February 2019 E-newsletter: Budget Town Hall, Davenport Community Updates, Meetings and Events

Dear neighbours,

The City's 2019 budget process is now underway and I firmly believe that by engaging residents throughout this process, the City will be better able to serve our communities. I invite you to join me for my Annual Budget Town Hall taking place on February 23, 2019 from 2-4pm at the Wallace Emerson Community Centre, in the Ambrico Room (1260 Dufferin St). You will learn more about the proposed 2019 City of Toronto Budget and be able to share your feedback and ideas on how to make our city and community a better place to live, work and play. I hope to see you there.

Over the past month, it has been great to see residents engaged with the community at a number of meetings and open houses. Earlier this week, over 50 residents came out to learn more and share their priorities for improvements to the Dufferin Grove Park clubhouse/rink area and you can find information on this project below. The owners of Dufferin Mall recently hosted an open house to discuss the potential future development on the site. Residents and local organizations expressed community priorities and concerns for any future construction at the site, including the need for affordable housing, on-site parkland and respect for the neighbourhood character. Thank you to everyone who took the time to make your voice heard and for getting involved!

Many of you have also contacted me regarding the recent snow and icy conditions and the City's snow-clearing response. While City crews have been working to address the numerous concerns raised in our community, weather events like these provide an important moment to review how we can improve the service Torontonians rely on. I share your concerns and believe we need to review how snow clearing is done in our city. A review off the City's response to the snow storm has begun and i look forward to engaging with you on this.

At City Council last week, we approved the Housing Now initiative which activates 11 City-owned sites to create 10,000 new homes, including 3,700 affordable rental homes to kick start the creation of affordable housing right now, without delay. It brings forward new City resources to work in partnership with the private, non-profit and co-op sectors to build new rental and affordable housing for all Torontonians. It will achieve the highest possible public benefits, while providing the deepest amount of affordability without waiting on funding from other levels of governments.

There was also much discussion around homelessness in our city. I firmly believe that housing is a human right and that all levels of government must take appropriate measures to address homelessness as a human rights crisis. As a result of my motions, the City will be convening an urgent meeting with key supportive housing providers to identify short and medium-term actions to increase supportive housing options to immediately assist people to exit homelessness, which is proven to be the most effective solution. I am also working to support local providers in our community, such as Sistering to identify short and long-term ways more can be done. 

Housing is very complex and there is no one solution that will solve this issue but by working together and addressing this challenge in sustainable way across continuum we can make a big impact. Later this year, we will kick off consultations on the City's 10-year housing strategy with real and measurable targets, actions and funding to ensure that everyone has access to a safe, clean and affordable place to call home.

I look forward to continuing to connect with you throughout our community over the next month.

In Community,

Ana Bailão

Local Updates

Dufferin Grove Meeting Update

The City of Toronto has identified necessary repair and upgrade work at Dufferin Grove Park's aging clubhouse and skating rink in order to keep these facilities in good condition to serve the community. The need for this work was made clear with the difficulties and delays technicians had in getting the skating rink open this winter season. With the incredible neighbourhood involvement and mix of community and cultural programming that is unique to Dufferin Grove Park, the City is also taking the opportunity to address the needs of the various park users and groups who use the facilities to see how they can work better for the community.

On Wednesday night, the City held a public open house and community meeting to share some initial thinking on the project and hear from residents on what they would like to see improved in the Clubhouse/rink area. The project team presented some initial concepts for improvement and the City will be holding multiple public meetings in the future to show how the feedback has been incorporated into the plans and to seek additional comments on further improvements. It is important to note that while the repair and building code upgrade work is necessary to keep the building safe, no decisions about the designs or improvements have been made and the City encourages community members to provide their input.

If you were not able to make it to the meeting, the City has posted the presentation online at the project website https://dufferingrove-northwestrevitalization.ca/. You can also find summaries and presentations from all the previous meetings of the Community Resource Group, which is made up of local residents, parks users and organizations. I encourage you to share your feedback with the project team by completing the online survey linked hereI look forward to working with everyone together on this exciting project to build on the community's successes at Dufferin Grove Park and ensure it continues to be a hub of activity!

Dufferin Mall Development Meeting Update

On January 21st the owners of Dufferin Mall (Primaris Management Inc) held an open house meeting to discuss the potential for future development of the surface parking lots at the northern part of their property where the Beer Store, Penningtons, and Taco Bell/KFC are currently located. The meeting was well attended and residents had an opportunity to meet the owners and learn more about what new development the owners envision. 

