This past month has been a very busy month and as a result there are a lot of important community and city updates in this e-newsletter. My annual Ward 18 Easter Egg Hunt at Dufferin Grove Park will be taking place this year on Saturday March 26 from 1pm to 3pm. This is a great and fun family oriented event where I encourage you to bring your kids to hunt for easter eggs in the park. We will have arts and crafts, face painting, dancing, and of course chocolate for the kids after they find the easter eggs. In order to ensure that we have enough treats for everyone, I am asking that you register by clicking here and letting us know how many children will be attending with you in the "How many other people are you bringing" box in the registration form. I hope to see you and your family there!
The past month was also a busy month on the housing file. The Mayor's Task Force on Toronto Community Housing (TCH) released it's final report with 29 recommendations geared to deliver transformational change to the way that TCH operates. The Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi visited Toronto in late January to announce the next steps in the federal infrastructure program and to visit TCH properties, gaining a valuable understanding of both the challenges and opportunities ahead. I also had the opportunity to join the Provincial Minister of the Environment Glen Murray and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews as they announced $92 million for social housing energy retrofits across Ontario.
It was great to hear from so many of you via e-mail, over the phone and at my Ward 18 Budget Town Hall about the 2016 Toronto Budget. Toronto City Council has now passed the 2016 budget and I have included in this e-newsletter an important update on what this means and next steps. I have also included the latest update regarding the ongoing City labour negotiations, the City's transit planning initiatives, recent housing announcements, and a whole host of local updates including the Davenport Diamond, the Galleria Mall, College Street construction updates, the UP Express, and more! I hope that you are able to take the time to read these important community and city updates.
Yours in community,
Ward 18, Davenport
Galleria Mall Update
In 2004 before I was elected to City Council, the previous owners of the Galleria Mall went through a re-zoning process, which was approved by the City to develop the Galleria Mall site. The initial plan for the site was to create a phased mixed-use commercial residential development containing 1,600 residential units in 6 buildings between 6 and 19 storeys in height as well as a block of twenty, 3 ½ story stacked townhouses on the site. More details on the initial approval can be found in this staff report. For whatever reason, the previous owners did not proceed with construction of the project.
Fast forward to today and some of you may be aware that the Galleria Mall site was purchased in late 2015 by Freed Developments and ELAD Canada with an intention to develop the site. They have decided to not move forward with the previously approved plans and have indicated that they intent to submit a new development proposal. However, it is important to note that they do have the right to build what was previously approved.
Due to the fact that the new developers intend to submit a new proposal for the site, community consultation is necessary. Given the large scale of the site and the need to provide the developers with a holistic understanding of the local community's needs/concerns, the developer is consulting local residents, businesses, and organizations before the formal consultation process required under the Planning Act. To date, many issues have been raised including the need to incorporate independent retail, a place for seniors to gather, affordability (both in terms of housing and retail), improved mobility and green space on the site, and the need to preserve the history of the site/neighbourhood.
On January 23, the developers organized an open house to hear directly from local residents as to what they would like to see as part of the site's future development. The meeting was very well attended and residents provided a lot of feedback to the developers. They have also setup a website http://reimaginegalleria.com/ in order to update the community on their plans and to solicit feedback from residents. There will be another open house taking place on Saturday April 2 from 11am to 4pm. Once I have more details on this open house I will be sharing them with you.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to contact me at anytime.
Metrolinx has issued Notice of Commencement for the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) on the Davenport Diamond Grade Separation. A TPAP is a six month streamlined environmental assessment process to expedite the development of transit projects. The first four months of this process is when the proponent (Metrolinx) needs to formally consult stakeholders including the public and document those findings in an Environmental Project Report (EPR). To find out more about the TPAP process please click here to read an in-depth guide from the Province of Ontario.
Metrolinx has organized community drop-in sessions to give residents an opportunity to directly ask questions and to record your feedback as part of the formal record for the project. The drop-in sessions are taking place on Wednesday February 24 from 11am to 1pm at the Perth-Dupont Library (1589 Dupont St), Friday February 26 from 11:30am to 1:30pm at MPP Cristina Martin's Office (1199 Bloor St W), and on Saturday February 27 from 12pm to 2pm at the Perth-Dupont Library (1589 Dupont St). It is also my understanding that they will be organizing a public meeting to discuss this project further.
