The Cressy Courier November 15 - Saving our small and independent businesses, winter services updates, and much more
My partner Grace and I are thrilled to announce the recent birth of our first child, Jude O’Connell Cressy.
Over the next couple weeks my office will be open and my incredible team will be working as hard as ever for our city. I will be taking some time to focus on caring for my newborn son, and the magnificent Grace. I look forward to returning to City Hall shortly after starting this adventure.
Please read below for updates on City services in response to the first snowfall of the season, as well as projects and initiatives in progress throughout Ward 10.
As always, do not hesitate to get in touch with my office should you have any questions or concerns.
Congratulations Joe and Family!
The Ward 10 team would like to send our heartfelt congratulations to Joe and his wife Grace on the arrival of their son Jude!
Saving Our Small and Independent Businesses
A two-story French restaurant taxed as if it was a 12 story condo. If it sounds silly, it’s because it is. The Provincial ‘highest and best use’ tax system is fundamentally flawed and putting arts, culture, heritage and independent businesses at risk.
This morning I spoke out, alongside Councillor Mike Colle, Frédéric Geisweiller (owner of Le Select Bistro), and Bonnie de Merlis (owner of The Sign of the Skier in Ward 8), about this flawed tax assessment system. For Le Select Bistro, a recent property re-assessment based on 'highest and best use' has resulted in a tax increase of 239 per cent since 2016 alone.
Under this flawed system, we risk losing small and independent businesses like Le Select, which has been operating since 1977 and employs more than 80 people. Small and independent business shouldn’t have to fight to stay in a neighbourhood they have been crucial parts of for decades, they should be able to thrive.
Last term the same Provincial tax model put 401 Richmond, Artscape and other cultural hubs at risk. It took years, but we worked with the Province and fixed the system for cultural hubs. We need a similar solution for small and independently owned businesses.
Imagine taxing someone on their income potential, not their actual income. This is what’s happening to small and independent businesses, and it’s time to fix this broken Provincial tax policy. This is why Councillor Colle and I will be bringing a motion to City Council calling on the Province to address this flawed system and save our small and independent businesses.
Safety and Accessibility in Winter Months - Pushing for Sidewalk and Bike Lane Snow Clearing
In early 2019, City Council requested a report to review winter operations after an onslaught of issues in the downtown related to the safe clearing of sidewalks and streetcar disruptions from the previous winter. Recommendations from the resulting report made it clear that Toronto needs a more robust approach to snow removal, and that 96% of Toronto residents would support increased sidewalk snow removal services.
Snow clearing is an issue of equity and accessibility. Currently, the City only clears sidewalks of snow in certain areas of the city - and, not in our downtown communities. When a sidewalk isn’t cleared, there are large groups of people whose lives become incredibly disrupted. Whether you are someone with accessibility requirements, an aging person, or new parents with a stroller, our services need to evolve alongside the growing needs of our residents. Further, since we have committed as a City to taking action on climate change we need to implement services that allow residents to build a greater reliance on active, or public transportation.
At the last Infrastructure and Environment Committee, Councillor Mike Layton brought forward an amendment that I supported, to be voted on at City Council that would have pushed our winter services forward in a way that would address significant problems outlined in the original report. The motion would have increased the scope of the sidewalk clearing pilot and enhanced clearing of bike lanes, but despite last winter's issues, Council voted to shut down the debate on snow clearing in our downtown communities.
We can already anticipate the frustrations of the upcoming winter season, clear from the response to the recent early winter snowstorm. but want to stress that we will continue to fight for service changes at upcoming 2020 Budget Committee meetings.
For a detailed account on what happened with the motion at City Council, you can read this article from the Toronto Star.
Aitken Place Park - Now Open
Aitken Place Park is the latest new green space to be opened on Toronto’s Waterfront. Located in the East Bayfront, this park joins Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common as part of the network of connected spaces that will serve this new neighbourhood. Aitken Place is designed as a more intimate space for relaxation with community uses including a playground and a dog off leash area.
Extreme Cold Weather Alerts
This past Tuesday, based on information from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, issued the City’s first Extreme Cold Weather Alert of the season.
The Medical Officer of Health will issue an Extreme Cold Weather Alert when Environment and Climate Change Canada forecasts a temperature of -15° C or colder, or a wind chill of -20° C or colder, for the City of Toronto. Extreme Cold Weather Alerts may also be issued when the forecast includes factors that increase the impact of cold weather on health. The factors include precipitation, low daytime temperatures, or several days and nights of cold weather in a row.
Exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health. Hypothermia occurs when the body's core temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius and can have severe consequences, including organ failure and death. Frostbite can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes and, in severe cases, can lead to amputation when deeper tissues freeze.
Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people experiencing homelessness or those who are under-housed, those who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart condition or respiratory illness, seniors, infants and young children. People with heart problems can experience worsening of their condition up to several days after cold weather occurs.
Extreme Cold Weather Alerts activate local services that focus on getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside. A warming centre is open at Metro Hall by 7 p.m. the day an alert is called, and remains open continuously until noon on the day an alert is terminated. Other services include notification to community agencies to relax any service restrictions, availability of transit tokens in some drop-ins, and additional overnight street outreach.
Throughout the year, 24-hour respite sites provide meals, places to rest, and service referrals at locations across the city. People can call 311 for locations and to connect to Central Intake for a referral. Homeless Help lists site information at toronto.ca/homelesshelp.
The City asks that residents help vulnerable people by calling 311 if there is a need for street outreach assistance. Call 911 if the situation is an emergency.
For more information and tips for staying warm during cold weather visit the City’s website here.
Dovercourt Road Reconstruction - building a safer street
In 2020, Dovercourt Road between Dundas and Sudbury, is scheduled for a full reconstruction. This is an opportunity to make a number of improvements, including: watermain replacement, intersection improvements, sidewalk replacement, and traffic calming. We have heard many traffic safety concerns with respect to Dovercourt, and myself and Councillor Bailao have been working closely together to ensure we can build a safer street on Dovercourt.
Last month, we held an open house to gather feedback on the options for traffic calming. You can also view the presentation materials and provide feedback by visiting www.toronto.ca/dovercourt.
Stay tuned for updates on what will be implemented next year.
Improving Road Safety at Bathurst & Wellington
There is no number of injuries or deaths that should be considered acceptable on our city’s streets, and we must transform our streets to make them safe for all people no matter how they get around.
Bathurst and Wellington is one of our downtown intersections that I have heard safety concerns about from many residents and cyclists. Following these concerns, I asked staff in Transportation Services to recommend safety improvements, and they proposed the installation of new traffic control signals here.
I am pleased to report that staff recommendations to install traffic control signals at this intersection were approved at Community Council last week. I would like to thank all the local residents and community leaders who advocated for this in order to improve safety at this busy intersection.
This is just one important component of our work together to improve safety on local streets in the area. I am working with City staff to advance additional traffic calming measures and road safety improvements, and advocating for more. Please also stay tuned to learn more about cycling infrastructure improvements planned for Wellington Street and Niagara Street coming soon.
Supporting New and Emerging Artists in Our Communities
At the City of Toronto we must do more to support new and emerging artists. And, in our increasingly unaffordable city, we can look to utilize city-owned property to support DIY music and cultural creation.
New and emerging musicians don’t just start out performing at the Horseshoe or the Danforth Music Hall. That’s why these small, affordable and accessible cultural spaces are so critical. As property values and rents rise, and DIY spaces become harder to operate, our City can help.
Our Toronto Music Advisory Committee has endorsed a proposal to do just this. As the Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee, I am thrilled we are moving forward with this critical work.
Expanding Victoria Memorial Square Park
As our downtown communities grow and become more dense with residents, jobs, and visitors, it is increasingly important that we are making the most of our existing parks and public spaces. That is why I moved a motion last week at Community Council to move forward with expanding Victoria Memorial Square and transforming the surplus paved space adjacent to the park.
Victoria Memorial Square Park is a heavily-used public park near the intersection of Wellington Street West and Bathurst Street, which has at its centre the earliest known cemetery associated with Fort York and the Town of York. At least 400 people were buried there before the cemetery was closed in 1863. In the 2000s, as a new residential neighbourhood grew up around it, the local community and the City of Toronto undertook a major revitalization to rehabilitate the park and celebrate its past. Due to the high volume of activity in the park today, it requires intensive ongoing maintenance by City staff to keep up with wear and tear.
Wellington Street West is a public street that forms the northern limit of Victoria Memorial Square and for most of this boundary, the pavement is unusually wide. The extra pavement does not extend to the Bathurst Street intersection so it is not useful for the movement of vehicles or bicycles; instead, it is presently a common location for illegal parking. Although this surplus paved space will be a small increase to the area of the park, in the local context every square metre is meaningful.
I would like to give a special thanks to the Wellington Place Neighbourhood Association for their leadership on this initiative.
Opening the New Jean Lumb Lane
Jean Lumb left an indelible mark on the City of Toronto. She helped save our historic Chinatown, improved the health of women across Toronto, and fought to stop systemic discrimination. Earlier this month I was thrilled to officially open the new Jean Lumb Lane, alongside her family members and our community.
