The Cressy Courier: October Council highlights, Rail Deck Park, and more!

Dear friend -- 

As we begin to welcome the Fall season, we're working hard at City Hall and in the community to continue to move forward with our critical community-building work.

Next steps have been approved for Rail Deck Park, local park projects are full steam ahead, and we're making critical investments in services to support all our friends and neighbours. Read through the updates below for more information on these and other projects.

We're also approaching the annual Budget season, where we'll need to come together to have critical conversations about the city we want to live in, the city we want to build, and how to get there. I look forward to working together with all of you to build our vision for an equitable, liveable and sustainable City.

Please get in touch with my office any time with any questions or concerns 

Take care,

Joe

Rail Deck Park - moving forward



I am thrilled that City Council recently approved the first steps to move our plans to build Rail Deck Park forward. Staff will now be working hard to draft Official Plan Amendments to designate the space above the rail corridor as park space and develop a detailed implementation plan to include next steps for negotiating air rights, cost estimates, partnership strategies and funding options. Staff will also be reviewing our current processes for collecting parkland acquisition funds through new developments (Section 42 funds), and well as other growth-related revenue options, and considering how these can be used to ensure that growth in our city really does pay for growth.

As our community grows, we must focus on building neighbourhoods and not just condo towers – that's why we've been working hard together to make the critical and worthwhile investments in community facilities in Ward 20, and continuing efforts to secure much-needed parkland downtown.

With Rail Deck Park, we can address this growing need for green space in our community.  In August, Mayor Tory and I announced our plan to create a new 21 acre public park over the rail corridor from Bathurst Street to Blue Jays Way. Once completed, it will be the size of 16 football fields.  This will be a new and critical resource for our neighbourhoods, and a new central park for all of Toronto.

Building Rail Deck Park won't happen overnight – it will take years. And, it will represent a significant investment for our City. However, to build the city we want – a city that is equitable, liveable and sustainable for all our friends and neighbours – we must invest in the services and infrastructure to do it.  Affordable housing, libraries, community centres, child care services, and new and creative park spaces.

Rail Deck Park is bold, it is ambitious, and it is exactly the type of big project the City of Toronto is ready for.


 October Council Highlights

In addition to the approval of next steps in our plans to build Rail Deck Park, below are additional updates from the October meeting of City Council:

Emergency shelter on Runnymede Road   

Council approved locating a new emergency men’s shelter at 731 Runnymede Rd. in Ward 11, subject to the City securing a lease on reasonable terms for the location. The City-operated shelter will start with 50 beds. More beds could be added in response to extreme weather conditions and over time as needed. Council also supported undertaking a campaign to increase public awareness of homelessness and of the need for shelters across the city.

Support for survivors of domestic violence  

Council gave the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division permission to use funding provided by the Ontario housing ministry to run a pilot program that provides a housing benefit to survivors of domestic violence. Staff estimate that the pilot program will assist about 350 people to secure housing during the next few months.

Cultural Corridor designation      

Council supported providing official City of Toronto recognition of Bloor Street between Bay Street and Bathurst Streets as a Cultural Corridor. More than three million people a year attend exhibitions, performances and events along that section of Bloor Street, with its museums, film screenings, art exhibitions, concerts, culture talks, theatre and architecture. A related Bloor Street Cultural Partnership is made up of, and funded by, member arts organizations. We're proud that this area of Bloor in our community is now officially designated.

Updating tall building setbacks downtown      

Council adopted amendments to Toronto's Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw to update the policies and performance standards for tall downtown buildings' setbacks from lot lines. The changes, which result from the TOcore planning study, provide standards for the planning and design of tall buildings, including appropriate separation distances between buildings. We look forward to continued progress of the TOcore study, to ensure that we can manage growth sustainably and work to build liveable communities.

Managing smokers' litter      

Council approved amendments to the Toronto Municipal Code to require restaurants, bars and nightclubs to keep public sidewalks as well as curbs and gutters around their businesses free from littered cigarette butts and related litter from their patrons. In addition, bars and other entertainment businesses in Toronto will be required to provide disposal containers in outside areas where patrons dispose of cigarette butts. This action is tied to the City's broader efforts to reduce litter in public places. 


Improvements to 24-hour cold weather drop-ins

I am pleased that City Council approved the expansion of our 24-hour cold weather drop-in services for the 2016/17 season, to include a third site and continuous operation from December 15, through January and February. I am happy that City Council approved my motion to allocate $200,000 in new funding to the two existing sites, to conduct desperately needed capital repairs to protect the health of safety of residents accessing the services.

After years of requests from community advocates, two 24-hour cold weather drop-in centres opened in our City last winter.  The centres are designed to be low-barrier, so that couples can use them, bring their pets, and access critical support services. In January 2015, we saw three people die on our streets.  City Council approved the funding for these centres last year, and I was happy to work with Council colleagues to ensure that they opened in time for the 2015-2016 season.

