The Cressy Courier October 31 - Quayside project update, transit update, parks revitalizations and more

Dear Friends,

As we march quickly through the fall season, we are hard at work at City Hall and across our neighbourhoods, working to build our city and our communities for all of us. 

We’re pleased to be moving forward with the construction of the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan, transforming University Avenue, and expanding our safe cycling network and building safer streets. Information is also included about upcoming meetings on the revitalizations of June Callwood Park, Osler Playground, Liberty Village park and more. 

There are also important updates below on the Quayside project, recent developments on Transit planning in our city, provincial cuts to child care, long-term flooding mitigation on the Toronto Islands and more. 

Take some time to review the important and exciting updates below, and don’t hesitate to contact my office at any time if you have any questions.

Joe


Quayside Project - October 31st Update

Toronto began as a waterfront City. It was our point of origin. Over the years we lost our connection to the waterfront. We lost it to a railway, an elevated expressway, to complex ownership, and to inaction from governments. In recent decades, under the leadership of Waterfront Toronto, we have finally begun to revitalize and reclaim it. We are returning to our original place as a waterfront city.

Quayside represents the next important step towards waterfront revitalization. Quayside also represents an opportunity – an opportunity to build a twenty-first century neighbourhood that is truly affordable, liveable, and sustainable. It is critical that we get it right.

Today the Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors, on which I sit, agreed to take the next step to proceed with the full and formal evaluation of the revised proposal for Quayside as significant issues of concern have now been resolved. This has been a challenging and important discussion with a positive outcome. But, there is much more still to be done. 

Please read my full update, which includes details and next steps, here.


Transit Update - Ontario Line and TTC Upload

If there is one thing I’ve learned over a decade of endless transit debates in Toronto it’s that announcing new transit is easy, but actually building new transit is hard. Over the last 6 months, our city’s transit planning has been plunged into chaos by the Provincial government, who announced a planned upload of the city’s subway system and a new transit expansion with the Ontario Line, instead of the previously planned Relief Line.

This week, City Council supported the plan put forward by the province and city staff to move forward with the Ontario Line instead of the previously planned Relief Line, while simultaneously cancelling plans to upload to the TTC to the province. 

While some aspects of the new line remain the same as the Relief Line, there are changes and additions to the Ontario Line within our Ward 10 communities, including: 

  • Changes to the previously planned Relief Line stops between the Don River and Yonge Street;
  • The intention for underground stops at Queen and Bathurst and King and Bathurst;
  • Above ground sections in two areas in Ward 10:
    • East of the Don River in Ward 14 continuing to west of the Don River; and 
    • From somewhere west of Bathurst and near Front Street (the exact location is unclear and yet to be determined) to Exhibition Place/Ontario Place. 

Let me be clear: new transit for our rapidly growing neighbourhoods is a good thing. Inter-governmental commitment of funding for relief for Line 1 (including the expansion North of the Danforth) is welcome news. It’s desperately needed. The cancellation of the upload is a good thing - the proposed Doug Ford takeover of Toronto’s subway system was always a terrible idea. Thank you to everyone who spoke out over the past 8 months pressuring the Premier and provincial government to take action to reverse this decision.

However, I remain concerned with the details of the plan, and with the many unanswered questions, including regarding final routes and alignments, technology, fare integration, future operations and funding, community consultation, above-ground sections, and more. 

Together with Council colleagues, I was able to add consideration of many of these questions to our conversations and next steps with Metrolinx, the Provincial transit agency responsible for the planning and construction of any new Ontario Line. These include: mitigating potential local impacts and reviewing potential impacts of the above-ground sections (including constructability), ensuring full and affordable fare integration between all lines and technologies - especially critical for our Liberty Village and Fort York communities - prioritizing affordable housing as part of any transit-oriented residential development, and more.

As next steps become clearer, I will continue to share information with you. 

For more information, click here.


Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan - under construction!

It was an absolute joy to ceremonially pull down a fence to mark the start of construction on our transformational Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan with community partners this past Friday.

Construction of five overlapping projects is now underway and is expected to be finished by 2021:

  1. Rebuilding the Western Channel dockwall with an attractive waterfront promenade.
  2. Reconfiguration and shrinking of the Airport's transportation footprint. 
  3. Repairing the historic Administrative Building to become a new arts, community and cultural hub on the waterfront by the Ireland Park Foundation.
  4. Redesigning the Eireann Quay roadway and sidewalk with enhanced focus on pedestrian safety and amenities.
  5. Construction of a new public plaza on the City-owned Canada Malting property and TDSB play-space improvements.