The Bloor Improvement Group (BIG) has also organized a meeting for Metrolinx and two different residents groups to present to the community about the work that they are currently doing. There will also be a question and answer session for the benefit of those attending. The meeting is being held on Wednesday March 2 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the New Horizons Tower (1140 Bloor St W).
I have been working hard in advocating for the best possible outcome for our community ever since Metrolinx proposed this project back in March 2015. To see my previous updates on this project please click here. I encourage you to participate in this process, to ask any questions that you may have, and to share your thoughts with Metrolinx as part of the TPAP process. You can view the Metrolinx project website by clicking here.
UP Express Fares and Commuter Opportunities
Last week, I sent a letter to Metrolinx President & CEO Bruce McCuaig reiterating many of our calls over the years asking for affordable fares and commuter options on the Union Pearson Express. As some of you may have seen in the news today, Metrolinx and the Province have listened to our calls and the calls of many others from all across our city by reducing fares on the UP Express and creating opportunities for commuters to use the line. This is a welcome step and something that I know many of you will appreciate. Fares on the UP Express for one and two stops will now be the same as GO fares, meaning that it will now cost adults $4.71 to travel one stop and $5.02 for two stops using your Presto card. Children under 12 years of age and under are able to ride for free and seniors/students will be able to ride at discounted GO fare levels. For more information and a full fare breakdown, please click here. To read my letter to Metrolinx please click here to read the PDF version.
501 Queen Streetcar Improvements
The TTC has made significant service changes to the 501 Queen Streetcar in order to make it more reliable and more frequent. This includes 10-minutes-or-better service and service increases. With regards to these recent service changes, it means that extra morning peak period trips have been added, that service is to be operated every 10 minutes or better, and the route has been split into two in order to provide more efficient service. The Queen Streetcar is one of the busiest routes in the city, carrying approximately 43,500 people per day and it is also the longest streetcar route. I have been active in advocating for better service on the Queen Streetcar to the TTC and will continue to advocate for better transit options for those living in Ward 18.
640 Lansdowne Ave Update
Further to my December 2015 update regarding the 640 Lansdowne Ave site, I asked the TTC to provide me with more information to share with the community on past actions taken by the TTC as it relates to this property. Please click here to view information provided by the TTC and for public notices and fact sheets that were distributed in 2005/2006 to properties near the 640 Lansdowne Ave site.
Currently, Build Toronto commenced environmental investigations in early December 2015 as part of their due diligence with respect to establishing future development potential of the property. These environmental investigations include the drilling of boreholes, installation of monitoring wells, and soil testing. Once I have more information I will be sharing it with the community.
Wallace Emerson Community Centre Renovations Complete
I am pleased to let you know that the roof and pool piping replacement project at the Wallace Emerson Community Centre has now been completed. This major capital repair addresses how important it is for our City facilities to be in a good state of good repair to ensure the health and safety of occupants. Regular programming in the pool has commenced and it is available for public use. I hope you are able to enjoy the facilities again.
College Street Construction Information
The City of Toronto will be doing construction near College St this summer between Lansdowne Ave and Bathurst St. This work includes watermain upgrades on Lansdowne Ave, TTC intersection reconstruction at College St and Lansdowne Ave, and College Promenade BIA streetscape improvements. Public drop-in sessions have been organized so you can find out more information. For more information, please click here to view the PDF flyer.
Metrolinx Work on the Kitchener Corridor Bridge over Lansdowne Ave
Metrolinx will be performing work on the Kitchener Corridor bridge over Lansdowne Ave south of Dundas St W. They are replacing the three bridge spans on the north side of the bridge and they will need to close Lansdowne Ave for three weekends in March and April to perform this work. For more information, please click here to view the flyer.
