The Cressy Courier: TIFF, road murals, and more!
Dear friend --
It has been a hot, humid, and busy summer in our downtown Ward 20 community. Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market, the Chinatown Festival, Open Streets, a new bike lane on Bloor, CityFest, and much more. It's been quite the summer. I do hope you found time to enjoy it.
As September arrives the number of events only seem scale up with TIFF, Word on the Street, and countless community festivals. Of course, at City Hall the work picks up as well. Whether it is the revitalization of the 505 Richmond Waterworks site, heritage conservation in Kensington Market, or plans to design new parkland, there is much to do before the end of the year.
Please take a look at the long list of public meetings already planned and come on out.
Hope to see you soon,
Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of our city's most important arts and cultural festivals, is just around the corner. This year, TIFF will be hosting its third annual Festival Street, a pedestrian promenade on King Street West, with events from Thursday, September 8, through Sunday, September 11. A portion of King Street will be closed for the Festival Street to support the free pedestrian programming and ensure the safety of the large crowds who attend the opening days of TIFF.
I have worked closely with the TTC, Transportation Services, Economic Development and Culture, and TIFF to discuss the details of the closure over the past several months. We have worked hard to ensure that an extensive communication and mitigation plan is put in place to inform residents of the closure and the re-routing of the 504 King Streetcar and 514 Cherry Streetcar, as well as to minimize the impact on residents, road, and transit users.
Please see my website for details of the TTC division and other transportation changes during the TIFF: http://www.joecressy.com/tiff_2016
Festival Street will have free musical performances, free outdoor film screenings, expanded patios on Restaurant Row, and other many more activities (not to mention celebrity watching). Come out to King and John to enjoy the excitement, activity, and vitality that makes this neighbourhood an attractive place to live, work, and visit.
Bloor Bike Lanes - complete!
With fall just around the corner, it's back to school time and that means that we are all getting back into the regular routines, except this year something is different up by the Annex, Korea Town and Seaton Village: the paint has dried, new flexi posts are all in place, and the installation of the Bloor Bike Lane Pilot Project is officially complete and operational! While there is sure to be a period of adjustment, as people adapt to the new conditions, it is an exciting time for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike. I'm thrilled to be able to enjoy my ride across Bloor with the comfort of a physically separated cycle track.
The impact on the cycling experience has been an immediate improvement, and everyday more and more cyclists are getting around the neighbourhood in safety and style.
This project is a major step towards the kind of informed, data driven decision making that will help us effectively allocate resources for maximum impact. If these first few weeks are any indication, we are well on our way to modernizing our transportation system by providing the real supports and infrastructure that people need, and to have real options when it comes to how they get around their communities.
We have already gotten lots of positive comments, as well as helpful feedback for improvements. We want to hear from everyone about the positive impact this is having on folk's daily commutes, errand runs and leisurely evening rides. If you would like to share your experiences on the bike lanes, feel free to contact Cycling staff at [email protected].
Kensington Road Mural
Photo by: Stas Ukhanov
The City's first official road mural is now on Baldwin Street! Fresh food and local grocers are an integral part of Kensington Market -- this mural is the perfect way to celebrate that rich history.
Thank you to all the community members involved in this project. I hope to see many more of these around the ward soon! To learn more about the City's Road Mural project, click here.
John-Adelaide POPS update
On the west side of John Street just south of Adelaide Street, there is a publicly-accessible privately owned space (POPS) with seating, a water feature, and public art. For a number of months this year, the POPS was occupied by a private patio for the adjacent restaurant, and my office was working with City staff to restore public access. Recent media coverage helped to hasten a resolutions and, happily, the fence and patio have now been removed.
The POPS was constructed by the developer of the adjacent condo tower at 295 Adelaide Street West. Approval of that tower, issued by City Council in 2010, was conditional on the provision of this POPS as a public benefit.
Public access to the POPS was secured in the zoning by-law and an easement was placed on the property title as well, which means that the legal obligation is automatically transferred to any future owner of the space. The easement requires permission from the City Planning division for any café or patio use in the space.
