Community update: Environment day, council highlights, and more!
After what at times seemed like an insufferably long winter, spring is upon us. It's about time!
And, in Ward 20, Spring is in full bloom:
The cyclists are back out on the roads and our many parks are filling up with walkers, runners, and loungers.
Gardening season has arrived, which was clearly evident from the number of people who came out to collect free City compost last weekend in Seaton Village, the Annex, and the Grange (more compost days are on the way!).
Our waterfront is packed with people enjoying the sun and the lake…just wait until June when the Queens Quay redevelopment is complete and central waterfront will truly open again.
And of course, the line-ups for the annual HotDocs Festival are all over the downtown core.
It's a good time to be out and about in Ward 20.
Of course, the work at City Hall and in our neighbourhoods doesn't pause because of the nice weather. In fact, the community meetings and opportunities to shape our city and community only increase. Take a close look at some of the many initiatives underway and get involved.
Get started next weekend: learn about the City's green initiatives at our Community Environment Day. Donate gently used items, pick up free compost and enjoy live music under the sunshine (more details below). Can't wait to see everyone there -- it'll be a fantastic time!
See you soon.
Community Environment Day at Central Tech - May 9
To celebrate the beginning of spring, I hope to see everyone at our Community Environment Day on May 9th at Central Tech! The event will run from 10am - 2pm; come soak up the sun and enjoy the start of spring with your neighbours and community activists in the area.
Drop off your household hazardous waste and electronics, exchange your damaged green bin for a new one, donate unwanted items to charity, make a food donation, and pick up free compost!
You don't want to miss a special performance by Girls Rock Camp Toronto, a non-profit that works to nurture self-esteem through music creation for girls ages 8-16.
April Council Highlights
Fire Safety – Motion on Vertical Response Time Standards
I was happy that my motion requesting the development of vertical response time standards, a strategy for the overall placement of stations and resources, and training specific to vertical response times, passed at City Council as part of the five-year Fire Services master plan and will be reviewed in the fall at the Community Development and Recreation Committee. Read the full text of the motion here.
The plan also provides strategic direction for Toronto Fire Services and outlines critical initiatives that Fire Services plans to implement over the next five years to achieve strategic objectives such as keeping communities safe, empowering people, strengthening partnerships and improving performance.
Schools as community assets
Council directed Toronto's City-School Boards Advisory Committee to consult and collaborate with the Toronto school boards and the Province of Ontario on the projected closure of some local schools with low enrollment and the properties' sale as a revenue strategy. Council specified that the plan for the school properties must take into consideration the full value of schools as community assets. Council wants the advisory council to report on a way to retain public ownership of former school properties that warrant retaining and to identify funding sources beyond the municipal public sector to help retain schools as community assets.
Council approved a planned review/update of the City's Affordable Housing Action Plan 2010-20, which will be led by an inter-divisional steering group. Council also approved property tax exemptions for affordable rental housing in the West Don Lands and for new transitional housing for young victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Council authorized requesting the Ontario government to increase the amount of supportive housing for people with mental health and addiction issues and other disabilities. Measures to secure or increase affordable rental housing at several specified locations were also approved.
Toronto's emergency shelter system
Council approved a plan to guide the transformation of Toronto's emergency shelter system. The plan, which focuses on infrastructure and service improvement, reflects the City's housing-first approach to ending homelessness. That approach entails helping people move from emergency shelter into permanent housing as quickly as possible, while recognizing the importance of a robust emergency shelter system to assist people in crisis. The approved plan also ties in with the City's poverty reduction strategy.
Extending the outdoor skating season
Council adopted an item to direct the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division to include contingency funds in its 2016 operating budget to extend the outdoor skating season if weather permits. In addition, staff are to evaluate the feasibility of pursuing multi-year sponsorship of the Toronto's artificial outdoor ice skating – that is, on outdoor rinks with mechanically chilled ice pads.
Council supported a motion for the City to update its guidelines on accessible design, which were established in 2004. In addition, Council approved undertaking a review of City bylaws, policies and protocols to make sure they are aligned with current accessibility standards under the province's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and to make sure they reflect the City's commitment to the goal of achieving a barrier-free city.
Funding announcement to promote safe rooming houses
I was proud to join City of Toronto staff and Councillor Ana Bailao in Kensington Market on April 16th, for an important announcement of $5 million in new funding to improve health & safety in licenced and unlicenced rooming houses.
The City has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for repairs and upgrades to rooming houses and single-occupancy residences across the City. Preserving and repairing licensed/ legal rooming houses and developing new licensed rooming houses are priorities under the City's 10-year housing plan, Housing Opportunities Toronto. In that context, the City's Municipal Licensing and Standards division (ML&S) has launched a consultation process with the public, stakeholders and rooming house owners to identify issues and opportunities concerning rooming houses. ML&S also actively conducts inspections to ensure that health and safety standards are met.
Some 5,000 people now live in approximately 350 licensed, regulated rooming houses in the pre-amalgamation cities of Toronto, York and Etobicoke, where rooming houses are permitted. Many more individuals live in unregulated rooming house properties across present-day Toronto. The city's housing crunch has made licensed and regulated rooming houses an important source of housing for low-income and vulnerable individuals.
Our City has a responsibility to build new affordable housing, but also to ensure the safety of those living in precarious housing and this funding will help us do that.
Op-Ed on Downtown Development
Downtown development isn't something to be afraid of, but we also need to ensure that with it comes an increase in social infrastructure to support these areas. I always strive to achieve this balance when working developers and neighbourhood residents to create stronger communities.
Thanks to The Gleaner for publishing my recent op-ed on the issue of healthy downtown development. You can check it out here.