Last week, Toronto City Council adopted the City's 2016 tax supported operating budget of $10.1 billion and it's 10-year capital budget and plan of $21 billion. The budget makes strategic investments in important priorities such as poverty reduction, transit, affordable housing, emergency medical services, arts & culture, and infrastructure to name just a few. Unlike other levels of government, the City is required by law to pass a balanced budget - a true sign of our fiscal prudence. In addition to the targeted investments made, this year's budget also maintains current service levels and contains a 1.3% residential property tax increase, which is near inflation. After taking into account the 0.6% Scarborough subway levy and the City's overall strategy to enhance Toronto's business climate, the average house assessed at $549,586 will pay 2.69% or $72.26 more than last year in municipal property taxes for a total of $2,748 for 2016. Even when taking this into account, Toronto still has the lowest property taxes in the entire GTA.
Many of you asked me at my recent Budget Town Hall and in the community, why your property taxes have gone up more than the average. One reason for this is because property values in our area of the city have gone up more than the city-wide average. In fact, our area has seen the highest property value increase as a percentage across the entire city. As you know, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) determines the value of properties and provides this data to the City. In situations where property values go up more than the city-wide average, the property tax on those properties are increased. In our case for 2016, it means that residential properties will pay an additional 0.25% on top of the 2.69% increase, meaning a total property tax increase of approximately 2.94%. However, if property values in our area decreased or increased less than the city-wide average, we would see a property tax decrease. The upside to our current situation is that those who own properties benefit by being able to sell them for more money or to utilize more equity in their homes, but the downside means that we face a higher than average property tax increase right now.
The City Manager this year went to great pains to highlight that Toronto will be facing some very serious budgetary challenges next year and in the future and that it will be up to City Council to determine how to fix these challenges. On the operating side, this is expected to be the last year where there will be significant revenue growth in the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT), which is expected to bring in just over $500 million in revenue this year and has been a contributing factor to the City keeping property taxes low since the MLTT was established in 2008. For comparison, the City currently receives almost $4 billion in property taxes and if we eliminated the MLTT tomorrow, we would need to raise property taxes by approximately 13.5% to make up the difference in revenues. The below slide from he City Manager's presentation highlights the loss in revenue growth the City will see with the flat-lining of the MLTT after 2016.
On the capital side, the City has approximately $22 billion in capital projects that are currently unfunded and not included in our 10-year capital plan. This includes important capital projects such as the City's share of SmartTrack, the Downtown Relief Line, state of good repair backlogs, shelter system improvements, waterfront transit, and much more. I have included another good slide from the City Manager's presentation below to illustrate this point.
In addition to what I have mentioned above and as we do every year, the City needs to also take into account other budgetary pressures facing the 2017 budget, including the continued loss of Provincial pooling funding, increased compensation and benefit expenses, the ever increasing police services budget, impacts from prior year decisions, and more. I want to be clear, the City has done a lot of work in the last two years to make up for a lot of the cuts that we have seen in the past - especially towards investing in expanding TTC service right away to provide relief and to help meet the needs of our growing population.
In my view, it is clear that all of us (residents and politicians alike) need to think long and hard about what kind of city do we want to live in? Do we want to be a city that addresses and invests in it's capital infrastructure to improve our quality of life and get people moving? Do we want to continue to keep property taxes low in order to help seniors and other lower income residents stay in their homes? How can we provide better and more efficient services? Do we want to expand City services to meet the current needs of our population? Do we want to consider paying other forms of taxes, fees, and revenues in a more fair manner in order to do the things that I have just mentioned?
The City Manager has been very clear that in order to just continue on the path that we are going, we need to seriously consider revenue tools as a means to diversity the City budget and to meet some of our priorities. Many other City Councillors have likewise expressed this opinion and we will be receiving a report later this year on updated options available to the City. Some of these options could include items such as a tobacco/alcohol tax, an entertainment tax, a parking levy on non-residential spaces, road tolls, a hotel tax, a sales tax, or a development levy to name just a few. If we want to have a good quality of life and be competitive in comparison to many other global cities, we need to consider how we compare on all fronts including the different types of revenues other cities collect. I believe that this is a very serious and real conversation that all of us need to have with the facts and impacts in front of us. I will be starting this conversation with you later on this year so that we are prepared to make decisions affecting our community and city for the 2017 budget process.
