The Cressy Courier June 29 - Building safe streets, new arts and cultural hub on the Waterfront & More

Dear friends, 

As we look forward to celebrating Canada Day this weekend, and acknowledged the official beginning of summer last week, we are quickly approaching the end of this term of City Council.

Here at City Hall, our Committees are now entering their final cycle. Critical initiatives like laneway suites, our work for a new arts and culture centre in Bathurst Quay are now approved, along with a renewed commitment to combating the Overdose Crisis. We are also continuing critical work to build safe streets for all, starting our visioning and revitalization of new parks in Mirvish Village and Harbord Village, and excited the celebrate the completion of the Bellevue Square Revitalization in the next few weeks.

In this edition of the Cressy Courier you'll find updates on many of these initiatives and more, along with information on important community meetings and much more.

Enjoy the long weekend - Happy Canada Day!

Take care,

Joe


2018 Municipal Election - Communication Rules for City Councillors

As you may know, there is a municipal election coming up this fall on October 22, 2018. During election years, there are a number of rules that City Councillors must follow regarding the use of city resources related to communications and events.

This year, these rules stipulate that City Councillors are not permitted to send out communications to constituents after August 1st. This means that my office is not permitted to send out information in e-newsletters, or print newsletters, after this date. If there is an emergency, my office is permitted to communicate with constituents regarding this emergency. However, after August 1st, regular e-mail newsletters are not permitted.

To ensure that residents are notified of this rule, I will include this reminder in my email newsletters for the next number of weeks.

Here are additional details with respect to these rules:

  • After August 1st, City Councillors are not permitted to:
    • Send out email newsletters or print newsletters
    • Host or organize meetings or events

Community Visioning: Future Mirvish Village Park

In July 2017, City Council approved the redevelopment plan for Mirvish Village.

For two years, we worked together with local communities and residents' associations - Annex Residents' Association (ARA), Seaton Village Residents' Association (SVRA), Palmerston Area Residents' Association (PARA) and the Harbord Village Residents' Association (HVRA), local BIAs, businesses, City staff and other stakeholders - towards the objectives emerging from the work on The Four Corners Study. 2 After two revisions to the proposal, we were able to achieve critical changes that resulted in a more suitable, sustainable, and equitable project for our communities.

One of these critical components of the approved project is the creation of a new public park on the east side of Markham Street. On July 9th, join us for the very first session to discuss the vision of the future new park:

Community Visioning: Future Mirvish Village Park

Monday, July 9, 2018

6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

CSI Main Floor, 720 Bathurst St

You can view the meeting flyer here. 

For more information on the Mirvish Village redevelopment, click here.


Richmond-Adelaide Cycle Tracks - Update

Building safe streets for all is a crucial priority, and a safe and protected cycling grid is a critical part of this work. The Richmond-Adelaide pilot project represents an important step in that direction, providing a safe east-west corridor for thousands of cyclists on a daily basis. Since they were installed in 2014, they have become the most used cycling lanes in the entire city. These cycling lanes are a crucial part of the network, and should absolutely be made permanent. However, as it is a pilot project, we can review and consider changes to make the lanes even safer.

Switching Adelaide Street Cycle Track to the Left Side (North Side)

On June 25th, the City held a public drop-in event to propose changes to the Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks, to fill the gap along the corridor. As it continues to be a pilot project, some concerns have been identified along the way. There are currently gaps in the cycle tracks at commercial loading zones and TTC stops. As a result, the City of Toronto is considering changes to the configuration of Adelaide Street by moving the existing separated cycle track from the right side (south side) lane configuration, to the left side (north side), which would eliminate these gaps. If approved, the left side cycle track configuration would be applied from Bathurst Street to Parliament Street.

For more information on this proposed change, please click here.


Celebrating Pride Month!

Throughout the month of June, I was proud to join Mayor Tory, Council colleagues, and so many Torontonians in celebrating Pride Month.

Whether raising the Rainbow Flag and Trans Rights Flag at City Hall, or celebrating our at this past weekend’s marches, we stand together for equity, human rights, and justice. We recognize the struggle of so many of our LGBTQ2S neighbours, and commit to standing in solidarity as allies.

Happy Pride!


Our Work to Build Safe Streets

Over the last 3 years, we’ve worked hard together to build safer streets to move people, not just cars. We’ve lowered speed limits in our communities and installed speed humps and new traffic lights. We’ve also taken critical steps towards a bolder vision of designing our streets for safety - we’ve built bike lanes, expanded the public realm, and narrowed streets across Ward 20.

