The Cressy Courier: Waterworks update, compost days, and more!

Dear friend,

After more than 2 years of work, I couldn't be more excited that City Council voted in favour of our 505 Richmond Street Revitalization earlier today. An innovative partnership between the City, the YMCA, Artscape, Build Toronto, MOD Developments and Woofcliffe Landmark Properties for a comprehensive revitalization of the historic Waterworks building at Richmond and Brant (505 Richmond St W.), I couldn't be prouder of the work we've done together.

The Revitalization includes: a brand new 54,000 sq. ft YMCA, built in partnership with the City of Toronto, 15 new affordable housing units administered by Artscape, residential market housing, an expanded Saint Andrew's Playground to reclaim the west parking lot, extensive heritage restoration and conservation, a dynamic food hall 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 operating at the Brant Street end of the building.

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.

Thank you to the Garment District Neighbourhood Association and countless community members who worked tirelessly with us over the past 2 years to move this project forward. As we continue towards final site plan details and construction, stay tuned to my website for continued updates. 

Take a look below for more updates on our work to build our neighbourhoods and a more equitable and fair city.

Take care,

Joe 

Budget 2017 concluded - and balanced on the backs of our most vulnerable

On February 15, City Council approved the 2017 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 balancing the budget by cutting services for our city's most vulnerable, seniors in our communities, and families, while increasing user fees for recreation programs, transit and more, was not acceptable.

Unfortunately, the majority of City Council and Mayor Tory, voted to cut the Budget for our Shelter system and services as a way to balance the 2017 Budget. While urgently finding almost $2 million dollars to increase street-sweeping at the 11th hour, Council voted to cut frontline shelter staff that serve the most vulnerable in our shelter system. 

Rather than reasonably increasing taxes so that we all collectively pay a little more and share in building our city, TTC fares and user fees are going up for families, children, and those who rely on our services. I will continue to work hard to push for a fair tax increase, so that we can all collectively build our city. I will also continue to advocate for progressive new revenue sources, to ensure that everyone in our communities has access to the support and services they need.

Shortly after the Budget vote, I joined CBC's Metro Morning to discuss my disappointment, and commitment to continuing to push for more support for our city's shelter system.

Despite these cuts, we've continued to hear from our community that our shelter system remains over capacity – an emergency situation. To ensure we are doing everything we can to respond, I submitted a joint letter with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam at this month's Community Development and Recreation Committee, directing city staff to report back on the work being done to address the emergency crisis. I look forward to continuing our dialogue and work on this when the report is brought forward at the coming April meeting.


Bloor Street bike lanes pilot project - update

As the 1-year Bloor Street bike lane pilot project continues, preliminary data on the project was released earlier in February. The preliminary data, collected in early October (6 weeks after the installation was complete), shows the number of cyclists are up, with the City's survey showing that most drivers and cyclists now feel safer. Vehicle travel times certainly do need improvement, but changes are on the way to continue to improve the way the pilot is working.

Preliminary data collection includes an opinion survey, travel-time studies and volume counts for all modes of traffic taken in June and October 2016, before and after installation of the bike lanes.

Preliminary findings include:

  • A 36 per cent increase in the number of cyclists using Bloor Street has been recorded since the installation of the pilot, with about 25 per cent of the increase being new cycling trips;
  • About 63 per cent of drivers surveyed indicated they feel comfortable driving next to cyclists on Bloor Street, compared to 14 per cent surveyed in 2015 before installation of the pilot;
  • More than 10,800 online surveys were collected, showing a broad level of support for the bike lanes on Bloor Street. Local residents are generally supportive of the initiative (64 per cent), while businesses are somewhat supportive (53 per cent). About nine out of 10 cyclists are in favour of the pilot project (92 per cent), while about one-third of motorists are supportive (34 per cent); and
  • Vehicle travel times have increased on Bloor Street between Bay Street and Ossington Avenue by an average of four minutes in the morning “rush hour” period and about 8.5 minutes in the afternoon rush hour period.

The City is continuing to work with partners to measure and evaluate the pilot project through:

  • a partnership with Miovision and the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute to capture and analyze multi-modal traffic data to study changes to traffic operations and safety impacts during the pilot project;
  • multimodal video traffic counts and GPS-tracked travel time analysis studies conducted by Ontario Traffic Inc. to be taken in June 2017 – 10 months after installation;
  • parking utilization data collected by the Toronto Parking Authority, and
  • an economic impact study by the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation in partnership with the University of Toronto, local Business Improvement Areas, the Metcalf Foundation, and the City of Toronto’s Transportation Services and Economic Development & Culture divisions.

