The Cressy Courier: Rail Deck Park, bike lanes on Bloor, and more!
Dear friend --
Last week, I was proud to join Mayor Tory for an important announcement in our City and in the heart of our downtown community. We 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 central park for all of Toronto.
Public spaces – parks and community facilities – make our neighbourhoods liveable. In downtown, for local residents and families, they are critical. Over the next 25 years the population of downtown Toronto is expected to double to nearly 500,000 people. In the area around the new Rail Deck Park, the population is expected to grow from 945 people in 1996 to nearly 70,000 people in the future.
As you know all too well, if you live in a condo, the park becomes your backyard. That's why this new project is so critical. Parks and public spaces – they make our city and neighbourhoods liveable.
As our City grows, we must be creative about how we create new parks and public spaces. As we grow, we must focus on building neighbourhoods, and not just towers.
The Rail Deck Park won't happen overnight. It will take years. However, it is bold, it is ambitious, and it is exactly the type of big project the City of Toronto is ready for.
You can learn more about the project in my newsletter below.
Bike Lanes on Bloor
It's an exciting time in Ward 20 as bike lanes on Bloor are being installed as we speak!
After 40 years of seeking bike lanes on Bloor, this pilot project is a big step forward. As construction continues between Shaw Street and Avenue Road, I would like to thank neighbours who live along Bloor and on adjacent streets for their patience. Construction is slated to take another 1-2 weeks with symbols painting beginning today and the installation of flexiposts and signage scheduled to begin tomorrow.
Please be sure to reach out to my office with any concerns related to this project, but keep in mind that work is ongoing and not yet complete.
I look forward to construction work being completed so we can ride Bloor safely together!
Rail Deck Park
On August 3rd, I was proud to join Mayor John Tory to announce an exciting step forward in our work to build a liveable community. We announced our plan to obtain the air rights over the Rail Corridor, between Bathurst St. and Blue Jays Way, for a future park. This 21 acre area, with air rights currently owned by CN, Metrolinx and TTR, would represent a significant area of parkland, in the fastest growing area of our city. The area would be "decked", essentially creating useable space over the rail corridor. Similar projects have been developed recently in Chicago (Millennium Park), Melbourne (Federation Square) and New York (Hudson Yards). It is an incredibly exciting opportunity to create, in the future, a legacy park in our very own backyard.
In 1996, the population of King-Spadina was 1,000 residents. Once all approved and potential development is constructed, more than 40,000 people will call this area home. The numbers are staggering, and every week I hear from developers with even more proposals.
Over the coming months, a number of significant pieces of work to move this idea forward will begin. City staff will be bringing forward a report to the September meeting of Executive Committee, in order to be given formal authority to work on this initiative. With this approval, City staff will: begin negotiating to obtain the air rights, begin work on an Official Plan Amendment, and conduct extensive due diligence in order to move forward.
For more information, see the CBC article here.
Securing the air rights over the rail corridor to protect the area for public use, and to prevent private development, is an exciting opportunity for our community. I look forward to continuing the conversation in the coming months!
July Council Highlights
In addition to the exciting developments on supervised injection services, parkland acquisition in our community, affordable housing at Block 36 North and 505 Richmond, and the revitalization of the Waterworks Building at 505 Richmond, below are some other important decisions from the July City Council meeting:
Plan to improve road safety
Council unanimously endorsed a five-year Road Safety Plan with the goal of reducing the number of road fatalities and serious injuries to zero. A report noted the recent trend of more traffic-related fatalities involving pedestrians, cyclists and older adults. Among motions adopted as part of this agenda item is a proposal to ask the Ministry of Transportation to consider re-introducing automated speed enforcement and a proposal for improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists by creating zones with reduced speed limits, improved pavement markings and signal-timing adjustments. Although the plan does not go as far as I would have liked, it is a first step in building a safer City for all road users.
Consultation on the City's long-term financial direction
Council approved undertaking public consultation on the City of Toronto's long-term financial direction. The public will be asked to provide input on expenditure management strategies, oversight of City programs and agencies, management of City assets, and revenue generation to support desired public services. Staff reported that Torontonians have demonstrated an interest in participating in a dialogue on municipal finances. The consultation will extend from this fall to next spring.