The future redevelopment of this portion of the site is intended by Primaris to:

  • Introduce new uses to the site, including purpose-built rental housing;
  • Enhance the existing mall;
  • Create a better pedestrian experience along Dufferin and Croatia streets through improved streetscaping and new retail;
  • Provide new park space to complement Dufferin Grove;
  • Replace the existing surface parking with below-grade parking.

Residents at the meeting provided comments on this including the need to ensure any new construction respects the character of the neighbourhood, local transit improvements, supporting existing retail on Bloor St W, inclusion of affordable housing and providing parkland on site to complement Dufferin Grove Park. Thank you to everyone who took the time to come out and make their voices heard early in the process. The property owners will be holding a second open house in the Spring and I will continue to share more details as they become available.

If you were not able to attend, the display boards from the open house can be downloaded at https://dufferingrovevillage.ca/the-site/. You can share your comments by emailing dufferingrovevillage@urbanstrategies.com or contacting me by email at councillor_bailao@toronto.ca.

Improving Road Safety and Congestion in Davenport 

Improving road safety and congestion on our streets is important to ensure that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can move safely around our community. This January at Community Council we approved the following road safety and congestion easing measures:

  • Installation of a traffic light at Oakwood Ave and Rosemount Ave intersection to reduce conflict and create a safe connection for students and families getting to and from Oakwood Collegiate Institute.
  • Reduction of speed limits on Dufferin St between Queen St W and College St from 50km/h to 40km/h in order to improve safety for students at Alexander Muir/Gladstone Ave Public School and the neighboring community.
  • Amending the existing rush hour left-turn and right-turn prohibitions at Oakwood Ave and Glenhurst Ave to exclude bicycles, providing an additional connection to quite-street local bike routes.

Davenport Village Development Proposal Meeting

The City of Toronto is holding a community consultation meeting on Tuesday February 19, 7-8:30pm at the Joseph J Piccininni Community Centre, Nursery Room (1369 St Clair Ave W) to hear feedback from residents on changes to the proposed development in Davenport Village neighbourhood. The revised proposal includes construction of 3 residential buildings at 12, 29 and 36 stories, two blocks of stacked townhouses and a childcare centre. The proposal would also facilitate the conversion of an existing 6-storey building to mixed-use with both residential and commercial uses.

If you are not able to attend, you can share your comments by emailing them to the City Planner overseeing the review, Elizabeth Silva Stewart, at Elisabeth.SilvaStewart@toronto.ca or call 416-394-6006.

Congratulations Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club!

The Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club has for many years been a great community partner providing childcare, youth activities and services for families. Earlier this month they were recognized by St. Stephen's House with the Employment Awards of Excellence for all they do to create an inclusive work place and serve our community. Congratulations to everyone at Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club!

Events

980 Lansdowne Development Community Consultation Meeting - Tuesday February 19, 7-8:30pm at the Joseph J Piccininni Community Centre, Nursery Room (1369 St Clair Ave W)

The City of Toronto is holding a community consultation meeting on Tuesday February 19, 7-8:30pm at the Joseph J Piccininni Community Centre, Nursery Room (1369 St Clair Ave W) to hear feedback from residents on changes to the proposed development in Davenport Village neighbourhood. The revised proposal includes construction of 3 residential buildings at 12, 29 and 36 stories, two blocks of stacked townhouses and a childcare centre. The proposal would also facilitate the conversion of an existing 6-storey building to mixed-use with both residential and commercial uses. If you are not able to attend, you can share your comments by emailing them to the City Planner overseeing the review, Elizabeth Silva Stewart, at Elisabeth.SilvaStewart@toronto.ca or call 416-394-6006 

Davenport Budget Town Hall - Saturday February 23, 2019 from 2-4pm at Wallace Emerson Community Centre, Ambrico Room (1260 Dufferin St)

Join me for my annual Budget Town Hall to learn more about the proposed 2019 City of Toronto Budget and to share your feedback and ideas on how to make our city and community a better place to live, work and play!

