Since the last time I wrote to you, we elected a new federal government in Ottawa and a new Member of Parliament to represent us in Davenport. I would like to congratulate Julie Dzerowicz on her election as our new MP; I look forward to working with her in the coming months and years on the issues that matter to the residents of Ward 18 and the City of Toronto. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Cash for his service to our community over the past four years. Finally, I'd like to thank Dan Stein, Carlos Oliveira, Miguel Figueroa, and Chai Kalevar for putting their names on the ballot as well.
During the election campaign, the Liberal Party made many commitments to improve the quality of life in our urban centres. Notably, they have pledged to increase infrastructure investments by $59.1 billion over the next 10 years in the areas of public transit infrastructure, social infrastructure (including affordable housing), and green infrastructure. I will be working alongside my colleagues at the City so that Toronto receives it's fair share of these new investments. Furthermore, as Toronto's Housing Advocate I look forward to working with the our new federal government in advocating to ensure that our City's affordable housing needs are put front and centre as part of their ambitious plan.
Meanwhile at the City, we have been working hard on developing TO Prosperity: Toronto's Poverty Reduction Strategy, which was approved at last week's City Council meeting. In my view, creating equal opportunities for the residents of our city by breaking the cycle of poverty not only makes good social sense, it makes economic sense. The fact is, poverty restricts the economic growth of our society and creates barriers to our collective success. I look forward to working with my council colleagues in in investing in this strategy because if we invest in poverty reduction, it will save our government money on items such as policing, shelters, health care, and so many other areas - giving us the ability to invest in other priorities such as public transit and housing. You can find out more about the strategy by clicking here.
In our community, I am always reminded of how strong we are when we come together. This year, hundreds of our neighbours came together and celebrated Halloween and our community spirit with pumpkin lighting events in three Ward 18 parks. It was my pleasure to help support them by working to secure the necessary park permits and clean up activities. Another great example of our community coming together is the work that has been done on expanding the Perth-Dupont Library; this is an initiative that started with community members coming together and articulating a shared vision to expand library services in our community. I have included an update on this and many other community items in this month's e-newsletter.
Please make sure to visit my website at www.anabailao.ca to stay up to date with what is taking place in our community. If you have any questions or need assistance, please call my office at 416-392-7012, e-mail me at [email protected], or visit my community office, located at 1240 Bloor St W between the hours of 10am to 6pm, Wednesday to Friday. We are here to help. I hope that you have a great weekend!
Yours in community,
Ward 18, Davenport
Perth-Dupont Library Expansion Update
I am pleased to report to our community that the Toronto & East York Community Council has approved a zoning by-law amendment allowing the proposed 299 Campbell Ave development to move forward after many years of community consultation and involvement. This paves the way for the final consideration of this project at the upcoming Toronto City Council meeting scheduled to take place on December 9 and 10, 2015.
This development will be a significant addition to our community with the proposed expansion of the Perth-Dupont Toronto Public Library (TPL) branch being housed in the base of this building – providing a brand new and significantly enlarged library for our neighbourhood. The Perth-Dupont branch is currently the smallest library in the entire TPL system and this expansion will result in a library more than four times the current size, growing to approximately 10,000 square feet.
Four years ago at City Hall there was talk of closing libraries and reducing library hours. At the same time those discussions were happening, nearly 100 people here in Ward 18 came together to support expanding the Perth-Dupont branch in our community. Together with many involved community members of the Junction Triangle Library Expansion Committee, we have worked towards achieving this important milestone and should be proud of how far we have been able to come from only four short years ago.
The TPL has embraced this expansion project and is supporting this innovative approach to renovate and expand other libraries all across the system. Toronto Public Library is the world's busiest urban library system with 100 branches, over 32 million items borrowed yearly, and over 18.5 million annual visitors.
Davenport Diamond Update
Many of you have taken the time to contact me over the phone, via e-mail, in the community, or at the various public meetings held to share your thoughts and concerns with Metrolinx's proposed Davenport Community Rail Overpass project. From the very start, I have shared your concerns and have worked with local residents' groups, elected representatives, City staff, and Metrolinx to advocate for our community. This included the two motions that I successfully moved at City Council which ensured that City staff got involved in the assessment of this proposed Provincial project and to request that Metrolinx delay their timeline in order to provide for expert and community feedback.
Just last week I received a memorandum from our City's Chief Planner explaining that Metrolinx had agreed to delay the Davenport Community Rail Overpass Project until Spring 2016 in order to provide for more community and City input to an appropriate solution. You can read the full details of the information that I received and my update by clicking here.
