The Cressy Courier: new affordable housing, parkland acquisition, and more

Dear friend -- 

Since being elected as your City Councillor 18 months ago, we've worked hard together to make our community and city more liveable and equitable for all.  We've accomplished so much together already: park improvements throughout the Ward, a new LGBTQ shelter for youth in the Annexbike lanes on Bloor Streetfuture heritage protection for Kensington Market, ongoing TCHC revitalizations in Alexandra Park and 250 Davenport, and more.

However, at this week's City Council meeting, a number of critical initiatives we've worked on together saw successful conclusions.

This week, City Council endorsed our $30 million funding framework to build a new 54,000 square feet YMCA community centre on Richmond Street in the booming King-Spadina neighbourhood, as part of the Revitalization of the Waterworks building at 505 Richmond St. This is an important step to ensuring that we build a liveable downtown neighbourhood.

City Council also endorsed our plan to build 95 new affordable housing units in Ward 20: 80 affordable rental units in CityPlace and 15 affordable home ownership units in the King-Spadina neighbourhood.  A critical step forward, but by no means enough, to building an equitable community.

Our long awaited project to acquire brand new parkland also took another step forward - City Council endorsed our request to take the next steps towards acquiring a 28,000 square foot parking lot on Richmond Street and turning it into a new park. Downtown Toronto is in desperate need of park space, as are our neighbourhoods across the Ward, for our growing population. While we still have more votes to win before we turn the concrete green, this week we took a big leap forward.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, City Council voted 36-3 to move forward with our proposal to open three small-scale supervised injection services in Toronto. With an escalating overdose crisis, these sites will improve public health and public safety for all Torontonians. I could not be prouder of the local neighbourhoods that have embraced the sites and my Council colleagues for supporting this critical health program.

These initiatives represent critical milestones in our work together. Certainly we have much more work to do, but this week we took significant steps forward.

I hope you enjoy the summer months and I look forward to seeing you out in the neighbourhood as we continue our work together.

Take care,

Joe

Implementing Supervised Injection Services in Toronto - a big step forward

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, but behind the numbers are people. They are our friends and neighbours, our sisters and brothers, and our colleagues.  They work at Tim Hortons and on Bay Street.

Yesterday, City Council stood united in response to this growing crisis.  With an overwhelming vote of 36-3, Toronto City Council voted to implement Supervised Injection Services in our City. This public health response will save lives, improve the health of people who use drugs, and make our communities safer. I am proud that City Council joined the Board of Health, Mayor John Tory and Chief Mark Saunders in standing in favour of these life-saving services.

During months of consultation by the three sites – Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre, Toronto Public Health-The Works, and South Riverdale Community Health Centre – communities engaged in important conversations about harm reduction. We heard from residents, businesses, service agencies, and people who use drugs.  The feedback was clear – drug use is already in our backyards and it's time to develop a model to improve public health and public safety.  

Supervised injection services work. In more than 90 sites around the world, including 2 in Vancouver, they have proven to improve the health of people who use drugs and increase public safety in surrounding neighbourhoods.

Yesterday's vote makes it clear – Toronto is ready to embrace an evidence-based approach to drug policy. An evidence-based approach to reduce harm and save lives.

Drug use is complicated and requires a comprehensive response that includes prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement.  The introduction of supervised injection services in Toronto represents our response to the growing overdose crisis, and a bold statement in our ongoing efforts to care for every resident of our city. Thank you to my Council colleagues, our community, the countless of activists who worked on this critical issue for years, and most of all those who came forward to tell their stories and those of their friends and loved ones.

To read more, see the Globe and Mail article here.


Moving Forward with Parkland Acquisition in King-Spadina

As our City grows, we must focus on building liveable neighbourhoods, rather than just adding density - this is my central focus as your local City Councillor.  I am excited to announce our next step towards parkland acquisition in King-Spadina, at 229 Richmond St. W. In response to my letter to Government Management Committee in June, City staff are recommending next steps towards acquiring 229 Richmond Street W for parkland purposes. This represents a key community-building milestone for our fast-growing King-Spadina community.

In 1996, the population of King-Spadina was 1,000 residents. Once all approved and potential development is constructed, more than 50,000 people will call this area home.  The numbers are staggering, and every week I hear from developers with even more proposals. 

However, we have fallen behind in building the critical services and facilities that our communities rely on and that truly make communities vibrant and liveable.  Given the pressing needs in the community, I sought early on to address this gap in the King-Spadina neighbourhood. 

