- Welcome Letter from Councillor Wong-Tam
- City Council Highlights
- Upcoming Holiday Events
- Gender Equity in the City Budget
- Garden District Heritage Conservation District
- A Community Vision for the Rosehill Reservoir
- Ramsden Park – Phase 1 Construction Completed!
- Pre-Application Consultations for 552 Church Street
- Here Comes the Snow!
- City of Toronto's Holiday Activities and Services
1. Welcome Letter from Councillor Wong-Tam
The holidays are here, and Santa has brought City Hall a gift we have been dreaming about for years for: consultation on new revenue tools.
Amongst numerous important items at City Council in December, one of the hot items of the season up for discussion was potential new sources of revenue for the city. The City Manager has warned Council that if we do not raise property taxes to make up for years of below-inflation tax increases we will have to find new ways to pay for the infrastructure needed to tackle both growth and rising poverty in the city. The alternative is cuts to city services, including delays in needed capital investments, reducing TTC routes, stalling repairs to affordable housing, and reducing library hours and student nutrition programs.
At City Council this month, I supported public consultation on a range of potential tools that were endorsed for consideration by Council. These include introducing a sales tax, hotel tax, short-term rental tax, graduated residential property tax, income tax, commercial parking levy and/or an alcohol tax. My motion to reintroduce the personal vehicle tax, which would have been implemented almost immediately and provide $100 million annually to enhance both the TTC and accelerate the Road Safety Plan was unfortunately not supported. We look forward to hearing your opinion on these options.
One of the tools that I did not support at City Council was a key proposal by Mayor Tory: road tolls. As presented to Council, tolling drivers on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway would cost the city upwards of $150 million to set up and up to $70 million a year annually to operate. With the suggested $2 toll, the city would only net 60 cents per trip. The toll, meanwhile, would disproportionally impact low-income residents living in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas—those with precarious work and little to no public transit options to connect them to downtown jobs. It is also not clear that implementing tolls would change driving habits. It could make traffic in the surrounding neighbourhoods worse, with an anticipated diversion rate of up to 25% to local roads. As presented, this is not the kind of progressive fee that I believe the city should be considering to help address its financial challenges.
There will be more time to discuss these revenue options in 2017, so let's celebrate the great events and festivals that will be held in the ward in the upcoming weeks. You will find a list of the major events below; we hope you can join us!
We have a busy year ahead of us, and I look forward to working with you, staff, local businesses and our many partner organizations to continue to build a great city. The Ward 27 staff and I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, a Joyful Kwanzaa and all the best for the New Year.
I remain yours in community service,
2. City Council Highlights
The City of Toronto's Immediate and Longer-Term Revenue Strategy Direction
Council voted to consider a number of revenue options as part of the 2017 budget process and beyond, including obtaining a share of the HST or sales tax, a 4 percent hotel tax rate, a short-term rental tax of up to 10%, graduated residential property tax rates, income tax, commercial parking levy, alcohol tax, increases to the Third Party Sign Tax and additional land transfer tax on purchase and/or sale of homes to non-Canadian residents.
Gardiner Expressway Revised Strategic Rehabilitation Plan
The Strategic Rehabilitation Plan to implement the Gardiner East "hybrid" option hit a speed bump, with estimated costs ballooning by over $1 billion dollars and the federal government giving no indication it would contribute to the project. A new implementation schedule was approved that would divide work on the Gardiner east and west of Cherry Street, using multiple contracts to accelerate construction.
Stopping Sexual Violence and Harassment
In order to support the City of Toronto's Intimate Partner Violence Action Plan and align it with the Province of Ontario's Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, Council adopted a motion by Councillor Wong-Tam directing the Medical Officer of Health to consult with the Ontario Roundtable on Violence Against Women. The Medical Officer of Health was also asked to work with the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle to ensure alignment with 'Walking Together - Ontario's Long Term Strategy to End Violence against Indigenous Women.' New sources of funding to support both efforts was to be identified. Finally, the City Manager was asked to implement the recommendations of the Lori DuPont Inquest and the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee to address intimate partner violence, including training for city staff to identify and address abuse among their clients and colleagues. These recommendations are being presented exactly one year after the murder of Public Health nurse Zahra Abdille and her two sons by her husband.
Rental Apartment Buildings Regulatory Regime
Tenants of rental buildings will soon have additional protection from bad landlords, with Council approving a new regulatory regime for apartment buildings. The new regime will impose legal requirements for rental building owners, improve access to information about the quality of rental apartment buildings and introduce new opportunities for higher fines. Council has also asked about the feasibility of installing a coloured rating system similar to the Dinesafe program.
