Ontario Line Project – Public Open House

Posted on January 16, 2020

On June 4, 2019, the Ontario Government passed the “Getting Ontario Moving Act,” which assigns responsibility for planning some rapid transit in Toronto to the Province of Ontario. As a result, the Relief Line project has now been replaced by the Ontario Line project. With this change, Metrolinx will lead a renewed consultation and exploration process, which will also include additional Environmental Assessment work. As this new process gets underway, we
hope that you will continue to participate in engagement opportunities.

Metrolinx is hosting four public open houses to introduce the Ontario Line later this month. Fifteen potential stations are proposed between Ontario Place and Ontario Science Centre, with links to GO Transit, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, and TTC Lines 1 and 2. The objective of the information sessions will be to provide the public with an overview of the project, the process, and information on future engagement opportunities.

The information sessions will be hosted in the last two weeks of January. The same information will be available at each event. Each event will be from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

Public Open Houses:

Thursday, January 23rd at Ontario Science Centre (770 Don Mills Rd)

Monday, January 27th at Ryerson University, Tecumseh Auditorium (55 Gould St)

Tuesday, January 28th at Metropolitan Community Church (115 Simpson Ave)

Wednesday, January 29th at Exhibition Place, Beanfield Centre, Room 201 ABC (105 Princes’ Blvd)

If you have any questions about the meetings or the project, please contact Metrolinx directly at OntarioLine@metrolinx.com.

Grenadier Pond Update

Posted on January 9, 2020

Hello,

As you may have heard in the news, the City has stopped monitoring the ice on Grenadier Pond. For the last couple of years the City ran this program to advise people of the degree of risk of skating on the Pond. The decision to stop the program was made during the 2019 budget, shortly after the last election. City staff did not highlight the change and Council was not aware of it when we approved the budget.

Many people skate on ice that forms over open water at locations across the city. The City does not permit this, it is unsafe. We have studied it closely and find we cannot offer safe skating. Four years ago Council directed staff to try to provide safer skating at Grenadier Pond. We found that the program was not successful for two reasons: cost and safety.

In each of the two full years of operation (2017 and 2018) there were 17 days when the ice was rated “skate at your own risk”.  The rest were rated “dangerous”. There are no circumstances where the ice would be rated “safe”. The program cost $166,000 per year. In other words each “skate at your own risk” day cost approximately $10,000, making it by far the most expensive skating program in the City.

Further, skaters on the pond regularly did not stay within the monitored area, and put themselves at risk of personal injury due to thin and/or uneven ice.

Given the extraordinary cost and the fact that people were still in danger, I am forced to agree with staff that the program should be discontinued.

I want to say a word about the process. I have told City staff in no uncertain terms that this is not the way decisions to cancel a public service should be taken. You and I should have been presented with staff’s reasoning and given a chance to discuss it together.

Going forward, I must encourage you not to skate on Grenadier Pond. Toronto offers many places to skate indoors and outdoors.  Several outdoor options are near Grenadier Pond, including High Park, Rennie and Sorauren Park. More information about city rinks, including service alerts, hours and location, can be found here: https://www.toronto.ca/data/parks/prd/facilities/outdoor-rinks/index.html

Gord

 

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Posted on January 7, 2020

Cold weather can cause your water pipes to freeze, resulting in no water & expensive property damage. Take steps to protect your water pipes from freezing: www.toronto.ca/frozenpipes

Council Highlights – December 17 & 18, 2019

Posted on December 19, 2019

Council Highlights

Toronto City Council meeting of December 17 and 18, 2019

Council Highlights is an informal summary of selected actions taken by Toronto City Council at its business meetings. The formal documentation for this latest meeting is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Funding for city-building efforts

Council approved an extension to the City Building Fund, agreeing to invest an additional $6.6 billion to improve Toronto’s transit system and build affordable housing. The funds will be raised by an increased levy dedicated to investments in major transit and housing initiatives. The City Building Fund was first approved by City Council as part of the 2016 budget. This updated levy will cost the average Toronto household about $45 a year as part of municipal property tax bills over the next six years.

Action plan to address housing needs

Council approved the HousingTO action plan created to address Toronto’s housing needs over the next 10 years. The plan will assist almost 350,000 Toronto households, covering the full range of housing, including support for homeless people, social housing, affordable rental housing and long-term care. Implementation of the full 10-year plan, estimated to cost $23.4 billion, relies on new investments from all three orders of government. The City is committed to funding $8.5 billion of that total.