Toronto Police Budget
During the City's budget process this year, the Toronto Police Service Budget received a lot of attention in the media and from politicians, activists, residents, and many others. As your City Councillor, I want to make sure that you know where I stand on this very important issue.
For the first time, the police budget is over one billion dollars and represents almost $700 out of the average municipal portion of the property tax bill.
The reality is that more than 90 per cent of the police budget is related to salary and employment costs. While this is currently the case, I strongly believe that we need to take a much harder look at the police budget and to fully investigate ideas and solutions that will keep Torontonians safe and also deliver policing services in a more efficient, modern, and cost effective manner.
However, arbitrarily cutting the police budget without detailing what will be affected will not achieve what I believe is the overwhelming desire of most Torontonians: to see real structural reform at the Toronto Police Service.
In my view, we need to approach this issue in a thoughtful and methodological way. That is exactly why I supported a motion which aims for the City to limit increases in the Toronto Police Service budget in 2017 and over the foreseeable future.
City Council has requested the Toronto Police Services Board to expedite the implementation of recommendations contained in the KPMG Opportunities for the Future report of December 17, 2015, as well as other opportunities for structural change to improve efficiency in advance of the 2017 budget cycle.
City Council has also requested that the Toronto Police Services Board specifically focus on recommendations such as the civilianization of non-core elements of its Court Services, Parking Enforcement, and other duties including paid duty, premium pay, and the employment of technology to improve demand management and staff deployment.
I am hopeful that this change starts now with a newly appointed Task Force comprised of 6 civilians and 6 officers. The Task Force has a mandate to examine the delivery of policing in Toronto and offer recommendations by this June focused on cost containment, modernizing operations, producing real and sustainable reductions to the budget and building public trust. Some of the Task Force members include respected figures such as former Toronto Auditor General Jeffery Griffiths, former Toronto Budget Chief David Soknacki, community leader Ken Jeffers, change management expert and Trillium Health Partners CEO Michelle E. DiEmanuele, and CivicAction CEO Sevaun Palvetzian.
To conclude, you have my commitment that I will be approaching this issue with an open mind and a real desire to see structural reform at the Toronto Police Service. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you in the months ahead.
Labour Relations at the City
Last week, the City reached a tentative agreement with the Toronto Civic Employees' Union Local 416 (CUPE) which represents the City's 4,200 outside workers including garbage collection staff. The tentative agreement must be ratified by the Local 416 membership and subsequently approved by Toronto City Council. Local 416 will be voting on the agreement on February 25 and the Union executive is recommending that its members ratify the agreement. If the agreement is ratified by the Union, City Council will then be voting on it afterwards. Details of the agreement will be released once it has been ratified and approved by both parties.
Bargaining with Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79, which represents approximately 21,000 inside workers, continues. Local 79 is now in a legal strike position, and the City also has the ability to lock out these workers. As 12:01am Monday morning, Local 79 employees have started a work-to-rule campaign. What this means is that Local 79 workers will still be performing their job descriptions but will not be engaging in additional work such as staying late and workers will be taking their full breaks and lunches that they are entitled to in their collective agreements.
City services provided by Local 79 members include child care centres operated by the City and at this present time all City services should not be affected. However, there will be service disruptions if Local 79 decides to strike or if the City decides to lock them out.
In the case that there is a strike or lockout, you will still be able to contact my office by calling 416-392-7012 or by e-mailing email@example.com and we will be available to assist and answer any questions you may have. You can also see the City's contingency service delivery plan in the case of a strike or lockout by clicking here. As negotiations continue, I will be posting any new developments on social media.
I am still optimistic that there will be a negotiated agreement that is both fair and reasonable to Local 79 members and the City. I am also hopeful that there will be no disruption to the important city services that Ward 18 residents rely on.
Mayor's Task Force on Toronto Community Housing
In late January, the final report of the Mayor's Task Force on Toronto Community Housing (TCH) was released. As Toronto's Housing Advocate, I welcome the recommendations outlined in the report and would like to thank Senator Art Eggleton and the members of the Task Force who have worked tirelessly to develop this comprehensive report.
In 2012, I led a Council-backed effort to address TCH's capital repair funding challenges. The result was a series of recommendations contained in the report Putting People First. I believe the Task Force Report does just that and builds on the solid foundation of our earlier work.