This new regime would be paid for by landlords, and has been implemented to prevent the program's costs from being passed onto tenants through an Above Guideline Increase in rent. It would apply to all private and non-profit rental buildings with three or more storeys and ten or more units, including Toronto Community Housing buildings, covering 352,447 rental units in total.
Response to Provincial Consultation on Reforming the Ontario Municipal Board
Council submitted its comments to the province regarding the review of the Ontario Municipal Board, the quasi-judicial body which has the authority to override municipal planning decisions. The review was intended to explore changes to the board's scope and effectiveness.
The city's comments to the province included restricting or eliminating appeals of the city's Official Plan and restricting privately initiated Official Plan amendments related to newly approved policies or Urban Growth Centres, such as the downtown. Councillor Wong-Tam worked with Councillor Matlow to amend recommendations that would strengthen the City`s position by giving more weight to municipal planning decisions. Council also requested that the OMB provide more funding and support to citizens who wish to participate in an appeal, promote mediation and extend application processing timeframes of Official Plan Amendments from 180 to 240 days and Zoning By-law Amendments from 120 to 180 days.
Toronto Cycle Track Infrastructure Review
Since the installation of the Wellesley and Sherbourne bike lanes, cyclists, area residents and service users have expressed a number of concerns. Most of these relate to design issues that create conflict between road users and force people into unsafe conditions. In response to these concerns, Councillor Wong-Tam asked Transportation Services staff to review the points of conflict and to come back with an equitable set of recommendations that could help to make our roads safer and inform even better bike lanes in the future.
Recommendations brought before Council this month to permit temporary stopping in bike lanes by vehicles with disability stickers did not address the many concerns previously raised, including vehicles forcing unsafe merging with traffic, and did not adequately address the question of universal design. Councillor Wong-Tam wrote a motion, put forward by Councillor McConnell directing the General Manager of Transportation Services to consult with Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division staff, the broader disabilities, cycling and pedestrian community groups and other relevant stakeholders to consider international best practices and a wider range of solutions to help address the conflict.
TOcore Secondary Plan Directions and Update
City Council approved policy directions and consultation for TOcore, a planning study to ensure growth in Toronto's Downtown is properly managed. Following that consultation, a secondary plan for the Downtown will be brought forward in mid-2017.
TOcore: Planning Downtown is a three-year, inter-divisional study, led by City Planning. Building on Downtown's existing planning framework, TOcore's purpose is to ensure growth positively contributes to Toronto’s Downtown as a great place to live, work, learn, play and invest.
TOcore is a response to the intense growth seen in the Downtown that is threatening its livability. The new Secondary Plan will better serve to link future growth to infrastructure to achieve the city-building vision and policies of Toronto’s Official Plan. A series of infrastructure strategies for office, transportation, parks and public realm, community services and facilities, and energy are in development as part of this review, along with a water infrastructure assessment. Councillor Wong-Tam also moved a motion in support of area community advocacy that would evaluate the opportunity to create a "green loop" to link green spaces and parks in Ward 27 as part of the public realm plan of TOCore. Financing approaches will be included as part of each infrastructure strategy.
3. Upcoming Holiday Events
We encourage you and your loved ones to attend some of the exciting upcoming events in the City!
When: Friday, December 23, 2016
Where: Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W
Time: 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Holiday Fair in the Square
When: Ongoing until Friday, December 23, 2016
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W
Time: 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM
The Nutcracker Ballet
When: Saturday, December 10 to Saturday, December 31, 2016
Where: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W
When: Friday, November 18 to Thursday, December 22, 2016
Where: Distillery District, 55 Mill St
When: Saturday, December 24, 2016
Where: St. Andrew's Church, 73 Simcoe St
Time: 7:00 PM – 11:59 PM
When: Saturday, January 7, 2017
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W
Time: 12:00 PM to 5 PM
4. Gender Equity in the City Budget
In July 2016, City Council approved a motion by Councillor Wong-Tam to include a gender equity lens in the 2017 Budget. While City Council has made commitments to achieve gender equity, the budget lacks the significant investment necessary to empower women and girls. Cities across the world have incorporated gender lenses in their budgeting processes with the purpose of increasing gender-equity.
This motion is a major opportunity to join cities across the world to promote gender equity by rethinking how spending and revenues impact Toronto’s families – especially women and girls in the City.
In Ward 27 we are working closely with groups and activists from across Toronto to ensure that the City incorporates an intersectional gender equity framework. This framework will acknowledge and analyse the social, cultural and economic identities women and men face and seek to redress these through careful allocation of public resources. This would encourage decision-makers to think about the multiple ways both men and women experience the impact of the City's budget, which include municipal policy areas such as transit, housing, capital spending on roads and infrastructure, taxes and user fees and how programs and services support or exclude women, girls, boys, men, and other genders. It is important that everyone has fair access to city resources, and that we work together to ensure these resources are creating a City where everyone can prosper.