Toronto's First Snowfall of the Year
With the earliest first snowfall since 2007, the City welcomed the arrival of most of its snow clearing equipment earlier this week. Staff have made sure that salt supplies have been replenished, and snow response technology has been maintained or enhanced including weather stations and asphalt temperature readers. The City's plow location web app has been improved and will be activated on December 1.
But it’s not all about the activity on the surface – City staff are also monitoring and dealing with the infrastructure below the streets. Cold weather and rapid swings between thaw and freezing temperatures can cause an increase in watermain breaks. City staff are ready to respond to service calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Since we know watermain breaks tend to increase during the cold winter months causing sudden water service disruptions, this week the City launched the No Water Map. It's a live map on the City's website that will give customers quick access to information about emergencies and planned water service disruptions, including the location and cause of the disruption and estimated time of restoration.
Information on the map will be updated as additional details become available so please check back regularly. City staff will continue to deliver notifications (door hangers or notices) to homes, high-rises or businesses in addition to providing the No Water Map.
Cold weather can also cause pipes inside the home and on private property to freeze. Residents are reminded to prepare their pipes for winter by wrapping foam pipe insulation around pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls and in crawl spaces, attics and garages. It is also important to seal air leaks around windows and doors, and to disconnect hoses and drains and shut the outdoor water supply.
Residents can learn more about how to prepare for extreme weather and weatherproof their homes at toronto.ca/extremeweatherready.
Forestry crews are also preparing for winter maintenance and emergency response. Winter storms such as blizzards, ice storms and heavy snowfalls may create hazardous conditions and increased damage to trees. In the event of a severe storm, and a City tree or its limbs have fallen and caused damage or are blocking roads, please remember to call 311, do not submit an online request if the storm damage response is urgent. 311 Toronto will then determine the level of priority and create a service request. An Urban Forestry inspector will investigate accordingly. More information can be found online here.
Links to important snow clearing pages:
Links to important water pages related to cold weather:
Kids Talk Vaccines
Last month, Toronto Public Health released our new 'Kids Talk Vaccines' advertising campaign, which has been placed across the city in 165 bus shelters, on YouTube and social media, and on big screens at Yonge & Dundas Square. The campaign is a part of our efforts to scale up our work to promote vaccinations and build a healthy city. Click here to watch the Kids Talk Vaccines videos.
Not Down the Drain
Do you know what can and can’t go down your drain? Putting the wrong things in your pipes can cause basement flooding, pollute rivers and Lake Ontario, and clog municipal pipes.
To help keep pipes working well, please do not flush or put the following products down the drain:
- Hygiene products (i.e. sanitary supplies, condoms, wipes).
- Fats, oils and cooking grease.
- Medication (i.e. pills or liquid).
- Household hazardous waste (i.e. paints, pesticides, cleaning products).
For more information, please visit http://www.toronto.ca/notdownthedrain.
Public Meetings & Community Events
Quayside Public Briefing
Tuesday, November 19th, 6:00-9:00pm
Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), 255 Front Street West
North Building, Level 200, Room 206
Waterfront Toronto is holding a Public Briefing on Quayside to share an update on the October 31, 2019 proposal realignment with Sidewalk Labs, an explanation of how the threshold issues have been addressed, and the next steps as the realigned proposal moves forward to formal evaluation. RSVP and learn more here.
OssFest 2020 Bingo Fundraiser
Thursday November 28th, 7:00-9:00pm
The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave
Did you love OssFest 2019? Then support your local community in raising funds to ensure another successful year in 2020! Street Festivals are amazing and support the local residents, businesses and community. Click here for more info.
Osler Playground Revitalization - Community Visioning Session
Wednesday December 11th, 6:30-8:30pm
Senor Santo Cristo (currently being used by University of Toronto Schools), 30 Humbert St.
I am pleased that we have been able to identify funding for a full-scale revitalization of Osler Playground, which will include the addition of a dogs-off-leash-area (DOLA), playground upgrades, track improvements and other water feature and park improvements. Please join me at the Community Visioning kick-off meeting to start our work together in re-visioning this critical community space.
Liberty Village Park Improvements - Community Open House
Thursday December 12th 2019, 6:30-8:00pm
69 Lynn Williams (Liberty on the Park), party room
Over the last number of months, I have been working closely with City of Toronto Parks staff on plans for improvements to Liberty Village park. Join us to review the updated plans, which now include the addition of a splash pad.
Public Drop-in Event: Strachan-Douro-Wellington Cycling Connections
Monday, December 9th 2019, 6:00-8:00pm
Trinity Recreation and Community Centre - Activity Room (155 Crawford St)
The City of Toronto is studying potential cycling improvements on Strachan Avenue, Douro Street, and Wellington Street West, that could improvement connections to the King-Liberty Pedestrian and Cycling Bridge (opening this spring) and the future West Toronto Railpath Extension.
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.