate in Toronto. The decision is Council's response to Ontario giving municipalities the option of opting out of having licensed cannabis stores within their boundaries. The City will ask the province to grant it regulatory authority to restrict the specific locations of cannabis stores.
King Street transit pilot project
Council decided to extend the King Street transit pilot project between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets until July 31, 2019 to provide time to further evaluate the pilot project before deciding whether or not to make it permanent. The goal in undertaking the pilot project a year ago was to improve transit reliability, speed and capacity on Toronto's busiest surface transit route.
Toronto's transit system
Council adopted a series of motions concerning Toronto's transit system, including noting Council's support for keeping ownership of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) with the City of Toronto. The City will pursue negotiating joint terms of reference to guide discussion with the Ontario government on the alignment of transit responsibilities, giving consideration to the City's guiding principles on transit.
Addressing Road Safety
Council directed the Budget Committee to consider allocating additional funds to Vision Zero as part of the City's 2019 budget process to accelerate the rollout of the Vision Zero road safety project. Council's direction to staff included the implementation of all remaining school safety zones by the end of 2019. The City will have installed 74 senior safety zones, 128 school safety zones and 268 community safety zones by the end of this year (2018).
Protecting vulnerable road users
Council voted to express its support to the Province of Ontario with respect to Bill 62, the Protecting Vulnerable Road Users Act. The bill, if passed, will allow for more serious consequences for drivers involved in collisions that seriously injure or kill a vulnerable road user. The term vulnerable road users generally refers to seniors, children, people with limited mobility and cyclists.
Funding for cycling infrastructure
Council decided to ask the federal government to fund the shortfall created by the cancellation of provincial financial contributions to support cycling infrastructure in Toronto over the next three years. In addition, the City will request the federal government to create a long-term strategy for investment in walking and cycling infrastructure in cities and communities across Canada.
Safety of vehicles for hire
Council agreed to ask staff to include recommendations to increase the training requirements of private transportation companies and other vehicles-for-hire in Toronto for the sake of public safety. Council's decision on this item also calls for the establishment of a new public reporting process on the safety records/performance of private transportation companies and licence holders.
Short-term rentals and our city’s housing crisis
As we know all too well, our city continues to struggle with a growing housing crisis - not only in affordability, but in the availability of safe rental housing. With over 181,000 people on the waiting for subsidized housing, and a rental vacancy rate of only 1%, the crisis is a critical point.
In December 2017, after years of work, our city approved regulations to both permit short-term rentals, while at the same time protecting our city’s rental housing stock. These regulations struck an appropriate balance, permitting home-sharing in a principal residence, and simultaneously creating a legal framework to allow the service and protecting our city's fragile rental housing stock. Unfortunately, almost immediately after this critical step forward, the new regulations were appealed to the Local Planning and Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
This week, I was proud to join the Fair BnB coalition to discuss staggering new numbers of unregulated short-term rentals, and to call on AirBnB to play by the rules.
The new report details almost 6,500 entire homes in Toronto, a number that has nearly doubled in the past two years, being used as ghost hotels. These homes and units, often purchased in bulk by corporations and taken permanently off the rental market and used as permanent short-term rentals, would not be permitted under the rules passed by the City in 2017.
In a city facing a housing crisis, more than 6,500 homes and units approved and built to be used as housing have been converted into ghost hotels. The crisis is complex, as are the solutions - we need new affordable housing, deeper affordability, and much more.
We also need AirBnB to become part of the housing affordability solution.
Rally ‘Round Ontario Place
Toronto began as a waterfront city - it truly was our point of origin. Over the years, we lost the waterfront to industry, expressways, and development, but in recent years with hard work and cooperation we have finally started to reclaim it.
This Saturday, January 12, join Waterfront for All at Rally ‘Round Ontario Place. This is an opportunity to come together from across our neighbourhoods, and our region, to share memories and stories, and organize for what’s next to protect our treasured lands at Ontario Place.
Ontario Place is 155 acres in size, making it by a wide margin the last remaining large waterfront site in downtown Toronto. And as land that is already in the hands of the public, its revitalization is a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an Ontario Place for all Ontarians. The potential is clear in the incremental but concrete progress already made at Ontario Place the with the opening of Trillium Park on the site of a former parking lot, the reactivation of the Cinesphere with regular movie showtimes, and daily winter festivities.
It is critical that the Province of Ontario works with the people of Ontario and Toronto to ensure that Ontario Place continues to get better, and moreover any decision about the future of Ontario Place should be made by the people of Ontario -- not by friends of Doug Ford through back-room dealings.
Hundreds of people from across Toronto, and Ontario have already RSVP’d for tomorrow’s event - and it’s waitlisted! For those unable to attend, or on the waitlist, it is now being live-streamed online and in the Metro Hall Rotunda. Click here for more information.
Trustee Donaldson’s first Ward Forum - January 31st
TDSB Trustee Stephanie Donaldson is holding her first Ward Forum on January 31st at Bloor Collegiate Institute (at 1141 Bloor St. - just steps from Dufferin Subway) from 6pm to 8pm.
This is a great opportunity to come out and meet other parents/guardians from schools across the expanded TDSB Ward 9, get to know your new TDSB Trustee, and join the Ward Council to help set the agenda for exciting initiatives across the ward.
Childcare and refreshments will be provided and you can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
February is Kindergarten registration month in the TDSB!