StART Photography Exhibit and Sale - On until February 24, 2019 at Artusiam Art gallery (1684 St Clair Ave W)

StreetARToronto and Artusiasm Gallery are collaborating on the first StART Photography Exhibit and Sale. If you love street art and have considered purchasing a piece, this event is for you! A touring photo exhibit of StART artwork, curated by Carlos Rodriguez and Tanzina Amin, runs from January 28 to February 24 at Artusiam Art Gallery located at 1684 St Clair Ave. W. Photographs of street art work will be for sale. All profits go to the artist and photographer. More details at https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/enhancing-our-streets-and-public-realm/streetartoronto/events-2/

City Updates

"Housing Now" Action Plan Approved to Build New Affordable Housing

Addressing Toronto's housing crisis is critical to ensuring Torontonians have a safe, affordable and decent place to live. Last week, City Council approved the Housing Now action plan to swiftly fund and construct thousands of new affordable housing units in partnership with non-profit and private sector partners.

The first phase of the Housing Now initiative is activating 11 City-owned sites to deliver 10,000 new residential homes, including 3,700 affordable rental homes with average rents not to exceed 80 per cent of Toronto's average market rent. In order to provide deeper affordability for households in need, 10% of these units will be offered at 40% of average market rent. The affordable homes created through Housing Now will be affordable for households earning between $21,000 and $52,000 per year. 

Housing Now will provide up to $280 million in financial incentives in support of the 3,700 affordable homes including relief from development charges, building permit fees, planning application fees and parkland dedication fees as well as property taxes for the 99-year term during which the rents will remain affordable. The sites will be offered to non-profit and private organizations with a priority toward long-term leases for the rental housing component. As project proposals are received, the City will view more favourably those which include higher numbers of affordable units and deeper affordability levels, incentivizing the proponents to bring more affordable housing to the table.

To accelerate the Housing Now projects, the City will also establish a Housing Secretariat to facilitate the planning and development of the sites and, oversee the public market offering process and the City will develop key principles and guidelines for development on each site and, where appropriate, initiate Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments.

Through Housing Now, we are showing that the City can and will lead investments in new affordable housing, but we cannot be expected to to this alone. The City will continue identifying sites for affordable housing development but our Federal and Provincial partners must come to the table with the funding, lands and tools necessary to address the the affordable housing crisis. I am confident the success of Housing Now will demonstrate this can be done and I look forward to working together with our community and government partners to continue the important work of addressing Toronto's housing needs.

Protecting Local Heritage at Columbus Centre 

I am happy to share that lest week at City Council, we voted to unanimously move to designate the Columbus Centre as a heritage site to preserve and protect this landmark of Italian-Canadian heritage in our city for all Canadians. Preserving our cultural and architectural heritage is an important part of telling the story of all the communities who have played a role in creating and shaping Toronto.  With unanimous support of City Council, I am confident that the Columbus Centre will continue being an icon for the Italian Canadian Community and an inclusive place for all to access services and programming in our city.

City of Toronto launching initiative to bring new life to Toronto's parks and recreation facilities

The City of Toronto in partnership with national charity Evergreen and Montreal-based place-making firm La Pépinière invites communities to reimagine their local parks and public spaces. Place-making refers to a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.

Starting February 9, a series of place-making pilots will launch across the city. The initiative, made possible with the financial support of the Bombardier Foundation, brings together community leaders, City staff, the public and experts in place-making to bring new life to some of Toronto’s parks and recreation facilities.

Rink Social, the first of the place-making pilots, will focus on Toronto's outdoor ice rinks and transform four of these community facilities into hubs of free activity on and off the ice. The Rink Social pilot will be delivered in partnership with the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Foundation and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

Rink Social will take place in parks in different areas of the city for one weekend each, with enhanced outdoor community space featuring warming huts, skate lending, on- and off-ice winter play, crafting and cozying up by the fire for a feast of family fun. Food and drink vendors will offer comfort and nourishment to brave the cold. Future projects in the place-making initiative will focus on other public spaces such as beaches and conservatories.

Rink Social will be available on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. as follows:

  • February 9 to 10 – West Mall Outdoor Rink, 370 The West Mall
  • February 16 to 18 (including Family Day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) – Regent Park Athletic Grounds Rink, 480 Shuter St.
  • Feb 23 to 24 – McCowan District Park Rink, 150 McCowan Rd.
  • March 2 to 3 – Mel Lastman Square Rink, 5100 Yonge St.

