It was a great summer to be out in the community meeting neighbours at street festivals, events, in my community office, at school graduations, on the street, and everywhere else in-between. From the last time I wrote to you I had the opportunity to attend BIG on Bloor and the Bloorcourt Arts Festival. It was amazing to see our vibrant and energetic Ward 18 community on full display for Torontonians to see and experience. If any of you have been following the news, it is going to be a busy fall here at Toronto City Hall with many different topics being debated from taxis/uber, to the updated Gardiner East proposals, to garbage collection east of Yonge street, and more. Specifically on the topic of affordable housing, I am proud that through the Affordable Housing Committee (AHC) we have recommended to Council for approval the first of hopefully many more affordable housing sites that will be built as part of the Open Door Program. The AHC has also endorsed TO Prosperity, Toronto's Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy and created a program to assist in creating safer rooming houses. I hope to discuss these and other topics with you at the many events coming up in Ward 18 during the fall.
Yours in community,
Bloor-Dufferin School Lands Update
I am pleased to announce that earlier this week, City of Toronto staff have released a report concerning the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) lands at Bloor and Dufferin. The report is going to the September 21, 2015 Executive Committee meeting.
Ever since the site was first put up for sale by the TDSB in 2013, I have been working hard to try to create a community hub on the site. The report was a direct result of my motion asking City staff to assess the City's interests in the Bloor-Dufferin school lands as a site for such a purpose.
The report discusses the concept of creating a landmark community hub for food and learning on the Bloor-Dufferin school lands, and notes that this is a promising location for Toronto's first Urban Agriculture Centre/Food Hub. A key factor for this is that FoodShare and its Kitchen Incubator program currently operates on the site.
This initiative would establish Toronto as a leader in cross-cutting social, educational, environment, and economic development innovations. The creation of parkland and the capital expansion of infant and child care spaces would also be prioritized as part of any community hub plan.
It is also exciting to see so many expressions of support from an unprecedented number of City departments, namely: Children's Services, City Planning, Economic Development and Culture, Parks, Forestry, and Recreation, Social Development, Finance and Administration, and Toronto Public Health. This proves what I have been saying for years; this is a special site that has the potential to provide benefits to our community and city for generations to come.
The report seeks authorization for the City to approach the TDSB, the Toronto Lands Corporation, local community partners, and the Province of Ontario to explore and develop this concept.
I have already reached out to our local Trustee and I am looking forward to exploring this concept as well as the multiple expressions of interest from community groups with our elected representatives, local residents, and community stakeholders – while working towards a common vision for a community hub at Bloor and Dufferin.
If you have any comments or questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
To find out more about the history of this site and my efforts to save and preserve it for community use, please click here.
If you are interested in reading the report and its recommendations, please click here.
Close the Housing Gap Campaign Activities
In addition to my duties as Toronto's Housing Advocate, I am the Co-Chair of the Close the Housing Gap campaign and I am happy to let you know that the campaign is working hard to make affordable housing an important issue in the federal election campaign. Last week, the campaign sent a housing questionnaire to Conservative, Green, Liberal, and New Democrat candidates in each of Toronto's 25 ridings.
The questionnaire asks:
1/ Do you support a one-third federal investment of $864 million over 10 years for capital repairs to Toronto Community Housing buildings?
2/ Do you support reinvesting funding from expiring federal operating agreements back into social housing to ensure resources are available to undertake capital repairs and provide affordable rents/housing subsidies?
3/ Do you support the development of a fully-funded, long-term federal housing strategy?
The responses will be available in early October on the campaign website: www.putpeoplefirst.ca.
In addition, the Executive Committee and City Council will consider at their September meetings a motion adopted at the recent Affordable Housing Committee that City Council urge the federal candidates from the four major parties to speak up and commit to action on housing issues affecting the City.