The transition into school is an exciting one for young children and their families. Our schools provide a rich learning environment for children to learn and grow. Registration can be completed online or in-person. For more information about kindergarten and how to register, please visit: https://www.tdsb.on.ca/EarlyYears/KindergartenMonth
Questions? Contact Trustee Donaldson at email@example.com.
Being Prepared for Power Outages
With winter weather comes the possibility of power outages. While most power outages do not last long, a little preparation goes a long way in helping to stay safe and minimize convenience. During the winter of 2018, Toronto experienced five storms that were classified as “extreme weather events.” Toronto Hydro has resources on their website including how to make an emergency plan and what to stock in an emergency kit. You can also learn how power is restored.
Welcoming new neighbours - Project Comfort
As you’ve heard me say before, a city that is truly liveable must be a city for all - affordable for all, a city that builds the parks and services people need, and that takes care of its most vulnerable.
Project Comfort is an example of community members coming together to support one another. They are a community based organization formed by local residents working together to support and welcome their new neighbours in local emergency respite sites across the Waterfront.
Since its creation in the fall of 2018, Project Comfort has supported the community by organizing social gatherings, clothing drives, and a holiday event.
Project Comfort is encouraging interested community members to volunteer for a number of upcoming events and ongoing initiatives. They meet at 7pm on the second Tuesday of each month in the Media Room located in 231 Fort York Blvd. Everyone is welcome.
Individuals wishing to volunteer can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.projectcomfort.com for further information.
Bentway Artist Residency
The Bentway is inviting applications for their inaugural Artist Residency program, focusing on the acoustic environment of The Bentway. The hum of the Gardiner above, the rush of passing trains to the north, the occasional cannon blasts from the Fort York grounds and the general buzz from the surrounding city make The Bentway site rich acoustic territory. The selected artist or collective will be asked to explore The Bentway as an instrument, and to experiment with the varied sonic environments along its length.
More information about the Artist Residency and how to apply is available online here. There will also be an information session for prospective applicants on January 27, for which you can RSVP.
Waste Reduction Community Grants
Grants of up to $25,000 are available to support innovative community-based efforts to reduce residential waste and increase participation in the City of Toronto’s waste diversion programs. Expressions of Interest are due by March 1, 2019, at 5 pm. Please visit the Waste Reduction Community Grants web page to learn more and apply.
578-580 King Street West development proposal consultation
Monday, January 14, 6 pm
Hyatt Regency, King II Room (370 King St W)
I am hosting a community consultation meeting to discuss this development proposals in your neighbourhood. Itis an opportunity to learn more and make your voice heard. A re-zoning application has been submitted to build a 15-storey tall office building with retail at grade. A portion of the existing heritage building would be retained.
250 University Avenue development proposal consultation
Monday, January 14, 7 pm
Hyatt Regency, King II Room (370 King St W)
I am hosting a community consultation meeting to discuss this development proposals in your neighbourhood. Itis an opportunity to learn more and make your voice heard. A re-zoning application has been submitted to build a 54-storey residential addition above the existing listed heritage building, which would be retained and continue to contain office and retail space.
156-160 John Street development proposal consultation
Monday, January 14, 8 pm
Hyatt Regency, King II Room (370 King St W)
I am hosting a community consultation meeting to discuss this development proposals in your neighbourhood. Itis an opportunity to learn more and make your voice heard. A re-zoning application has been submitted to build an 11-storey commercial addition above the existing building, which would be retained and continue to contain office, retail, and restaurant space.
Legacy Art Project inspired by Terry Fox - Open House
Tuesday, January 29, 7-9 pm
Fort York Visitor Centre (250 Fort York Blvd)
The Legacy Art Project will be a meaningful, permanent public and landscape tribute to Terry Fox’s legacy of inspiration, located immediately to the east of the Toronto Music Garden on Queens Quay. The five shortlisted designs for the Legacy Art Project will be on display at this public open house event. Visit the website to learn more.
MPP Chris Glover’s Holiday Levee
Saturday, January 12 , noon to 2pm
Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St W)
Meet with your MPP Chris Glover at his Holiday Levee event happening tomorrow. It's a chance for you to connect with your local MPP in person and talk about the issues that are important to you! Also, it's a great way to meet the rest of your community.For more information, you can visit his website at www.chrisglovermpp.ca
The Bentway: PA Day Extended Hours and Free Skate
Fridays, January 18 and February 15, noon to 10pm
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)
The Bentway offers extended skate trail hours on school PA Days. There will also be free skate rentals courtesy of Waterfront Toronto on January 18 only.
MP Adam Vaughan New Years Levee
Saturday, January 19 , 2 to 4pm
627 Queens Quay W Toronto
Join your local MP Adam Vaughan for his New Years Levee on January 19th!
For more information, you can visit his website at http://avaughan.liberal.ca/events/
MPP Chris Glover’s Affordable Housing Town Hall
Thursday, January 31 , 7 to 9pm
University Settlement, Auditorium (23 Grange Road)
For more information, you can visit his website at www.chrisglovermpp.ca
The Bentway: Free Skate Thursdays
Thursdays until February 14, 5-9 pm
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)
Want to skate but don’t have skates? The Bentway’s figure-eight skate trail is back this winter, and skate rentals are free on Thursday evenings. There are also free drop-in skating lessons 6-8 pm. Website.
Get in Touch with Trustee Donaldson