Thank you for taking the time to let me know that you support the Tibet Kitchen. Like you, I desperately want this business, which adds so much to our neighbourhood, to succeed.
When the owner of Tibet Kitchen contacted my office about a month ago, my staff and I immediately got to work. As you might have heard, he was faced with a rent increase he simply couldn’t afford and was looking to find a new location for his business. We provided advice about the kinds of locations he could and couldn’t move to, put him in touch with the correct public servants, and offered to help him work through all the necessary paper-work.
Since then, I have spoken with the owner and a number of his customers and have been asked to go further than that. Some have asked that the City waive the rules governing where restaurants are allowed so Tibet Kitchen can move to a specific location where it is not allowed. This is something I can not legally do, and frankly should not do.
Let me explain. Municipalities regulate the locations of businesses. Local governments create zoning bylaws which govern what use can go where and the concentration of certain uses within an area. Each property is “zoned” for specific uses. The Queen St. West By-law includes a special feature which limits the concentration of restaurants on Queen St W, between Dufferin and Roncesvalles to allow for other uses. You can read more about it here:
Part of the reason for this is to protect local business. As you may recall a few years ago a number of west end main streets were suddenly inundated with restaurants which largely functioned as late night clubs and drinking spots. Special zoning rules were implemented on streets like Ossington, College and Queen St W after community consultation, and were approved by Toronto City Council on advice from the City’s Planning department. If Queen St W became an entertainment district or a restaurant row we would lose business that support the neighbourhood: hardware stores, laundromats, bank branches, etc.
Your petition asks me to give one specific business an exemption from the rules. This troubles me. I don’t believe individual politicians should be able to change the rules so that a specific business succeeds or fails. The opportunities for abuse, even corruption, are too large to ignore. We as a government design bylaws to achieve larger social goals: supporting local shopping; balancing the needs of business and residents; matching transportation capacity to land use. We don’t and must not have the power to make a specific restaurant succeed while others fail.
Where does this leave the Tibet Kitchen? As I’ve told the owner, although the City will not approve restaurant use at the particular site he is interested in there are other sites along Queen St W and neighbouring streets that may be an option.
I hope this helps clarify things. I also hope that you support local businesses in our neighbourhood in the best way you can: eat there, shop there and pass the word to your friends and family about the great spots in Parkdale.
Councillor Gord Perks
Ward 14, Parkdale High-Park
100 Queen Street West, Suite A14
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Creating new affordable rental housing
Council authorized financial incentives for the construction of 600 new affordable rental homes on provincial lands at 27 Grosvenor/26 Grenville Streets and in the West Don Lands. The City incentives include exemptions from development-related charges as well as from municipal taxation. In a separate action, Council authorized capital funding and City incentives to support another 298 new affordable rental homes at sites across the city through Toronto’s Open Door Program.
Home for Good
Council voted to authorize staff to take appropriate steps for the use of funding that the Ontario government is providing to the City under the program called Home for Good. The program will support the City’s provision of supportive housing and services for people who are chronically homeless and/or homeless with mental-health treatment needs.
Ravine strategy for Toronto
Council adopted a new Ravine Strategy for managing Toronto’s 10,500-hectare ravine system, directing that an implementation plan be developed and a Ravine Leaders Table convened. Staff were asked to consider incorporating the concept of ecological integrity into the final strategy. Related motions that were adopted address, for example, funding needed to support a ravine maintenance and litter strategy and to pay for a biological inventory and report.
Review of tow truck industry
Council approved a series of amendments to the Toronto Municipal Code as it pertains to tow truck operations in Toronto. The changes follow the City’s comprehensive review of the tow truck industry and responds to complaints made by the public and issues raised by the industry. The amendments aim to improve Toronto’s towing industry by balancing the public interest and the industry’s business needs.
Toronto for All initiative
Council adopted recommendations for making the “Toronto for All” public education initiative an annual City program that will help give Toronto residents and City staff the knowledge and skills to identify, question and challenge systemic discrimination and racism. The Toronto for All campaign for the period 2018 to 2021 is conceived as a municipal tool supporting Torontonians’ civic resiliency.
Filling Ward 28 vacancy on Council
Council declared a vacancy in the office of Councillor, Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale and plans to fill the vacancy by appointing a person qualified to hold office in the City of Toronto. The selection will be made at a special meeting in the City Hall council chamber on November 2. The vacancy resulted from the recent passing of Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell. Application details are available on the City’s website, www.toronto.ca.
Process for recognitions
Council voted in support of an approach presented by the Mayor to identify appropriate recognitions for the late Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell and Councillor Ron Moeser.
Heat in apartment buildings
Council called on staff to hold consultations to identify and report to the Tenant Issues Committee on ways to effectively deal with heat in apartment buildings, including maximum heat in apartment units. In September, many tenants suffered during a late September heatwave, in some cases as a result of their landlords turning on the heat and/or not turning on the central air conditioning that provides ventilation in tower-block apartment buildings.
Acceleration of Vision Zero planning
Council advised Transportation Services to include options that will accelerate Vision Zero planning, including the acceleration of the School Safety Program, as part of a progress report being prepared for the November meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.