Community Council meeting on 30km/h speed limit
Creating safe communities is one of my highest priorities as your City Councillor, and making sure that our roads are safe for our children, the elderly, and all residents is essential to ensuring that.
On June 22, there will be a special evening meeting of the Toronto and East York Community Council to consider reducing the speed limit of all local roads in the Toronto/East York District to from 40km/h to 30km/h.
The meeting will be held in City Hall's Council Chambers (100 Queen St W) at 6pm, and the agenda will be posted here shortly. I encourage everyone to come out and share your views on the subject: for more information on registering to speak or sending a letter, click here.
Jane's Walk with Joe and NoJetsTO
Join me and Norman Di Pasquale from NoJetsTO as we lead a Jane's Walk around the Bathurst Quay Waterfront Neighbourhood! Starting at 12pm on Sunday, May 3rd, we'll be walking and learning about Waterfront Toronto's revitalization of the area, the Bathurst Quay Precinct Plan and other initiatives in the area. Click here for more information about this Jane's Walk.
For more information about other Jane's Walks that are happening around the Ward and around the city, visit: http://janeswalk.org/canada/toronto.
Jane's Walks are a great tradition and wonderful family-friendly events to learn about the city's rich history and bright future -- I hope you can make it out to learn more about the City's diverse neighbourhoods.
Pan Am Information Sessions
Want to learn more about how the upcoming Pan Am Games will affect your commute across the city? Come out to to an information session to hear about the how the games will impact transportation for downtown residents and businesses, and get advice from City Staff.
Date: April 30th, 2015
Location: The 519 Community Centre (519 Church St)
Click here for more information and a list of all the information sessions nearby. (Note: while area-specific information sessions will focus on a particular venue, Staff at each meeting will be able to address concerns about how the Games may affect neighbourhoods across the city).
Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan Update
On Wednesday, April 22, I hosted the latest community workshop with City Planning for the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan. Over the winter we visited nearly every building in the neighbourhood to hear your ideas and concerns, and this latest workshop presented some different concepts for the future that responded to your feedback. Presentation slides from the workshop will be posted to the project website soon.
The Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan is our opportunity to define a vision for the neighbourhood's future that other interests – not least of them the island airport – must follow. It will also guide the City's local investments in coming years, including improvements to parks and open spaces, new community facilities, and infrastructure to address traffic problems.
Union Station Rail Corridor Construction
Neighbours of the Union Station Rail Corridor may already be familiar with Metrolinx's ongoing construction activities. Please click here to download their 2015 Construction Season brochure with information on what to expecting over the next year.
Metrolinx provides regular updates on this work, which you can sign up for by emailing [email protected].
HCD meeting materials
Thanks to everyone to who came out to our meetings on the Madison Ave Heritage Conservation District (HCD) and the King-Spadina Cultural and Commercial HCDs. It was great to see so many people at these events to learn more about these important Heritage initiatives in the ward.
Click here to find presentation materials from both of these meetings. On that site, you can also subscribe to receive regular updates from about HCD initiatives across the city.
Upcoming Development Consultations
Community consultation - 543 Richmond, 170 Spadina Ave, and 217 Adelaide St W (pre-application)
Date: Monday, May 4
Location: Metro Hall (55 John Street), Rm. 308/309
6pm - Presentation on 217 Adelaide St W
Pre-application community consultation - 234 Simcoe St and 300-308 Queen St W
Date: Tuesday, May 12
Location: University-Settlement (23 Grange Road), Basement Classroom
7pm - Presentation on 234 Simcoe St
8pm - Presentation on 300-308 Queen St W
Community consultation - 303 Augusta Ave/333 College St
Date: Thursday, May 14
Location: Saint Stephen-in-the-Fields (103 Bellevue Ave)
Click here for more information on the application.
Special note: Presentation slides and notes from each of three development consultation meetings I hosted for 602-620 King St W, 30 Widmer St, and 23 Spadina Ave on March 24 are now online. Please feel welcome to let me know if you have comments about any of these proposals.
Rooming House Review Public Consultation for The Annex and Harbord Village - 6pm
Come out to hear about the City's Rooming House Review process and provide input based on your experience. The meeting will take place at the Huron Street Public School in the General Purpose Room.
Thursday, April 30
SPACE Forum - 6pm
Trustee Ausma Malik and the TDSB Ward 10 Space Committee invite all to join them for a discussion on important school issues: how is school utilization calculated? Is it different from school usage? What happens when a school closes? What is a PART, ARC, Boundary Change, Grade Change? What is the future of our neighbourhood schools?
Location: Ryerson Community School (96 Denison Avenue)
Fort York Open House - 6pm-8pm
Fort York National Historic Site is hosting an open house to see the new Visitor Centre and hear more about their 2015 events and ongoing landscape rehabilitation projects. The Fort York Visitor Centre is located at 250 Fort York Boulevard. Please visit www.toronto.ca/fortyork for more information.
Annex Residents' Association Annual General Meeting - 7:30pm
Join me and Mayor John Tory at the Annex Residents' Association AGM.
The ARA covers the area Avenue Rd to Bathurst and Bloor up to the CR tracks and has a population of more than 15,000.
Sunday, May 3
NoJetsTO Jane's Walk with Joe and Norman Di Pasquale - 12pm
Join me for a Jane's Walk of the Bathurst Quay Waterfront. Meet at the SW corner of Lakeshore and Bathurst.
Saturday, May 9
Ward 20 Community Environment Day at Central Tech - 10am-2pm
Come celebrate the beginning of spring with the rest of the community -- pick up free compost, donate gently used items, and enjoy music from Girls Rock Camp Toronto!
A reminder that I hold constituency hours every Saturday morning from 10am-12pm at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West).
Please call 416-392-4044 or email [email protected] for an appointment.