Made-for-Toronto Local Appeal Body Public Consultations

Posted on February 4, 2014

A message from City Planning:
The Province of Ontario granted the City of Toronto the power to establish a Local Appeal Body (LAB) to hear appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions (both minor variances and consents).

At its December 4th, 2013, meeting, the Planning and Growth Management Committee requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director of City Planning to initiate a public consultation process on the implementation of a Local Appeal Body for the City of Toronto and to report back on April 10th, 2014, on the results of the public consultation and with recommendations on implementation.
The City Planning division is launching “Made-for-Toronto Local Appeal Body” public consultations around the city with the express purpose of initiating and facilitating public dialogue around this matter.

Locations and Dates are as follows:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at the Etobicoke Civic Centre, Meeting Rooms 1 & 2 Monday, February 24, 2014 at the York Civic Centre, Council Chambers Monday, March 3, 2014 at the North York Civic Centre, Council Chambers Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at the Scarborough Civic Centre Rotunda Monday, March 17, 2014 at Metro Hall, Rooms 308 & 309

Meeting times are 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Staff presentations commence at 7 p.m.

Notices are being sent out to ratepayer groups (and other interested organizations and parties) around the city. In order to ensure that your constituents have adequate advance notice regarding these consultations, I would kindly ask that you include a reference to the above noted meetings in your upcoming newsletters or e-mail blasts to your constituents.

If you and/or your staff are able to attend any of the meetings, and join in the conversation, or if you have any further questions with regard to the meetings, please contact Helen Bulat or Mario Giambattista of our LAB Consultation Team by calling 392-7863 or e-mailing them at labconsultation@toronto.ca

Please click on our web link for meeting details. Our web site also contains links to additional resources and staff reports/presentations with regard to this topic – www.toronto.ca/localappealbody.

West Toronto Diamond Grade Separation: Extended hours

Posted on February 4, 2014

If you live in the neighbourhood of the above mentioned work, you should be receiving a construction update from Metrolinx, being delivered this morning/afternoon to update you about a change to their working hours. In order to keep their commitment to reopen the Old Weston Road/Junction Road rail crossing as soon as possible, beginning February 11, they are extending work hours to 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The hours will continue for the foreseeable future and will be revisited in the spring.

 

I understand they require the extra work hours to use two shifts of workers to help keep them on schedule. The extreme winter weather we were/are experiencing has reduced the construction productivity and they are extending their work hours to make up for the lost productivity. Work before and after our regular weekday working hours (7a.m. to 7 p.m.) will be limited to quiet work that will have little to no impact on the surrounding community. The work will involve installing reinforcing steel (rebar) in preparation for pouring concrete to complete the floor of the lowered corridor. This work is done by hand and does not involve using heavy machinery. There may be some excavation but this will be very limited.

Please see the flyer for more information: WTD 2014 FINAL_3

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Kathryn Hanford, Team Lead, Community Relations, 416-241-2300 ext. 6661 or via email at

kathryn.hanford@gotransit.com

 

Our office will continue to provide updates as we receive them.

Tutor training at Parkdale Project Read starts February 20th

Posted on February 4, 2014

Parkdale Project Read is now accepting applications for volunteer tutors at their adult literacy centre at King and Dufferin. Their next tutor training starts February 20.

“Many people in Parkdale have trouble with everyday reading and writing. Ourvolunteers tell us that helping people improve their literacy skills is a great way to give something back to their community and to meet a variety of interesting people. Even though they are the tutors, they say that they are always learning from their students.

We provide programming that encourages learners to bring their whole self (body, mind, emotions and spirit) to learning. We believe that literacy is much more than reading and writing, it includes building confidence, speaking out, health and wellness, taking on new challenges, conflict resolution, and relationship building. PPR supports people in achieving their learning goals by creating a place where they can explore new possibilities, move forward in their lives, and become more active in their communities.

We are seeking volunteers (ages 19 and older) to be a one-to-one tutor for adult learners. Commitment is 2 hours a week, for at least one year. Volunteers support learners develop skills they are interested in – such as reading, writing, math and computers. At this time we are especially in need of volunteers who experience working with consumer/survivors of the mental health system and/or teaching English as a second language.

Interested? Please visit http://parkdaleprojectread.org/volunteers/volunteer-tutor-application-word/ to tell us about yourself. “

Councillor Gord Perks on the 2014 Budget

Posted on February 4, 2014

empty-chamber (1)

February 4, 2014

BUDGET 2014

By now you’ve heard or read about Toronto’s 2014 budget. Because the property tax rate gets most of the attention, serious questions about the levels of service and the long term fiscal health of the City are often overlooked. Lets talk about them each in turn.