Rate-supported budgets for 2020

The City’s rate-supported budgets for Solid Waste Management Services, Toronto Water and the Toronto Parking Authority received Council’s approval. The operating and capital budgets will maintain and improve current service levels and make investments for the future of those three operations.

Innovation in long-term care

Council approved a new approach for providing care to residents of City-operated long-term care homes, with the focus on an emotion-centred approach that still maintains clinical excellence. The overall intention is to improve outcomes for the residents and their families. The strategy to implement this new approach includes a 12-month pilot project at Lakeshore Lodge before implementation at all 10 City-run long-term care homes.

Ontario’s disability support program

Council supported a member motion to ask the Ontario government to reverse its announced cut to social support funding and to urge the government to maintain the current definition of disability for Ontario Disability Support Program. Council will also ask the province to continue to increase social assistance rates and engage with people living with disabilities, taking their lived experience into account when designing social assistance programs.

Public art strategy  

Council adopted a public art strategy for the City covering the next 10 years to promote new and innovative approaches to the creation of public art, connect artists and communities, and display public art in every Toronto neighbourhood. The strategy includes 21 actions to advance public art and heighten the impact of the City’s public art programs for the benefit of residents and visitors.

LGBTQ2S+ advisory body for City Council 

Council approved the establishment of, and terms of reference for, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) Council advisory body. The advisory body will provide a dedicated mechanism to represent LGBTQ2S+ residents’ interests and concerns, informing City Council’s decision-making during the current 2018-2022 term of Council. Since 2010, there has been no designated Council body speaking for Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ communities.

Formal remembrance of the Holocaust

A member motion supported by Council will result in the declaration of January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Toronto. The United Nations designated that date to honour the victims of the Holocaust. Toronto is home to many Holocaust survivors and/or their families. Marking the day in Toronto is also an opportunity to create greater public awareness of this terrible period in history, when more than six million innocent Jewish men, women and children were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators from 1933 to 1945.

Relocation of Etobicoke Civic Centre

Council authorized proceeding with phase three of a process to replace the outdated Etobicoke Civic Centre with a new complex on a site known as the Westwood Theatre Lands. Phase three of this capital project includes detailed design and tendering for construction. The project will result in new civic and community infrastructure in Etobicoke, including a recreation centre, library, childcare facility and public square.

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs

Council voted to ask the provincial government to review legislation enabling the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to revoke the liquor licences of problematic establishments serving alcohol in Toronto, including those with a history of repeated criminal activity in connection with the premises. Council’s action comes in the context of work that City divisions are undertaking, which aims to balance support for the growth of Toronto’s nighttime economy with the need to ensure public safety, address nuisance issues and respond to problematic establishments.

Construction in downtown Yonge Street area

Council adopted a member motion calling for the creation of a working group with broad representation to address efforts to co-ordinate development and infrastructure work in the area bounded by Bay, Mutual, College/Carlton and Queen streets. The area is experiencing an unprecedented amount of growth, with 26 projects now active or about to begin, many of them requiring the replacement of aging infrastructure. The motion says these projects require co-ordination to ensure the safety of pedestrians and minimize impacts on vehicle traffic.

Development pressures in midtown Toronto

A member motion concerning the Yonge and Eglinton area, adopted by Council, requests a report on the impact of new development pressures and intensification on subway capacity at Eglinton Station, pedestrian safety, road capacity and traffic congestion. The motion notes that the higher density now allowed in the area is largely the result of new provincial planning legislation and policies, and the Ontario government’s “rejection of most of the City’s Midtown in Focus plan.”

Revitalizing the Dundas-Sherbourne area

Council adopted a series of recommendations for creating a comprehensive neighbourhood revitalization plan for the Dundas Street East and Sherbourne Street area of east downtown Toronto. This undertaking includes addressing issues that require collaboration among social-service sectors and across governments, such as affordable and supportive housing, crisis intervention, services for community members who have very low incomes or are homeless, and actions to address public safety concerns in the area.

Live streaming of meetings at City Hall

A member motion supported by Council requests a report on the viability of making live streaming of board meetings held in Committee Rooms 1 and 2 at City Hall routine. At present, Council and committee meetings are live streamed (broadcast in real time via the internet) but many other meetings are not streamed. The motion says all important meetings in Committee Rooms 1 and 2 could be live streamed with little extra cost, as the equipment and process are already in place. Doing so would “enhance openness, accountability and transparency in the City’s governance process.”

