The Cressy Courier March 6 - Staying Informed about COVID-19, Community Building Updates, and More

Dear friends,

As we look forward to spring, I have many updates to share with you in my role as the Chair of the Board of Health regarding the City’s response and preparedness plan for COVID-19, as well as the work that my office is doing to build more liveable and equitable downtown communities in one of the busiest wards in the city. 

Please continue reading below for information on how to stay informed regarding COVID-19, proactive flood mitigation measures along the waterfront and on the Islands, the West Queen West Planning Study, construction of the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan, Canoe Landing Park improvements, new bike lanes on Wellington Street West and Douro Street, and more. 

As always, do not hesitate to contact my office should you have any questions or concerns. 

 

Sincerely,

Joe


Staying Informed - COVID-19 Update

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases outside of China, many Torontonians are understandably concerned. But now is not the time for panic or complacency. Rather, it is important to know the facts and take appropriate precautions. 

Toronto Public Health is working non-stop to prepare for, respond to, and prevent the spread of this virus. 

This morning I joined our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Mayor John Tory to provide a full update on Toronto’s preparedness plan and response to COVID-19. Given the global circumstances, Toronto Public Health is carefully monitoring this matter, and actively working with our City and provincial and federal health partners. We are prepared to scale up additional measures as needed in response to this evolving situation.

More countries are now reporting cases of COVID-19. In response, the Ontario Ministry of Health has expanded the list of designated affected areas beyond mainland China to include Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Iran and Italy. It is important to note that there has been an increase in cases of COVID-19 in Iran, and a small number of individuals in Toronto with recent travel history in this country have contracted COVID-19. Toronto Public Health has followed up with each of these individuals and their contacts.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is now advising those with a recent history of travel in Iran to self-isolate for a period of 14 days after their last day in Iran. This is similar to the advice being given to individuals who have travelled to Hubei Province, China. Toronto residents who have travelled in these areas are asked to call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 within 24 hours of when they arrive in Toronto to receive support and further instructions.

Toronto Public Health continues to advise on the best measures to prevent infection and to avoid exposure to this virus:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds (if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer);
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • avoid close contact with people who are ill;
  • stay home when you are ill;
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands;
  • if you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm; and
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

One of the most important things residents can do to prepare is to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information sources including our website www.toronto.ca/coronavirus. Residents can also call 416-338-7600, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Again, I understand that for many Torontonians this is concerning, and that is completely understandable. The health and safety of Torontonians is our top priority, and Toronto Public Health continues to work non-stop to prepare for any scenario.


West Queen West Planning Study and Heritage Conservation District Plan

One of Toronto’s most important and historic main streets, West Queen West from Bathurst to Roncesvalles has undergone a Planning Study, and I’m pleased to announce that a City staff report with recommendations will be on the March agenda of Community Council. 

We know that this much loved street continues to face redevelopment pressures, and the West Queen West Planning Study will form a comprehensive planning framework to guide the future of Queen Street West between Bathurst Street and Roncesvalles Avenue. The intent of the planning framework is to guide gentle growth and change on West Queen West, while conserving and enhancing the character of the significant number of heritage buildings and public spaces. 

The recommendations arising from the Study are intended to:

  • Guide the height, form and characteristics of new development to ensure it responds appropriately to the existing and planned context of the study and adjacent areas;
  • Conserve and enhance the cultural heritage value and function of Queen St W as a commercial main street; and
  • Provide appropriate transition to adjacent low-rise neighbourhoods.

The Planning Study recommendations will include an Official Plan Amendment that will permit heights up to 6 storeys (20m), with the building stepping back above the 3rd storey (10.5m) and again at the 6th storey (16.5m) to maintain Queen Street's commercial main street character.

The proposed amendments to the Official Plan will also inform civic investment and improvements to transportation infrastructure, public open spaces and community facilities within the area.

An accompanying Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Plan is also underway for West Queen West that will implement guidelines to conserve the cultural heritage value and heritage attributes of the street. Read more about the HCD Plan here.

I would like to thank all of the community members who have attended meetings to provide input throughout the process, as well as Councillors Layton, Perks, and Bailão who requested that City Planning initiate this study. 


Construction Progressing on Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan 

The Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan (BQNP) implementation is proceeding on schedule, and a busy year ahead will bring significant improvements to the Canada Malting property.

This week the project reached a construction milestone with the start of concrete work for the new waterfront promenade. The deck will be poured in four separate segments over the next several months, followed by installation of paving stones and granite benches over the summer and fall. Completion of this new public space on the water's edge is scheduled for October 2020.

