The Cressy Courier: Rail Deck Park, Waterworks revitalization, and more!
Dear friend --
It may still feel like summer outside, but the fall season is in full swing at City Hall. Committees are back in session and City Council returns in early October. Soon, we'll begin critical conversations on the 2017 Budget, where we'll all need to come together to ensure we are investing to build an equitable and liveable City.
Many of our projects are also taking critical steps forward.
Next steps for Rail Deck Park, consultations on our 505 Richmond Waterworks Revitalization, area and neighbourhood planning studies and a number of local park revitalizations are just a few of the many things we're moving forward.
Take a look below for more information on these and many other critical projects happening in and around our communities.
I look forward to seeing all of you in and around the neighbourhood.
Rail Deck Park - moving forward
As our community grows, we must focus on building neighbourhoods and not just condo towers – that's why we've been working hard together to make the critical and worthwhile investments in community facilities in Ward 20, and continuing efforts to secure much-needed parkland downtown.
With Rail Deck Park, we can address this growing need for green space in our community. In August, Mayor Tory and I 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 and critical resource for our neighbourhoods, and a new central park for all of Toronto.
Over the next 25 years, the population of downtown Toronto is expected to double to nearly 500,000 people. And in our local neighbourhood where Rail Deck Park will be located, the population has already grown from 945 people in 1996 to nearly 50,000 residents today. The numbers are astounding. Unfortunately, the development of new parkland has not kept pace with this growth. In fact, downtown Toronto already suffers from parkland deficiency, and without action, it will only get worse in the future.
At today's Executive Committee, a report was approved to take the first steps to move this bold and ambitious plan forward. Recommendations for the first phase of work include drafting Official Plan Amendments to designate the space above the rail corridor as park space and developing a detailed implementation plan to include next steps for negotiating air rights, cost estimates, partnership strategies and funding options. Staff will also be reviewing our current processes for collecting parkland acquisition funds through new developments (Section 42 funds), and well as other growth-related revenue options, and considering how these can be used to ensure that growth in our city really does pay for growth. The recommendations will now go before City Council for approval on October 5 and 6.
Building Rail Deck Park won't happen overnight – it will take years. And, it will represent a significant investment for our City. However, to build the city we want – a city that is equitable, liveable and sustainable for all our friends and neighbours – we must invest in the services and infrastructure to do it. Affordable housing, libraries, community centres, child care services, and new and creative park spaces.
Rail Deck Park is bold, it is ambitious, and it is exactly the type of big project the City of Toronto is ready for. Read more about this exciting project in my recent op-ed in the Torontoist.
It was a delight to meet so many King-Spadina residents at the open house for the Waterworks Revitalization on September 10. It was an excellent turnout for the launch of this important project, which will include a 54,000 square feet YMCA, affordable housing units managed by Artscape, heritage restoration and a new home for the Eva's Phoenix youth shelter. We will also be expanding and upgrading Saint Andrew's Playground in coordination with the Waterworks Revitalization.
These community services and facilities are desperately needed in the neighbourhood due to the rapid pace of population growth in the past two decades. In 1996, less than 1,000 people lived in King-Spadina, and the latest estimates say we are on track for roughly 50,000 residents soon. In that time, we haven't built a new community centre or a major new park for this population.
If you missed the open house, you can read about it in blogTO. The official community consultation meeting to discuss the re-zoning application will be held on October 24, 2016, at 7 p.m. in Metro Hall (room 310).
CityPlace Power Outages
In recent weeks, CityPlace residents endured a number of power outages including an extended failure that took place over Labour Day weekend. This has been an unacceptable situation for the community, particularly residents with mobility challenges who cannot use the stairs, and who are dependent on air conditioning for health reasons.
Toronto Hydro has written a letter explaining what they know so far about the power outages, and you can view it by clicking here. I have been advocating strongly for Toronto Hydro to communicate directly and promptly with CityPlace residents and businesses because it is clear that shortcomings with Toronto Hydro's hotline and website worsened the challenges experienced in CityPlace.
Any power outage is a problem but the repeated incidents are a deep concern. Efforts are already underway to replace the infrastructure that is believed to be responsible for the power outages. At the next City Council meeting in October, I will be requesting a formal review of the capacity and maintenance of electrical infrastructure serving CityPlace, as well as the communications protocols in place for major failures like these. We need to address both the immediate problem as well as look ahead to any potential issues that might be caused by rapid population growth and increased electricity demand.