Through the place-making initiative, Evergreen and La Pépinière brought together City partners, staff and designers to rethink the public's relationship with each rink. Incorporating interest in ancillary services such as skate lending, social gathering spaces and food and beverage opportunities, the team worked to add low-cost and temporary furniture, activities and décor that will transform each space into an even-more vibrant community gathering space. This initiative will be used to gather data on user interest and satisfaction to guide future space and program design.

More information about Rink Social and other winter activities in Toronto is available at: https://www.toronto.ca/welcome-to-winter/

Newsclippings

Toronto’s Design Review Panel pushes developers to think beyond the bland - The Star

'It's low-hanging fruit': Scarborough housing advocates call for legalized, regulated rooming houses - CBC News

Canada’s big cities need a new deal - The Star

Appeals backlog has left up to 28,000 homes in development limbo, says business group - The Star

Relief line must open before Yonge North subway extension, Metrolinx says - The Star

Toronto school board needs a lesson on the high cost of free parking - Globe and Mail 

Big city mayors seek new relationship with Ottawa amid provincial-federal tensions - The Star

Residents intrigued and concerned over plans to develop Dufferin Mall - Toronto.com

Jam-packed Dufferin St. is speeding toward rapid densification - The Star

Toronto may finally have found a better way to build affordable housing - the Star

Important Notices

2019 StreetARToronto (StART) Partnership Program Applications Now Open!

The City of Toronto is pleased to announce that applications for the 2019 StreetARToronto (StART) Partnership Program are now open! Complete information and a link to the online application can be found on our website here: www.toronto.ca/streetart.

StreetARToronto (StART) is a suite of innovative programs designed specifically for streets and public spaces. An initiative of City of Toronto, Transportation Services Division, StART programs have been developed to achieve a number of Council’s strategic objectives. By reducing and replacing graffiti vandalism with colourful and vibrant art work, street art installations help maintain infrastructure in a state-of-good-repair thereby reducing maintenance costs, make our streets more inviting and safe, encourage active transportation (walking and cycling), showcase local artists, mentor emerging talent, and create opportunities for positive engagement among residents, business owners and operators, artists, and arts organizations. Of note, Transportation departments across the United States are increasingly developing street art programs given their essential involvement in placemaking and activating the street. Individually and collectively, StART murals are designed to celebrate the City of Toronto motto Diversity Our Strength and foster a greater sense of belonging among all.

Akin Studio Program at MOCA Year 2: Call for Applications

Akin is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the Akin Studio Program at MOCA Year 2 (2019-2020). The deadline to apply is March 31, 2019, 5:00pm. Full details can be found in the Call for Applications. Click the link to download the PDF at www.akin.art/mocacall2019

The Akin Studio Program is a unique and publicly open opportunity for art practitioners, curators and writers to lease shared studio space within The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada (MOCA) at 158 Sterling Road in Toronto. In addition to a one year studio space rental, selected artists will be immersed within a community of peers, offering various opportunities for engagement. Studio members will be encouraged to develop and expand their individual practices while playing a role in the artistic community within the museum itself.

Applications now accepted in City of Toronto program offering community grants for innovative ideas to reduce waste

Applications are now being accepted for the City of Toronto’s 2019 Waste Reduction Community Grants Program. Grants of up to $25,000 are available to support innovative community-based projects that reduce residential waste and/or increase participation in the City's waste diversion programs.

The Waste Reduction Community Grants Program is part of the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy, which identifies the need to support grassroots initiatives that reduce waste. The program launched last year and awarded more than $116,000 toward ideas that included the development of signage and programing for tenants of a downtown building, establishment of a sharing library for special event materials for the community, educational training on reducing textile waste and making sustainable fashion choices, and a program aimed at reducing lunch packaging in schools.

Initiatives eligible for funding include those that promote waste reduction and reuse, increase waste management education and engagement, and align with the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy. Priority will be placed on initiatives that promote waste reduction in apartment buildings and condominiums, and involve multilingual communities, equity-seeking groups and Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.

Groups eligible to apply for funding include resident, tenant, neighbourhood and business associations, service clubs, community organizations, registered charitable organizations, environmental organizations and school groups, clubs and councils.

March 1 is the deadline to submit an expression of interest.  More information about the Waste Reduction Community Grants, the 2018 recipients and the application process is available at http://www.toronto.ca/wastegrants.