 

My Comments at Council on Housing and a Toronto Life Article

Posted on December 19, 2019

After years of advocacy, homelessness has been recognized as an ongoing critical and emergency issue. My comments on this issue at the December council:

I wrote an article for Toronto Life magazine describing the impact Premier Ford’s cut to the size of Council has had on our local democracy:

The Ford Fallout: “Being a councillor now is like watching from afar with fingers crossed”

City of Toronto installing Automated Speed Enforcement cameras

Posted on December 16, 2019

Starting today the City of Toronto will begin installing Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras and signage on Toronto streets in an effort to increase road safety, reduce speeding and raise public awareness about the need to slow down and obey posted speed limits.

Automated Speed Enforcement is an efficient tool in the City’s Vision Zero toolbox that will see an initial total of 50 cameras installed on local, collector and arterial roads in Community Safety Zones near schools. Each ward will have two ASE cameras that will capture and record images of vehicles travelling in excess of the posted speed limit.

Speed is a contributing factor in approximately one third of fatal collisions in Canada. More than 50 percent of convictions related to the Highway Traffic Act in Ontario were from speeding offences. In Toronto, ASE is intended to work in tandem with other Vision Zero methods and strategies already in place, including road redesign improvements, police enforcement and public education.

To warn drivers and raise awareness about ASE in advance of laying any charges, the City is also launching a 90-day public education campaign starting this week that will include issuing warning letters to speeding drivers in lieu of tickets (no response will be required). Warning signage will be installed in each ward to inform drivers as they approach an ASE camera.

ASE tickets are expected to start being issued to speeding drivers in the spring of 2020 at the end of the 90-day public education campaign. If a vehicle exceeds the posted speed limit in an ASE-enforced area, a ticket will be mailed to the registered plate holder. Offenders are only fined – no demerit points will be applied.

ASE camera locations were selected based on data that indicated where speed and collision challenges exist in Community Safety Zones near schools in Toronto. Additional selection criteria included planned road work, speed limits, obstructions or impediments to equipment, boulevard space and the nature of the road.

The locations in Ward 4 are:

• Jameson Avenue between Laxton Avenue and Leopold Street

• Close Avenue between Queen Street and King Street

More information about the City’s Automated Speed Enforcement program is available at http://www.toronto.ca/ASE.

The Vision Zero Road Safety Plan is a comprehensive action plan that aims to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets. With over 50 safety measures across six emphasis areas, the plan prioritizes the safety of our most vulnerable road users: pedestrians, schoolchildren, seniors and cyclists. More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/VisionZero.

Winterlicious Launches Culinary Event Series Today

Posted on December 12, 2019

Winterlicious, Toronto’s popular foodie event, returns January 31 to February 13, 2020, featuring both a Culinary Event Series and Prix Fixe Promotion. Created by the City of Toronto, Winterlicious is a great opportunity for food enthusiasts to explore the city’s food culture. Tickets for the Culinary Event Series go on sale today and make for a unique holiday gift.

2020 Culinary Event Series

The Culinary Event Series will include a wide range of events suitable for both adventurous and cautious food explorers. The Winterlicious 2020 Culinary Event Series features 14 eclectic food experiences to choose from:

  • David Gibson’s Favourites: A Farmhouse Supper, Gibson House Museum on January 31 and February 7
  • Edible History – Taste Where Toronto All Began, St. Lawrence Market on January 31, February 2, 7, 8, and 9
  • Afternoon Tea at the Castle, Casa Loma on February 1, 2, 8 and 9
  • The Pleasure of Survival, Palais Royale on February 1
  • A Chocolate Tasting Affair, Crimson Teas on February 2, 6, 8, and 13
  • Feed Your Soul – A Louisiana Culinary Experience, Cirillo’s Academy on February 3
  • Feast by the Fire, Babel on February 4
  • The Art of Pizza Making, Cibo Wine Bar Yorkville on February 4
  • Dinner with the Mackenzies, Mackenzie House on February 5, 12 and 13
  • The Austins Entertain, Spadina Museum on February 6
  • Historic Tavern Meal, Montgomery’s Inn Museum on February 8
  • Hungry for Comfort: Surviving a Canadian Winter, Fort York National Historic Site on February 9
  • Scotch Tasting Dinner, David Duncan House, February 10 and 12
  • Tequila Tasting Dinner with Chef Claudio Aprile, Xango on February 11

Some events sell out fast, so interested buyers are encouraged to purchase tickets now. More information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/winterlicious.