In October 2015, City Council approved our plan for a partnership between the City of Toronto and the YMCA to bring a new YMCA Centre to the Revitalization of the City-owned Waterworks building at 505 Richmond Street West. This partnership demonstrates a real step in building a liveable community in the continually growing area.

In 2013, a City commissioned Community Services and Facilities study found that the King-Spadina area was already deficient in new parkland, as well as in community facilities – and with the further anticipated growth that has continued, the area would continue to become parkland deficient.

Since taking office, I have been working with City staff to review opportunities for new parkland and after nearly 2 years of hard work, staff have identified 229 Richmond Street W. as a potential site for parkland acquisition in King-Spadina. In a report approved by City Council earlier this week, City staff recommended conducting a Market Value Assessment of this property - a necessary step in the process towards acquisition or expropriation - to set the stage for how we move forward. I am very excited that we are moving forward as a result of the report's approval.

The approval of this step signals a major step in our collective work to build and support our community. It demonstrates that we are willing to work and invest to ensure we are creating healthy communities, and to build a city that supports our neighbourhoods both today and in the future.

Acquiring new parkland in King-Spadina is a critical step towards ensuring that we are not only building a liveable community, but that we are prioritizing healthy, equitable and well-serviced communities in each and every neighbourhood, and on each and every development, in our Ward.

To see more, check out Urban Toronto's story here.


Affordable Housing in Ward 20 - 95 new units approved!

As you no doubt have heard me say, the key to building a liveable city is to ensure we are building equitable communities.  Ensuring that each and every person in our City and our community has access to safe and affordable housing is a critical priority of mine. I'm very excited that earlier this week City Council approved our plans to build 95 new units of affordable housing in Ward 20.  

Block 36 North, one of the last blocks of land to be developed in CityPlace (currently a part of the empty lot beside the Fort York Library) will see 80 affordable rental units built in the next two years within a 8 story building. Over the past number of months, I have been working hard with the Affordable Housing office and TCHC to find ways to prioritize this project to ensure that we are adding affordable housing to address our City's severe housing crisis.

As a part of the Revitalization of the Waterworks building at 505 Richmond (complete details on the Revitalization are below), 15 affordable home ownership units will be created and administered by Artscape.  This addition to the already exciting project, which includes our City/YMCA partnership, extensive Heritage restoration, park revitalization and more, adds to our collective work to make our communities equitable and liveable.

Additional details on both of these projects, including future community consultations, will be circulated widely.  This is a very exciting development for both of these communities, and for Ward 20!         


Waterworks Revitalization



Earlier this week, City Council granted approvals for an innovative partnership with the YMCA, Artscape, Build Toronto, and a private developer to launch a comprehensive revitalization of the historic Waterworks Building at Richmond and Augusta (505 Richmond St W). After almost 2 years of work, I couldn't be prouder of the work we've done as a community to build this diverse and critical partnership.

This is a unique opportunity to deliver desperately-needed facilities to a rapidly growing area with a shortage of community and recreation spaces. A new not-for-profit YMCA facility will offer a range of services that is similar to other YMCAs in Toronto, including a swimming pool. I have committed $19 million of local funding to cover two-thirds of the cost of building the new YMCA, and as a condition of this contribution the YMCA will sign a Community Use Agreement that secures enhanced youth programming, local access, and membership subsidies.

City Council also agreed to partner with Build Toronto to invest a combined $2.4 million in 15 new affordable housing units in the revitalization. These units will be administered by Artscape.

The Waterworks revitalization will also include expanding Saint Andrew's Playground to reclaim the west parking lot, extensive heritage restoration and conservation, and new commercial uses that will animate and bring life back to the Waterworks Building. In addition, a 50-bed youth shelter (Eva's Phoenix) is already under construction at the Brant Street end of the building.

The next step of the revitalization is for a re-zoning application to be submitted, and following the standard process, the application will need to be reviewed by the community and City staff before considering final approval.

Please join me at a public open house in the fall to learn more and meet the revitalization partners.

Date: Saturday, September 10, 2016
Time: Noon to 3 p.m.
Location: Great Hall of the Waterworks Building (enter from Maud Street)

To receive regular updates about the Waterworks Revitalization including a reminder of the open house nearer to the date, please email my office at councillor_cressy@toronto.ca. For more details about the Waterworks Revitalization, you can visit www.joecressy.com/waterworks


Kensington Market - Helping small and independent businesses

In the Kensington Market community, there has been increasing pressure on small and independent businesses. Many businesses and residents have expressed concern that small and independent businesses, especially many of the longstanding food grocers and vendors, are being priced out of the market

To help address this issue, I introduced a motion at this month's City Council meeting directing staff to investigate ways that the City can help support small and independent businesses in Kensington Market, specifically raw food grocers/vendors. I have asked them to look into all possible options, including but not limited to, creating a new tax class for these businesses, providing tax adjustments, and more.