Want to learn more?
What: Forum on Gender Equity in Toronto City Budget
Date and Time: January 19, 2017, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: 519 Church Street, Toronto
Ward 27 will host the City of Toronto's first public forum on Gender Equity in the City Budget. This public forum is an opportunity to learn about how an intersectional gender lens can improve how we allocate resources to better serve our residents. City services, programs and infrastructure have the most direct impact on residents' lives and we want you to be a part of the discussion on how the budget process can help achieve a more equitable city.
5. Garden District Heritage Conservation District Plan
On December 7, the Toronto Preservation Board recommended the adoption of a new Heritage Conservation District (HCD) for the Garden District, under the Ontario Heritage Act.
There are many buildings within the Garden District that were built between 1855 and 1930 that are threatened by the intensive growth the Downtown East has been experiencing. Councillor Wong-Tam believes it is important to ensure that these building are protected and preserved.
The proposed Garden District HCD would cover properties generally between Allan Gardens to the north, Sherbourne Street to the east, Moss Park to the south and George Street to the west. The boundaries include both parks in order to strengthen the Statement of Cultural Heritage Value for the plan. Properties identified as "contributing" will have context-specific policies applied. These policies will address a broad range of building elements and generally prohibit demolition. "Non-contributing" properties will have policy directions to ensure any future changes will not negatively impact the contributing properties and enhance the heritage character of the district.
The Preservation Board's recommendation will go to Toronto East York Community Council on January 17, 2017, and then to City Council for final approval on January 31, 2017. You can read the report on the Garden District HCD, which includes boundaries, policies and a map of contributing properties here.
6. A Community Vision for the Rosehill Reservoir
As part of necessary capital repair work, Toronto Water will be undertaking significant work at the Rosehill Reservoir starting in 2017. As one of Toronto's most important drinking water reservoirs, the facility needs to undergo maintenance to ensure our municipal drinking water remains clean and safe. In order to complete this work, a large portion of the parkland above will be disrupted.
In response to the scale of the proposed work, a number of community organizers met with Councillors Wong-Tam and Matlow this fall to discuss the long-term impact on the community's green space and to ensure neighbours are involved in the planning process. The Councillors agreed and asked the community to establish a vision for its park.
Last week, the two Councillors, Toronto Water, Parks Forestry & Recreation, the Public Consultation Unit, and the Rosehill Vision Plan Committee met to discuss the neighbourhood's priorities. Several important decisions were made, including:
- The creation of a working group with community leadership;
- The development of a more representative park plan for broad neighbourhood input in early 2017; and
- A review of the technical requirements of the project.
Principles that were clearly articulated in the meeting included maintaining community input, preserving as much of the existing tree canopy as possible, ensuring there is a large multi-use open green space in the final design and maintaining public access to the parks system throughout the project.
7. Ramsden Park – Phase 1 Construction Completed!
The Phase 1 construction for the Ramsden Park Revitalization Project is now complete. The perimeter protection fencing has been removed and the playground area is now open to the public.
Phase 1 was quite extensive, and included renovation and upgrades to the tennis courts, and construction of the new playground and waterplay area.
Please note: The Contractor is scheduled to install the roof of the shade structure in January 2017. In the meantime, the protective fencing will remain around the shade structure only until the roof is completed.
Plans are moving forward as we get ready to start Phase 2 construction in Spring 2017. This phase will add new and exciting features to expand passive and active recreation opportunities at Ramsden Park.
Phase 2 will include:
- Improved park entrances and new heritage signage throughout the park;
- Multiple new tree plantings that will increase the tree canopy in the park and other new plantings and landscaping to enhance enjoyment;
- New multi-use paved sports pad that will have two half basketball courts, line striping for ball hockey, and some skateboard elements; and,
- New barrier-free accessible ramp and stairs into Ramsden Park from Hillsboro Avenue.
For updates on Phase 2 construction please visit the City website by clicking here.
8. Pre-Application Consultations for 552 Church Street
ONE Properties has acquired the properties at the northwest corner of Church and Wellesley and intends to submit an application for a new mixed-use development. After preliminary meetings with planning staff, Councillor Wong-Tam and representatives of the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association, ONE Properties has agreed to engage in a more extensive consultative process and will be hosting three pre-application visioning sessions in early 2017.
At the heart of the Church-Wellesley Village, this intersection helps to define the neighbourhood. Your input into the planning process can help shape it for the future. In addition to the three pre-application consultations there will also be an official rezoning consultation scheduled at a later date, plus a public meeting at Toronto and East York Community Council if it goes forward.