To address the travel time impacts and continue to improve the way the pilot works, the City will be making traffic flow improvements including signal retiming, enhanced signage, and intersection modifications following the first phase of measurement.

A report detailing the performance evaluation of the pilot project will be presented to City Council in the fall.

More information about the findings is available at toronto.ca/bloorbikelanes.


Building a supportive community - Kensington Market Overdose training event

Recently, our Kensington Market community demonstrated the best of us as we work to build a supportive community. I was proud to join staff from The Boat and the Kensington Market BIA for an Overdose training session for bar and restaurant owners and staff in February. Almost 100 people attended this important initiative that demonstrates how we can truly work together to build community and care for all our friends and neighbours. Special thanks to the Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre and the TRIP project for conducting the training for our local businesses.

Earlier in February, I was also proud to join hundreds of activists for the National Day of Action on Overdose, calling for all levels of government to come together to address this urgent and growing crisis in our communities. I also look forward to Toronto Public Health bringing forward our Toronto Overdose Action Plan this spring, to ensure we have a pro-active and comprehensive plan to care for all our community members, and come together to prevent further deaths due to overdose.


It's that time of year again - Community Compost Days 2017!



This spring, I am hosting 7 Compost Days to help gardeners in our ward prepare for the growing season! This compost from your leaf and yard waste that the City collects as part of the waste reduction and recycling program. Check your mailboxes in the coming weeks for a helpful reminder of these dates.

Please remember to bring your own shovels and containers to collect your free compost. 

1) Central Tech School, parking lot

Date: April 9th
Time: 10-12pm

2) Jean Sibelius Square

Date: April 9th
Time: 1-3pm

3) Bellevue Square Park (corner of Augusta and Denison)

Date: April 29th
Time: 10am-12pm

Stay tuned for confirmed dates in the Grange, Bathurst Quay and more in the coming weeks!


King Street Pilot Study - Online survey

King Street is the busiest surface transit route in the entire City, carrying more than 65,000 riders on a typical weekday. It is a critical downtown spine, connecting neighbourhoods, the largest employment centre in the entire country, and diverse urban forms and uses. It's time for a big move on King St. to make it work better now, and be a bold transit node as we continue to grow.

Recently at the first public consultation on the project, almost hundreds of people came out to learn about the project principles, proposals, and to give city staff critical feedback on how we can make King Street work better. The City has now launched an online survey to continue to gather your thoughts and ideas on how we can design a better King Street.

The King Street Pilot Study is about testing out how to redesign King Street to achieve three broad city-building objectives: moving people on transit more efficiently, improving placemaking and the public realm, and supporting business and economic prosperity.

In this survey, the City wants to hear your feedback about three key aspects of the pilot being explored in this phase of work:

1. How should we evaluate success of the pilot project?
2. What is your preference of three different block design options being considered?
3. Where along King Street should we undertake the pilot?

Please click here to complete the survey, and stay tuned for more opportunities to get involved in coming months.


Bellevue Square Park - update



For the past few months, the contractors at Bellevue Square have been doing site preparation and preliminary demolition. Now, with this unusually warm weather, they have determined that they are ready to begin the full scope of work. We're very excited that the work is getting started earlier than anticipated.

We've already gotten a bit of a head start and now we are able to really get things moving. All of the park is now fenced off as a construction zone, but this means that we are that much closer to our new and improved Bellevue Square Park!

I look forward to celebrating the re-opening of the new park at the end of this year.


Construction update - The Bentway 

Launched in November 2015, The Bentway is an exciting partnership that aims to create a new public landscape under the section of the Gardiner Expressway from Strachan to Spadina. The project will transform more than 10 acres into vibrant community spaces that will host cultural programming, a 1.75 kilometre multi-use trail, a pedestrian and cycling bridge over Fort York Boulevard, an ice skating plaza, and more.

I am pleased to share with you the first in a series of project construction updates. Construction staff will be on-site starting early this month, and will begin construction in the weeks to come. This process will continue through the winter and spring of 2018. Throughout this process, access to the Fort York National Historic Site and the Fort York Visitor Centre, as well as events, will be maintained.

Over the coming months, as construction progresses, the Conservancy will be sure to share more project updates with you.