City Council referred this item to Executive Committee to be considered at their next meeting in September.

If successful, this could lead to a pilot project in Kensington Market that could be applied to other areas in the city as well. Please contact my office if you'd like to learn more; you can also read the MetroNews article here.


Huron Sussex Community Garden Launch



The Huron Sussex neighbourhood may be the smallest community in our ward, but that doesn’t stop them from doing big things! I was very excited to join them for the launch of their new Community Garden recently and not only enjoy some fresh picked produce, but great conversation and wonderful gardening songs! It was a great event with many neighbours in attendance and I look forward to the future of this garden and the positive influence it has for budding gardeners and community growth (puns intended!).

If you would like to see the great work they are doing or drop by to help out, the garden is at the corner of Huron St. and Glen Morris St.


King-Spadina Planning and Heritage Meetings - Presentations

On June 22 and 23, public meetings were held to provide updates on two important initiatives in the King-Spadina area: a new Secondary Plan and a new Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Plan. These will provide us with stronger tools to control how the neighbourhood grows and changes over time, ensuring that it is liveable and conserving the unique heritage character.

The presentation materials from both meetings are available online for those who were not able to attend in person.

King-Spadina Secondary Plan: www.toronto.ca/planning/king_spadina.htm

King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District Plan: hcdtoronto.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/king-spadina-heritage-conservation-district-plan/


Rees Street Playground Construction Schedule



Down by the waterfront, Rees Street Playground will soon be getting a facelift and new play structures! 

We have just gotten confirmation that Parks staff have secured a contractor and construction is scheduled to start within the first few weeks of August. We'll have more information in the coming weeks about this exciting transformation, so stay tuned to my website for details!


Kensington Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study - Public Meeting Materials

On June 21, a meeting was held to discuss the initial findings during the first few months of the Kensington Market HCD Study. Heritage staff outlined the process and timeline, and the consultants provided an overview of their initial work completing an inventory of all the properties within the expanded Study area (College-Spadina-Dundas-Bathurst). 

For those of you who were not able to attend, you can view the presentation materials on the City's HCD website here. On that website, there's also an opportunity to submit your comments on what makes Kensington Market special to you, and I'd encourage you to provide that feedback.


College-Lansdowne Construction

The construction at the intersection of Bathurst and College was completed early Monday morning, approximately 27 hours ahead of schedule. Thank you to Transportation and TTC staff who worked hard to get this project completed in a timely and efficient manner, and for handling traffic issues as they came up.

Now that this project has been completed, the construction will be moving west to College and Lansdowne. This intersection will be closed from July 25 to August 8, and will continue the diversion of the 506/306 streetcar and bus routes.

College-Lansdowne.jpg


MLS Dog Off-Leash Enforcement

Open space and parks are some of the favourite, and most well-used, features of our communities and neighbourhoods. However, as we grapple with demographic shifts and changes in development patterns, we are working hard to ensure that we balance the needs of all the users of our parks and open spaces.

One of these needs is finding space for our four legged friends. In response to an increase in conflicts around off-leash dogs outside of designated areas, Municipal Licensing and Standards have recently announced a change in their approach to enforcing off leash by-laws. They have nearly doubled the number of bylaw officers dedicated to parks, and are going to be pursuing a more strict approach to ticketing those with their dogs off leash.

At the same time we recognize that enforcement without providing alternative options is not the most effective approach. We currently have four designated Dog Off Leash Areas (DOLA) in the Ward: Vermont Square Park, St. Andrews Playground, Clarence Square and Coronation Park. Furthermore we are also working on bringing  two new DOLAs online, one in Canoe Landing Park and the other as part of the Grange Park revitalization


Grange Park Construction Update



The new east-west pathway at the south side of the park is nearing completion. The east side of this new pathway will open through to the north end of the south promenade by the end of this week. 

The City of Toronto Utilities Department is currently working on connecting the park’s new storm water drainage system to the city’s storm sewer system under Beverley Street.  This work should be completed next week.  As soon as this is finished, the west side of the new pathway will open, providing access between Grange Road and Beverley Street through the park.  