Schedule for 2017 budget process
After discussion and debate, Council approved the schedule for the City's 2017 budget process and set an across-the-board target for budget reduction. The reduction target is 2.6 per cent below the 2016 approved net operating budgets for all City programs, agencies, accountability offices and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation. Council directed staff to prepare the 2017 tax-supported operating budget based on estimated revenue from a residential property tax increase at or below the rate of inflation. Unfortunately, rather than funding the kind of City we want to build, we are once again in a situation where cuts to vital services will likely be proposed – Toronto Community Housing already faces a $97 million budget deficit this year, and is now being forced to cut even further. Countless other divisions will be forced to do the same. I look forward to working together to prevent these cuts from taking place as we move through the 2017 Budget process.
Review of City real estate services
Council considered a report assessing how the City delivers real estate services and supported moving toward creating a centralized real estate entity that consolidates all core real estate and facilities management operations and functions. Those operations are currently managed autonomously across 15 City agencies, corporations and divisions. The City's portfolio includes almost 7,000 buildings and about 12,000 hectares (29,000 acres) of land. The centralized entity would have a mandate that strengthens the City’s ability to strategically promote City objectives.
The future of Toronto Community Housing – Tenants First
In response to the report Tenants First: A Way Forward for Toronto Community Housing and Social Housing in Toronto, Council adopted a set of strategic directions and requested an implementation plan to support the City's efforts to provide clean, safe, well-maintained, affordable homes to social housing tenants. The initiative includes transitioning a portion of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation's portfolio to a new community-based, non-profit corporation and to community-based, non-profit providers of social housing. I was pleased that City Council passed my motion to ensure that we commit to providing the level of funding needed to improve and sustain TCHC, but also to ensure that the continued work towards accomplishing the above goals keeps the future of tenants, accountability and equity at the heart of the process.
Text messaging for 911 response
Council supported a motion to ask the Toronto Police Services Board to consider the possibility of introducing texting from smartphones as a way for people to report an emergency via the 911 emergency dispatch service. The motion notes that there are situations in which making a voice phone call to 911 can attract unwanted attention and texting could provide a safe alternative.
Schools as community assets
Council adopted recommendations and motions tied to the Toronto District School Board's identification of many school properties that it expects to sell. Informed by an evaluation process carried out by staff, Council provided direction on five specific school properties (Thistletown, McNicoll, Silver Creek, Sir Robert Borden and Buttonwood Hill schools) for their importance to the City as community assets providing local services and green space. Council also approved a set of principles to guide the disposition and development of school properties in general.
The Bentway – Project: Under Gardiner
Council approved a governance and funding model for programming, operating and maintaining a 1.75 kilometre area under the Gardiner Expressway as a linear park – described as a trail and network of public amenities – between Spadina and Strachan Avenues. The project, made possible by a substantial private donation, will be operated as a not-for-profit charitable corporation. The first phase involves the area between Strachan Avenue and Bathurst Street with a trail connection extending to Spadina Avenue.
Council directed City staff in partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission and Waterfront Toronto to initiate the second phase of the Waterfront Transit Reset and create an implementation strategy to deliver a co-ordinated waterfront transit solution. In addition, Council adopted a motion calling for dialogue on the feasibility of a new transit hub at the Mr. Christie's site at 2150 Lake Shore Blvd. W. and to address the need for improved transit in the Humber Bay Shores area.
Improving community safety
Council approved taking steps to enable new initiatives that support community safety to proceed, including the use of up to $750,000 from the provincial and federal governments to fund community safety initiatives in response to incidences of violence this summer.
Tribute to Muhammad Ali
A motion approved by Council will provide funding to create and install a plaque commemorating Muhammad Ali's visit to Toronto in 1966 for a boxing match against George Chuvalo at Maple Leaf Gardens. Prior to the fight, Ali trained at Earl Sullivan's Toronto Athletic Club at 109 Ossington Ave., the site chosen for the new plaque. The motion said Ali's recent death provided a timely occasion to commemorate the famous fight and Ali's visit to Toronto at a critical time in his career.
Road hockey and basketball
Council voted to amend Toronto's municipal code to remove the long-standing but seldom enforced prohibition against placing portable basketball or hockey nets for games on streets (the public right of way). The motion that Council adopted specifies that hockey or basketball can be played on local roads that have a speed limit of 40 km/h or lower, and the activity must not obstruct driveways, pose a hazard to pedestrians and other traffic, or impede maintenance work.
Margaret Fairley Park Revitalization
Construction has begun on the Margaret Fairley Park revitalization! Having worked closely with local residents and the design team, we are excited for this project to get underway! The new and improved park will incorporate many of the well-loved features of the old park as well as a splash pad water feature, more seating, planter beds and a stage platform. The construction should be completed by the end of this fall.