As I wrote in an op-ed for NOW Magazine, an average of 290 individuals used these sites each night in the first seven days of January (a relatively mild winter) – this shows us that the program is desperately needed in our City.  The expansion of these services will address the unfortunate, but growing need for these life-saving services in our City, by providing more spaces throughout the winter months. The two existing sites will also be able to conduct much-needed repairs, such as improvements to hygiene facilities and more.


Alexandra Park Revitalization - update



Recently, we gathered together as a community to officially open Phase 1a of the Alexandra Park Revitalization. Over the last two years, I have been privileged to work with residents, Toronto Community Housing (TCHC), the Atkinson Housing Co-op, and the City to move the Revitalization forward. After years of hard work, led by residents in the community, I couldn't be happier that the brand new townhouses in Phase 1a are now occupied, and Phase 1b is about to begin construction.

We are now entering planning for Phase 2 of the community-led Revitalization, which in addition to continued townhome and apartment replacement and refurbishment, will include: zero displacement of residents, a brand new 1,100 square metre (minimum) community centre, new parks and basketball courts, local social enterprise, bike sharing stations, and more.

I look forward to our continued work together as we embark on Phase 2, and remain committed to expanding affordable housing and community facilities opportunities throughout the project. For more, read the Toronto Star article here.


328 Dupont Development Proposal - update meeting

Join me for a meeting to discuss recent events that have transpired in relation to a development proposal at 328 Dupont Street.

In December 2013City Council directed City Staff to undertake a study of the Dupont Corridor (Ossington Ave. to Kendal Ave.). The study examined land uses, streetscape improvements, urban design and built form guidelines, transportation options, the function and design of Dupont Street, and the impact of the rail corridor on potential development options.

Public meetings were held throughout 2014 and City Council adopted a final report at its meeting on August 25, 2014, which was subsequently appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Site specific applications for a number of sites along the Corridor, including 328 (328, 330, 332, 344, and 358) Dupont, were also received by the City, and appealed to the OMB.

Date: Tuesday October 25th, 6pm
Location: University of Toronto Schools Auditorium (371 Bloor St. W)

View the meeting flyer here.


Huron-Sussex Neighbourhood Plan: Housing Strategy

The development of Huron-Sussex Neighbourhood Plan was an important step for ensuring the long-term vibrancy and stability of the Huron-Sussex neighbourhood. Since I came into office, the Huron-Sussex Residents’ Organization has been working diligently with the University of Toronto and myself to implement the plan.

Most recently, we all worked together to sign a Letter of Agreement to guide the development of a Housing Strategy for the neighbourhood. The strategy will ensure a diverse and stable resident population, as outlined in the Huron-Sussex Neighbourhood Plan, and will guide the occupancy of existing and new housing.

Over the course of the next year we will be involved in consultations to develop this plan and while I am very proud of what has been accomplished thus far, I look forward to the formulation and completion of this strategy next year.

Check out the Huron-Sussex Neighbourhood Plan here


Margaret Fairley Park - update



As we approach the end of construction season, work is wrapping up at Margaret Fairley Park! The playground equipment specialists, Nature's Instruments, were recently on site getting the new climbing structures ready to install. Last week, my office and the Friends of Margaret Fairley Park met on site with Parks staff and the contractor to check up on the status of the ongoing improvements and finalize remaining details. 

We are currently on track for completion by the end of October, but inclement weather may extend construction into early November.


Huron Street Playground



We are making great progress with the work at Huron Street Playground. The current work is focused on improvements to the play structures and grounds themselves but we also recognize the need for Dog Off Leash Areas (DOLA) in the neighbourhood as well. In the planning and design of the playground improvements, a section on the western side of the park was deliberately left open and free from structures so that as we move forward we would be able to take steps towards an official DOLA as Phase 2 of the Huron Street Playground improvements.

Playground improvements should be complete by the New Year and we are looking forward to getting conversations moving towards a new DOLA for the Annex. 


Brunswick-College Parkette



The work at the Brunswick-College Parkette is also moving along well and the park is really starting to take shape. The concrete forms for the planter beds are done and much of the interlock paving is also in place. 

The period for public comment for an official name change from 'Brunswick-College Parkette' to 'The Doctors' Parkette' has recently closed without objection. This puts us one step closer to a new park space with a new name to commemorate the contributions of the many medical professionals who have lived in the neighbourhood. The next step is for the new name is receive formal approval at the November meeting of the Toronto and East York Community Council.

Construction is on track to be complete in early November.


Eva's Phoenix - welcome to the neighbourhood!



I was incredibly proud to join community members, neighbours and Mayor John Tory to officially welcome Eva's Phoenix to our Ward 20 community. A new transitional youth shelter as part of our 505 Richmond Revitalization project, Eva's Phoenix provides housing for 50 youth, aged 16 to 24 years, for up to a full year. Using an integrated, holistic approach, they provide youth with the skills they need to find and maintain housing and employment so they can be self-sufficient when they leave.

We couldn't be happier to welcome them and the critical work they do to the neighbourhood – we're stronger because they're here!