The question of whether permits had been issued to La Carnita for a patio in the POPS deserves additional clarity. The key point is that permission was not sought or granted by City Planning prior to the installation of the fence and private patio, and this is an unavoidable requirement due to the easement placed on the property title. Other permits, such as a liquor licence from the provincial AGCO or a City building permit, are also necessary but on their own they are not sufficient. The burden is on the applicant to ensure they have all the permits they need before starting any work.
POPS are supplemental spaces that help to bolster and tie together our existing public realm, including parks, plazas, and sidewalks. They can provide additional mid-block connections for pedestrians, small moments of refuge from crowded and busy sidewalks, or places to sit and enjoy people-watching and public art. One of the major benefits of a POPS is that it can be located right at the base of a new tower, where the density of new people and activities is most concentrated.
POPS are never a replacement for public parkland and every developer is always required to pay into a fund for the acquisition of new parkland. I have been working hard to use these funds for a brand new park to serve the King-Spadina neighbourhood, which already has the least amount of parkland per person in Toronto and the population is continuing to grow quickly.
What's next? As set out in the easement agreement registered on title, if the restaurant would like to apply to use a portion of the space for a patio, City Planning staff will review the request. The original design of the POPS anticipated a small patio to help bring activity to the space and ensure there are "eyes" on the space for safety, but it would have to be very modest and sensitively located so that everyone feels welcome in the space, regardless of purchase. A few tables and chairs at the back of the space, for example, would have a different impact compared to a fenced-off area at the front.
It is vitally important for the liveability of the neighbourhood that we defend public access to every POPS and work hard to expand the public realm and build new parks for the growing population. Now that the fence and patio have been removed, I will be reviewing the experience closely with City staff to determine what can be done differently in the future to strengthen our POPS and avoid repeating these problems.
Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan
Since late 2014, there have been dozens of meetings with Bathurst Quay residents and stakeholders to come up with our collective vision for the neighbourhood. I have been hearing consistently that one of the biggest challenges is that airport traffic accesses the ferry and tunnel by a single local road past the park, school, and community centre, which is causing traffic congestions, aggressive driving, illegal parking and idling, and safety concerns. Now that the Government of Canada has confirmed that they will not support re-opening the tripartite agreement, we have an opportunity to re-focus our energy on working together to build the neighbourhood we want, and ensuring that the airport fits with our neighbourhood vision rather than the other way around.
I have also been hearing, through these many public meetings and conversations, that there is a desire for new and improved parks, and for public spaces that are attractive, vibrant, and make residents proud. Many people have also told me that there is a need for more local services and job opportunities, and that we should improve and expand our existing public facilities to better serve the community.
And while there are diverse opinions about conserving the heritage silos, everyone agrees that this corner of Bathurst Quay has the potential to be a unique and transformative jewel for the neighbourhood. The silos and public lands around them require special care and attention to become an integral part of the community again.
It is also clear that there is widespread agreement on the point that what we don't need is more condo development on these public waterfront lands.
City staff and our consultants are currently at work refining a draft long-term vision for the community, which will be shared for public review at a meeting later this fall. They are also, over the summer, taking stock of the short- and medium-term actions that can be implemented without too much delay. While it will probably take a long-term effort to repurpose the interior of the heritage silos, it will be relatively quick and straightforward to reconfigure and revitalize the public lands around the base of the silos. We also have consultants looking at potential public realm improvements in response to concerns raised by the neighbourhood, and another team is at work reviewing the facilities needs of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre along with the staff there.
We are excited for the public meeting this fall where we will be proposing concrete short-term actions to improve the neighbourhood, along with a revised long-term vision for Bathurst Quay. Please contact my office at [email protected] to be added to the contact list to receive notice of the meeting, once a date and location is set.
International Overdose Awareness Day
On August 31st, I was proud to stand with Toronto Public Health and community advocates to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day. Each year, we take this day to remember those we have lost, support those living and working on the frontlines, and commit to action for the future.