However, yesterday Metrolinx sent out an e-mail to the community notifying people that they now intend to move forward with the start of the formal Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) in January 2016.
A TPAP is a six month streamlined environmental assessment process to expedite the development of transit projects. You can read more about the TPAP process by clicking here.
I have reached out to City Planning immediately requesting a report to City Council ASAP. I will be keeping the community informed as this issue progresses and I remain committed to advocating on behalf of our community so that we receive the best possible outcome from this proposed project. Our community deserves no less.
To read about the history of this proposed project and my efforts to fight on behalf of our community, please click on this link directing you to my website: http://www.anabailao.com/tags/davenport_diamond_project
FoodShare is celebrating their 30th birthday this year and I was honoured to proclaim October 22, 2015 as FoodShare Day on behalf of Mayor Tory. They have been a fantastic Ward 18 community organization, providing many services in our local community and across the City. Access to food features prominently in Toronto's recently adopted Poverty Reduction Strategy and the City has recognized the important role that FoodShare plays by proposing that they become the focal point in the City's community hub proposal for food and learning on the Bloor/Dufferin TDSB Lands. Please join me in congratulating them and wishing them many more years of success in the future! You can read the full proclamation here.
Dovercourt Road Resurfacing from Bloor St W to Hallam St
The City of Toronto is resurfacing Dovercourt Road from Bloor St W to Hallam St. Work started in late October and is projected to end sometime in December 2015. The work is taking place following an inspection of the road that showed it needed resurfacing. Sections of damaged curbs and sidewalks will also be replaced to bring them to a state of good repair. This work is part of the Council-approved 2015 Capital Works Program. To view the full construction notice please click here.
Slow Down Signs
The safety of all road users is a priority for the City of Toronto.
That's why the City is reminding pedestrians, motorists and cyclists to take extra care, especially as we enter the fall season when daylight hours are reduced. Statistics show that during autumn, there is an increase in collisions involving pedestrians.
The City has produced lawn signs that encourage all motorists to drive safely as they travel in our neighbourhoods. To get a lawn sign, please visit my community office at 1240 Bloor Street West between the hours of 10am to 6pm, Wednesday to Friday. For more details on the placement of these signs please click here.
It's critical to be aware of your surroundings at all times when you are travelling. All road users need to remember that safety is everyone's responsibility.
EA Process Streamlined for Cycling Infrastructure
In late October I had the opportunity to be apart of the Province's announcement in streamlining the Environmental Assessment process for municipal cycling infrastructure projects. This new EA process will make it easier to extend Phase 2 of the West Toronto Railpath, expanding active transportation opportunities for Ward 18 residents. I look forward to working with the Friends of the West Toronto Railpath, cyclists, Metrolinx, and City staff in making this a reality. For more information about the changes please click here.
Bike Parking Shelter
The City has installed a bike parking shelter on Northcote Ave, just north of Queen Street West. It is great to have another piece of cycling infrastructure installed in our community. I am looking forward to continuing my work with local cyclists and the City's Cycling Infrastructure & Programs department to expand cycling infrastructure here in Ward 18.
City Launches the 2016 Budget Process
Last week the City launched the 2016 budget process with the release of the proposed rate supported budgets for Solid Waste Management Services, Toronto Water, and Toronto Parking Authority at the Budget Committee. This is the start of a months long process that will culminate with City Council voting on the City's operating and capital budgets on February 17 and 18, 2016. As part of my commitment to our community, I will be hosting my yearly Ward 18 Budget Town Hall in the new year and will publicize the details once finalized. For more information on the 2016 budget process please click here.
Summer Jobs with Parks, Forestry & Recreation
Will you be looking for a summer job or know someone who will be? Parks, Forestry & Recreation starts recruiting in December.
Junction Triangle Craft & Gift Show - Saturday November 14, 2015 from 10am to 3pm at Perth Ave Public School (14 Ruskin Ave)
WQW Adopt-A-Plant - Saturday November 14, 2015 from 11am to 4pm at Trinity Bellwoods Park (790 Queen St W)
Each year, thousands of plants go searching for a forever home to take root in. Help a plant bloom to its fullest potential by taking it home on November 14th, free of charge. Look out for the magical mystery truck outside Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street from 11am-4pm. The West Queen West BIA will have succulents, herbs, trees, and tropical flowers available for adoption.