While the initiatives included in the city's current Vision Zero plan are important, we need to take bolder steps to truly commit to eliminating traffic fatalities. We need to redesign our streets to move people safely, rather than simply to move cars. We need to build protected and expanded spaces for cyclists and pedestrians, narrower lanes and roadways, and slow down traffic overall.

Tragically, earlier in June, a cyclist was struck and killed at Bloor and St. George. This week, City Council approved my motion, seconded by Councillor Mike Layton, calling for immediate safety improvements to the Bloor Street West bike lanes, while considering every option for permanent improvements, including separated intersections, physical redesign, greater separation and protection, and more. Although the installation of the bike lanes made the street safer, investing in the physical infrastructure to redesign the roadway – including intersections – is a critical next step, and one that must happen with urgency.  

Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam, Josh Matlow and I also moved a motion to designate Avenue Road, from St. Clair Avenue West to Bloor Street West, a community safety zone. For a number of years, we have been working together to address road safety on Avenue Road - discussing lower speeds, wider sidewalks, and additional initiatives to make the street safer for people. By making it a community safety zone, additional initiatives are possible to curb unsafe driving and speeds on the streets. We are also continuing our work to review the design of Avenue Road overall moving forward. For more information, click here

As we continue this work, I will be moving to implement a number of additional road safety initiatives at Community Council next week. Stay tuned for further updates on these changes in upcoming email newsletters.

93 pedestrians & cyclists have been killed on Toronto streets in the last 2 years – this is a preventable tragedy and we must do more to build streets that are safe for all road users. If our City is committed to Vision Zero, then we must redesign all of our streets to move people safely.


Alexandra Park Splash Pad and Dance Pad - Official Opening

Summer is finally here, and to celebrate join us to officially open the new Alexandra Park splashpad and dancepad!

Alexandra Park Splashpad and Dancepad Official Opening

Friday, July 6th 3 p.m.

Just south of Scadding Court Community Centre in Alexandra Park 


Sod Revitalization in Vermont Square Park

As many of you may have noticed, work is well underway to revitalize the field in Vermont Square Park. The work will fix the heights of sewer drains in and surrounding the park, to repair the irrigation system, add pea gravel to the area in front of the stage, de-compact the soil in the field, aerate, and seed continuously until the grass is strong and healthy. Phase 1  is now complete (you can see the fresh grass growing!) and Phase 2 will begin in August, to plant more varieties of grass crops and hopefully further strengthen the field.

As the grass continues to grow and develop deeper roots, it will be very helpful if neighbours could take caution in using the field in these early stages. If the field is wet after a fresh rain, it is best to stay off of it entirely, to avoid further compaction. If you own a dog, it is best not to run your dogs on the fresh grass until it has had a few more weeks to develop.

Many thanks to the Seaton Village Residents’ Association, the Seaton Village Dog Owner’s Association and City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff for their efforts to coordinate these repairs, to keep Vermont Square Park beautiful!


Combatting the Overdose Crisis - Update

Overdose deaths are now the worst public health emergency since the HIV & AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Every week more Torontonians are dying and the painful fact is these deaths are preventable. Last year, I wrote an op-ed in the Toronto Star on the preventable nature of the crisis. Since then, tragically, the crisis has continued.

This week, City Council made a critical statement regarding our work to combat the Overdose Crisis. Toronto City Council voted to re-affirm its support for supervised consumption sites & an evidence-based public health response to the overdose crisis. Further, Council voted to call on the Province of Ontario to not only continue its support for harm reduction and treatment programs in the city, but to increase its support for harm reduction programs.

Our federal and provincial counterparts need to scale up their own response, not reduce or eliminate it. At the city level, we will continue to work as hard as possible to respond to this crisis, and to save the lives of our friends and neighbours. With a comprehensive public health response we can turn the tide and save lives. Now is not the time to backwards.


Bellevue Square Park - update

We have all been eagerly awaiting the reopening of Bellevue Square Park, and I am happy to share that we will all be able to enjoy the park by the end of next week.

The final details of the park are being completed, and the sod needs some time to set before it can be walked on - but I can assure you that it is almost done!

Stay tuned for details on an opening celebration!


A Model for Laneway Suites in Toronto and East York

After a year of hard work by City Staff, residents associations, and stakeholders like Evergreen Canada, we now have a model for laneway suites in Toronto. A model to build much needed rental and affordable housing units in Toronto, while at the same time strengthening policies to expand neighbourhood greenspace.