Overdose deaths are preventable and now is the time to act. I look forward to continuing our work on this important issue.
For more information, read the recent Globe and Mail article on how this crisis is impacting our city.
Central Tech - update letter
Read my joint community update letter with Councillor Mike Layton and Trustee Ausma Malik on the progress of work at Central Tech.
We continue to move closer to a completed project, which will finally be realized once the facility, track and public realm spaces are complete, and we look forward to our continued work together in September and beyond.
Grange Park update
The new east-west path in Grange Park is now open! With that, the project is now in its final phase and the area that is currently open to the public will remain the same until the project is completed next spring.
Three structures are currently going up at the south-east corner of the park. Two are new washroom buildings that will be close to the children’s play area. One building will house two individual-use washrooms; the second building will be a family washroom. The third structure just south of the washrooms, close to Grange Road, is the new maintenance building. The exterior of the three structures will be a gray metal “skin” covered with vertical slats made of Ipe wood – a very resilient hardwood.
Recently, I also met with the AGO, community representatives, and Parks staff to discuss a new Community Management Model for Grange Park. I look forward to continuing these discussions to ensure that the revitalized park can be enjoyed by all for many years to come.
And, in case you missed it: the Toronto Star recently wrote about the much-anticipated play structures -- check it out here.
Copeland Transformer Station progress
Earlier this summer, Toronto Hydro successfully delivered two 155-tonne transformer tanks to the new Copeland Transformer Station under construction beside the Roundhouse. It was an important milestone for this $195-million infrastructure project that will relieve a critical electricity capacity constraint in downtown Toronto and improve the overall reliability of the grid. Check out this time-lapse video of the delivery: https://youtu.be/TbravV8C9z0.
These kinds of investments in both hard and soft infrastructure (such as the new YMCA facility and new parkland that I am working to deliver) are vitally important for ensuring our rapidly-growing neighbourhoods remain liveable. The City of Toronto is in the middle of a comprehensive review of what additional investments are needed if we are to keep up with downtown growth, which you can learn more about and participate in at www.toronto.ca/tocore.
Off-street Parking for Area 6E permit holders
Beginning this fall, a number of off-street parking spaces will be made available for people with Area 6E on-street parking permits. (Area 6E is bounded by Front Street, Spadina Avenue, Queen Street, and Bathurst Street.) Due to construction projects on Camden Street and Niagara Street, the supply of on-street parking in Area 6E will temporarily fall below the number of permits that have been issued, and during this time the developers of those construction projects are responsible for securing alternative parking spaces.
Details will be posted prominently in the vicinity of the temporarily removed parking spaces on Camden Street and Niagara Street.
York-Bremner PATH update
Work will begin this fall in preparation for the construction of an underground PATH connection beneath York Street just south of Bremner Boulevard. This first stage of work involves investigation of the utilities underneath York Street before detailed construction plans can be developed. This may involve a limited amount of excavation in the late evening and overnight hours to avoid conflicts with rush hours and special events at local attractions, but the City will work to keep this disruption to a minimum.
This PATH connection was secured as part of the development approval for the "Ice" towers and, when completed, will provide a continuous indoor route from Lower Simcoe Street and Lake Shore Boulevard to Union Station. The timing of construction of the PATH connection will depend on what is found underneath York Street during this first stage of work, as well as coordination with other major construction projects in downtown Toronto.
JCC - saltwater pool set to reopen
On September 12, 2016 the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre will celebrate the re-opening of downtown Toronto’s only public accessible saltwater pool, located at Bloor and Spadina, with a full week of free events. After a five month $2.5 million renovation, the new features – that include a barrier-free accessible ramp – will provide optimum facilities for all community members to swim together including young children, families, seniors, those with low vision, sensory integration disorders, mobility concerns and physical disabilities.
The special Re-opening week festivities include a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception on Monday, September 12 at 8:45 am, through to the all-day free Splash and Play at the J celebration on Sunday, September 18. For full details go to www.mnjcc.org/newpool and www.mnjcc.org/featured-events.