Design Plans for the Wallace Entrance to the Railpath - Tuesday November 17, 2015 from 5:30pm to 8pm at Wallace Ave & the Railpath
Cavalcade of Lights at City Hall - Saturday November 28 starting at 6pm at Toronto City Hall (100 Queen St W)
TSA Open House - Saturday December 12, 2015 from 11am to 3pm at 980 Dufferin Street, 2nd Floor
Junction Triangle residents leading drive to name new community centre after famed Canadian boxer George Chuvalo - Bloor West Villager
Bike lanes and paths easier to build under new rules - Toronto Star
Overpass through Davenport is postponed again - Bloor West Villager
Stop signs get the green light in Queen West Triangle - Parkdale Villager
Housing Opportunities Toronto Public Consultations
The City of Toronto is conducting a five-year review of Housing Opportunities Toronto – An Affordable Housing Action Plan 2010-2020 (HOT).
And we want to hear from you.
What's worked well? What hasn't? How can the City improve its affordable housing and homelessness efforts? What about our partners: the federal and provincial governments, the public and private sectors and others?
The City is holding four public consultation meetings: Monday, November 16 in Scarborough; Thursday, November 19 in North York; Tuesday, November 24 in downtown Toronto and Thursday, December 3 in Etobicoke. There will be light refreshments served and TTC tokens available as needed.
This is an open public event. To RSVP, please click here. As well, you can submit your suggestions by e-mail and regular mail (details below).
Toronto Tree Planting Strategy Public Consultation
The City of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division, in consultation with Toronto Water, Transportation Services, City Planning and Economic Development and Culture, will develop a Tree Planting Strategy to inspire action to reach the City's target of 40 per cent tree canopy cover over the next 30 to 40 years. The development of the strategy will also involve consultation with residents, the public, internal and external stakeholders and community partners.
Toronto currently has 26.6 per to 28 per cent tree canopy cover, representing 10.2 million trees. About 40 per cent of these trees are on City lands, with the remaining 60 per cent on private lands. The City will work with community stakeholders to develop a planting strategy that focuses on increasing tree planting and stewardship on private lands.
You are invited to provide input through an online survey by clicking here or by attending one of the upcoming public meetings:
- Monday, November 16, Scarborough Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 150 Borough Dr., 6:30 to 9 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 17, Etobicoke Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 399 The West Mall, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
- Monday, November 30, Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 2, 100 Queen St. W., 6:30 to 9 p.m.
More information about the Tree Planting Strategy is available by clicking here.
Toronto Ward Boundary Review
November 15 is the deadline to submit comments on the 5 options currently proposed to create new boundaries for City Council wards. The results of the survey will help inform the Final Ward Boundary Review Report, which will include a recommended option and will be presented to the Executive Committee and City Council in May 2016. To complete the survey, please click here.
Syrian Refugee Efforts in Ward 18
Many of our neighbours are coming together and are are helping with the Syrian refugee crisis, organizing groups and doing what they can to help sponsor families from Syria. I have included information on the groups that I am aware of in our community so you can get involved in their efforts if you wish.
As many of you are aware, more than four million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes after nearly five years of a brutal civil war. Most who fled are now living in appalling conditions in Syria’s neighbouring countries; half are children who've been traumatized by war. Huge numbers of desperate men, women and children are risking their lives along perilous migrant routes trying to reach Europe. Ottawa has pledged to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada over the next few months. The government expects private sponsors to shoulder the majority of the costs of resettling these refugees. This is a challenge, but it's also an opportunity for regular Canadians to play an active role in responding to a global crisis.
More than 20 neighbours, friends and one-time strangers in the Bloorcourt area have come together to bring a Syrian family to Toronto. They've been working with Lifeline Syria and recently learned that they are "case ready," which means they'll be welcoming a family to Toronto in early 2016. They’ve set ourselves a goal of $50,000 to cover living expenses for a year, and to cover the $10,000 transportation loan the family will owe the government upon their arrival.
They’ve raised around $20,000 so far and have set a goal to raise the remaining $30,000 over the next 30 days. That's where you come in. Click here to donate! Donations of $20 or more will receive a tax receipt. Important: In the dropdown menu where it asks you to “Select a designation for your gift,” please select Bloorcourt Sponsors. (If you select another group, we will not receive your donation.)
Everyone who donates will receive updates on our group and the sponsored family (you can unsubscribe).