In fact, the City and TCH have made considerable progress in putting the people of our social housing communities first. We have increased capital repair investments to $250 million from $50 million annually, moved ahead with revitalization projects in more communities, developed partnerships, and stabilized the organization. As well, the City has assumed management of the social-housing wait list.
Together, the City, TCH, and our supporters ran the Close the Housing Gap Campaign to persuade the federal and provincial governments to step up, not back, when it comes to funding social, co-op, and affordable housing. The campaign helped to put social housing back on the political agenda. However, because of TCH's structure and history, the organization is unsustainable financially and socially. It needs the transformational change proposed in the Task Force report to better provide clean, safe, well-maintained, affordable homes for residents and better serve our communities.
To mention a few, the report recommends creating a community-based, non-profit housing provider, a decentralized organizational structure, and an aggressive building program. It suggests moving to more mixed communities and on-site hubs in partnership with other non-profit organizations to better serve residents.
The City Manager will be assessing the report and will be reporting to the Executive Committee this spring with an overall approach for how to move forward with TCH transformation; and will deliver a a second report by the fall outlining a detailed, long-term implementation plan for transformation.
There is a lot of work to do in the months ahead and it is crucial that this implementation plan is developed together with Toronto City Council and TCH residents to ensure success. The proposed changes have the potential to vastly improve the lives of TCH residents. But, equally important, they can complement and enhance the City’s on-going affordable housing efforts, including the establishment of the Open Door Program, and can improve and strengthen the delivery of housing in our city.
Moving forward, the success and sustainability of TCH is the first step. But through the implementation of Task Force report I see the potential to strengthen our entire non-profit housing sector. We can create a resident-focused culture in the delivery of housing through more transparency and choice. As well, we can provide service-based access to housing with better and more mixed housing communities in greater numbers through building and revitalization projects with private and non-profit partners.
For this plan to be successful, we need our federal and provincial partners at the table and, most importantly, the collaboration and involvement of TCH residents every step of the way. There is not one order of government or one sector in our society that can tackle this issue. We need collaboration, innovation, and commitment to address what is one of the biggest social and economic challenges in Toronto and Canada.
Because the way forward is through partnerships, I look forward to working with the Mayor, my Council colleagues, City staff, organized labour, stakeholders, TCH, and its residents as we review the recommendations and embark on a process to provide clean, safe, well maintained, and affordable homes for over 110,000 TCH residents and the hundreds of thousands more who are in need of affordable housing in our city. They deserve no less.
You can read the final report by clicking here.
Provincial Investment in Social Housing Energy Retrofits
Two weeks ago, I joined Deputy Premier Deb Matthews and Minister of the Environment Glen Murray as they announced that the Province of Ontario is investing $92 million for energy retrofits of social housing buildings across the Province. As Toronto's Housing Advocate, I welcome this investment and it comes at an important time and addresses two key City priorities: affordable housing and climate change.
Our social housing providers face huge capital repair backlogs that have social, economic, and also environmental impacts. The reality is that the majority of Toronto's social housing stock is over 50 years old, built at a time and with materials that do not reflect today's energy efficiency standards. Toronto Community Housing has also seen its utility costs increase by 37 per cent in just the last 5 years, creating an enormous pressure on its operating budget.
This investment from the Province will help to address these issues and builds on the work that the City has been doing to improve the quality of life of our social housing residents and in accelerating energy retrofits. We understand how important these retrofits are, because the energy consumed in Toronto's social housing buildings generates 23 per cent of the city's residential greenhouse gas emissions.
The economic, social, and environmental benefits of making this investment are clear to me. It will improve Toronto's affordable housing stock, reduce carbon emissions for the City, and lower utility costs for social housing providers. Toronto has also been recognized internationally for our leadership on the environment and I am proud that our own efforts are supporting and complimenting the Province's ambitious climate change goals.
I look forward to continuing to work with the Province to tackle these challenges and to ensure that we have a healthier and more vibrant Toronto and Ontario.
To find out more about the program please click here.
