Community update: the Gardiner, May Council highlights, and more!
Dear neighbour --
In a decision that will shape the future of our city, City Council will decide at its June 10-11 meeting whether to remove a 1.7-kilometre portion of the Gardiner east of Jarvis, or to maintain the roadway, albeit with reconfigured ramps.
The latest debate raises a number of critical questions. Among them: are we building a city for the 21st century?
Decisions the effects of which will be felt for 100 years should be based on tomorrow’s needs, not today’s. On that basis, the option to remove the east stretch of the Gardiner should be the easy choice. The future needs of our city are clear.
Some 157,200 people commute into downtown for work during the morning rush hour. Of those, 68 per cent take public transit, four per cent walk or cycle, and 28 per cent drive. Only three per cent of those drivers (5,200 people to be exact) use the Gardiner Expressway east.
Looked at in isolation, that last number should be enough to make a convincing case to tear the east section down. But what’s important here is to look at 40-year traffic trends. Since 1975, the number and the percentage of commuters using public transit to get into the downtown have gone up. Meanwhile, the number of people driving has remained the same. The reason for this is relatively straightforward: our roads are already at capacity. Public transit is increasingly the only solution for those commuting into the downtown.
Here’s where the case for removal becomes clearer. The hybrid option will cost $919 million, whereas the option to remove will cost $461 million, nearly half a billion dollars less. The kicker: the much-needed Waterfront East LRT, which would serve many east-end commuters, costs $525 million. The savings from the option to remove would actually pay for public transit. It almost seems too logical.
I recently published an op-ed in NOW Magazine on this debate, and I encourage you to read it here.
Future of the Gardiner East
In June, City Council will make a decision on the future of the Gardiner East that will have important ramifications for many years to come. The research is in and we can make an informed decision that will alleviate traffic congestion in the long run, provide benefits to the economy, and unlock the true potential of our world-class waterfront.
Thanks to everyone who joined Councillor Mihevc and me at our public meeting on the Gardiner on May 21st. We heard from many concerned residents about the need for removal and the myriad of benefits it will bring to our city.
Paul Bedford, former chief planner for the City of Toronto, and Michael Kirkland, an architect specializing in urban design and planning, both gave extremely informative presentations in favour of removal.
For those of you who could not make it to the meeting, click here to see slides from their presentation.
May Council Highlights
Appointment of new City Manager
Council appointed Peter Wallace as Toronto's City Manager effective July 13. The City Manager, as the most senior official in the City's administration, is accountable to City Council for the policies and programs delivered by the Toronto Public Service. Wallace succeeds Joe Pennachetti, who retired as City Manager on May 8. Deputy City Manager John Livey will act as City Manager between May 9 and July 12. In addition, Council appointed Giuliana Carbone as a Deputy City Manager (one of three in the organization) effective June 1. Carbone, who has been the City's Treasurer since 2008, will lead the cluster of divisions that are responsible social, economic and community services.
Speed limits on Toronto streets
Council approved a series of actions to address traffic speeds on local neighbourhood streets, including a new 30 kilometre-an-hour (km/h) speed limit policy in the absence of traffic calming. In addition, staff will report on the implications for Toronto of an Ontario Ministry of Transportation proposal to lower the current default speed limit of 50 km/h, and will report on school safety zones as part of a road safety plan for Toronto.
New green bin
Council approved a contract for manufacturing, distributing and maintaining the next generation green bin for organic waste collection, and directed staff to work with residents and councillors on related matters such as possible alternative methods of green bin collection.
Torontonians are currently using about 500,000 green bins and the bins are reaching the end of their life expectancy.
Next year's budget process
Council approved a schedule for the City's 2016 budget process. The schedule calls for adoption of the 2016 rate-supported budgets (Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management and Toronto Parking Authority) in December
2015 and the tax-supported budgets in February 2016. Council's approval includes the implementation of multi-year, service-based planning and budgeting, with opportunities for public deputations at the civic centres and information sessions about user fees.
Municipalities and climate change
Council authorized renewing the City's membership in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group – a network of the world's largest cities.