For more information on the new laneway suites framework, click here


Greening in Harbord Village - Community Open House

A critical part of building liveability in our downtown neighbourhoods is ensuring that we have enough green spaces to support a healthy and vibrant community. In many of our downtown communities, a good plan for green spaces includes park improvements, but also includes innovative ideas for laneway greening, parkettes, and streetscaping.

As you may know, I worked with the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA) to develop the Harbord Village Green Plan, a neighbourhood green plan that addresses the needs of our existing green spaces, and identifies opportunities to create new ones. Construction of the first phase, which includes in-street planters at four Harbord Village intersections, is set to begin next month.

Another exciting greening improvement coming to Harbord Village is the creation of a new public park at 666 Spadina Avenue. Through our hard work with the HVRA, City of Toronto staff, and the applicants of the infill development at at 666 Spadina Avenue, we have secured a brand new public park on site, that was approved at Council late last year.

Please join me and the HVRA at a community open house to discuss the vision of the new park at 666 Spadina, and submit your feedback on the next phase of implementation of the Harbord Village Green Plan.

Greening in Harbord Village - Community Open House

When: Thursday, July 12th, 6:00pm-8:00pm.

Where: Knox Presbyterian Church, 630 Spadina Ave.


Announcing a New Arts and Cultural Hub on the Waterfront

I am thrilled that our plan to revitalize the Administration Building in Bathurst Quay, in partnership with the Ireland Park Foundation, was approved by Council this week. This new partnership will transform the Administrative Building into an arts and cultural hub that celebrates Irish Canadian heritage and speaks to the contribution of immigrants and newcomers to our city.

The Ireland Park Foundation are a non-profit arts, culture and heritage organization with an established partnership with the City of Toronto to program cultural events and improve public open spaces within the City. As part of its mission to "celebrate the story of Irish in Canada", in 2007 the Foundation constructed Ireland Park immediately adjacent to the Administration Building, which will soon serve as an interpretive centre for the park.

The Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan (BQNP) was adopted by City Council in July 2017. Since adoption of the plan, I have worked closely with City staff and community stakeholders to begin delivering the 'near-term' (i.e. 1-5 year delivery) community improvement projects contained in the overall plan. One such project was the revitalization of the City-owned Administration Building on Eireann Quay with a new arts, community and culturally-focused destination on the waterfront.

I look forward to working with the Ireland Park Foundation to further reanimate this stretch of the Waterfront and the Bathurst Quay neighbourhood.


Redesigning our streets - John Street Cultural Corridor under construction

Redesigning our streets to focus on moving people safely, rather than simply moving cars, is critical. Although we’ve begun to shift our collective attitudes towards our streets, we must take bold steps to physically redesign our streets to focus on safety, and on enhancing public space for everyone. We need safe streets, streets where people can travel comfortably and safely, and places where our communities can gather, stop, celebrate, watch and learn.

After almost 10 years of work, construction on the John Street Cultural Corridor is now officially underway. With a focus on creating a new pedestrian corridor, the overall design of John Street seeks to slow down all road users, including cars and bicycles, to make the street safer for all. Picture some of the unique streets in our very own Kensington Market – Baldwin Street and Kensington Avenue come to mind. These streets are narrower, and by design move much slower than countless other corridors that function to move people at a faster pace through the area. The new design for John Street, with expanded sidewalks, curb elimination and pedestrians as the focus, seeks to slow down the pace of the street itself.

John Street has been officially recognized as a cultural corridor for many years, home to institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario, CBC Broadcast Centre, the Princess of Wales and Royal Alexandra Theatres, and TIFF Bell Lightbox, to name a few. The project to redefine John as a public cultural space, while making it inviting for pedestrians to truly use and occupy the street, culminated in the John Street Cultural Corridor improvement project.

Through a lengthy public consultation and Environmental Assessment (EA) process during the last term of Council, the vision for John Street emerged. A pedestrian-focused design, John Street will see the elimination of 2 lanes of traffic, narrower lanes, greatly expanded sidewalks and removal of curbs, so there is no barrier between the road and pedestrian realm. These key design components, in addition to upgraded lighting provided by the local Business Improvement Area, new event spaces at intersections along the Corridor, and landscaping and pavement treatments, come together to create a slower, safer space for everyone. As a Cultural Corridor, the design envisions a street regularly closed for events, sustained periods throughout the seasons, cultural events and more, creating the feeling of a new public plaza space along John.