Minister Sohi visits Toronto Community Housing in Regent Park
On January 21, 2016, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi visited Toronto to give a keynote speech at the Toronto Board of Trade, outlining the Federal Government's strategy to distribute infrastructure spending. For the first two years of their infrastructure program, they will be focusing infrastructure funding towards shovel ready projects that can make a real impact right away - things like repairs to Toronto Community Housing buildings, TTC equipment, and energy retrofits. Another welcome focus is that they will also be distributing funds to municipalities, who are well positioned to make these investments immediately.
Following the Board of Trade speech, Minister Sohi met with Mayor Tory, Toronto Community Housing officials, and I in order for us to highlight the challenges that TCH is facing and the opportunities that could be realized by investing in social housing repairs. We reiterated the fact that the City is looking to the Federal Government to contribute a 1/3 share of TCH's $2.6 billion 10-year capital plan, which aims to drastically increase the state of good repair in TCH buildings. We also toured Regent Park in order to show Minister Sohi the difference between a brand new and old TCH unit to underscore how much we can improve the quality of life for those who live in TCH communities all across Toronto. I am hopeful that the Federal Government understands how important it is to make these repairs and the need to commit federal funding to do so.
Scarborough Subway and SmartTrack Rapid Transit Updates
There was a lot of news this past month on the transit file, including updates on SmartTrack, the Scarborough Subway, and the Downtown Relief Line. These updates have positive impacts on the future of transit planning in our city and shows a renewed focus to utilize data in making the best transit planning decisions for our city.
A ridership study has been jointly conducted by the University of Toronto and the City Planning division in order to examine the ridership impacts of different SmartTrack proposals. The results are most positive if SmartTrack trains are operated every five minutes at TTC fare levels. In this scenario, SmartTrack could attract more than 300,000 daily riders by 2031 - more than the entire daily ridership of the GO network. SmartTrack would also ease pressures on both Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) and Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina), providing relief for Ward 18 residents.
A feasibility review has also been released with regards to SmartTrack's proposed western corridor to the Airport Corporate Centre. Due to the high costs and projected low ridership on this section, it is being recommended that instead of heavy rail such as SmartTrack, an LRT be built from Mount Dennis to the Airport Corporate Centre. This LRT line would be an extension of the currently under construction Eglinton Crosstown LRT and would provide superior transit benefits to this part of the city.
City staff have also reported to the Executive Committee on recommended changes to rapid transit plans in Scarborough. The report recommends that the three stop Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) extension to the Scarborough Town Centre be changed to a one stop extension, terminating at the Scarborough Town Centre. Utilizing these projected savings, it is proposed that the Eglinton Crosstown LRT be extended eastwards to the University of Toronto Scarborough and named Crosstown East. To name a few, this line would directly serve 5 neighbourhood improvement areas, provide rapid transit along 8 km of avenues, connect to two existing GO RER stations, and improve access to rapid transit in an area of the city that currently has none.
Finally, City Planning has recommended a comprehensive network of rapid transit for our entire City with recommended timelines as to when it should be built over the next 30 years. The proposed network is ambitious and would help transform our city for the better - truly creating a city to live, work, and play. Contained within it are the new proposals outlined above but also a recommended route for the Downtown Relief Line in the east-end and proposals to build rapid transit along Toronto's waterfront. You can download the slide deck in PDF format that outlines all of this by clicking here.
On all of these files, I welcome these new developments and look forward to hearing more from City staff on the feasibility of these proposals so we can get to work and actually build the transit that our city desperately needs. To find out more about transit planning in Toronto and to read the reports I have mentioned above, please click here.
I hope that some of you had a chance to experience the NBA All Star Game festivities here in Toronto two weekends ago. I know that when I visited the Enercare Centre on the Exhibition Place grounds during the All Star Weekend, I saw many families enjoying the festivities. Major events like these have huge economic benefits for our city - both from the amount of money visitors spend on hotels, transportation, restaurants, and retail to the long-term profile building this does for our city on the international stage. It is projected that the All Star Game has brought in over $100 million into our economy.
