Bill 184 at City’s Planning and Housing Committee on July 13

Posted on July 9, 2020

On Monday, July 13, the City’s Planning and Housing Committee will be considering the City’s submission regarding the Ford Government’s proposed Bill 184 – Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020.

In March, 2020 the provincial government introduced Bill 184, which amends the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, Building Code Act, 1992, Housing Services Act, 2011 and enacts the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation Repeal Act, 2020.

The City’s submission should be an opportunity to clearly state the City’s commitment to affordability and security of tenure for tenants, as well as to ensure fair access to the justice system.

Highlights of the City’s submission are recommendations that include:

  • Protection of affordable rental housing
  • Access to justice for tenants and landlords
  • Eviction prevention and compensation
  • Enforcement and oversight
  • Data collection and dissemination
  • Landlord & Tenant Board (LTB) administrative improvements

The details submission is available online at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.PH15.10

I would greatly appreciating hearing your views on this matter.  If you could review the City’s submission and share your comments with me prior to the Planning and Housing Committee meeting on July 13 it would be a great help to ensure the City’s submission works to protect the safety and affordability of tenants homes.

Thanks in advance,

Gord

Proposed 625 Runnymede Road Development at TEYCC on July 16

Posted on July 8, 2020

The Final Staff Report for the proposed development at 625 Runnymede Road (the addition to the Runnymede Healthcare Centre) has been released.  This report calls for the approval of proposal to construct a five-storey, 200-bed long-term care addition to the existing four-storey Runnymede Health Care Centre.

This item will be considered at the Toronto East York Community Council (TEYCC) on July 16, followed by City Council on July 28.  Councillor Perks supports the recommendations made by staff. The agenda item coming to TEYCC is available on line:

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.TE16.2

And the full final report:

https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/te/bgrd/backgroundfile-148375.pdf

Due to the City’s emergency measures currently in place, the system in which to depute has changed, as meetings are now taking place online.  To speak during the virtual TEYCC meeting, please register by email with the Clerk at teycc@toronto.ca or by phone at 416-392-7033. Registered speakers will be provided with instructions on connecting to the meeting. Written comments can still be be submitted by writing to teycc@toronto.ca.

Please feel free to contact Councillor Perks Office, councillor_perks@toronto.ca or City Planner Kirk Hatcher, kirk.hatcher@toronto.ca if you have any questions or to share your comments on this application.

My thoughts on the police motions at Council

Posted on June 30, 2020

This week the role of Toronto Police Services, the policing budget, and the systemic racism that exists in our own City government and institutions was debated at City Council.  Like the tens of thousands of you who called my office, sent in emails, and fought for change, I am disappointed in the results of this meeting. Despite the outpouring of outrage and activism throughout Toronto and around the world, Council chose not to take any steps to defund the Toronto Police Services budget. You have the right to feel let down by your government, and I stand with you in your sadness and anger.

While we all have the right to feel disillusioned, I must acknowledge some of the important measures that did pass. Council approved a motion requesting the City Manager report on implementing a Mobile Crisis Assistance Intervention Service, that would deploy unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel, based on the “CAHOOTS” model from Eugene, Oregon. There is also a request to the Provincial government to expand the City of Toronto’s jurisdiction to include auditing the Toronto Police Service. While these are small steps, they are steps in the right direction.

It is important that we do not lose sight of what has happened. A worldwide movement has started to finally take a firm stance against the systemic racism that exists in our society.  Both the Police Chief and the majority of Councillors admitted that structural racism exists in our City’s institution, including Toronto Police Services, and that it is something we must fix. We cannot let the hard work you have put in be in vain. We must continue to call on all levels of government to stamp out the racism that exist in our government and society.  There is more work to be done, and together we must continue to push forward, and not let this momentum fade.

My office will reach out and share updates as they become available, as well as to share opportunities to organize.

As always, I remain available to continue this discussion.

Gord

My comments on anti-Black racism and the motion on police budget

Posted on June 11, 2020

There is currently a motion expected at the June City Council meeting which includes moving 10% of the police budget to investment to “enhance resiliency in marginalized communities,” including community-led alternatives to policing, programs to help at-risk youth and affordable housing, as well as anti-racism education.

I will be supporting this motion.  My record at City Council has consistently been to request or support the request to decrease the police budget as well as moving police budget dollars to much needed community services.

Anti-Black racism is real and pervasive in our City. As a society we must do, and demand, better.

It is essential that the City of Toronto maintain a strong commitment to resourcing and supporting the work of the Indigenous Affairs Office and to fully implement the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.

Further, our funding priorities must be centred on a robust system of social supports and services, including ongoing investments in Black and marginalized communities. No budgetary demand of the TPS should ever stand in the way of that system.