Toronto, which has seen its greenhouse gas emissions drop by 25 per cent against 1990 levels, is considered a leading city in the C40 network.
The participating cities share information as part of the effort to help address global climate change.
Council agreed to ask staff to report on the possible impact of changes to the bottle-return system in Toronto if Ontario decides to permit the sale of liquor, wine and beer in grocery stores. The City wants to ensure that the bottle-return system now in place for LCBO outlets and beer stores will also operate in any other stores authorized to sell beer, wine and liquor.
Schooner discovered in City Place
On May 7th, an archaeological excavation discovered an early 19th-century schooner down by Toronto's historic Queen's Wharf. This excavation was done as part of a development at City Place. The City has a policy that mandates archaeological digs for new developments and have found several other historical discoveries in the past.
A full archaeological study will be conducted and Heritage authorities will be consulted about its removal and preservation, if possible.
Click here to read the story from The Globe and Mail.
OMB Resolution on The Waverley and Silver Dollar Room
After a long appeal process at the Ontario Municipal Board, a settlement was reached regarding the future of 484 Spadina Avenue, the site of The Waverley Hotel and Silver Dollar Room.
By working with the community, together we were able to successfully lower the height of the building, minimize shadowing on Lord Lansdowne Public School, and save the Silver Dollar. For more details and to read the full letter from me, TDSB Trustee Ausma Malik, and Harbord Village Residents' Association Chair Tim Grant, click here.
Green Bin exemptions
In May, City Council adopted a motion directing staff to negotiate and enter into an agreement for the next generation Green Bin, which will be larger and more resistant to wildlife.
While I support the motion and want to encourage even further measures to promote sustainable practices, I heard concerns from many residents about how they would accommodate these larger bins on their properties.
As a result, I, along with other downtown Councillors, worked to pass an amendment directing staff to consult with local residents and Ward Councillors on a policy for exemptions in downtown neighbourhoods, such as different bin configurations or small bin exemptions.
My office will keep you updated on the consultation process and your opportunities to provide feedback during this process.
Public meeting on Grange Park Redesign
Please join me for next month's public meeting on the Grange Park Redesign! Come out to hear about the design plans, including children's play spaces, moveable seating areas, and the proposed dog off-leash area.
The meeting will take place on June 4th at 6:30pm in the OCADU Auditorium. This is the final community meeting before construction begins so I hope to see many of you there!
City Rail Safety Consultation
It is extremely important to address the significant increase of crude oil transportation along rail lines in the City. Without action, we increase the risk associated with these potentially volatile freight trains that run in close proximity to many Toronto neighbourhoods.
As a result of a Motion at City Council, a public consultation on rail safety and information sharing options was held on May 21 at Metro Hall. If you were unable to attend the meeting, please click here for more information and fill out the online survey.
We will continue to work in collaboration with the federal government to ensure the safety of our neighbourhoods and our City.
TOCore - planning Toronto's downtown
The City of Toronto is undergoing a comprehensive review of the downtown core in order to plan for future growth and development in our downtown neighbourhoods, including: transportation, parks and public realm, community services, and others.
By undergoing this process, the City aims to ensure that intensification is appropriate and that we maintain and support our infrastructure, green space and community services.
A crucial part of the study is public input and the City wants to hear from you. Please click here to look at the project website and related materials. Community meetings will be scheduled in the near future and, in the meantime, you can begin offering input here.
This is an important project to support our downtown neighbourhoods, and I hope you'll contribute your feedback to this ongoing endeavour.
Update on construction at Central Tech
In March, after extensive consultations with the TDSB, Razor Management, the City, and different community groups, a successful resolution was reached at the Ontario Municipal Board regarding the Central Tech field.
I invite you to read my joint letter with Councillor Mike Layton and TDSB Trustee Ausma Malik regarding the upcoming construction at Central Tech, including a projected timeline and other additional details.
We look forward to sharing more updates with the community as the project moves forward.
Ensuring cyclist safety during construction and closures
While we live in a city with plenty of construction and other necessary street closures, we need to always remain diligent in ensuring that cyclist and pedestrian safety is not compromised during these times.