2020 Prix Fixe Promotion

More than 200 restaurants will offer three-course prix fixe lunch menus priced at $23, $28 and $33 and dinner menus priced at $33, $43 and $53. Restaurants will start accepting reservations for the Prix Fixe Promotion on January 16. Reservations are strongly recommended and are to be made directly with the participating dining establishments. A complete list of participating restaurants is available at https://www.toronto.ca/winterlicious.

Follow Winterlicious on social media on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/LiciousTO, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LiciousTO and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/LiciousTO. The event hashtag is #LiciousTO.

Advocates Call Upon the City of Toronto to Strengthen the HousingTO Action Plan

Posted on December 9, 2019

Many low-and-moderate-income households in the city struggling to make ends meet. The HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan being presented to Planning and Housing Committee, builds upon the City’s last 10-year housing plan, Housing Opportunities Toronto: Affordable Housing Action Plan 2010-2020.

The action plan proposes a number of actions to address critical needs across the housing spectrum however it fails to meet the urgency needed in our city.

Housing Advocates call upon the City of Toronto to Strengthen the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan by asking City Council to:

  • declare homelessness an emergency and direct the Mayor to invite the Premier and Prime Minister to an emergency summit within 30 days to devise a plan for dealing with the emergency;
  • commit that any housing units built on City land, or receiving City subsidies or City incentives shall be permanent;
  • establish a Housing Commissioner of Toronto; and
  • create minimum annual targets for housing construction which will be achieved regardless of the actions of other governments or funding partners.

Date:                Tuesday December 10, 2019
Time:               9 AM
Location:         2nd Floor, A Street reception, outside of Committee Rm 1, City Hall, 100 Queen Street West,

Speakers:

  • Kira Heineck, Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Brian Davis, Houselink Community Homes
  • Alejandra Ruiz-Vargas, ACORN
  • Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
  • Councillor Gord Perks

Pesticide Treatment at High Park

Posted on December 5, 2019

Urban Forestry will be carrying out management of invasive trees, shrubs and vines in High Park over the winter months.

Various sections of the natural areas in High Park are managed for invasive trees, shrubs and vines.  Treatment in these areas will take place intermittently during the period of December to March. A triclopyr-based pesticide (Garlon RTU) is being used to control these invasive species. Pesticide signs will be posted 24 hours prior to any treatment taking place and will delineate the border of the site being managed at that time.

The invasive species being treated includes Norway Maple and Common Buckthorn, these species impact native plants and habitat by:

• crowding out and shading native vegetation and young trees

• encouraging soil erosion due to lack of ground cover

Application is done by licensed city staff, and additional information signage will be posted along with the standard warning signage.  Warning signage is posted 24 hours before treatment and is removed 48 hours following treatment, according to Ministry of Environment guidelines.

Please see the Fact Sheet below for more information.

FACTSHEET Norway Maple Common Buckthorn_

Information on City’s Snow Clearing Services

Posted on December 5, 2019

The City’s Levels of Winter Maintenance Service Highlights

Road Category When does the City start plowing? How many hours after the snow stops falling will it take to clear?
Expressways 2.5 cm to 5.0 cm 2-3 hours
Arterial roads and streetcar routes 5.0 cm 6-8 hours
Collector roads, bus routes and local streets with Hills 5.0 cm – 8.0 cm 8-10 hours
All other local streets 8.0 cm 14-16 hours

Business and property owners are responsible for ensuring that all ice and snow is cleared on sidewalks, driveways, parking spaces, steps, ramps and landings within 12 hours of snowfall to provide safe access for people and vehicles. Clearing the ice and snow from the sidewalk in front of your home or business will make it safer for everyone. Failure to do so can result in fines. Please contact 311 to report property owner who did not clear their sidewalk.

If you are a senior or disabled resident of Toronto, the City will clear snow from the sidewalk in front of your home. The service does not include driveways or walkways leading to homes. All participants in the program must renew annually to continue to receive the service. 

If you have friends, neighbours or relatives who are seniors (65 years of age +) and are in need of aid for snow removal please contact 311 (or call Councillor Perks office 416 392 7919 or email: councillor_perks@toronto.ca) for options.

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