There may also be an opportunity to begin to reallocate service.  Many of our 911 emergency calls are requesting a response to a Mental Health crisis for example, that response may be more appropriately responded to by a Mental Health professional. We need to provide appropriate response to 911 calls,  as we do when responding to a fire – fire department, or a heart attack- paramedic.

Finally, we must take action to invest in our resources to address these inequities head-on. The City works to apply an equity lens on every budget decision it makes, which is a good first step, but more must be done and it starts with properly funding of City services.

Gord

My comments at Council on the Housing Now Initiative – May 28, 2020

Posted on May 28, 2020

Today, Toronto City Council approved the second phase of Housing Now. Here are my comments on the importance of socially owned housing.

 

 

My comments at Council – April 30th, 2020

Posted on April 30, 2020

Today at Council, I advocated for a more democratic and equitable process for public decision making. To watch the full Council meeting visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpeP-Xi_0Sg

 

Queen Street West Planning Study Report at TEYCC – March 12, 2020

Posted on February 27, 2020

City Planning have concluded the Planning Study of Queen St. West between Roncesvalles Avenue and Bathurst Street and will be submitting a report to Toronto and East York Community Council on March 12, 2020.

This Staff report summarizes the study, and proposed to amend the Official Plan by adopting ‘Site and Area Specific Policy 566’ for the properties fronting Queen Street West between Roncesvalles Avenue and Bathurst Street.

This policy is intended to:

  • guide the height, form and characteristics of new development to ensure it responds appropriately to the existing and planned context of the study and adjacent areas;
  • conserve and enhance the cultural heritage value and function of Queen St as a commercial main street; and
  • provide appropriate transition to adjacent low-rise neighbourhoods.

The proposed amendments to the Official Plan will also inform civic investment and improvements to transportation infrastructure, public open spaces and community facilities within this area.

The Staff report will be available on line at: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/decisionBodyProfile.do?function=doPrepare&decisionBodyId=1925#Meeting-2020.TE14. Additional materials relating to the Study, as presented to the community in October 2019, can be accessed at https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/planning-studies-initiatives/west-queen-west-parkdale-main-street-hcd-plan/meetings-events-west-queen-west-hcd-plan/

Please note that the Parkdale Main Street and West Queen West Heritage Conservation District Plans are scheduled to be presented to Toronto Preservation Board (TPB) and TEYCC in the fall of 2020. My office will keep you up-to-date as it moves forward.

Thank you to the many community residents who took part in this Planning Study by participating in community meetings, surveys, walking tours and events. Your commitment to the community is appreciated and helped to shape a Planning Report that celebrates this main street.

The item will be heard at 10 AM or as soon as possible thereafter on March 12, 2020 in Committee Room #1, 2nd floor, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St West. You are invited to attend the public meeting to speak to this item or submit written comment. Please contact the City Clerk at teycc@toronto.ca to request to be added to the speakers list and/or to provide your comments.

Notice_Public-Meeting-Queen Street West Study

 

Council Highlights – January 29, 2020

Posted on January 30, 2020

Council Highlights

Toronto City Council meeting of January 29, 2020

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.

Plan for implementing the ravine strategy

Council unanimously adopted an implementation plan for the Toronto Ravine Strategy guiding the cleanup and protection of the city’s extensive ravines. The plan addresses the need for enhanced services for litter collection and control of invasive species in ravines. Among several amending motions that were adopted with this agenda item is one calling for the 2020 Clean Toronto Together campaign to place an emphasis on ravine cleanup, and one proposing discussions about having schools adopt their local ravine and help support ravine sustainability and protection.

Toronto’s growing tree canopy 

Council adopted recommendations and amendments concerning the city’s tree canopy, informed by a recent study that includes data indicating Toronto’s urban forest increased from 10.2 million trees in 2008 to 11.5 million trees in 2018. The City is committed to pursuing partnerships and policies that will help protect growing space for Toronto’s urban forest. Council also adopted recommendations in two related agenda items, one about the role of City bylaws in protecting trees and another about federal funding to support the City’s goals for the tree canopy.

Next step for Rail Deck Park

Council unanimously adopted recommendations to continue negotiating to acquire 1.2 hectares of air space above the Union Station rail corridor as part of an envisioned eight-hectare park the City wants to create between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way in downtown Toronto. Council authorized the use of expropriation if needed to move forward with securing the 1.2 hectares of air space. The park’s creation is to be phased to help manage the project’s anticipated cost and complexity.

Toronto and Ontario transit partnership

Council adopted an update on discussions with the Province of Ontario regarding four priority transit projects known as the Ontario Line, Line 2 East Extension (three-stop expansion of Line 2 into Scarborough), Yonge North Subway Extension and Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. In addition to adopting the update report, Council supported a series of amending motions, such as one presenting three principles to guide any agreements between the City and the province related to the approval process for transit-oriented development.