Nitta Gelatin Application for Environmental Compliance Approval
Industrial odours are considered an adverse impact and are regulated through Environmental Compliance Approval from the Provincial Ministry of the Environment. Odours must be regulated at the source and should not be impacting neighbouring properties. Nitta Gelatin has applied for an updated Environmental Compliance Approval with Limited Operational Flexibility in order to try new technologies and solutions for odour and noise control. I have been working with many of you, adding my voice to the many residents who have written in on this important issue. The deadline to submit comments on this process is September 20 and you can do so by visiting: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTI1NzI0&statusId=MTg5Mzkz&language=en
West Toronto Railpath Perth Entrance
Castlepoint Numa, the developer for the 158 Sterling Rd site had previously created a temporary public connection to the West Toronto Railpath at Perth Ave south of Bloor St W as an interim measure in the spirit of goodwill during the various stages of their planning application. However, now that the 158 Sterling Rd development has been recently approved, the entrance has had to close as it is part of the environmental remediation that is taking place on the development site. Although the entrance was meant to be temporary in nature, I understand that this is an important access point to the Railpath and surrounding area.
As a result, my office has reached out to the developer to explore the possibility of maintaining an alternative entry point and signage to indicate the current closure and work that is being carried out. Once the development is complete, they will be conveying that part of the land to the City as parkland and there will be a permanent (and beautified) connection to the Railpath.
West Toronto Railpath Update
The West Toronto Railpath is turning 6 years old on October 30th! I personally enjoy going for a morning jog on the Railpath and I am always looking for opportunities to improve this award winning public space with the local community. My office continually works with residents, Friends of the West Toronto Railpath, and City staff in sustaining a vision for the beautification, connection, and extension of the Railpath. I believe that together we will be able to expand on our vision and function of the Railpath. One exciting part is the value in creating connections and conversations with existing communities, and with the exciting new opportunities arising next to the Railpath. This includes the Christie-Ossington Neighbourhood Centre as part of the 362 Wallace Ave development, MOCCA at the 158 Sterling Rd development, and Family Service Toronto who has moved into 128A Sterling Rd.
I am pleased to announce that in the Fall, I will be hosting a public meeting to further engage the community, the Friends of the West Toronto Railpath, and City Planning's Public Realm division to explore and create a unified vision for public art/murals on the properties that front onto the Railpath. This will be an exciting project that will transform the Railpath and surrounding communities. I look forward to working with you all. Please let me know if you would like to receive specific updates on the West Toronto Railpath.
Lisgar Park Update
I have recently received an update from Parks staff with regards when Phase 1 of Lisgar Park will be complete. I am told by them that the fences will be coming down by mid-October (subject to the weather). The contractor still needs to commission the lighting and irrigation, clean up, and demobilize. Delivery and supply issues are some of the reasons why the park has not progressed as quickly as some may have liked. At some point in the spring there will be a grand opening celebration.
Salem-Westmoreland Parkette Update
I am pleased to inform you that the contractor has commenced on-site construction operations at the Salem-Westmoreland Parkettes. I have been informed that the project will be completed by the end of October (weather permitting). The project managers will be doing their best to synchronize the various tasks that need to be completed (playground, musical instruments, exercise equipment, paving, etc.) but there may be a period of inactivity on the site as one crew completes their scope of work and another crew starts work on a different scope of work. I am looking forward to seeing the finished result! If you would like to view the final plan for the park, please click here.
The Green Line Mural Launch
I was excited to be at the Green Line mural launch party with over 150 community members to check out and celebrate the mural located at the Dovercourt Road underpass at the CP Rail line. I believe the vision and plan for the Green Line is vital to the west end and the city as a whole. The creation of more cycling infrastructure, new green spaces and connecting our communities are city building principles that I am proud to support and that this plan achieves. For years I have been a champion of the West Toronto Railpath; and I look forward to working with the community to make the Green Line a reality and create a fantastic network of this type of infrastructure in Toronto’s west end.
A New Mural in Ward 18
Speaking of murals, I am proud that I was able to help get a new mural created on the Value Village property at St. Helens Ave during the Labour Day long weekend. This mural was created in partnership with Toronto Police. My office helped connect the project manager with the Bloordale CIA to increase resident involvement in this project and there were 11 artists who helped paint the mural. Please join me in thanking them for their hard work in helping to beautify our neighbourhoods. If you have any other ideas for murals in Ward 18, please contact my office.