To learn more about the Bloorcourt Sponsors:
Westside Refugee Response
Since the Westside Refugee Response met in late September, they've secured donation assistance through Ryerson University (which entitles the donor to receive a tax credit) and are in the process of organizing their first event. They are committed to raising $27,000 (the amount required to support a Syrian refugee family of four for a year). Here is the link to donate through Ryerson - https://ruonline.ryerson.ca/ccon/new_gift.do?action=newGift&giving_page_id=86&site=Found&new_session=true - select "Westside Refugee Response" from the drop-down box.
Beyond the financial obligation, they have agreed to meet the family at the airport, immediately house them, find and pay for housing within our community, source furniture, orient them to Toronto, assist with OHIP cards, English lessons, schooling for their kids and help them find work. But beyond these documented obligations, they've pledged to be their first friends, for life is more than the basics.
Although they've committed to raising the minimum required $27k through Ryerson, they have also decided to raise money through https://www.youcaring.com/help-us-sponsor-a-refugee-family-457159. This is because (i) certain expenses raised through the Ryerson donations page are 'not eligible', the biggest of which, is the Government of Canada loan that a refugee family agrees to that pays for their flights and other travel expenses to Canada; and (ii) start-up costs and life in Toronto costs and life costs more than the Government stipulated $27k for 1 year. The downside for donors is no tax receipt.
To launch their fundraising activities and to raise awareness of the plight of middle east refugees they are holding an event at Lula Lounge on November 24th, 6-9pm. http://www.lula.ca/lula-lounge/directions.html. They have secured some excellent speakers, including Arif Virani, newly elected MP for Parkdale-High Park, himself an Asian Ugandan refugee to Canada in the 70s, a prominent human rights advocate and lawyer.
Grove Sponsorship Group
The Grove Sponsorship Group has a family of 10 people (8 children ages 2 to 16) that has been matched to them by Lifeline Syria. The family has already been interviewed by the visa office in Beirut and it is likely that the family will be arriving by the end of the year. The Grove Sponsorship Group has complied a detailed list of required donations including items such as furniture, clothing, and household goods. Other urgent items that are needed include single mattresses, clean bedding, 4 bunkbeds, a kitchen table and chairs, new underwear, socks, t-shirts, pajamas, pillows, a relatively recent laptop or desktop, new hair brushes and combs, toothbrushes, wash cloths, toiletry bags, etc. The contact for this group is Abigail Pugh ([email protected]). If you are interested in helping this group I would encourage you to contact her directly.
City Council Highlights
Toronto City Council met on November 3 and 4, 2015. Council Highlights is an informal summary of decisions made by Toronto City Council. The City Clerk provides the formal documentation at http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Poverty reduction strategy
Council adopted the vision, objectives, recommendations and actions for a poverty reduction strategy called TO Prosperity, with a work plan for 2016 that includes 75 City initiatives, many of them involving partnerships. Almost one in five adults between the ages of 18 and 64 in Toronto and more than one-quarter of the city's children below the age of six are living in low-income households, according to Statistics Canada.
Cold weather protocol
Council authorized funding for the provision of cold weather drop-in services 24-hours-a-day in Toronto for this January and February. In addition, Council directed that the City must be prepared to offer the 24-hour cold weather drop-in services if needed in November and December. The City issues an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, with related services, when Environment Canada forecasts a temperature of -15 degrees C or colder or a wind chill of -20 degrees or colder. Council also addressed the City's shelter capacity during cold weather, as noted in the next item.
Council approved financial allocations to shelter providers to expand existing, or create new, emergency shelter capacity in Toronto. Specifically, a new permanent shelter program will be established on Bloor Street West in Ward 19 and seven existing programs at various locations will expand. In addition, more beds will be made available for temporary winter services. Toronto's shelter system includes 10 shelters directly operated by the City and another 49 shelter sites operated by community not-for-profit agencies under contract with the City.
George Street revitalization
Council authorized next steps for the revitalization of George Street in the east downtown area through the co-location of long-term care, assisted living, affordable housing, emergency shelter and other community services in a new facility that will replace the current Seaton House on George Street. Council also requested reports on the transition plan for shelter clients during demolition of Seaton House and construction of the new Seaton House facility, and on the project's impact on the City's overall shelter capacity.
Ban on use of hookahs
Council approved prohibiting the use of hookahs/waterpipes in City-licensed establishments effective next April. The prohibition follows Toronto Public Health's confirmation of the need for a legislative approach to address the significant health risks associated with this alternative form of smoking. Council also agreed to ask the Ontario government to enact legislation prohibiting the use of hookahs/waterpipes in restaurants, bars, entertainment establishments and patios.
