Registration for City’s winter swim and skate programs and March Break camps begins this weekend

Posted on December 5, 2019

Registration for City of Toronto winter swim and skate programs and March Break camps will take place on Saturday, December 7 and Tuesday, December 10. The City is Toronto is the largest provider of safe, fun and high-quality recreation programs for people of all ages, skill levels and interests, with more than one million recreation program hours offered annually.

Available programs include beginner skate and preschool swim, lifesaving classes, as well as adapted and inclusive programs for people with special needs/disabilities. March break camps range from activity and adventure camps to specialty camps including drama, music and sports.

Residents can prepare for registration with extended customer service hours at 416-396-7378 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on December 5, 6 and 9.

Registering online at https://efun.toronto.ca/ is the fastest and easiest way to register. Registration starts at 7 a.m. for these districts:

  • Saturday, December 7 – Etobicoke/York and Scarborough
  • Tuesday, December 10 – North York, Toronto/East York and West Toronto/York

Due to ward realignments, the registration day for some locations has changed. Affected locations can be found at: https://www.toronto.ca/data/parks/funguide/districtchanges.html#

Residents can get tips for registration, browse available programs, create wish lists and learn more about available programs at https://www.toronto.ca/rec. Information on free programs and subsidies for recreation programs is available at http://www.toronto.ca/lowcostrecreation.

My thoughts on the plan to increase property taxes

Posted on December 4, 2019

Today our Mayor proposed a plan to increase property taxes substantially over the next several years. It’s the right thing to do. Many people have been arguing for this since the Mayor first took office. He has not been kind to us.

What happened?

First, we have been honest. It has been obvious that our transit system is in decline because of under-spending, and that we need public investment to solve the housing crisis. In the long run honesty is the best approach to civic life.

Second, we have not allowed constant attacks on our ideas and integrity to silence us. It’s no fun being attacked but it’s something we have to stand up to in the current vicious political climate. When we are demonized for telling the truth, it shows we are getting somewhere.

Third, and most important, by speaking up we have gradually persuaded Torontonians that we face a stark choice, increase taxes or cut services. Together we created a social movement that grew and grew until it forced the Mayor to come down on our side.

If you have ever told anyone that you would rather pay more taxes than watch the City decline, today is your victory. Be proud, you’ve changed the way the Mayor thinks and put the City on a better path.

Now, on to the next struggle.

Gord

Update on Short Term Rental Regulations

Posted on December 3, 2019

On December 7, 2017, and January 31, 2018, City Council approved regulations for short-term rentals in Toronto. The new rules, which require short-term rental companies to obtain a licence and short-term rental operators to register with the City and pay a Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) of 4 per cent, were set to come into effect on June 1, 2018. However, the City’s zoning bylaw amendments to permit short-term rentals as a use were appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

On November 18, 2019 the LPAT issued a ruling that dismissed the appeals and upheld City Council’s adopted zoning bylaw amendments for short-term rentals. The short-term rental zoning bylaw amendments are now in force. The amendments permit short-term rentals, (any rental that is less than 28 consecutive days), across the city in principal residences. Within their principal residence, people can rent up to three rooms or their entire home.

With this decision, the Licensing and Registration Of Short-Term Rentals Bylaw has also come into force. The City is moving forward with the implementation of the bylaw, as adopted by City Council. Once the licence and registration system is built, short-term rental companies will be required to obtain a licence and operators will be required to register with the City and pay the MAT of 4 per cent.

More information on City’s short-term rentals is available at  toronto.ca/shorttermrentals 

City Wins at LPAT with Short-Term Rental Decision

Posted on November 20, 2019

The City received notice on Monday from the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) that the appeal of the City Council-approved zoning regulations for short-term rentals were dismissed.

The decision enables the City of Toronto to move forward with implementation of the regulations as approved by Toronto City Council more than a year ago, but were on hold due to the appeal.

The City will have more information in December about implementation, timelines, and how the licensing, registration, and four per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) will work.

For more information, including key points of the new regulations as well as links to Council decisions, please visit https://www.toronto.ca/shorttermrentals

TTC to End In-Station Sales of Tickets, Tokens, and Passes

Posted on November 19, 2019

November 30, 2019, will be the last day to buy TTC tickets, tokens and passes at collector booths. You can still use them to pay your fare. Refunds will not be provided. Once you no longer have tickets, tokens and passes, you can switch to a PRESTO card.

November 25, 2019, will be the last day you can buy a GTA Weekly Pass. You’ll be able to pay your fare with the pass until December 1.

Don’t wait to get your PRESTO card. Purchase one today at Fare Vending Machines at all subway station entrances, all Shoppers Drug Mart locations, online at prestocard.ca and at the TTC Customer Service Centre.