New dogs off-leash area in Canoe Landing Park

I am very excited to announce that the brand new dogs-off leash area in Canoe Landing Park in CityPlace is almost complete! The first step in our longer-term plan to create spaces for all park users, including our four-legged friends, we are delighted that this space is now up and running, with a few additional improvements still to come. After our work together in late 2015 and early 2016 to discuss use and space in Canoe Landing – through our community open house, CityPlace parks survey with the CityPlace Residents Association, and more – we heard loud and clear that space for dogs was needed in the neighbourhood.

As we continue to build a liveable community in CityPlace, it's critical that we work hard to manage and share our cherished community assets. As both back yard and gathering space, our parks are critical for the livability of our downtown neighbourhoods. I am working hard to ensure that these benefits are available and accessible for all residents and user groups.

In the near future, there are more great improvements coming to the neighbourhood. We can look forward to two new schoolsa community centre, the brand new Mouth of the Creek Parkthe Bentway, not to mention the exciting developments on Rail Deck Park, our proposal to build 21 acres of new parkland over the rail corridor in our community. 

We know that around 12% of CityPlace residents have a canine member of the family. With the continuing growth in our vertical communities, the need for a designated, fenced space for dogs to run off leash is clear. As we discussed at our Open House and in our survey, the newly installed dogs-off leash area is the first step in our long-term solution to designate spaces for dogs in the neighbourhood. Moving forward, The Bentway – the exciting Under Gardiner project – is set to include a destination dogs-off leash area, as part of the multi-million dollar 1.75km new public space underneath the Gardiner, at the South end of Canoe Landing. The design of this space is set to begin once structural work on the Expressway is complete, and Phase 1 of project has been completed. I look forward to working together to design this new and exciting space, and to working together to move forward to program and share our community spaces.

As we work to get to know this brand new fenced space for dogs, let's all work together to use and share the space with respect and patience for all our friends and neighbours.

Looking forward to seeing how this new addition to Canoe Landing contributes to the community.


Protecting our Queen Street Community - 170 Spadina OMB update

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has rejected a proposal for a 17-storey mixed use building at 170 Spadina Avenue, located on the West side of Spadina, just North of Queen. At the hearing, the City strongly defended the interests of the community and argued that the proposal did not fit harmoniously into the existing physical context of the area – this is the position that the Board ultimately agreed with. 

The original owner of the property, Tri Win International, appealed their original 19-storey application to the OMB in August 2014. The site was subsequently sold to Queen Spadina Residences Corp. Although some revisions were made (including to the height of the building to 17-storeys) the new owner ultimately decided to continue the appeal process.

In issuing its decision rejecting the applicant's proposal, the Board also outlined a set of conditions under which it would consider a revised proposal, should the applicant agree to proceed in this manner. One of these conditions is that the height of the building shall be a maximum of 12 storeys and shall not exceed the width of the Spadina Avenue right of way. Other conditions relate to the distance between surrounding properties and appropriate transition to these buildings.

Should the applicant be willing to revise its proposal to fit these conditions, the Board will withhold its Order for six months to allow the parties to work toward a mutually acceptable resolution. If no resolution is reached, the Board will  then issue an Order dismissing the appeal.

Thank you to the community and City Staff in Planning and Legal Services who worked hard for this outcome. We will continue to update the community as we learn more about whether the applicant will agree to work with the City on a revised proposal in keeping with the above conditions, and on our work to ensure sustainable and manageable development in the area.


Planning for Stormwater Management

The City has launched its public consultations on a potential Stormwater Charge. Currently stormwater management is funded from the water rate, but the proposed change would have a dedicated charge, specific to dealing with stormwater management. 

You can provide your input on this change during the City's public consultation process. There will be a meeting on March 30th at Metro Hall (in the Rotunda) from 4-9pm. For a full list of the public meetings, please click here.

Residents are also encouraged to learn more on the website here and fill out the City's online survey here.


Central Tech Stadium - March Break hours

The Central Tech Facility will be open for free community use from March 13-17 for March Break. Each holiday season, there will be free community holiday hours, as set out in the OMB Minutes of Settlement. 

During this week, field time will be made available from 9am - 12pm.

For more information, you can visit their website here.


City of Toronto launches new Human Services website 

The City of Toronto's Children's Services, Employment & Social Services and Shelter, Support & Housing Administration divisions have joined forces to launch an integrated website that enables Toronto residents to access information about services and subsidies in one place.