I have allocated $5.4 million of community benefits funds from local developments toward this work, in addition to $7.3 million contributed by the City of Toronto and its agencies. Ports Toronto is directly delivering about $3.0 million of construction, and the Ireland Park Foundation is also investing directly in repair and renovation of the Administrative Building.

While construction is underway at ground level, I am working with City staff to finalize plans and funding to clean up, repair, and stabilize the historic Canada Malting Silos. With the Silos safe and stabilized, the City will initiate a public process to find new and innovative uses for the Silos themselves, within a revitalized Bathurst Quay.

To learn more about the long-term vision of the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan, including building a new aquatic centre and relocating all parking and traffic underground, please see the presentation panels from our November 2016 public meeting.


June Callwood Park Improvements - Community Open House

Designed through an award winning international design competition, June Callwood Park was inspired by June’s famous words, “I believe in kindness”. With this in mind, a revisioning process is well underway for a refresh as a fitting monument to June Callwood, and to enhance the space for children and families in our Fort York neighbourhood. 

A reminder to join us at our Community Open House next Tuesday November 5th, to review the preliminary plans for improvements to June Callwood Park. Click here for more information.


Accelerating Vision Zero in CityPlace

In one of the busiest neighbourhoods in the city, with 2 schools & a community centre opening in the new year, for years we have directed staff to make the streets safer in CityPlace. 

Since 2015, we have secured Committee and Council for several more necessary traffic signals, stop signs, pedestrian crossing and crosswalks, enhanced pavement markings and more, that have yet to be installed. Achieving approval far in advance of the opening of our new community amenities was intentional, to ensure there was adequate time to install the much-needed improvements. 

However, many of them have yet to be implemented. At the October 10th meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council, we directed staff to fix it, and prioritize these critical Vision Zero improvements in CityPlace. At this week’s meeting of City Council, this direction received final approval. 

You can also read letters in support of my request from local TDSB Trustee Stephanie Donaldson and TCDSB Trustee Norm Di Pasquale.

Stay tuned for further updates.


Protecting the Toronto Islands - Advancing Long-term flooding solutions

Earlier this year, we saw another year of record-breaking high Lake levels. As in 2017, these record breaking Lake levels not only impacted our entire Waterfront, but again threatened our treasured Toronto Islands. In the era of a growing climate emergency, an annual sandbagging effort cannot be a long-term solution.

On October 17th, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee received an update on the study conducted in partnership with the City of Toronto and TRCA, to look at long-term flooding solutions to protect the Toronto Islands. It is critical that we move forward with the next steps in this work as soon as possible. So, I requested we do just that - read my letter to the Committee here.  

In the update I requested, presented to this week’s meeting of City Council, staff outline that work is indeed proceeding on the Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) for Remedial Flood and Erosion Control, led by the TRCA, which is required for any long-term flood mitigation work. The Class EA will have two critical phases. First, emergency road works, which include elevating arterial roads along critical sections of the Toronto Islands Park, and are required to ensure continued access for emergency service vehicles and essential island infrastructure. This work is ongoing, with design targeted for summer 2020. 

Second, long-term flood and erosion mitigation works. Flood and erosion mitigation works will be developed in accordance with the full Class EA process and updated to reflect 2019 high water levels, in addition to the design work for road elevation. Conceptual designs will be developed to protect low-lying residential areas, increase the crest elevation of shore protection structures, and direct surface drainage to existing sumps. The Class EA is set to be formally initiated in early 2020, with final approval targeted in early 2021, followed by the design process and phased implementation targeted for 2022. 

We will continue to work to push for this work to be advanced and completed as soon as possible. 

For more information, read the City staff reports here.


Provincial Cuts to Child Care - Update

This week, Toronto City Council voted unanimously, again, to call on the Province to completely reverse their harmful cuts to child care. 

This past weekend, city staff received yet another letter from the Provincial Government outlining further changes to their harmful child care cuts. We have been informed that the cut to child care has now been reduced again, from $15 million in their last communication in early October, to about $2.8 million. Specifically, it appears that the Provincial Government will still cut child care subsidies for low-income families, but the 2020 cut will now be about $2.8 million. However, what happens in 2021 remains unclear. Additionally, 49 new child care centres set to be built in TDSB sites, are now required to receive operational funding from the City, rather than the Province, while the first 17 of these new TDSB child care sites will receive full operational funding from the Province. These funds represent a future $34 million funding pressure for the City. And, even further undefined funding cuts are set to take place as of January 1, 2021.