Changes to City’s management structure
The structural re-alignment of the Deputy City Manager & Chief Financial Officer position in the Toronto Public Service received Council’s approval. The change establishes the separate positions of Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager of Internal Corporate Services, and eliminates the existing position of Chief Corporate Officer. Council approved the appointment of an interim Chief Financial Officer and the permanent appointment of the Deputy City Manager, Internal Corporate Services.
Drug overdoses in Toronto
Council decided to designate the Medical Officer of Health as co-ordinator of the City’s response to the drug overdose crisis, with the authority to direct and co-ordinate the City’s response across divisions and agencies. Council also agreed to make requests of the federal and Ontario governments to help with the response to, and reduction of, drug overdoses.
Naloxone training for Council members
Council agreed to ask Toronto Public Health staff to conduct a naloxone training session for members of Council as part of the effort to train more people on how to use the lifesaving medicine to reverse an opioid overdose. Public Health has significantly expanded delivery of the training, including to municipal service providers across the city who are in a position to potentially save a life.
TOcore downtown plan
Council considered a planning document called TOcore: Proposed Downtown Plan that is in the works as a blueprint for growth and infrastructure in downtown Toronto over the next 25 years. This TOcore document will also provide an updated policy framework for downtown as the cultural, civic, retail and economic heart of Toronto and as a great place to live. Council directed staff to undertake consultation on the proposed plan, which is expected to lead to amendment of Toronto’s Official Plan in 2018.
Midtown heritage properties
Council approved the inclusion of 258 properties – all located in the Midtown in Focus planning study area adjoining the Yonge-Eglinton intersection – on the City’s Heritage Register. This listing of numerous commercial Main Street properties in a growth centre is piloting an improved procedure for identifying potential heritage properties to include on the City’s Heritage Register. The aim is the timely listing of heritage properties when undertaking local area studies.
City of Toronto Sport Plan
Council expressed its support for the implementation of a City of Toronto Sport Plan that will serve as a guide to the City and its partners in supporting the ideal of lifelong participation in sport for all Torontonians. Parks, Forestry and Recreation and its partners will work collaboratively over the next five years to implement the plan’s recommendations, measure progress and communicate outcomes.
Financial support for cultural facilities
The City is taking steps to establish a flow of property tax revenue designated to support arts and cultural facilities in Toronto. Council called for work on a new property tax sub-class for that purpose and also on making a formal request to the Ontario government concerning the new classification. This initiative is an effort to ensure that Toronto’s arts sector continues to thrive, helping make Toronto a destination for tourists and employers while contributing to a great quality of life for all residents.
Energy storage strategy
Council approved an energy storage strategy for the City of Toronto and asked staff to identify local opportunities for energy storage partnerships. Energy storage projects are seen as a low-carbon way to help achieve energy savings, provide local grid services, facilitate participation in provincial energy revenue programs and enhance the resilience of City facilities.
Council approved a proposal to add legacy logos to new and replacement street-name signs within the boundaries of the legacy municipalities that make up Toronto. The term legacy refers to the six former municipalities involved in amalgamation in 1998, establishing a single municipality and local government. Street-name signs now reflect the identity of the amalgamated City of Toronto.
Council agreed to denounce racism in all its forms and re-affirm its commitment to recognize the dignity and worth of all people, along with several other statements and directives for action. On the latter, City divisions, agencies and corporations were advised to review their policies and procedures, and those of their grant recipients, to ensure consistency with City Council’s commitment to human rights.
Symbols/flags promoting hate
Council asked for a review of City policies pertaining to displays on public property and for a report with recommendations to improve policies so as to hold event organizers/managers accountable and equip them to assess any symbol or flag, including the Confederate flag, used to promote hate and to remove them from events or from City property.
Backyard chickens pilot project
Council authorized a three-year pilot project permitting hens in backyard pens in Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park, Ward 21 St. Paul’s and Ward 32 Beaches-East York for personal consumption of eggs produced. Only residential properties – not apartment or condominium buildings – with sufficient outdoor space qualify for the pilot and participants will need to register with the City. The decision was part of a broader item about animals in the city.
Municipal election advertising
Council adopted several motions pertaining to enforcement mechanisms now available to the City for the 2018 municipal election as a result of the newly established framework in the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 to regulate registered third-party advertisers.
Internship program for Muslim youth
Council authorized staff to work with organizers of the Muslim Youth Fellowship to organize an internship program of aide positions in Toronto councillors’ offices. The fellowship, a program hosted by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations in partnership with DawaNet, aims to increase in civic engagement among Muslim youth.
School food campaign
Council endorsed the Coalition for Healthy School Food’s current campaign calling for a national school food program in Canada enabling all students to have access to healthy meals at school every day. The coalition is working at a national level to advocate for a program of that kind.
Neighbourhood lending libraries
Council agreed to affirm its support for “little lending libraries” that are popular for sharing books in neighbourhoods, provided that the book displays do not pose a public safety concern or vision hazard. The General Manager of Transportation Services was asked to reiterate policies and protocols with staff to ensure support for these community initiatives.
Glenn Gould Day
Council agreed to proclaim September 25 as Glenn Gould Day in Toronto. Gould (1932-82), a Toronto resident whose birthday was September 25, acquired worldwide fame for his classical piano performances and recordings. His 1955 “Goldberg Variations” is the best-selling classical piano record of all time. The release of numerous albums of his music and the publication of many books about him have contributed to Gould’s continuing international renown.