The pre-application consultations will be held on the following dates:
Community Consultation 1: Existing Conditions Analysis and Ideas
Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017
Time: 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Location: Currie Hall – 105 Maitland Street (Accessible venue)
Community Consultation 2: Urban Design Principles, Ideas and Concepts
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Time: 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Location: Currie Hall – 105 Maitland Street (Accessible venue)
Community Consultation 3: Concepts and Feedback
Date: Thursday, March 23, 2017
Time: 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Location: Currie Hall – 105 Maitland Street (Accessible venue)
For further questions or to give input to ONE Properties in advance of the consultation meetings, please contact Mat Scolozzi, Director of Development, Multi-Family, ONE Properties, at [email protected] or 647-256-1029.
9. Here Comes the Snow
It’s that time of the year again – winter!
If you need more information about the city's plans for snow clearing, please visit www.toronto.ca/transportation.
To learn more about sidewalk snow clearing in Toronto and to view a map of the areas where the service is provided, please visit www.toronto.ca/transportation/snow/sidewalks.
The City of Toronto has created a webpage that enables residents to see the location of city plows, sidewalk plows and salt trucks and when their street was serviced by the city's winter operations crews. The webpage can be accessed at www.toronto.ca/plowTO.
10. City of Toronto's Holiday Activities and Services
The City of Toronto encourages residents and visitors to take advantage of City programs and attractions offered during the year-end holiday period. Most City of Toronto operations and all municipal offices will be closed on Monday, December 26 and Tuesday, December 27, as well as Monday, January 2. City services that regularly operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week such as 311 Toronto and emergency services will be available. Information about curbside waste collection is also provided below.
The following is a sample of activities available this winter!
Winter outdoor activities: Winter has arrived at Toronto’s parks, community centres and natural environments. More information about winter activities is available at www.toronto.ca/winter
("Welcome TO Winter Toronto").
Fitness, camps and recreation programs: The City offers fitness classes, weight rooms, camps and more, offering something for everyone. Community recreation centres will be open until 4 p.m. on December 24 and 31 (later for those with scheduled permits) and closed on December 25 and 26 and January 1. Some facilities may be closed during the holiday period for annual maintenance. More information and schedules are available at www.toronto.ca/rec or by calling 311.
Swimming: Drop-in swim programs at pools across the city make it convenient to "make a splash" this holiday season. Schedules vary by location and are available at www.toronto.ca/swim.
Skating: The City offers a variety of free, leisure ice-skating programs for all ages and abilities at indoor arenas and outdoor rinks. Outdoor rinks that are open may be unsupervised. Indoor arenas will be closed on December 25 and 26 and January 1. Schedules vary by location. More information is available at www.toronto.ca/skate.
Skiing/snowboarding: The City operates two ski/snowboard centres. Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre will be closed on December 25. Centennial Park Ski and Snowboard Centre have not yet opened for the season. For updates and schedules, please visit www.toronto.ca/ski.
Flower shows: Christmas flower shows at the City's Allan Gardens and Centennial Park conservatories are a tradition during the holiday season. The flower shows are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until January 8 and admission is free. More information is available at www.toronto.ca/conservatories/.
New Year's Eve at Nathan Phillips Square: Toronto will ring in the New Year at Nathan Phillips Square on December 31, simultaneously launching a year-long Toronto celebration of Canada's 150th birthday known as TO Canada with Love. The countdown to 2017 will feature live musical performances, site animations, a skating party sponsored by Tim Hortons and midnight fireworks. New Year's Eve is presented by the City of Toronto in partnership with the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada. For details, please visit: www.toronto.ca/canada150.
Winterlicious culinary event: Advance tickets are now on sale for the culinary event series that will be part of Winterlicious 2017 starting in late January. The culinary series will feature nine one-of-a-kind cooking and dining experiences hosted by some of Toronto's finest venues and chefs. Details and ticket orders are available at www.toronto.ca/winterlicious.
Solid waste pickup
Given that Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Day fall on weekends this year, the three holidays will have no impact on the daytime curbside residential collection schedule. All transfer stations and drop-off depots for residential drop-off of garbage, yard waste, recyclables, household hazardous waste and electronics will be closed on Boxing Day (Monday, December 26) and also on Monday, January 2, re-opening for business on Tuesday both weeks.
Depots for household hazardous waste and electronics drop-off will be open regular hours on Saturday, December 31. Only the Bermondsey, Ingram and Scarborough transfer station drop-off depots, which accept residential garbage, yard waste and recycling, will be open regular hours that day.
The City will not book any Toxic Taxi appointments to pick up household hazardous waste from residential properties from December 27 to 30.
Residents can check their collection calendar for residential schedule changes, or consult the chart (a PDF file) for details at www.toronto.ca/recycle.