PRESTO cards work on the TTC and other transit agencies across the GTA. Learn more

http://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/index.jsp

Parkdale People’s Economy’s Inclusionary Zoning Workshop – November 11

Posted on November 6, 2019

The Affordable Housing working group of Parkdale People’s Economy is hosting an event on Inclusionary Zoning (IZ). This action-oriented event will include a talk on how IZ works in other cities and a discussion on how it could be implemented in Toronto. Participants will also be supported to prepare a written or recorded message that will be presented at City Hall.

Monday, November 11, 2019
6:30PM – 8:30PM
Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre
1499 Queen St W (second floor)

Annual Mechanical Leaf Collection Program – November 12 – December 9, 2019

Posted on November 5, 2019

City of Toronto’s annual mechanical leaf collection program in designated areas will start on Tuesday, November 12 and end on Monday, December 9, 2019. Please see attached map below to find our if your street is part of the designated area for this program.

Click here for more information on this program.

EYD mechanical leaf collection

What are those spots on your Maple leaves?

Posted on November 1, 2019

Tar spot is a fungal disease that causes black tar-like spots on the leaves of Red, Silver, Norway, Sugar and Manitoba maples (but it doesn’t seem to affect Japanese maples). Tar spot is a foliar disease: the spores do not affect other parts of maple trees.

While tar spots are unattractive, the good news is that this fungal disease does not injure the tree itself. Tar spots develop late enough in the growing season that they do not usually affect the health of the tree. While the fungal spores infect young leaves early in the season, they do not continue to cause new infections throughout the summer. The infections first appear a yellow or light green spots on the leaves in early summer. By late summer, the infections take on a black, tar-like appearance.

To avoid the spread of fungal spores it is best to rake the affected leaves this fall. Destroy the leaves or remove them from your yard by bagging them for municipal collection. If you ignore tar spot and allow the fallen leaves to remain on the ground through the winter, your maples will develop tar spot again next year. If, however, you remove the infected leaves from the area you reduce the chances of the tree being infected the following year

Council Highlights – October 29-30th, 2019

Posted on October 31, 2019

Council Highlights

Toronto City Council meeting of October 29 and 30, 2019                           

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

Transit/transportation

Public transit projects   

After extensive discussion, Council voted in favour of the City negotiating agreements with the Ontario government on four public transit projects for Toronto. City and TTC staff will work with their provincial counterparts to advance plans for the Ontario Line, the Line 2 East Extension, the Yonge Subway Extension and the Eglinton West LRT. Council supported numerous motions and recommendations as part of this agenda item. Under the City/Ontario partnership, the City retains ownership of Toronto’s existing subway network and the TTC retains its responsibilities for transit network operations.

Planning for automated vehicles     

Council approved a plan designed to prepare Toronto for the anticipated use of automated (driverless) vehicles in the near future. A trial project in Scarborough involving an automated shuttle service connecting the West Rouge neighbourhood with nearby Rouge Hill GO Transit station is scheduled to start in late 2020. Toronto’s comprehensive plan for automated vehicles is said to be the first of its kind by a North American city.

Road safety measures   

Recommendations involving speed limits and other measures to enhance pedestrian safety were approved by Council. Steps to be taken include asking the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to consult with the City before considering increasing the speed limits on the portions of the 400 series highways that are in Toronto. A separate motion that was supported will result in a pilot project using new technology available to assist pedestrians in safely crossing streets at busy intersections.

City assets/facilities

Managing the City’s real estate assets     

Council adopted a report called ModernTO that sets out a strategy for the City’s real estate portfolio. The strategy aims to optimize City real estate assets in ways that modernize municipal office space and create efficiencies. A related agenda item that Council adopted calls on CreateTO, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, the Toronto Parking Authority and the Toronto Transit Commission, to adopt similar policies for their office portfolios.

Investment in parks and recreation facilities  

Council endorsed a strategy for providing parks and recreation facilities across the city over the next 20 years. The strategy, which is based on a commitment to high-quality parks and recreation facilities serving all Toronto residents, provides details for implementing an earlier adopted Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan. Implementing the plan entails investing in community recreation centres, aquatic and ice facilities, sports fields and courts, splash pads and other facilities.

Use of community spaces in City facilities    

Council supported a motion calling on City officials to consult with LGBTQ2S+ stakeholders and to review the City’s policies governing third party use of community spaces in City facilities. Staff are to report to Council early in the new year. A focus involves ensuring that the identification of groups contravening the City’s human rights and anti-harassment/discrimination policy, and the denial or revoking of permits to such groups, are done in a timely manner. Part of the motion addresses the Toronto Public Library Board and its policies on the use of community spaces.

Cyber security  

Council adopted recommendations intended to strengthen security controls in information technology at the City and at City of Toronto agencies and corporations. The related audit report notes that cyberattacks – unauthorized attempts to gain access to a system and confidential data, modify it in some way or delete or render information in the system unusable – are one of the biggest threats facing organizations today.