Rooming House Fire Landlord Convicted
The owner of the illegal rooming house at 189 Sheridan Ave has been fined $60,000, will be on probation for 18 months, and cannot possess or manage a rental property during that time. This happened as a result of the tragic fire there two years ago where one resident sadly passed away. These incidents are far too common here in our city and it further highlights important changes that need to be made with regards to licencing landlords and rooming houses - work that is currently underway at City Council. It is important to make sure that we have both affordable and safe housing options for all Torontonians and it is my hope that the rest of Council will feel that way as well.
Grow Op 2016 Call for Submissions
The Gladstone Hotel’s fourth annual Grow Op exhibition, a four-day exhibition celebrates innovative ideas and conceptual responses to landscape, gardens, art, and place-making under this year’s theme, the culture of landscape is open for submissions for 2016!
Grow Op 2016 is seeking proposals that employ the tools of art, craft and design to reframe our understanding of the shifting boundaries between urban and wild, culture and nature. The deadline to enter is September 30, 2015 and you can find out more information about the Grow Op exhibition and how to enter your submissions here.
Dundas West Sidewalk Sale - Saturday September 19 all day
The 2015 Dundas West Sidewalk Sale takes place all day on Saturday September 19!
Don't miss this opportunity to take a stroll along Dundas West between Lansdowne & Shaw to visit all of your favourite (and soon-to-be favourite) Duwest and Little Portugal shops and hang-outs for great food, drinks, deals and much more! This is being organized by the Dundas West and Little Portugal BIAs and you can find out more on their facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1015092045181789/
McCormick Park Festival - Saturday September 19 from 11am to 2pm
You are invited to join the Friends of McCormick Park and I on Saturday September 19 from 11am to 2pm at 66 Sheridan Ave for the McCormick Park Festival. There are activities lined up for the entire family to enjoy. I hope to see you there!
Some activities include:
- Live Music
- Bouncy Castle
- Corn Roast
- Giant Mural
- Face Painting
- Festival Games
- and More!
Railpath Run - Saturday September 26 at 8am and 10:30am
The annual Railpath Run celebrates the West Toronto Railpath, promotes health within our community and raises funds in support of The Stop Community Food Centre. For more details on registration and the event itself please visit: www.railpathrun.com. I hope to see you there!
Bloordale Laneway Crawl - Sunday September 27 from 2pm to 6pm
On Sunday, September 27, 2015, from 2 pm to 6 pm, The Laneway Project will partner with the Bloordale BIA, the Bloor Improvement Group and the Bloordale CIA to transform Bloordale’s laneways into positive, safe and fun spaces for the whole neighbourhood to enjoy!
The Bloordale Laneway Crawl has three components:
1. Fun, participative, pop-up activities on the properties beside the laneways (things like art workshops, music jams, pickup sports and more)
2. A garage mural program, in partnership with the STEPS Initiative, that will see artists painting beautiful murals on up to 8 garage doors
3. A laneway route that connects it all together
To find out more about the Bloordale Laneway Crawl and on how to participate, please visit their website at: http://thelanewayproject.ca/bloordale-laneway-crawl/
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2015 - Saturday October 3 from 6:55pm until sunrise on Sunday October 4
The City of Toronto has released the complete artistic program for the 10th edition of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. On Saturday, October 3 from 6:55 p.m. until sunrise on Sunday, October 4, the streets of Toronto will be transformed by more than 110 art projects created by and featuring nearly 400 local, national and international artists. Details for the full program are available at http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca.
MacGregor Park Harvest Festival - Sunday October 4 from 1pm to 4pm
The MacGregor Park Art Club will be celebrating their new Teaching Gardens in the park with the Branching Out Harvest Festival on Sunday October 4, 2015 from 1pm to 4pm. The Inspiration for the Story, Characters & Music in the play will be the names of the plants and trees in the park. The Art and Design will be pressed copper and printed cloth inspired by the shapes of the plants and leaves in the park and the Sculptural Installation will be made of woven willow and tree branches. There will also be a Tandoori Oven on site baking Naan Bread.