Updated plan for managing traffic congestion
Council endorsed a Congestion Management Plan for 2016-20. The plan is an update/enhancement of the 2014-18 plan that Council adopted in 2013, which has improved the management of traffic congestion on Toronto's streets and expressways through technology and operational improvements along with increased enforcement and information sharing.
Waterfront transit reset
Council called for a review of waterfront transit initiatives and options in response to the observation that waterfront transit planning has been incremental, lacking a comprehensive plan for a transit network that can respond to the rapid transformation of the entire Toronto waterfront extending east from Etobicoke. According to a report considered by Council, the absence of a comprehensive plan has resulted in little progress in securing funding for new transit infrastructure on the waterfront.
Capital renewal of long-term care homes
Council approved a plan for renewing five of Toronto's long-term care homes run by Long-Term Care Homes and Services, including one that is part of the broader George Street revitalization project. The other four are Castleview-Wychwood Towers, Lakeshore Lodge, Oriole Yard/Esther Shiner Boulevard and Seven Oaks. The renewal is taking place in the context of Ontario's strategy for long-term care home renewal.
Long-term care homes' service plan
A service plan covering the Long-Term Care Homes and Services division's operations from 2016-20 received Council's approval. Work on the plan involved gathering information from many sources and engaging a wide range of stakeholders in the process. The City of Toronto operates 10 long-term care homes that provide 24-hour care and service.
Internet connectivity in Toronto
Council voted to ask for a study assessing Toronto's current internet connectivity and broadband capacity, especially as it relates to economic development objectives and the City's strategy for reducing poverty in the context of the digital divide. The term digital divide refers to economic and social inequality in people's access to, and use of, information and communication technologies that connect to the Internet.
Replacement of lead water service pipes
Council voted to direct Toronto Water to take steps to support the ongoing replacement of residential lead water-service pipes across the city. Among the steps specified, staff were asked to approach local financial institutions about the feasibility of low-interest or easily accessible loans to homeowners for replacing the private-side pipes on their properties. At present, about 1,500 residential property owners a year replace their private-side lead water service pipes with copper piping, done in conjunction with the City's ongoing efforts to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water by replacing corroded lead water pipes.
Uber in Toronto
Council adopted a motion calling for the City to provide additional information to the public about the current status of Uber in Toronto, including the risks associated with using the UberX ride service. The City is engaged in ongoing communications with representatives of Uber Canada about the City's taxicab broker application process and Uber's continued non-compliance with the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 545, Licensing.
Revitalization of distressed retail areas
Council directed staff to establish a pilot Capacity Building Program in two neighbourhood improvement areas as part of a broader economic revitalization program to assist distressed retail areas. The revitalization program involves working with local business communities in distressed commercial areas so they are better positioned to address the economic challenges particular to the neighbourhood.
Appointment of interim Ombudsman
Council appointed Kwame Addo of the Office of the Ombudsman as interim Toronto Ombudsman effective November 17. The current Ombudsman's term concludes on November 16. The appointment of an interim Ombudsman is required pending the outcome of an external review of the City's accountability offices that Council requested earlier this year. The Toronto Ombudsman investigates public complaints about decisions, actions or recommendations made or omitted in the course of implementing City policies and administering City services.
Appointment of new Poet Laureate
Council approved the appointment of Anne Michaels as Toronto's Poet Laureate for a three-year term beginning December 1. Michaels, who is the successor to current Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke, is a Toronto poet and novelist who has received major literary awards. The role of the Poet Laureate includes serving as Toronto’s literary ambassador at events promoting the literary arts and creating a legacy project for the people of Toronto.
Aga Khan Museum
Council confirmed its support of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada in its efforts to obtain provincial legislation that would enable Toronto City Council to exempt the Ismaili Centre Toronto, Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park at 49 and 77 Wynford Dr. from having to pay property taxes.
Future use of Old City Hall
Council voted to notify the Province of Ontario that its lease of the Old City Hall building at 60 Queen St. W. will not be extended/renewed beyond 2021. Council requested a feasibility study for museums and complementary public uses of the building, which currently houses provincial and municipal court operations. Staff have identified criteria to be considered in determining the best future use and tenant fit for the historic building.
Toronto's oldest red oak tree
Council took steps to protect a 250-year-old oak tree that stands on a residential property at 76 Coral Gable Dr. in North York. The tree is thought to be the largest and oldest red oak in Toronto. Council directed staff to report on the feasibility of establishing a fund dedicated to contributions received for the maintenance of the tree and the cost of possibly acquiring the property at 76 Coral Gable Dr.