I am mentioning this because Toronto is seriously considering bidding on Expo 2025, a prestigious international event held every five years in a different city. Expo 2025 would attract approximately 40 million tourists and would last six months. Hosting Expo 2025 would be a great marketing opportunity and create economic development opportunities of approximately $8 billion for Toronto. The head of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), an organization responsible for overseeing and regulating Word Expos visited Toronto in late January to speak at the Toronto Board of Trade. I had the opportunity to attend various meetings and functions with BIE and other officials to discuss the feasibility of Toronto bidding on such an event. No decision has been made yet but I encourage you to let me know your thoughts of Toronto hosting such an event. You can read more about Toronto exploring a potential bid to host Expo 2025 in a recent news article here.
TTC 2016 Customer Charter
The TTC has released their 2016 Customer Charter. Designed to track promises and improvements that benefit TTC riders, the Charter also holds TTC's management accountable for unmet promises. Updates are posted quarterly on the TTC website and are reviewed by the TTC Board. To see how the TTC promises to improve for 2016 please click here.
Live from City Hall - City Hall (100 Queen St W) - Thursday February 25 from 5pm to 7pm
Live from City Hall returns on Thursday, February 25 with performances by Donné Roberts and Dijah SB from 5 to 7 p.m. Live from City Hall, presented by TD Bank, is a music series featuring local artists across genres. The free-admission performances take place two Thursdays each month at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W. Click here for more details.
Bloor Improvement Group Davenport Diamond Meeting - New Horizons Tower (1140 Bloor St W) - Wednesday March 2 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Youth Job & Career Fair with MPP Martins - Galleria Mall (1245 Dupont St) - Saturday March 5 from 11am to 2pm
College Street Construction Public Drop-In Event - St. Helen Catholic School (1196 College St) - Tuesday March 8 from 5pm to 8pm
2016 Ward 18 Easter Egg Hunt - Dufferin Grove Park (875 Dufferin St) - Saturday March 26 from 1pm to 3pm
My annual Ward 18 Easter Egg Hunt at Dufferin Grove Park will be taking place this year on Saturday March 26 from 1pm to 3pm. This is a great and fun family oriented event where I encourage you to bring your kids to hunt for easter eggs in the park. We will have arts and crafts, face painting, dancing, and of course chocolate for the kids after they find the easter eggs. In order to ensure that we have enough treats for everyone, I am asking that you register by clicking here and letting us know how many children will be attending with you in the "How many other people are you bringing" box in the registration form. I hope to see you and your family there!
The Stars Align for Affordable Housing in Toronto – Globe and Mail
Let's hope Toronto's list of goals doesn't last: Keenan - Toronto Star
Planners want public's input on "motherlode" of GTA transit - Toronto Star
Toronto Community Housing's Daunting Repair Backlog – Torontoist
Toronto public housing needs a shake-up, or break-up – Toronto Star Editorial
Non-profits are getting done what a hulking TCHC can't – Globe and Mail
Remaking Toronto for a Post-Paris World – Toronto Star
Cities can use stimulus cash for repairs, Ottawa confirms – Toronto Star
Toronto Transit Expansion Public Consultations
The City and the TTC in partnership with Metrolinx and GO Transit are hosting public meetings for your to learn more about integrated transit planning taking place in Toronto and for you to provide your feedback on key projects and studies underway. The closest meeting to our community is on Wednesday February 24 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building (255 Front St W), Room 203 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.
To find out more and to see other Toronto meeting dates that you can attend please click here.
The City wants to hear from you about parks and recreation facilities
As Toronto grows and changes, the parks and recreation needs of residents change. Parks, Forestry and Recreation is developing a 20-year Facilities Master Plan to prioritize investment in parks and recreation facilities such as community centres, sports fields, pools, ice rinks, bike and skate parks. There is a public meeting taking place for the Toronto & East York District on Tuesday February 23 from 7pm to 9pm at the Wallace Emerson Community Centre (1260 Dufferin St).
Learn more at www.toronto.ca/parks/facilitiesplan and tell the City what you think by participating in a town hall meeting, either in person or online.
Metrolinx GO Network Electrification Public Meetings
Metrolinx is hosting public meetings as part of the Transit Project Assessment Process for electrifying the GO Rail Network, including the Kitchener and Barrie Corridors that are in Ward 18. The closest meeting to our community is on Wednesday February 24 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building (255 Front St W), Room 203 from 6:30pm to 8pm.