CityPlace Hydro

The repeated power outages that CityPlace endured in late August and early September have been a source of serious concern. On five instances over three weeks, these outages caused serious challenges, with the longest outage lasting for about 18 hours. They disrupted the everyday activities of residents and businesses, caused the loss of a great deal of refrigerated and frozen food, raised health issues for people who rely on air conditioning during hot weather, and effectively stranded anyone who was not able to climb stairs for multiple storeys.

On September 20, I convened a meeting for the CityPlace Residents Association and the CityPlace & Fort York Business Improvement Area to sit down together with Toronto Hydro for a detailed briefing about the cause of these outages and find out what Toronto Hydro has been doing to resolve the problem.

You can find our joint letter issued following the meeting here.

And you can read the latest update form Toronto Hydro by clicking here.

I brought a motion to City Council in October that directed Toronto Hydro to conduct a formal review of these power outages and report back to City Council on preventative measures against any future incidents, the state of electricity capacity and planning in the neighbourhood, and ways to improve communications protocols during major power outages like these. We must be certain and confident that Toronto Hydro has taken all necessary actions to respond to these incidents and avoid any further outages.


Simcoe Bike Lanes - upgrade complete!

I was delighted when the Public Works Committee approved my request, last summer, to upgrade the Simcoe Street bike lanes south of Front Street to provide physical protection for people on bicycles. In the past few weeks these upgrades have been installed, and now there are flexible posts and a wide painted buffer between Front Street and Lake Shore Boulevard, expanding our growing network of protected cycle tracks to include the Southcore neighbourhood. With this safety upgrade, the healthy, sustainable, and congestion-reducing choice to cycle is now more attractive for thousands of residents, workers, and visitors to the area. 


CityPlace & Fort York BIA - first movie night!


Photo credit: Laura Rossi

Our newest business improvement area, the CityPlace & Fort York BIA, is off to a running start! They hosted a screening of the move The Goonies in Canoe Landing Park last month and it was well attended by local residents, who enjoyed the free popcorn and refreshments provided by local businesses.

BIAs are tremendous partners for building vibrant and attractive communities. They are self-funded by local businesses and can undertake such initiatives as street festivals, special events, marketing, services like graffiti-removal, and public realm improvements. I am looking forward to continuing to work with the CityPlace-Fort York BIA on future events and improvements in the neighbourhood.


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 Development Consultations

Waterworks Revitalization (505 Richmond)

Date: Monday, October 24, 2016
Time: Open House at 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7 pm
Location: Metro Hall, Room 310 (55 John St)

The Waterworks Revitalization will include a new 55,000 square ft YMCA facility as well as 15 new units of affordable housing. A re-zoning application has been submitted.

For more information, please visit www.joecressy.com/waterworks.

485-489 Wellington St W

Date: Monday, October 24, 2016
Time: Presentation at 8 pm
Location: Metro Hall, Room 310 (55 John St)

A re-zoning application has been submitted to build a 16-storey mixed use building with 136 residential units and 541 sq m of retail space.

328 Dupont Street

Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Time: 6:00pm
Location: University of Toronto Schools Auditorium (371 Bloor St W)

Join me for a meeting to discuss recent events that have transpired in relation to a development proposal at 328 Dupont Street.

View the meeting flyer here.

College Street Study - Public Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm
Location: United Steelworkers Hall (25 Cecil Street)

City staff have been hard at work incorporating community feedback into the College Street Study, and they are ready to present their recommendations. Join us to learn more about the City's vision for College Street and provide your final round of comments. 

122-128 Peter St and 357-359 Richmond St W

Date: Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Time: Presentation at 6 pm
Location: Metro Hall, Room 308 (55 John St)

A re-zoning application has been submitted to build a 46-storey mixed use building with 435 residential units and commercial uses on the ground floor.

102-118 Peter St and 350-354 Adelaide St W

Date: Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Time: Presentation at 7 pm
Location: Metro Hall, Room 308 (55 John St)

A re-zoning application has been submitted to build a 48-storey mixed use building with 899 residential units and two levels of retail space.


Upcoming events

October 27, 2016

Dupont by the Castle Streetscape Master Plan Open House (4-8pm)
City of Toronto Archives Atrium (255 Spadina Road)

You are invited to join me, members of the Dupont by the Castle BIA, and City staff at an Open House to review the plans in more detail and to learn additional information about the streetscape masterplan that is currently under development. For more information, please see the event flyer here.

November 2, 2016

Kensington Market Historical Society Fall Event - Before the Market: Early Kensington Families (6:30pm)
Lillian Smith Library (239 College Street)

Join the Kensington Market Historical Society for an exploration of some of Kensington Market's earliest families. For more information, see the event flyer here.

November 12, 2016

Toronto's Largest Community Street Sale (11am-5pm)
410 Front Street (northwest corner of Front and Spadina)

Scadding Court Community Centre will be hosting Toronto's Largest Community Street Sale on three Saturdays in November (12th, 19th, and 26th) at their Front-Spadina market. Community groups, non-profits, grassroots initiatives, and local residents are invited to participate by selling gently used or new items.

If you would like to participate as a vendor, please click here to sign up.


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.