Today's news of the arrest of Bruce McArthur, 66, is shocking and upsetting, but also a validation to many in the community. Recent missing persons cases have seen friends, families, and strangers organize search groups, convene meetings, and provide police with any evidence available. That effort and those leads helped Project Prism make today's arrest and charge McArthur with the murder of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen.
I have been working with Councillors Cressy and Fletcher on finding a way forward to address the Toronto shelter crisis. Today we are pleased to announce that the support of key supporters including Mayor Tory, we will be advancing critical measures needed to stem the growing shelter demand.
At the January 17, 2018 meeting of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, I will table a motion that will ask City Council to introduce many immediate actions including the creation of 1000 plus new permanent shelter beds into the system by the end of 2018 and to extend the winter emergency measures beyond their original closing of April 15 until these beds are officially in operation.
The shelter crisis has shown City Council that it is imperative that we work together to ensure that our shelter system provides a safe, stable place that all residents can access when needed.
Today, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) issued their decision regarding appeals of the city's Ward Boundary Review. The OMB has approved the new 47 ward boundary structure that City Council endorsed at its November 9, 2017 meeting. Should there be no further legal challenges by the end of the year, the new ward boundaries will be in place for the 2018 municipal election.
Recent missing persons cases and the deaths of Tess Richey and Alloura Wells have hit our community hard. The Church-Wellesley Village, a neighbourhood that has been a symbol of inclusion, safety, and compassion, is looking for answers and a way forward. Planning is already underway in my office to bring the community together with Toronto's Community Crisis Response team and we know there are major service gaps that must be closed. The Community Crisis Response Program works across Toronto to provide support and resources to communities impacted by violent and traumatic incidents.
Earlier today I was informed that the trans memorial in Barbara Hall Park had been painted over. In meeting with senior Parks staff this late afternoon, it was determined that a crew from outside the neighbourhood had come into the park to remove graffiti and made the error of painting over the trans memorial. This never should have happened, as we have worked with our local Parks maintenance staff to respect and preserve this space for the community. It is my hope that the City's new LGBTQ2S Advisory Committee will prioritize the consultation and creation of a new and permanent memorial in their initial work.
It comes as welcome news that charges have been dropped against the men targeted in the Marie Curtis Park undercover operation. It is clear that more should have been done to work with the LGBTQ2S community, including understanding the vulnerability of closeted men, in resolving issues in the park. I believe that a new level of awareness has been achieved within the Toronto Police Service and that more care will be taken in the future. In a time of constrained budgets and limited court and policing resources, it is critical that our officers are deployed to make the best use of their time in serving all communities.
Speeding on Glen Road has been a problem for decades. Traffic studies done by the City of Toronto and the North Rosedale Residents Association (NRRA) show that of the 4,000 to 4,500 daily drivers on Glen Road, more than half travel above the 40 km/h speed limit, with approximately 15% travelling at or above 50 km/h. Residents rightly view speeding on Glen Road as a safety issue. Unfortunately, there has not been broad community agreement on how to address this problem.
MPAC’s willingness to reassess the properties on Yonge Street is a welcome, but short-term solution. While MPAC states they did not consider re-development potential directly, their property valuation approach contradicts their statement. This is demonstrated by their omission of the area's full planning context in their original assessments and their insistence of starting every valuation with a highest and best use application which promotes unchecked development. Otherwise, how could they have missed the four critical planning documents that govern this portion of Yonge Street, namely, the Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District Plan, Area Specific Policy 174 and 382 and Official Plan Amendment 352 and Implementing Zoning By-laws?
Yesterday, concerned harm reduction workers and activists opened an overdose prevention tent in Moss Park. I cannot blame them. Toronto has been facing an increasingly deadly opioid crisis and they are seeing their friends, colleagues and clients overdose on a daily basis. Communities are suffering. The response from governments has not been fast enough or sufficient to address this public health crisis. My colleague, Councillor Joe Cressy, recently wrote in the Toronto Star about the need for an emergency response, and I completely agree.
Yonge Street's small businesses are a vital part of Toronto's commercial mix. These shops and services are often run by locals, many of whom have owned their properties for generations. With a massive tax assessment increase this year, many of the businesses and owners are worried that they will have to close up shop or sell their properties to the highest bidder.