I, along with my colleagues Councillor Layton and Councillor McMahon, wrote a letter to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) urging them to adopt measures developing a protocol to better address cycling infrastructure during times of road closures or bike lane disruptions, including the installation of temporary cycling infrastructure and/or detour routes when bike lane closures are necessary.
I am happy that these recommendations were endorsed at PWIC's May 28th meeting, and look forward to reading the report in the Fall.
Please click here to read the full letter.
Nelson Mandela Boulevard
On May 11th, I joined Mayor Tory, Councillor Wong-Tam, the Consul General of South Africa, and members of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Committee in the ceremonial re-naming of University Avenue to Nelson Mandela Boulevard.
University Avenue is a fitting location for this street dedication; during Mandela's 1990 visit to Toronto, he addressed a crowd of thousands who had marched along University Ave from City Hall to Queen's Park.
Wading pool hours extension at Randy Padmore and Alexandra Park
I am pleased to announce that at our office's request, the wading pool hours at Randy Padmore and Alexandra Park have been extended to accommodate the pending closure of the Bellevue Square wading pool due to the park revitalization. Work is expected to begin in the summer months, and stay tuned for more information as the work gets underway!
The extended hours for the season are as follows:
Monday – Friday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday 1:00 – 3:30 pm
Sunday 1:00 – 3:30 pm
Monday – Friday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday 1:00 – 3:30 pm
Sunday 1:00 – 3:30 pm
Get out there and enjoy summer with these extended hours!
City of Toronto Summer program registration
The weather is finally starting to warm up, which means summer is just around the corner!
Registration for summer City of Toronto community recreation programs, including summer swim and skate programs begins at 7am on Saturday, June 6.
Be sure to check out the website ahead of time to explore the program choices and confirm registration requirements.
I hope everyone has a relaxing and fun-filled summer!
"Blue Wave" canopy at St. Stephen's Community House
St. Stephen's Community House recently unveiled their new "Blue Wave" canopy, which will provide much needed shade for program participants and the wider community this summer and beyond. This new shade structure opens up potential at the front of 250 Augusta Avenue, and adds much to the overall character of Kensington Market.
Local architecture Sustainable.TO worked collaboratively with St. Stephen's client over 8 weeks to design and test different iterations before deciding on implementation of the "Blue Wave" shade structure.
Richmond-Adelaide Bike Lane Extension
The protected cycling lanes on Richmond and Adelaide are proposed to be extended east as far as Parliament Street later this year. This will tie into the existing pilot network of protected cycling lanes on the western parts of Richmond and Adelaide as well as Simcoe Street. The proposal will go to City Council for approval this summer.
The previously-approved bike lanes on Peter Street are slated to be installed this year as well, providing an important new north-south connection in the network.
For more information on the pilot project, click here.
Emergency preparedness: High-Rise Living Guide
The City's Office of Emergency Management has created a new information package specifically for residents of high-rise buildings to help them prepare for potential emergencies in their homes.
Get Emergency Ready—High-Rise Living provides steps for planning and responding to emergency situations particular to high-rise residents. Information regarding how to prepare an emergency kit, respond to power failure or utility disruption, and whether one should leave or stay in case of a fire are all provided, as well as important numbers and other resources. The OEM encourages all residents to plan for emergencies, and information packages for non-high-rise dwellers is available as well.
This pamphlet and other emergency preparedness material is available at the Office of Emergency Management website: toronto.ca/oem or by contacting the office at their email: [email protected], or by phone at (416) 392-4554.
John Street Pedestrian Initiative
If you've been down to John St. south of Queen recently you may have noticed patrons taking advantage of the extended pedestrian and patio space on the East side of the street. Using decorative planters, the sidewalk and patios have been extended by four meters and will be in place throughout the summer until October 19th. The public space enhancements which run south from Queen to Adelaide are an initiative of the Toronto Entertainment District BIA which is in its second year of public space enhancements.
CityPlace Urban Market
The corner of Spadina and Bremner is now home to one of the City's finest urban markets!
Every Wednesday from 3-8pm and Saturday from 10am-5pm, go down to the CityPlace Urban Market for fresh produce, baked good, and more! Check out their video here.