For more information, click here.


Design Teams Announced for Waterfront Parks Design Competition

In February 2018, the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto launched an innovative design competition for two new waterfront parks. We invited talented and creative design teams from around the world to pre-qualify for the competition that would seek bold design proposals for Toronto’s York Street Park and Rees Street Park.

In total, more than 40 design teams from 18 cities submitted proposals outlining their qualifications. We were thrilled to see such a high-level of interest from some of the world’s most innovative and creative design teams, representing a wide range of different landscape and design philosophies.

We’ve shortlisted 10 design teams to participate in the six-week international design competition for York Street Park and Rees Street Park. Five teams have been assigned to each park and will respond to a request for proposals that calls for innovative designs that will serve the diverse needs of local residents, office workers and visitors.

Find out who will be competing to design these two new waterfront parks in Waterfront Toronto’s recent blog post.

Next up, these ten teams will participate in a six-week design competition and produce conceptual designs that will be put on public display at Toronto City Hall and online for a two-week public comment period. The public exhibition dates will be announced in the next month. For updates, follow Waterfront Toronto on Facebook and Twitter.


Parkland Strategy Survey

A public survey that Parks, Forestry and Recreation is now conducting on the Parkland Strategy Phase 2 gives Torontonians an opportunity to provide their input on the City's park acquisitions and improvement priorities.

The Parkland Strategy is a 20-year plan that will guide long-term planning for new parks and expansion and improved access to existing parks. It will aid in the decision-making and prioritization of investment in parkland across the city.

Visit the Parkland Strategy webpage to take the survey and to learn more about work completed so far.


Green Bins in Toronto Parks

The City started a Green Bin pilot program in 20 parks to test the collection of organic waste, including dog poop, in Dog Off-Leash Areas. Participating parks include Clarence Square Park.

The goal of the pilot is to test the use of Green Bins in parks to divert organic waste from landfill and reduce the amount of contamination (items that do not belong) in park Blue Bins.

Dog owners and dog walkers should note that dog waste including bags may be placed in the Green Bins. Plastic bags will be separated out of the organics stream at the processing facility. If there is no Green Bin in your park, please put dog waste in the Garbage Bin or bring it home to add to your organic waste.


Public Meetings

Hydro One “Power Downtown Toronto” Class Environmental Assessment

Online now, Open House in November TBC

Hydro One has identified a need to replace an underground cable located between the Esplanade Transformer Station (TS) and Terauley TS that was installed in the 1950s and is critical in supplying power to the downtown core.Replacing the cables is subject to a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) process to study potential effects and alternative routes. A public open house will be held in the fall of 2019. To sign up for updates, learn more about the proposal, and provide early feedback please visit https://www.talkpowerdowntownto.ca/. You can download the EA Notice of Commencement here. 


Community Events

Summer Music in the Garden concert series

June 28 - September 16, opening performance June 28th at 7pm

Toronto Music Garden, 479 Queens Quay West
The popular Summer Music in the Garden concert series returns for its 19th season by the shores of Lake Ontario. Treat yourself to 18 free concerts this summer, featuring outstanding artists and a wide range of musical styles.

Concerts take place in the Toronto Music Garden on most Thursdays at 7pm and Sundays at 4pm, and are approximately one hour in length. Bench seating is limited, so feel free to bring a blanket or lawn chair – and don't forget your hat or umbrella and sunscreen as shade is also limited.

CITE: A Celebration of Skateboard Arts & Culture

June 30 – August 12, 2018 (Opening Celebration June 30th & July 1st, 10 AM – 11 PM))

The Bentway (beneath the Gardiner Expressway from Strachan Ave to Bathurst Ave)

Starting this weekend, The Bentway will transform our beloved ice skating trail into a pop-up skateboard park as part of CITE: a 6-week celebration of skateboard arts and culture.

Running from June 30 to August 12, CITE will include:

  • Launch weekend celebrations (June 30 & July 1) featuring live music, a marketplace of local vendors, food & beverage delights, trick contests, and meet-the-pros opportunities
  • A sculpture garden of "skate-able" public art sculptures on The Bentway Skate Trail, open daily for public free skate
  • Recurring learn-to-skateboard clinics and creative workshops targeting youth
    And much more!