Private construction blocking roadways

Council adopted recommendations to address the issue of private construction projects closing a lane of the adjacent road (public right-of-way) to traffic, affecting pedestrians, motorists, transit users and cyclists. A motion adopted with the item calls on staff to report later this year on options for enhanced enforcement measures to deal with builders unnecessarily closing lanes, fencing-off parking spots and using active lanes as parking zones.

Delivery of Ontario Building Code services

Council adopted recommendations concerning proposed changes to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s services related to the Ontario Building Code. The province administers the code and the City is responsible for enforcement within Toronto’s boundaries. Council is requesting that the ministry conduct further consultations directly with the City. While supportive of some of the proposed changes, Council does not support a proposal that would allow builders to hire designers for their plan review and inspection, now done by municipal staff.

Future of St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts

Council endorsed pursuing the replacement of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts at 27 Front St. E. with a new version of the centre that will be a state-of-the-art cultural and civic hub for the city’s creative communities, particularly not-for-profit performing arts organizations. Moving ahead with this project is subject to the completion of several steps, including consultations and a funding plan. The current centre, built in 1967 as Toronto’s Canadian centennial project, first opened its doors in 1970.

Promoting independent live theatre

A member motion that Council adopted asks staff to explore actions that can be taken to support the sustainability and continued viability of independent theatrical spaces in the downtown west area. That undertaking is to include consultation with the independent live theatre sector. The motion notes that City action is needed as start-up theatres, storefront spaces, incubators and rehearsal rooms close due to high commercial rents and a lack of supports for emerging artists and performance spaces.

Air quality in the subway network

Council agreed to ask the Toronto Transit Commission’s board to implement mitigation measures that can be delivered in the short term, along with longer term measures, to improve air quality in the subway system. Line 2 is identified as a priority for mitigation measures. At the request of the Toronto Board of Health, staff of Toronto Public Health recently oversaw an independent study of air quality in the subway system, which included identifying beneficial measures that could be pursued. The study also highlighted various positive health aspects of subway use as part of the public transit system.

Support for move to electric vehicles

Council approved an electric vehicle strategy and provided direction on implementing it as a critical component in transitioning Toronto to a low-carbon city as articulated in the City’s climate action strategy, TransformTO. That strategy sets the goal of all Toronto transportation using zero-carbon energy by 2050. Increasing the adoption of electric vehicles, or EVs, is a necessary part of that change. A projection indicates Toronto will need to accommodate more than 220,000 plug-in electric vehicles (about 20 per cent of all personal vehicles) within the next 10 years.

Keeping Smart Commute rolling

Council authorized staff to continue the delivery of the Smart Commute program, subject to available funding, to Toronto employers and communities. Metrolinx withdrew its funding support for the program last year. The City is negotiating a new agreement with its regional municipal partners to collaboratively continue the program. Begun in 2004, Smart Commute has helped reduce commuter single-occupancy vehicle trips while easing traffic congestion, improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Enhanced security at City Hall    

Council approved the recommended implementation of visitor screening for entry to Toronto City Hall using walk-through metal detectors on the building’s ground floor. Holders of City access cards will use their card for entry. Currently, baggage screening is conducted for everyone who does not have a City access card, with a more thorough screening for people entering the Council Chamber for City Council meetings. The enhanced security measures are intended to maintain an accessible Toronto City Hall while providing a reasonable level of protection from foreseeable threats.

Digital infrastructure plan

Council adopted a series of working principles and a vision statement, along with other directions, to guide work on a digital infrastructure plan for the City. Digital infrastructure includes physical structures, cabling and network systems, software systems, data standards and protocols, as well as the data itself.

Surveillance cameras on private property

A member motion that Council adopted calls on staff to assess the feasibility of prohibiting or restricting surveillance cameras from recording video footage of any residential property beyond an individual’s property. The motion says the City is increasingly receiving complaints about privately owned surveillance cameras capturing images of residents on their own property, such as their back yard, their front porch or even inside their home.

 

Services for Seniors

Posted on January 7, 2020

City of Toronto offers various resources to meet the needs of the growing population of seniors and older adults living in Toronto. Seniors over the age of 65 or residents with a physical disability can register for sidewalk snow removal program.

The City’s FUN GUIDE for Older Adults provides information on recreation programs available in the City. In our Ward, programs are available at Annette CRC, Masaryk-Cowan CRC and Swansea CRC.

In 2019, City of Toronto launched the HomeShare Program which matches adults 55 and over wishing to share a spare room in their home with university and college students seeking affordable housing.

The City also offers Low-Income Seniors and Low-Income Persons Living with a Disability a Property Tax and Water Relief Program.

Find a complete list of seniors’ services on the City’s website .

The digital copy of the Safe Seniors Calendar is available online.

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.”

 

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