To stay updated, subscribe to the Grange Park construction email list here.


Porch View Dances

It’s always an exciting time of year when Porch View Dances graces the streets of Seaton Village

Since 2012, Toronto's own Kaeja d'Dance has been running this week-long event that showcases local residents, expert choreography and always brings the community together in a fun and positive way. It's a guided tour that begins at 727 Markham St. and culminates in a group dance at Vermont Square Park. Thank you to the organizers for putting together an even that never fails to amaze. 

If you would like to join the fun this weekend, check out the details below:


Irish Diaspora Run

On July 10th a truly impressive feat reached its conclusion in our own Ireland Park. Irish author and ultra distance runner, Michael Collins jogged to the terminus of his 995km Irish Diaspora Run. After nearly 30 consecutive days of marathon runs, Collins reached the end of this journey. 

The run itself was a testament to the Irish migrants who came to Toronto from Grosse Ile Quarantine Station in the mid-1800s. By re-tracing their path along the St. Lawrence River Collins' run was a symbolic call to consider the distances we have all covered to make our lives in land, and a reminder of the values of acceptance and cross-cultural understanding that are so fundamental to our national identity. 

Upon finishing the run, Collins was greeted by his family and a crowd of well-wishers. He gave a short speech commemorating those who come before and the continued legacy of collaboration between the Irish and Canadian peoples. 

Congratulations, Michael!


Lower Simcoe Ramp Construction

The first phase of construction to replace the Gardiner Expressway off-ramp between Rees Street and Lower Simcoe Street will begin the week of July 25. This work will involve the construction of the foundation and substructure for the new ramp while the existing ramp is still in use above.

Planned work hours are between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. There will not be any long-term lane closures on surrounding streets or the Gardiner. Phase One will continue until December 2016.

Phase Two will take place in 2017.

A construction notice with more detail is being delivered to residents and businesses in adjacent buildings. You can download a copy of the construction notice here.


Construction in the Union Station Rail Corridor this weekend 

This weekend, the Province of Ontario's transit agency Metrolinx will be completing track rehabilitation in the portion of the Union Station Rail Corridor between Peter and John Streets. This work will consist of removing a portion of track and the underlying ballast (rocks), laying new ballast and reinstalling the track. Work is scheduled to take place Friday, July 15 at 8 p.m. to Monday, July 17 at 5 a.m.

Tracks must be taken out of service to complete this work and as a result this work can only be carried out during off-peak times, when there is less train traffic. Nearby residents may notice some activity from construction equipment and lights in the rail corridor during this time. Metrolinx has committed to ensuring any lights are directed away from homes when possible.

For regular updates from Metrolinx regarding construction activities in the Union Station Rail Corridor, please email Loretta Allen (Loretta.Allen@metrolinx.com) to be added to their distribution list.


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

July 13th - 17th, 2016

Kaeja d'Dance Porch View Dances 
727 Markham Street

Since 2012, Toronto's own Kaeja d'Dance has been running this week-long event that showcases local residents, expert choreography and always brings the community together in a fun and positive way. See more information above!

July 18th, 2016

Toronto Youth Equity Strategy & Toronto Youth Cabinet - Town Hall: What can the City do about recent violence in Toronto? (5:30-7:00pm)
City Hall (100 Queen Street W), Council Chambers

The Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (TYES)'s Community Panel & Policy Table, in partnership with the Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC) invite youth, youth workers, and community partners to a Town Hall on what the City of Toronto can do about recent violence in our city. 

At this Town Hall meeting, we will address some questions that many Toronto residents have been asking, such as:

  • What is the City currently doing to prevent and address violence impacting youth? 
  • What should the City be doing more of?
  • What is the City currently not doing, but should be doing? 

For more information and to RSVP, please click here

July 19th, 2016

Updating Tall Building Setbacks - Community Consultation (7:00-9:00pm)
Metro Hall (55 John Street), Room 308

City Planning is hosting a community consultation meeting for the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendments on updating tall building setbacks.  Tall buildings are often proposed in the Downtown and this community consultation will be presenting the Official Plan Amendment policies and Zoning Bylaw Amendments that will set out required setbacks from property lines, and between 2 or more towers on a single site.

Appropriate separation distances between towers minimizes negative impacts on the public realm and neighbouring properties, such as adverse shadowing, pedestrian-level wind and blockage of sky view.

A presentation will be given followed by an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and provide feedback.


Constituency Hours!

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

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