 The second of seven total BQNP projects will begin construction in early April 2020, and will deliver a dramatic reduction in the transportation footprint on the property in order to free up new space for a waterfront plaza.

 Also scheduled to start construction this year is the Ireland Park Foundation's Corleck Building, which is the restoration of an existing heritage building on the waterfront into a cultural centre in Bathurst Quay dedicated to sharing Toronto's and Canada's many successful migration stories.

To learn more, please plan to attend any of the following community consultations and project updates throughout March 2020:

March 18: York Quay Neighbourhood Association (YQNA) meeting
March 25: Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel meeting


Canoe Landing Park Improvements - New Playground

CityPlace has seen extensive growth in the last few years, and we have been working hard together to ensure that the appropriate community facilities and infrastructure are in place to foster a safe and inclusive community.

This year the neighbourhood has seen the opening of two new schools and will soon see the opening of a community recreation centre and childcare facility. Additionally, I am excited to share that construction for the new Canoe Landing Playground is underway. The construction and installation of the fenced playground is expected to be completed this summer and will be located just south of the children's splash pad.

I would like to thank all of the CityPlace community members, residents, and parents who contributed feedback for the design of our new playground. Stay tuned for updates! 

Other CityPlace Community Building Updates:

New Schools in CityPlace - Now Open!
Crossing Guards Confirmed for CityPlace Schools
Building New Affordable Housing in CityPlace
Creating Safer Streets in CityPlace


Queen Street West BIA Streetscape Improvements

The Queen Street West BIA has kicked-off the process for their streetscape improvements from Spadina to Simcoe. This will mirror the streetscape improvements that were done from Bathurst to Spadina, improving the public realm, urban forestry, and accessibility along this stretch of Queen West. From Spadina to Simcoe, we will see new trees and tree guards, street furniture and re-paved sidewalks with heritage markers denoting some of the historically significant structures in the area, as well as the possibility of new pedestrian friendly spaces.

Design work is at an early stage, and my office and the City will provide updates as they are available. Construction is scheduled to align with streetcar track improvements, currently scheduled for 2021.


Proactive Flood Mitigation Measures Underway Along the Waterfront and Toronto Islands


Caption: Earlier this week I joined the York Quay Neighbourhood Association and Toronto Islands Community Association for their information town hall on high lake levels and planning for flood mitigation in 2020 and beyond.

The growing climate crisis has been acutely felt on the Toronto Islands and along our waterfront. We have seen record-breaking flooding events over the last three years, with more record high water levels anticipated again this year. In the era of a growing climate emergency, an annual sandbagging effort cannot be a long-term solution.

This is why we have been working year-round, in partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), to ensure that proactive flood mitigation measures are in place, and that significant investments are made to ensure our waterfront and our Toronto Islands are protected. 

Construction for flood mitigation work along Toronto’s waterfront began last week, and will build on the ongoing work to proactively address floods by repairing, remediating and enhancing the resilience of Toronto's waterfront shoreline structures and tree canopy with long-term measures. The City and the federal government have invested $29.592 million towards this critical work through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, with the City contributing more than $17.9 million. To date, three projects have been completed as part of this work and another four are expected to be completed in 2020.

The City and the TRCA have already begun accelerated flood and erosion control work at Toronto Island Park and several waterfront locations. The City is working closely with TRCA to deliver proactive and innovative solutions to mitigate the impacts of high lake water levels and shoreline flooding in Toronto.

Currently, Lake Ontario water levels are more than 12 centimetres above those recorded at the same time last year and record high levels are anticipated again this year. The City will continue to work closely with TRCA to monitor the conditions that contribute to high lake water levels as we move towards spring.

Accelerated flood mitigation work at Toronto Island Park and along Toronto’s waterfront includes:

  • Geotechnical assessment of road raising for 300 metres of Lakeshore Avenue and 200 metres of Cibola Avenue at Toronto Island Park
  • Construction of a Ward's Island beach curb
  • Construction of a berm or an increase in the existing seawall’s height at Algonquin Island, pending the outcome of engineering investigations
  • Drainage improvements to the Cherry Beach off-leash area shoreline
  • Construction of a natural barrier at the Eastern Beaches

These permanent long-term flood mitigation measures build on work completed in previous years. The proactive mitigation efforts implemented in 2018, including erosion control projects, shoreline infrastructure, trail and pathway work, and asset infrastructure, effectively reduced the impact of the 2019 flooding. The City also used a dozen industrial water pumps, 100-foot aquadams and more than 1,000 metre bags and 45,000 sandbags to prevent further damage.