Roughly speaking, City Council added $50 million worth of improvements to the services that make Toronto work. For context, the total budget is $9.7 billion.

Our most important new investments are in a series of small moves to get more people using shared public places: libraries, community centres and so on. Toronto has long had a two tiered approach to programs in our recreation centres. Regular centres offer programs for fees, people on low incomes can apply for subsidy through our welcome policy. In areas with a high percentage of low income families we offer “priority recreation centres”. In these centres, all programs are offered for free. As a long time proponent of having universal free access to a range of recreation centres, I was delighted to see the number of priority centres expand for the first time in over a decade. These centres mean that no-one has to prove they deserve access, and people of all walks of life enjoy equal access. Most importantly, these public spaces allow everyone in a neighbourhood to play, learn, and make music together.

In a similar vein we added 2 new libraries, new youth drop-in spaces, and new daycare spaces.

We also increased our contribution to Toronto’s shared-cost student nutrition programs.

Ambulance services were increased significantly. Ambulance calls have been growing about 5% per year. Also, about 1/3rd of the time it takes more than 9 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. This budget both accounts for increased calls and improves response times. New investments were made in the police services and the fire department. The fire investments were controversial. The emphasis is shifting a little bit to fire prevention and we added considerably to that budget. However, some fire trucks are being moved and the total number of trucks City wide will be slightly reduced. One of the trucks in our ward – on Landsdowne – which currently spends part of the year at Exhibition Place will move there permanently to serve the huge population growth in Liberty Village. All of Ward 14 will still get better than average response times to fire calls.

New money ($3 million) is being added for arts and culture grants. Most of these grants will go to youth and newcomer communities.

We fixed a resource problem in our planning department. Lately, planners spend so much time reacting to development applications they have little time to meet with the community and get ahead of issues. In Ward 14, the Land Use Planning Study on the west side of Roncesvalles Avenue and the Restaurant Study on Queen Street West were delayed for years due to staff shortages. Planning should now have the resources to invest in more of this forward-looking work.

There was some service lost at the TTC. Even though the overall amount of service went up very slightly, the investments are not keeping pace with the increases in ridership. This means serious increases in crowding and more vehicle bunching. I worked for months to reverse this, but there was no appetite at Council to increase taxes to cover this growing problem.

Council was willing to increase taxes to change the eastern transit proposal from a 7 stop Light Rail Transit system that would connect to the subway to a 3 stop extension of the Bloor/Danforth subway. Because the subway will cost a lot more than the LRT (even though it serves fewer people) we will need tax increases this year, next year and the year following for a total increase of 1.6 percent. This will be in place for 30 years. Council narrowly decided not to consider this issue.

As to the long term financial health of the City: despite loud claims by the Mayor, this term of Council has been bad for Toronto’s financial future. One way to group the City’s expenses is to look at those that recur every year and those that occur only one time. The same distinction can be made of our revenues. The property tax is our most reliable recurring revenue. Because of how it is structured by provincial legislation, it does not fluctuate with the economy. Other sources, such as the Land Transfer Tax go up and down with the economy. One time revenues such as record revenues from the land transfer tax should be treated as one time windfalls. Good budgeting means trying to match recurring revenues to recurring expenses. One time windfalls should pay for one time costs, or put away for a rainy day. Over the course of Mayor Ford’s term we have cut back on recurring revenue. As a result, we are increasingly budgeting for ongoing costs using unreliable revenues. This hasn’t been obvious because the Mayor’s first budgets relied on over $300 million in surpluses generated by the previous Mayor.

This year’s budget counts on the real estate market doing better than it did in 2013 (our best year ever). Soon, we will face a year when the real estate market declines. When that happens we will have to either increase taxes just to cover costs or cut services. Many Councillors fought to avoid this, but the majority opinion was not there.

Further details of the 2014 budget are available on-line at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.EX37.1 .

We still have challenges to face, there is a long term financial pressure for transit and housing coming and we are not prepared. When the final vote on the budget came I reluctantly voted ‘yes’. The good outweighed the bad, but I am waiting for a Council that will realize that having the lowest tax rate in Ontario is not in itself a goal. We need to deliver critical services efficiently, and not finance them in ways that aren’t sustainable.

Gord

Gord Perks
City Councillor
Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
2nd Floor, Suite A14
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N2
416-392-7919
councillor_perks@toronto.ca

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