Some background. In April the Provincial Government announced deep retroactive cuts to child care in Toronto. In response to a wave of opposition, the Provincial Government reversed those retroactive cuts. Then in August the Province announced new child care  cuts to take effect in 2020. This weekend, and again later this week, in response to another wave of opposition, they announced a reduction, but not a reversal, to that cut.

Frankly, this is getting silly. Rather than this slow and painful ripping off of a bandaid, it’s time for the Provincial Government to completely reverse their cuts to child care. Full stop.

Child care should be affordable and accessible for all. In a City where 17,000 low-income families are stuck on the waiting for child care subsidies and everyone else is stuck on waiting lists for child care spaces, our focus should be on scaling up child care rather than endlessly fighting to stop the Provincial Government from cutting what we have


Transforming University Avenue

There are certain streets in Toronto that, with the right vision, could be truly great. University Avenue is one of them, and it is dramatically underused in terms of city-building.

Last week, the Executive Committee unanimously endorsed partnering with the group Friends of University Avenue who have generously proposed to create a temporary art installation hanging above University Avenue near Gerrard Street. Their vision is to create a beacon of light and a symbol of hope for everyone who experiences University Avenue after dark, especially the patients, families, and healthcare professionals in the nearby hospitals. This week, our partnership received final approval at City Council.

This will be the first step toward completely re-imagining University Avenue as one of Toronto’s great streets. University Avenue has immense potential to become a desirable place to visit, a corridor that moves people safely and sustainably, and a Toronto icon we can all be proud to share.


The Future of Ontario Place - Update

Ontario Place represents 155 acres of public land in the heart of Toronto.  We only get one chance to revitalize Ontario Place, and it's critical that we get it right.

I'm deeply concerned that yet again the Province is rushing forward with its own plans, despite the City of Toronto's ownership over part of the lands. We learned recently that the Province has received proposals for the future of Ontario Place, but is choosing to keep them private. Yesterday, we also learned that Ontario Place has been added to an international list of at-risk cultural heritage sites. 

Earlier this year, they unilaterally announced plans to redevelop Ontario Place. For 5 months after this, the City of Toronto undertook proactive work to outline our vision for Ontario Place and Exhibition Place. We hosted public meetings, consulted with stakeholders, and proposed a path forward to revitalize Ontario Place and Exhibition Place, together. In April, Toronto City Council unanimously passed a motion requesting the Province to work collaboratively with the City on a joint revitalization plan for Ontario Place and Exhibition Place, according to a set of Council-approved principles. Principles that include public access, integrated transit planning, expanded parkland, heritage preservation, and an open and robust consultation and evaluation framework.

Unfortunately, yet again, the Province has chosen to turn its back on the City of Toronto. The City of Toronto owns land within Ontario Place. While the Province may wish to go it alone, the fact is they cannot. They must work with us. They should work with us.

We have been clear – the future of Ontario Place must be in the public interest, and discussed and decided in public, not in backrooms.


Exhibition Place Master Plan

The City of Toronto is undertaking a master plan exercise for Exhibition Place that will include direction on public realm enhancements, parks and open spaces, transportation upgrades, built form, heritage conservation, and connectivity to the surrounding neighbourhoods.

A public meeting was held on October 10 to share a draft vision and guiding principles for the master plan. You can view the presentation materials on the project website along with an online survey.


Waterfront ReConnect at Rees Street

A partnership between the City of Toronto, the Waterfront BIA, and Waterfront Toronto is making the connections across Lake Shore Blvd. at Rees St. safer and more attractive for people.

The Waterfront BIA commissioned Ken Greenberg and PUBLIC WORK to develop a plan for enhancements to intersections along the waterfront to break down the physical and psychological barriers created by the Gardiner and Lake Shore Blvd. Co-funded by the City of Toronto, and project managed by Waterfront Toronto, a first phase of the project is underway at Rees St. The plan includes:

  • Gold paint of bents and girders to “frame the room” to reflect light under the  Gardiner.
  • Enhanced “zebra” pedestrian markings with Vision Zero goals of increased safety and accessibility.

- “Whispers” text and quotes as sign posts welcoming visitors to the   neighbourhood.

The work is expected to be completed by the end of October, and future phases are being planned.