I will continue to work closely with Toronto Hydro to ensure that this urgent problem is investigated and fully resolved without delay, so that the CityPlace community can be confident again in the reliability of the electricity supply.
Ward Boundary Review - update
The Toronto Ward Boundary Review, 'Draw the Lines', is looking at the size and shape of Toronto's wards. The Review is being done to ensure each person in Toronto is fairly represented at City Council. A key focus of the Toronto Ward Boundary Review is making sure the number of people in each ward is similar to other wards in the city. This is the most important component of effective representation.
The Final report, including a new recommended ward structure, was presented by the consultant team to Executive Committee in May 2016. At that meeting, Executive Committee asked for the consultant team to conduct further refinements to its recommendations, and bring additional information back this fall.
The TWBR team developed the Additional Information Report in response and is now seeking input on two items presented in the Report:
- REVISED OPTION 2 which has 44 wards and incorporates the refinements suggested during the TWBR public consultation process in August - November 2015; and;
- A WARD OPTION that is aligned, where possible, with the boundaries of the 25 federal and provincial ridings.
Both options have major implications for Ward 20, and I am thoroughly reviewing each of the options to determine the best options to maintain the communities of interest and connection that have been established over so many years of work together.
I would encourage each of you to review the recommendations and provide your comments. Click here to provide your comments on the additional information.
Bloor Street Cultural Corridor
We are one step closer to officially recognizing Bloor Street, between Bathurst and Bay, as a Culture Corridor! On Monday, September 19th, the Economic Development Committee passed the recommendation to do so and it will be heading to City Council on October 5th.
This stretch of Bloor Street is unique and includes world-class arts organizations presenting professional arts and culture events in destination venues. They include: Alliance Française de Toronto, Bata Shoe Museum, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, Gardiner Museum, Instituto Italiano di Cultura, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Royal Conservatory of Music/Koerner Hall, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir, Talisker Players, Toronto Consort and the University of Toronto - Faculty of Music.
I look forward to discussing this in Council with my colleagues and to the future of working to promote and develop the Bloor Street Culture Corridor as an arts and culture destination in our City.
University of Toronto Secondary Plan
The University of Toronto has submitted their application for their updated Secondary Plan for the St. George Campus. The University has retained Urban Strategies to develop the updated Secondary Plan, in consultation with representatives from the Annex Residents’ Association, the Huron-Sussex Residents’ Organization, the Hardboard Village Residents’ Association and the Grange Community Association.
The Secondary Plan application is available for your review at http://stgeorgesecondaryplan.utoronto.ca/.
City Planning will be organizing community consultations to give residents a chance to review the plan and provide comments. We will be posting the meeting notice once the date, time and location are finalized and the City will be sending notices via Canada Post to residents in surrounding neighbourhoods.
Huron Street Playground
If you've been in the Annex recently, you may have noticed that work is underway at the Huron Street Playground. Site preparation and preliminary demolition began earlier this month. We are thrilled to be able to revitalize this neighbourhood playground, through the City's Playground Enhancement Program. Initiated in 2005, the Program provides funding for playground enhancement and replacement of 12 playgrounds per year.
The plans for the park were developed through community consultations, which included public meetings and online posting for feedback. In addition, we reached out directly to the playground's primary users – the children in the community! At our public meeting we heard a desire to open the park to the community and so as part of this round of improvements we are going to be removing the fence that encloses the playground itself. This will allow us to expand the play area and increase access while maintaining safety through planting beds and soft borders.
The whole project is on track to be completed before the new year.
In this round of design iterations there was a deliberate decision to leave an open space on the western side of the park. Once this round of playground enhancement is completed, we are looking forward to conversations about the creation of an officially sanctioned dog off leash area (DOLA). The first step to initiate this process is the establishment of a local dog owners association, who can then submit an official request for a DOLA. A dog owners association requires a minimum of 2 members. For more information on the request process, please see this link.
Dupont and Spadina derailment
Rail safety is a critical issue in our community. The recent train derailment at Dupont and Spadina last month was a stark reminder that having freight rail running through our neighbourhoods can represent a serious risk. While this specific incident was contained, we need to ensure that everything possible is done to protect our communities.
Earlier this year, my Council colleagues and I wrote a joint letter to Transportation Minister, Marc Garneau, which you can read here. At a recent Town Hall in the Annex in the spring, the Minister promised those in attendance that rail safety was his one of his "top priorities." I plan on holding the Minister to this promise and will continue to advocate for the safety and security of those Toronto residents that live next to the rail tracks.