The nearby College-Brunswick Parkette is also undergoing a facelift. Construction is moving along on schedule and we can expect this new street side oasis to be unveiled by the end of the summer.
Alexandra Park Splash Pad Conversion
Thank you to everyone who came out to our open house at Scadding Court to discuss the Alexandra Park Wading Pool-Splash Pad Conversion. Your comments and feedback were extremely helpful as we look toward creating a safer (and more fun!) water feature for the AP community.
The new splash pad will include round boulders and variety of spray features, perimeter seating, a dog bowl on the new drinking fountain, shade shelter between the splash pad and existing playground, and barrier-free accessibility.
See below for the latest renderings and contact my office if you have any questions.
Huron Street Playground - update
Construction on the Huron St. Playground is close on the horizon. The tender period for contract bids has closed and a contractor has been secured. The forestry permits have been approved and a purchase order for the new equipment and play structures is going to be submitted in the next few weeks. Once we have a purchase order, the contractors will be able to provide a more detailed construction schedule – but we're optimistic that this project will also be complete by the end of this year.
Cooling Centres - extended operating hours
I was proud to work with Councillors Mihevc and Wong-Tam, Toronto Public Health, and community advocates to ensure that the City's Cooling Centres are open on Day 1 of a declared Heat Warning, instead of Day 3, as had previously been the policy.
This is a positive step towards providing our vulnerable populations with a safe place to stay cool and hydrated during Toronto's warmest days. I look forward to continuing this work to ensure sustained and stable funding for this important initiative.
For more information, see the MetroNews article here.
Traffic Signal at Dan Leckie Way and Fort York Blvd
I am happy to announce that installation work has begun on the traffic signal I approved at Dan Leckie Way and Fort York Boulevard. After hearing concerns from community members, I pushed for the approval at Community Council and advocated for its installation as soon as possible.
Thank you to everyone for their patience -- the signal should be operational in the early fall!
Ward 20 Farmers' Markets
It's that time again! Farmers' Markets are now open across the ward -- check out the locations below:
- Wednesdays from 2-6pm
St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Church, 103 Bellevue Ave
- Wednesdays from 3-7pm (June 3rd – October 28)
- Lippincott Green P Parking Lot
- Sundays at 10:30am and Wednesdays at 8:30am
- Church of the Messiah, 240 Avenue Road
- Thursdays from 8am-2pm (May 26 - October 13)
- Entrance to Square is off King Street, Wellington Street or through Metro Hall
- Wednesdays from 3:30-7pm (June 5 - October 30)
- St. George-the-Martyr Anglican Church, 197 John Street
- Wednesdays 3-8pm & Saturdays 10-5pm
- Concord Presentation Centre, 23 Spadina Ave
- Weekends: September 3 – 5, October 8 – 10 (Saturday: 10am – 8pm, Sunday: 11am – 8pm)
- HTO Park
Stay in touch with Trustee Malik
Sign-up to Trustee Ausma Malik's e-newsletter for regular updates from her: http://eepurl.com/9xckn.
August 13th, 2016
Alexandra Park Back on the Block (1-6pm)
Alexandra Park Community Centre
With the Alexandra Park revitalization well underway, join us for a celebration of AP's historic past and bright future!
August 20th - 21st, 2016
Chinatown Festival (Saturday: 12-11pm; Sunday: 11am-8pm)
Spadina Avenue (between St. Andrew and Sullivan)
The Chinatown Festival is back this year and better than ever! This year's theme: Legend of the Dragon. Join the Chinatown community for delicious food and festive performances all weekend long.
August 21st, 2016
Open Streets TO (10am-2pm)
Bloor Street W (Dufferin - Parliament) and Yonge Street (Queen - Bloor)
Join us for the first Open Streets event this year! Open Streets TO is the city’s largest free recreation program, unlike any other in Toronto or Canada.
Open Streets are programs where the streets are temporarily opened to people and closed to cars. People traffic replaces car traffic, and the streets become “paved parks” where people of all ages, abilities, and social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds can come out and improve their health. Visit their website for more information.
September 10th, 2016
Waterworks Revitalization - Public Open House (12-3pm)
Waterworks Building (505 Richmond St W), Great Hall - enter from Maud Street
For more details, please visit: www.joecressy.com/waterworks.
A reminder that I hold constituency hours every Friday afternoon at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West).
Please call 416-392-4044 or email [email protected] for an appointment.