Council Highlights

Toronto City Council met on January 30 and 31, 2019. Below is a summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk's full, official documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Housing Now     

Council approved the Housing Now plan, which is designed to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing in mixed-income communities by making municipally-owned properties available to non-profit and private organizations. The first phase of Housing Now is expected to deliver about 10,000 new residential homes, including up to 3,700 affordable rental homes with average rents not to exceed 80 per cent of Toronto's average market rent.

Supportive housing in Toronto   

After discussion and debate, Council voted to have staff convene an urgent meeting with key providers of supportive housing in Toronto to identify ways to increase supportive-housing options that will help people exit homelessness. In addition, Council will ask the federal and provincial governments to commit funding to support the annual creation of 1,800 new units of supportive housing in Toronto to help reduce homelessness.

Expanding supportive housing and services 

Council agreed to request a report from staff on options for an aggressive plan for building supportive and transitional housing in Toronto. Among other components of the adopted motion is a request for a report describing current mental health and addiction supports available in Toronto's emergency shelters, respites and transitional housing, and identifying opportunities to expand those kinds of support services.

Cycle tracks on Richmond and Adelaide

Council supported making cycle tracks on Richmond and Adelaide Streets permanent, as well as the cycle tracks on Peter and Simcoe Streets. The cycle tracks (separated bike lanes) were installed between 2014 and 2016. The Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks are the most heavily used in Toronto. During the pilot, the rate of cyclist collisions decreased by 73 per cent and serious motor vehicle collisions decreased by 18 per cent on Richmond and Adelaide, which are key commuter arteries downtown.

Planning heat relief services for 2019

Council provided direction to staff regarding the City's co-ordinated implementation of heat relief strategies for 2019. A work plan to be developed will include the creation of a bylaw requiring property owners to maintain an up-to-date list that can be used to contact building tenants in extreme weather emergencies. Working with Municipal Licensing and Standards, the work group will consider also consider asking landlords to provide a "cool room" and/or a shade structure on their properties.

St. Jamestown highrise buildings

A motion that Council adopted calls for a review and report on the City's emergency response to the recent electrical power outage at 260 Wellesley St. E. and last year's fire-related evacuation at 650 Parliament St. The motion includes a request for a review of building evaluations under the RentSafeTO audit program to make sure there are appropriate building and life-safety audits of all St. Jamestown residential towers.

Accelerating the Tenants First project

Council adopted a motion calling for steps to be taken to accelerate the City's Tenants First project, an initiative that would see Toronto Community Housing's seniors housing units managed under a new model that partners with health service institutions to provide services for seniors to age comfortably in place. This approach will allow better service to be provided to seniors while enabling Toronto Community Housing to focus on other tenants, including families and vulnerable persons.

Legal challenge to Bill 5

Council gave instructions to the City Solicitor pertaining to legal matters involving the Ontario government's Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, 2018. That legislation included reducing Toronto's electoral wards to 25 for the 2018 municipal election. The province's appeal of a related Superior Court decision is scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal this June. Council's instructions to the City Solicitor include opposing the province's appeal at the June hearing.

Potential impacts of Ontario’s Bill 66

Council adopted a motion to express Council's opposition to several of the schedules that are components of the Ontario government's Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act. The proposed legislation has significant interest for Toronto and other municipal governments.  

Potential acquisition of Hearn Generating Station

Council adopted a motion for the City to initiate negotiations to buy the decommissioned, now privately owned, Hearn Generating Station site in the Port Lands. The City's plans for transforming the Port Lands have identified the site for a major public park and include re-use of the Hearn building for community purposes. Previous owner Ontario Power Generation sold the site last year. Council also directed staff to pursue heritage designation of the site.   

Governance of Toronto Parking Authority

Council adopted a recommendation for the recruitment of a new Board of Directors for the Toronto Parking Authority, the City agency that manages parking and the Bike Share program in Toronto. The board, with two members of Council and five public members, will put into place new governance policies and procedures once the board is appointed by Council.

Street parking on New Year's Eve

Council adopted a motion calling for a report on the feasibility of allowing a grace period for street-parking violations (officially "Park in Permit Parking Location without a Valid Permit") between 10 p.m. on December 31 and 10 a.m. on January 1 each year.

Advisory committee for Toronto Islands

A motion for Council to continue its Toronto Islands Advisory Committee during the current term of Council was adopted. The advisory committee, initially created in 2014, has focused on strategic planning for the islands as Toronto's centrepiece park, with the goal of enhancing the islands attractiveness as an accessible, year-round destination.

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