The City of Toronto is also currently developing a report on what is referred to as the ‘Missing Link’ – a gap in the rail network that, if constructed, would allow for the diversion of freight rail activities north of the City. Staff were directed in June to report back on the ‘Missing Link’ initiative within twelve months in consultation with Metrolinx, other municipalities, levels of government and transportation agencies.
In the meantime, I sincerely hope that the Government of Canada will take further action to protect Toronto’s residents. We all deserve to live in safe communities.
The Brunswick-College Parkette revitalization is entering its final stages, with the project set for completion in early November.
Meanwhile the city's public consultation process is also underway to get one more round of feedback on the proposed name for the new and improved Parkette. The name that is being considered, "The Doctors' Parkette," is the outcome of a community-led initiative by the Harbord Village Residents' Association, and is a tribute to the many doctors and health care professionals, past, present and future, who have made their homes within the community.
Clarence Square - welcoming the Lady Eaton Fountain
After lots of hard work and careful restoration, the stately Lady Eaton Fountain has been installed in its new permanent home, Clarence Square Park.
Now that the fountain is in place and the basin waterproofing is complete, the contractors are installing the detailed edging and new pathways. Once the pathways are laid, new turf will be put down and the park can re-open in better condition than ever.
Bishop Tutu Community Mural Unveiled
At a community barbeque last month, Bishop Tutu residents unveiled two new murals that the whole community had a hand in creating. Coming together following a tragic shooting last summer, community leaders knew it was important for the project to be something that everyone could participate in.
These murals are a fantastic example of a community working together to create something positive from a challenging and terrible incident. Congratulations to Bishop Tutu residents, Arcadia Co-op, and neighbours!
Tenant Leader Jacqueline McLaughlin deserves special recognition for her tireless efforts to see these murals completed, making connections, finding youth leaders, and securing partners. I would also like to thank all the community partners who stepped up with support and resources, including the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre.
Margaret Fairley Park - update
The Margaret Fairley Park revitalization continues to move ahead! Site preparation and grading was completed earlier this month and construction of the play structures will proceed shortly. As we get closer to completion we are excited to continue working closely with community representatives to complete the finishing touches. The project is set for completion in November, and I look forward to celebrating the newly improved park with friends and neighbours from around the community.
Dupont by the Castle BIA - Streets signs honour indigenous history
Inspired by and in partnership with Ogimaa Mikana, the Dupont by the Castle BIA has erected new street signs in the Annex to highlight the rich Indigenous history of the area. The official City signs include the Anishinaabe names for Spadina and Davenport where they intersect with Dupont.
This is an amazing initiative and I am proud of the BIA and Ogimaa Mikana for their efforts in officially recognizing the indigenous history of this part of the City and hopefully inspiring similar efforts City-wide. For more on this story, check out CBC coverage here.
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
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. Please contact my office for more information on the meeting as it gets confirmed.
College Street Study - Public Meeting
Date: Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
City staff have been hard at work incorporating community feedback into the College Street Study, and they are ready to present their recommendations. Join us to learn more about the City's vision for College Street and provide your final round of comments. Please contact my office for more information on the meeting as it gets confirmed.
September 24, 2016
Alexandra Park Revitalization Celebration - Phase 1A Completion (2 - 6pm)
Corner of Vanauley Street and Paul Lane Gardens
Join the community for a celebration of the completion of Phase 1A of the Alexandra Park Revitalization! For all the details, see the event flyer here.
September 25, 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.
Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market
The second last PSK of the year is on September 25th! Join the fun starting at 12:00pm -- there will be live musical performances and other community activities. And it's all car-free!
Find out more on the Kensington BIA website here.
Future Cities Talk (2:30pm)
Ontario Place, West Island
Hosted by Waterfront Toronto’s CEO William Fleissig, this series of talks will challenge culture-makers and urbanists to reimagine what it means to be a city builder. On the closing afternoon of in/future: a transformative art experience, we’ll gather leading voices who will present radical new ideas for building future communities.
The introduction by Eb Zeidler (Zeidler Partnership Architects) and Margie Zeidler (Urbanspace Property Group) will discuss the utopian design of leisure spaces like Ontario Place and shared work spaces like 401 Richmond, and how both projects have changed the face of our City in the past 40 years. Reserve a free ticket here: infuturetalks.eventbrite.ca.
CityPlace & Fort York BIA Movie Night: The Goonies (8pm)
Canoe Landing Park
Free popcorn, ice cream, and non-alcoholic beverages beginning at 7 p.m.
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.