Mandel's Dreamery Exhibit
On August 29th, I was excited to attend the opening of the Mandel's Dreamery Exhibit at 402 College Street. On display until October 30, the exhibit is inspired by Mandel's Creamery, an historic dairy shop on Baldwin Street that had distinctive hand-painted Yiddish lettering and had remained in the store's front window even after the Mandel's had moved on.
The Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) helped relocate this historic window last summer and it is now on display at Fenster, a window gallery at 402 College Street. For more information on the exhibit, see the Toronto Star article here.
I'm happy to be working with OJA to create a permanent home for this historic sign to be displayed in our downtown Grange/Kensington Market 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 Building Revitalization - Public Open House
Date: Saturday, September 10th, 2016
Time: 12:00 - 3:00pm
Location: Waterworks Building (505 Richmond Street W), Great Hall - enter from Maud Street
Please join me at an open house to learn about the Waterworks Revitalization. In partnership with the YMCA, Artscape, Build Toronto, MOD Developments, and Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, the former Waterworks Building at 505 Richmond Street West, as well as Saint Andrew's Playground, will undergo a comprehensive revitalization. When complete, the park will be renovated, a desperately-needed new YMCA facility will serve the community, and there will be new affordable housing units for artists and their families.
8-20 Widmer Street - rezoning application community consultation
Date: Monday, September 12th, 2016
Time: 6:00 - 7:00pm
Location: Metro Hall (55 John Street), Room 308
For more information, please see the event flyer here.
64 Prince Arthur Avenue - pre-application meeting
Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
Save the date! Please email [email protected] for more information.
Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District - 2nd Public Meeting
Date: Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
Stay tuned for more information on the 2nd Public Meeting on the Kensington HCD Study! The consultants are continuing their work, and will use this opportunity to provide an update on their findings and get feedback.
September 7, 2016
Kensington Block Party (5 - 9pm)
St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Church
Join me and the community for food, drinks, live entertainment, and a silent auction -- all proceeds to benefit the Kensington Market Refugee Project! Visit their website for more information: www.kensingtonmarketrefugeeproject.com.
September 11th, 2016
Harbord Village Fall Fair (12pm)
Brunswick Avenue, at Ulster Street
One of the best events of the year! This annual festival is taking place on Brunswick Avenue this year, due to the revitalization of Margaret Fairley Park. Visit the HVRA website for more information.
September 12th, 2016
JCC Saltwater Pool Grand Opening (8:45am)
JCC (750 Spadina Avenue)
Construction is nearing completion on the JCC's new saltwater pool! Join me for the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony. More information, including the schedule, can be found here.
September 14th, 2016
Toronto Ward Boundary Review - public consultation (7 - 9pm)
Metro Hall (55 John Street)
The Toronto Ward Boundary Review Team is seeking public input on their additional information report (www.drawthelines.ca/additional-info-report). For more information, see the event flyer here.
September 16-18th, 2016
Kensington Market Jazz Festival
Venues throughout the Market
Kensington is getting its very own Jazz Festival this year! Venues throughout the Market will be hosting performances all weekend. Check out their website for all the shows!
September 18th, 2016
Open Streets TO (10am-2pm)
Bloor Street W / Danforth Ave (Dufferin - Hampton) and Yonge Street (Queen - Bloor)
Join us for the second 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 19th, 2016
Toronto Tree Protection Bylaws - information session (6:30 - 8:30pm)
Metro Hall (55 John Street), Room 308
Join Forestry staff and LEAF for an information session on recognizing and reporting contraventions to the City's Tree and Private Trees Bylaws. For more information, see the event flyer here.
September 25th, 2016
Word on the Street (11am - 6pm)
Participate in hundreds of author readings, discussions, and activities, and shop in a marketplace that boasts the best selection of Canadian books and magazines you’ll find anywhere. More information here.
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 [email protected] for an appointment.