You can read the Waterfront BIA’s outline of the project here:

http://www.waterfrontbia.com/bia-paints-gardiner-with-vision-of-safer-attractive-waterfront-connections/

You can read Waterfront Toronto’s blog on the project here:

http://blog.waterfrontoronto.ca/nbe/portal/wt/home/blog-home/posts/connecting-people-to-the-waterfront


Osler Playground Revitalization - Community Visioning session

With more and more people moving into the downtown core, it is critical to ensure that our green spaces function to meet the needs of all park users. 

Osler Playground is an important green space in the Ossington community, with many local residents who enjoy the park on a daily basis. Many families with young children and dogs share the space, so it is crucial that we ensure the safety of everyone in the park. Over the last few years, Councillor Mike Layton who previously represented the Osler Playground area, had been working with local residents on solutions for a dogs-off-leash area at Osler. 

I am pleased to announce 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. In partnership with City Parks staff, we will be hosting a Community Visioning kick-off meeting to start our work together in re-visioning this critical community space:

Date: Wednesday December 11th, 2019

Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Location: Senor Santo Cristo (currently being used by University of Toronto Schools), 30 Humbert St.

A unique opportunity with Osler Playground is to collaborate with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), who own a portion of the land where the track is currently situated. 


“Impulse” at Harbourfront Centre

Kicking off this year’s Winter Stations season early are 15 glowing musical seesaws that re-imagine the waterfront as an illuminated urban playground. You can ride the internally renowned travelling art installation, Impulse, until November 12 (9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily) at Harbourfront Centre in Exhibition Common. Admission is free.

As you soar through the air on one of the seesaws, you will activate the light and sound sequences of Impulse, becoming both the musician and artist of your artistic creation.


The Fife and Drum - new issue

The Fife and Drum is the newsletter of the Friends of Fort York and Garrison Common. To read the latest issue for October 2019, please visit https://www.fortyork.ca/resources/newsletter-archive.html

Contents include articles and photos featuring the history of the Fort and its era, present-day changes and events in the area, and a recipe for ginger snaps from 1831.


Consultations on Reducing Single-Use & Takeaway Items

Have your say on how to reduce single-use and takeaway items in the City of Toronto.  Take the online survey today!

A single-use or takeaway item is any product designed for a single use after which it is disposed of in the garbage, Blue Bin (recycling) or Green Bin (organics). Typically, these products are not designed for durability or reuse. Examples include plastic bags and takeout containers.

Your feedback will be used to develop a final Single-Use and Takeaway Item Reduction Strategy for Toronto that will be presented to City Council in the first half of 2020.


Liberty Village Park Improvements - community open house

Over the last number of months, my office has been working closely with City of Toronto parks staff on plans for improvements to Liberty Village park. Join us on December 12th to review the updated plans, which now include the addition of a splash pad:

Date: Thursday December 12th, 2019
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Location: 69 Lynn Williams (Liberty on the Park), party room

Construction is scheduled for 2020.

See you on the 12th!


Remembrance Day events at Toronto History Museums

The City of Toronto will host Remembrance Day activities and exhibits starting November 1 at several Toronto History Museums. You can participate in exhibitions, tours and family activities suitable for younger children, as well as the annual Fort York Remembrance Day ceremony. The full program lineup is available at https://www.Toronto.ca/museums-events.


Neighbourhood Farmers' Markets

There’s still time to visit two markets in our communities:

Liberty Village Farmers' Market
Every Sunday until November 3, 9am-2pm
34 Hanna Ave.
Visit their website here.

Waterfront Good Food Market
Fresh, affordable fruits and veggies.
Tuesdays 4:30-7pm, year-round
25 Bishop Tutu Blvd, 1st fl community room (accessible from courtyard)


Public Meetings

June Callwood Park Open House
Tuesday November 5, 2019, 6:30-8:30pm

Fort York Visitor's Centre, Lobby (250 Fort York Blvd.)
The City of Toronto is planning improvements to June Callwood Park. please join us to review a preliminary concept plan, ask questions, and provide your feedback.

471 Richmond/38 Camden and 182-184 Spadina Public Meeting
Thursday November 14 2019, 6:30-8:30pm

City Hall, committee room 2 (100 Queen Street West)
The city is holding a public meeting to discuss two developments - one at 471 Richmond Street West & 38 Camden, and a second at 182-184 Spadina. Both proposals are for hotel use, operated by Manga hotels, designed by Sweeny&Co Architects.

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 12 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
December 2019
Location TBC
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. Stay tuned for the confirmed date and event location to learn more.


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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