To find out more and to see other meeting dates across the GTA please visit http://gotransit.com/electrification.
Changing Garbage and Recycling Bin Sizes
Need a smaller Garbage Bin or a larger Blue Bin for recycling? It's easy to do. Simply make a 311 online Service Request or call my office. If you're sorting your waste better - putting recyclables in the Blue Bin and organics in the Green Bin, leaving minimal garbage, you may want to trade your big Garbage Bin for a smaller model that costs less. Remember, the fee you pay is based on the size of your Garbage Bin.
Are you ready for a power outage?
Power outages can happen at any time, particularly during severe weather. While winter has been mild so far, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about getting prepared.
On the second anniversary of the ice storm, Toronto Hydro released a video to help you learn about emergency preparedness. The video follows the story of Sara and José as they experience a power outage in the city of Toronto, and shows why it’s important to have an emergency kit put together before there’s a power outage.
Watch the new video here: https://youtu.be/FArYcAUBU9g
More tips for putting together an emergency kit:
- Keep your emergency kit in an easy-to-access location known to all family members
- Check batteries twice a year
- Ensure that you have at least one cell phone or non-cordless telephone
- Have a list of emergency contact numbers nearby
- Don't forget your pets! Have identification on your animals and enough pet food and water in your emergency kit for at least three days
It’s also recommended that you customize your kit to your family – aging parents, young children and pets may require more preparation.
For information during a major outage, Toronto Hydro has a website – www.OutageTO.com – that can be accessed from any device to get the latest news and updates.
Syrian Refugee Update and Q&As
In late 2015, the City of Toronto Refugee Resettlement Program was established in response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis after the Federal Government's announcement that Canada will be accepting 25,000 refugees. City staff have been working hard to implement this program in order to ensure that Toronto is prepared to receive a share of the refugees. The City has established a website: toronto.ca/refugees with more information and to provide frequent updates to interested people. I have also included a series of Questions and Answers prepared by Toronto's Newcomer Advocates below.
1. Where can I send donations for refugee resettlement efforts?
Please visit toronto.ca/refugees for information on community organizations that are currently accepting monetary and/or in-kind donations (including clothing, furniture, and other items) for refugee resettlement efforts.
WoodGreen Community Services was contracted by the City of Toronto to create H.O.M.E (Housing Opportunities & Marketplace Exchange), an online portal that matches Syrian refugees in need with offers of housing, goods, and services. If you are interested in listing items for donation on H.O.M.E. please visit http://www.woodgreen.org/ and register as a donor.
2. How can I get involved with refugee resettlement as a volunteer?
The City of Toronto is not directly hiring volunteers to support refugee resettlement, however, some of our community partners may be planning to expand their capacity. Many community agencies post vacancies directly on their websites. You can also visit www.findmyspark.ca and toronto.ca/refugees for information on volunteer opportunities available in the community.
3. I am a health care provider and would like to donate my services. Who do I call?
Please call the Refugee HealthLine at 1-866-286-4770. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has established this line to connect refugees to health care providers.
All health care providers interested in participating should contact the Refugee HealthLine to add their name, practice, location, service and the number of prospective patients/clients they are able to accommodate. Information will be matched with requesting refugees and sponsor groups.
4. I am a landlord and would like to offer my property to rent. Who do I contact?
As part of the City of Toronto's Refugee Resettlement Program, WoodGreen Community Services was contracted to create H.O.M.E (Housing Opportunities & Marketplace Exchange) an online portal that matches Syrian refugees in need with offers of housing, goods and services by donors. If you are interested in listing a self-containing unit for rent, please visit http://www.woodgreen.org/ and register as a housing provider.
5. I am an employer and would like to make a job opportunity available. What is the process?
The City of Toronto's Inter-Divisional Team is working with Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) to mobilize its existing employment supports and work with community agencies and corporate partners to ensure access to employment and training opportunities for Syrian refugees.
Employers who would like to make job opportunities available for Syrian refugees can contact Mary Cellucci, General Manager at COSTI Immigrant Services. Mary can be reached by phone at 416-658-1600 ext. 1291 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.