I had a great time at the launch of the market and look forward to spending more time there throughout the summer.
TTC Construction in Ward 20
The TTC is currently undergoing renovations at various locations across the City to improve accessibility and service.
After a public consultation process, work is currently underway to make Dupont Station accessible to all transit riders. Improvement include: elevators, accessible fare gates, and improved signage, among others.
For more information about this project please contact:
Toronto Transit Commission
The TTC is making concrete repairs to the northwest entrance to Osgoode Station.
To minimize disruption, this work will take place in the overnight hours between 2:30-5:30am. This work is scheduled to wrap up by the end of June.
For more information about this project please contact:
Toronto Transit Commission
Queen's Quay construction notice
Beginning on June 1, Queens Quay will begin to transition back to two-way traffic.
Every day following, one additional Queens Quay intersection with the new traffic controllers and associated signal lights will be commissioned. The transition will commence at the east end with Bay and Queens Quay, and work west to Lower Spadina and Yo-Yo Ma Lane. By June 10, 2015 it is anticipated that two-way traffic operations will be fully commissioned for the length of the Queens Quay Revitalization.
Harrison Pool closure
The Harrison Pool will be closed for necessary repairs to the pool line starting June 1. The repair work should take no more than 2 weeks, and the shower facilities will remain open during this time.
If you have any questions, please contact Vince Lawrence at 416-392-0335 ext 234.
Upcoming Development Consultations
Community consultation - Block 31 (the new community centre, childcare, and schools coming to CityPlace)
Date: Saturday, June 20th
Location: Harbourfront Community Centre
*More information to come
May 30th, 2015
Queen's Quay Walk hosted by Waterfront Toronto (10am-12pm; meet at main entrance of Queen's Quay Terminal, 207 Queen's Quay W)
See for yourself how our waterfront street has changed. Learn more about how we'll walk, bike, drive, and ride transit along the newly configured street once it re-opens in June.
Click here for more information.
Special note: Waterfront Toronto is looking for volunteers for their June 19th unveiling ceremony for the new Queen's Quay. Visit their website for more information.
June 1st, 2015
Community Consultation on Coronation Park and Stadium Road Park (6:30-8:30pm; Fort York Visitor Centre)
City staff will be providing an update on the proposed improvements to Coronation Park and Stadium Road Park. Come hear about the proposals and offer your feedback.
Click here for more information.
June 4th, 2015
Grange Park Redesign Public Meeting (6:30-9pm; OCADU Auditorium)
The Grange Park Advisory Committee will be holding its final community meeting on the redesign proposal for Grange Park. Come out to hear about the proposed changes, hear from other community members, and offer your feedback.
See the event flyer here.
June 6th, 2015
100 in 1 Day Toronto
Do you have an idea to improve our ward that you've been itching to try? 100 in 1 Day is a global festival of civic engagement returning to Toronto for its second year on June 6, 2015. Imagine the possibilities for our city if hundreds of people united to participate in small initiatives to spark change.
100 in 1 Day is the perfect chance to test run a simple, low-cost idea for a better city, stronger community or more resilient neighbourhood. Share your vision for a better city and connect with the community by hosting an urban intervention on June 6.
100 in 1 Day is co-presented by Evergreen and United Way Toronto. More information, resources and details on upcoming workshops for 100 in 1 Day are available through the festival's website.
June 18th, 2015
Complete Streets Guidelines public consultation (6-9pm; Central YMCA, 20 Grosvenor Street)
The City is developing Complete Streets Guidelines to provide a holistic approach to how we design our streets. Complete streets are designed to consider the needs of all users, such as people who walk, bicycle, take transit, or drive, and people of varying ages and levels of ability. To learn more about the emerging guidelines and provide feedback to City staff, please visit www.toronto.ca/completestreets or attend the upcoming public open house on June 18th, 6pm at Central YMCA.
June 19th-21st, 2015
Redpath Waterfront Festival
Head down to Queen's Quay to explore everything that Toronto's waterfront has to offer! With multiple events all weekend, there's something exciting for everyone to enjoy, including many family-friendly events.
Visit the festival website for a full listing of events.
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.