City of Toronto Policy Consultations
Toronto Public Library Strategic Plan Feedback Requested
The Toronto Public Library is creating a new Strategic Plan to guide service delivery over the next four years. You are invited to provide your input into the strategic planning process. To provide your feedback online or to find out more about the process and the dates of community consultation events, please visit http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/telltpl. A print version (PDF) of the survey is also available for downloading, and can be completed and returned to staff at any branch. Residents requiring assistance completing the survey can call TPL’s Answerline at 416-393-7131 / TTY: 416-393-7030. Please join the conversation about what you need and want from your public library over the next four years.
Review of Dog Behaviour and Responsible Dog Ownership Underway
The Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) Division is undertaking a review of Chapter 349, Animals to determine how the City can effectively balance, manage and address dogs' behaviour, their owners' responsibilities and public safety in the City of Toronto.
Chapter 349, Animals sets out registration/licensing requirements and the requirement to leash dogs on public property, except where permitted (e.g., off-leash parks). The bylaw also covers how the City responds to dogs at large (on the loose) or dogs that have bitten people or animals. The goal of the review is to address City Council's direction to provide recommendations on how the City can effectively respond to incidents of dog bites and dogs that may pose a risk to public safety.
Between July and October 2015, ML&S will complete research, analysis, and consultation with stakeholder groups, and the general public. The general public is invited to participate by taking part in their survey, found at http://www.toronto.ca/mlshaveyoursay until Monday, September 21, 2015. The closest public consultation will be held on Monday September 28 at Toronto City Hall (100 Queen Street West) in Committee Room 4 from 6pm to 8pm.
Ward Boundary Review
The City of Toronto is undertaking a Ward Boundary Review and they are about halfway through the process before delivering their final recommendations to the Executive Committee and City Council in May 2016. They have released a report on several options for Toronto ward boundaries based on round one of their civic engagement and public consultation process. The purpose of the report is to present options for new ward boundaries for the City of Toronto and receive input from residents, stakeholders and members of Council.
There are two ways to provide input:
1. Complete a survey: The survey can be completed online or in hard-copy format.
2. Attend a public meeting: Twelve public meetings will take place across the city this fall, starting September 16.
The Options Report, as well as information about the survey and the public meetings, can be obtained at http://www.drawthelines.ca.
Sidewalk Cafes and Marketing Displays Public Input Opportunity
The City of Toronto is conducting a review of the bylaws governing sidewalk cafés and marketing displays on the public right-of-way (sidewalks). The intent of the review is to harmonize the six different bylaws that currently regulate these activities as well as review permit fees.
At the same time, guidelines are being created to inform the design and layout of sidewalk cafés to ensure that cafés and sidewalks are safe and accessible.
A draft bylaw and guidelines have been developed with the help of input from a series of public consultation meetings and surveys that were conducted with stakeholders in 2014. A new bylaw will ensure that consistent standards and permit processes apply across Toronto.
The nearest information session to obtain input on the direction of the draft bylaw and guidelines will be at Metro Hall (55 John Street) on Monday September 21 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Background information about the review can be found at http://www.toronto.ca/mlshaveyoursay.
TransformTO: Climate action for a healthy, equitable, prosperous Toronto
The City is undertaking an important initiative to combat climate change and the public is invited to participate. A series of events called TalkTransformation! will be held throughout the upcoming Fall and Winter months. The events will feature innovative, knowledgeable speakers from a diverse range of fields to discuss climate change and carbon reduction in Toronto.
The first event will focus on Toronto's climate change resiliency and adaptation strategies, and has been scheduled for September 24, 2015, 7:00 – 8:30PM, at Innis Town Hall, University of Toronto, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto.
The City is also seeking the public's input on what questions and topics the experts should discuss at these events. Here is a link to this online workbook:https://cityoftoronto.fluidsurveys.com/s/TransformTO/. You can learn more about TransformTO: Climate Action for a Healthy, Equitable, and Prosperous Toronto at: http://toronto.ca/transformto