Alexandra Park Splashpad and Dancepad Official Opening

Friday, July 6th 3 p.m.

Just south of Scadding Court Community Centre in Alexandra Park

Summer is finally here, and to celebrate join Councillor Cressy to officially open the new Alexandra Park splashpad and dancepad.

Sign Unveiling and community party at Campbell Russell Lane

Sunday, July 8th, 12pm

103 Bellevue Avenue (at college)

Please join us for the unveiling of the new Campbell Russell Lane, in memory of Reverend Campbell Russell. The Laneway dedication will begin immediately following the 10:30a.m. service at Saint Stephen-in-the-Fields Church.

All are welcome to attend the pre-lane name ceremony service and the dedication. Refreshments and entertainment will be provided.

Community Visioning: Future Mirvish Village Park

Monday, July 9th 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

CSI Main floor, 720 Bathurst St.

In July 2017, after years of working together, City Council approved the redevelopment plan for Mirvish Village.

One of the critical components of the approved project plan is the creation of a new public park on the east side of Markham Street. The very first session to discuss the vision of the future new park will be held on July 9th 6:30-8:30pm.

Please join us to share your comments. As future users of the park, participate in this exciting process as your input will be used to inform Westbank’s submission to the City for final approvals.  

For more information on the Mirvish Village redevelopment, click here.

Huron Street Playground DOLA Design Consultation

Monday, July 16th 7p.m.-9p.m.

Friends House, 70 Lowther Ave

In 2016, we worked with the local community, the Annex Residents’ Association and grades 1 & 2 classes at Huron Street Public School to revitalize the Huron Street Playground. Understanding the budget restrictions for the playground revitalization, I promised to initiate a Phase 2 process to design the addition of a small Dogs Off Leash Area in the western side of the park. This meeting will be the first opportunity to hear from City staff and offer feedback on this phase. See you there!

Arts in the Park: Porch View Dances in Vermont Square Park  

July 18th to 22nd

Vermont Square Park

Arts in the Parks has begun its 2018 season, returning to neighbourhoods throughout Toronto once again. In collaboration with PFR, Toronto Arts Council, and Park People, Toronto Arts Foundation is supporting free theatre, dance, music and community arts performances, and workshops in parks outside the downtown-core.

Between July 18th-22nd, Kaeja d’Dance will present Porch View Dances in Vermont Square Park. The audience of this event will travel from house to house to see new dance works created with professional choreographers and performed by residents on their own properties.

The performance ends at the park where all audience members are invited to participate in the dance. Porch View Dances celebrates the stories of everyday people and makes professional art accessible to all - encouraging community building, enjoyment of local parks, and offering arts events for residents and tourists of all ages. We look forward to seeing you there!

Waterfront Artisan Market

Until October 6th

Every Saturday (11am-8pm) and Sunday (11am-5pm)

HTO Park, 339 Queens Quay West

The Waterfront Artisan Market brings together a carefully curated mix of artisans, crafters, chefs and bakers at a unique, open-air market on Toronto’s Waterfront. It’s a great event to grab a bite to eat and shop from local vendors.


Farmers Markets are Back!

Please see below details for more information

John Street Farmers’ Market

June to October

Every Wednesdays 3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Location: St. George-the-Martyr Anglican Church (on Grange Park)

Metro Hall "Indulge" Farmers' Market, David Pecaut Square

May 24 to October 11

Every Thursday 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Location: David Pecaut Square/ Metro Hall, 55 John Street

Bloor-Borden MyMarket

June 3rd to October 28th

Every Wednesday 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Location: Parking lot at Bloor and Lippincott


Construction Updates

John Street Cultural Corridor

(John Street: Stephanie Street to Queen Street West south side, Queen Street West: Beverley Street to just east of John Street)

Construction Window: Phase 1 May 14 – December 30, 2018.

The City of Toronto is working to transform John Street into a “cultural corridor” by redesigning the streetscape between Front Street and Stephanie Street. The John Street Corridor Improvements project aims to create a better experience for pedestrians by enhancing the streetscape. These improvements will lead to an environment that is accessible, beautiful and pedestrian-friendly and that accommodates the many events and festivals held along John Street.

Some underground construction work to support the streetscape improvements by utility companies has already begun ahead of the city contract for construction work. Toronto Hydro is the first utility partner and will begin electrical and civil work improvements on John Street north of Queen Street and on Queen Street between John and Beverley streets.

You can find more information about this project at toronto.ca/johnstreet 


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.