Process for selecting shelter locations    

A motion concerning shelters, respites and drop-in programs in the east downtown area received Council’s approval. Staff are to provide recommendations to improve public engagement and consultation around locating new shelters, respites and drop-in programs in that area.

Waterfront and island flooding   

Council considered a report on flooding experienced along the waterfront and at Toronto Island Park in 2017 and 2019, and on funding for rehabilitation and repair work to waterfront parks damaged by flooding. Related motions that Council adopted address matters such as financial assistance that the City provides for flooded properties.

Environment and health  

Progress on a low-carbon fleet  

Council adopted a new “green fleet” plan with the goal of moving toward a sustainable, climate-resilient, low-carbon City vehicle fleet. Related objectives include making 45 per cent of the City-owned fleet low-carbon vehicles by 2030. This plan will build on the momentum of the green fleet plan that covered 2014 to 2018 and established the City of Toronto as a Canadian leader in testing and adopting green vehicle technologies and efficient fleet-management practices.

Mental health and addictions  

Council adopted a motion that urges the federal government to invest $900,000 a year to help address Toronto’s mental health and addiction crises. The motion calls on the government to commit to funding parity by investing one dollar on mental health for every dollar spent on physical health. According to the motion, this urgently needed federal investment in Toronto should go toward mental health services and new supportive housing.

Sale of vaping products   

Council supported amending the Toronto Municipal Code to introduce a new licence requirement for vapour (“vaping”) product retailers effective April 1, 2020. The fee structure is the same as for tobacco retailers. The report before Council documented about 80 specialty retailers of vapour products operating in Toronto and many non-specialty retailers such as convenience stores that carry e-cigarette/vaping products. The report also elaborates on related health concerns.

Community support

Child-care in schools   

Council authorized proceeding with the joint approval process for 49 school-based child-care capital projects in co-operation with school boards, as well as up to 20 additional school-based capital projects, subject to provincial funding approval. Council voted to call on the province to reverse its funding formula changes to child care in Ontario and maintain previous levels of funding, and to implement multi-year budgets for child care.

Police presence in Lawrence Heights   

A motion calling on Council to ask the Toronto police to establish a community police office in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood received Council’s approval. The motion noted that the main police headquarters serving that part of the city is 8.4 kilometres away from Lawrence Heights, and said there is a need for a police office within the community, given the problems of persistent gun violence and other criminal activity in the area.

Culture

Priorities for cultural investment   

A report identifying three strategic priorities to guide the City’s cultural investments over the next five years received Council’s approval. The three priorities involve increasing opportunities for all Torontonians to participate in local cultural activities that reflect the city’s diversity and creativity, maintaining and creating new spaces for the creative sector, and strengthening and increasing the diversity of the cultural workforce.

Changes to cultural grants  

Council approved a proposal to realign the City’s cultural grants program, with the intention of providing more equitable access to funding. Two long-established funding programs (Major Cultural Organizations and Grants to Specialized Collections Museums) will be dismantled as the City introduces two new funding programs in 2020 – called Cultural Festivals and Cultural Access and Development.

Miscellaneous

Appointment of Integrity Commissioner

Council appointed Jonathan Batty as the City’s new Integrity Commissioner, effective November 30. The Integrity Commissioner provides advice, complaint resolution and education to members of City Council and local boards on the application of the City’s codes of conduct, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and other bylaws, policies and legislation governing ethical behaviour. Valerie Jepson, the previous Integrity Commissioner, completed her five-year appointment this year.

Support for challenge to Quebec’s Bill 21   

Council adopted a member’s motion calling on Toronto City Council to endorse efforts by several cities to mount a national campaign opposing Quebec’s Bill 21 (“secularism legislation”). Bill 21 prohibits public servants in positions of authority in Quebec from wearing religious symbols. The motion that Council supported also reaffirms Toronto’s commitment to upholding religious freedoms and encourages the federal government to condemn and challenge Quebec’s Bill 21.

Enhancement of University Avenue    

Council supported a proposal for implementing the first phase of an initiative that involves illuminating and animating University Avenue with art installations. A group called the Friends of University Avenue plans for a temporary, illuminated art installation to be located at the intersection of University Avenue and Gerrard Street as the first project. University Avenue, known as the most ceremonial street in downtown Toronto, links the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park to Union Station at Front Street.

TransformTO Public Consultations

Posted on October 18, 2019

Residents are invited to share their feedback and ideas for the next TransformTO Implementation Plan from 2021 to 2023. TransformTO is the City’s Climate Action Strategy. The Plan will identify climate actions and priorities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the next three years. Complete the online survey, attend a public meeting, or host your own conversation with family, friends or neighbours using the TransformTO Community Conversation Guide. Consultations will conclude on November 11, 2019.

The remaining public meeting dates are:

  • Wednesday, October 30 from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. St. Lawrence Market Temporary North Market, 125 The Esplanade. Register here

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