The new Human Services website organizes information by topic, eliminating the need for residents to navigate for information in various areas of the City's website.

Visitors to toronto.ca/humanservices can find information about assistance with child care fees, employment services, as well as financial and housing support, all in one place.

The new website includes a Finder Tool that enables Torontonians to receive a personalized list of benefits, subsidies and services they may qualify for, based on a short questionnaire. The Finder Tool can be accessed at http://www.toronto.ca/humanservices/finder.

In addition to providing information about services and eligibility, the website instructs residents on how to apply for services and subsidies and how to maintain these benefits once they receive them. 


Multilingual Services Policy Review - survey

The City would like your thoughts about how and when information is made available in other languages.  We are seeking your experiences and feedback on this topic as the City is currently reviewing its Multilingual Services Policy to ensure it continues to meet the needs of Toronto's diverse communities.

To access the survey, please click here.

This survey is also available in the following languages: Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Tamil, Tagalog, Italian, Portuguese, Farsi, Russian, Urdu, Korean and French.  To access these languages, please use the menu in the top right corner of the survey page. 




Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities

In November 2016, Planning & Growth Management Committee considered City Planning's report on Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities

Through the development of guidelines and possible policy direction, the Growing Up study will encourage new multi-unit residential developments to include family suitable housing. The Study seeks to implement Official Plan policies which aim to provide a full range of housing across the city by specifically addressing the needs of households with children at three scales: the unit, the building and the neighbourhood.  

Staff have been working to prepare draft guidelines and policy directions that will be presented to the Planning & Growth Management Committee in the first half of 2017.   

City Planning has also launched a short survey to help inform which guidelines at the unit and building scales, families with children see as priorities.  

I would encourage you to fill out the survey to provide your input on the study.


Serve Your City: Upcoming City of Toronto appointment opportunities

Do you want to make a difference? This fall, the City of Toronto will be recruiting more than 70 public member positions across 20 boards. Bring your skills and experience to the table!

Toronto residents are needed to serve on a range of City boards and committees. Board members provide oversight of their agency or corporation, bring a community perspective to board discussions, and help to reflect the needs and interests of Torontonians.

Service Agencies – Apply by the deadlines listed below

  • Exhibition Place Board (Apply by March 31, 2017) – 2 positions
  • Heritage Toronto Board (Apply by March 31, 2017) – 11 positions
  • Toronto Atmospheric Fund (Apply by March 31, 2017) – 3 positions
  • Yonge-Dundas Square Board (Apply by March 31, 2017) – 2 positions

To learn more about these opportunities and apply online, visit www.toronto.ca/ServeYourCity.


Upcoming Sewer Main Re-lining Projects - Coronation Park Trail and Borden Street

Over the coming weeks, the City will be structurally re-lining the sewer main in the following areas:

Coronation Park Trail

Borden Street (from Lennox Street to Sussex Avenue)

This work is being done to renew aging infrastructure, reduce the risk of leaks, and ensure continued long-term reliable sewer service.


Help grow our city's tree canopy - Street Tree Planting

As you may know, the City owns a portion of land between roadways and private property, known as the public road allowance. Urban Forestry plants and maintains trees on this land to help grow Toronto's urban forest and to reach the City's goal of increasing the tree canopy to 40 per cent.

A property owner can submit a tree planting request for the City-owned road allowance in front of their home or business. This helps improve the tree canopy and beautifies our streets.

I would encourage you to submit a tree planting request online or by phone via 311. 

After the request is made, the City's Urban Forestry staff will then visit the site to confirm the right tree species and determine the ideal planting location. The actual planting will take place during the next planting season (typically spring or fall).


Stay in touch with Trustee Malik

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


Development Meetings

100 Simcoe St – Rezoning application meeting

Date: Tue. March 21, 2017
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Metro Hall, Room 308/309

This is an application for a 59-storey tower including retail, office, and residential uses.

101 Spadina Avenue – Pre-application meeting

Date: Tue. March 21, 2017
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Metro Hall, Room 308/309

This is a proposal for a tower including retail, office, residential, and community uses as well as an underground public parking garage.


Upcoming events

March 18, 2017

Seedy Saturday 2017 (10:00am-3:00pm)
Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas Street W)

Seedy Saturday is your go-to event to buy, sell, and trade heirloom and open pollinated seeds! Come out to learn more about local seed exchange and environmentally responsible gardening practices. For a full list of events, click here.


 

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.