Our Toronto Islands are a jewel of our city and are treasured by residents both on and off the Islands. Toronto Island Park is a well-loved destination, with more than a million visits every year. On busy days in the summer up to 20,000 people ride the ferry in a single day. Our flood mitigation work is not just critical for residents and business on the Islands, it is significant for our entire city. 

As I have said many times before, as the climate crisis accelerates, annual sandbagging cannot be the solution. We are committed to doing everything possible to protect our beloved Toronto Islands, and will continue to work closely with senior City staff and the TRCA to implement long-term flood mitigation plans. I will continue to post updates as they become available. 


Waterfront LRT Progress

Expanding public transit is critical in building communities in which we can move people better and also combat the growing climate crisis. In order to build a connected and sustainable new waterfront, we need to lead development with transit.

In January 2018, after years of work, City Council endorsed the overall Waterfront Transit Network Plan, which would see the creation of a new light rail line across the Waterfront, from beyond the Don River in the east to west of Exhibition Place. In April 2019, City Council endorsed specific design principles for the Union Station-Queens Quay link as part of this project. A funding strategy report for the LRT to Council was delayed due to the changes to the City's transit planning by the Province, but work to advance the project has continued.

City Council, the TTC, and Waterfront Toronto have now approved $41 million in combined funding for the next stage of design for the LRT. The scope of this work includes platform expansion underground at Union Station loop, a new portal to the surface on Queens Quay East, and public realm design for the streetscape from Bay Street to Parliament Street. The scope will also include design of the segment from Parliament Street to Cherry Street, and the planned link from Cherry Street through the rail underpass to Distillery loop. Public consultation on this design process will be held in spring 2020.

Completing design to this Preliminary Design & Engineering '30%' phase will make the project eligible for funding from other orders of government. A report from City staff is now expected in mid-2020 on funding and financing options for the LRT that align with the Province of Ontario-City of Toronto Transit Partnership agreement.

Investing in transit across our Waterfront is critical, and I will continue to advocate for prioritization of Waterfront Transit as the City continues moving forward on transit expansion planning over the coming months

For background information and to sign up for updates on consultations and more, click here.


New Bike Lanes on Douro Street and Wellington Street West


If we are committed to creating safer streets that move more people more quickly, it is critical that we invest in new cycling infrastructure. Expanding the cycling grid across all of our neighbourhoods is one crucial step we must take to ensure our streets are safe for all.

I’m pleased to announce that the Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be receiving a report with recommendations for the City to install new bike lanes on Douro Street between King Street West and Strachan Avenue, and Wellington Street West between Strachan Avenue and Niagara Street. 

These new bike lanes will provide dedicated spaces for cyclists to improve safety for all road users, and will connect to other cycling infrastructure in the area including the King-Liberty Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge, the Garrison Crossing Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge, and eventually with the West Toronto Railpath Extension from Sudbury Street.

Click here to learn more about this project.


Registration for City Summer Camps and Spring/Summer Recreation Programs Begins this Weekend

Registration for City of Toronto summer camps and spring/summer recreation programs in Ward 10 opens on Wednesday, March 11th.

The City is Toronto's largest provider of safe, fun and high-quality recreation programs for people of all ages, skill levels and interests. Summer camps range from basic activity camps to specialty camps including outdoor nature, arts, drama, dance, sports and more. Recreation programs range from beginner swim to lifesaving classes, fitness and general interest as well as adapted and inclusive programs for people with special needs/disabilities.

Residents can prepare for registration with extended customer service hours at 416-396-7378 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 4, 5, 6 and 9. Registering online at efun.toronto.ca is the fastest and easiest way to register.

Registration starts at 7 a.m. on the following four dates:

  • Saturday, March 7 – Etobicoke/York
    • Sunday, March 8 – Scarborough
    • Tuesday, March 10 – North York
    • Wednesday, March 11 – Toronto/East York and West Toronto/York

The registration day for some locations has changed as a result of ward realignments. The locations affected are listed in the online Fun Guide at toronto.ca/data/parks/funguide/districtchanges.html#.

Residents can get tips for registration, browse available programs, create wish lists, and learn more about available programs at toronto.ca/rec. Information on free programs and subsidies for recreation programs is available at toronto.ca/lowcostrecreation.


Get in Touch with Trustee Stephanie Donaldson

Municipal Ward 10 (Spadina-Fort York) is part of TDSB Ward 9, Davenport and Spadina-Fort York. Stephanie Donaldson is the School Board Trustee for TDSB Ward 9. Stay up to date and get in touch with her here.


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