Vision Zero 2.0 - An Update to Toronto's Road Safety Plan

In 2016, I introduced Toronto's first-ever comprehensive Vision Zero Road Safety Plan (RSP) as the former Chair of Public Works and Infrastructure. The RSP is a five-year (2017-2021) action plan focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto's streets.

After City Council unanimously adopted the RSP in July 2016, I moved a motion to accelerate the enhancement of pavement markings and the roll-out of Pedestrian Safety Corridors. Throughout 2017 and 2018, I moved multiple motions to expedite the implementation of RSP initiatives such as Automated Speed Enforcement, the "Watch Your Speed" program, and awareness campaigns for school children, older adults, and cyclists. In my tenure as Chair, City Council voted to accelerate the Road Safety program with additional dedicated funding on five occasions.

Last week, City Council voted to adopt Vision Zero 2.0, an update to the RSP. The Vision Zero 2.0 staff report builds on the work we have completed to date and identifies new, accelerated measures to make Toronto's roads safer for all road users. In response to several tragic events on Toronto's roadways this spring, I successfully moved a motion directing staff to conduct a campaign to prevent impaired driving as part of the Vision Zero 2.0 public education program in collaboration with organizations such as MADD Canada and Arrive Alive.

Since 2016, the City has made significant progress rolling-out the countermeasures specified in the RSP. As of December 2018, the City has:

  • Installed Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) at over 80 signalized intersections;

  • Created 50 Pedestrian Safety Corridors;

  • Implemented 100 School Safety Zones; and

  • Constructed over 18.3 kilometres of new sidewalks.

The updated Vision Zero RSP includes several new, targeted initiatives to complement the measures already in place. The major focus actions include: prioritizing speed management, implementing road design improvements, improving mid-block crossings, and educating and engaging the public.

Vision Zero is an international road safety standard that was developed in Sweden more than twenty years ago and has since been adopted by cities around the world including New York City, San Francisco, Paris, and Vancouver.

The RSP supports ongoing city initiatives to address traffic congestion, reduce environmental impacts, and promote community safety, such as TransformTO – Climate Action Strategy, the Resilience Strategy, the Cycling Network 10-Year Plan, and the guideline for Reducing Health Risks from Traffic-Related Air Pollution (TRAP) in Toronto.

I will continue working with local residents and stakeholders to implement Vision Zero 2.0 in Ward 15 – Don Valley West. As always, thank you for your continued support and engagement on these important issues.

I have long advocated for the accelerated installation of School Safety Zones. It was a pleasure to join the Principal, Vice Principal, and Chair of the Parent Council on-site while Northlea Public School's Safety Zone was installed last month! I am looking forward to adding this safety measure to other schools across Ward 15.

Update on Automated Speed Enforcement in Toronto

The City of Toronto is currently installing Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) technology in school and community safety zones. Toronto's ASE program will not be fully operational until the Province officially proclaims the Safer Schools Act, 2017 in force. In July, I spearheaded a strategy to proceed with implementing a comprehensive ASE program in Toronto to ensure that we are prepared to operate the system immediately following Provincial approval (expected later this year).

My motion at the July meeting of City Council authorized City staff to enter into agreements with partnering municipalities and the Province, conduct public information and communication campaigns, and work with an identified provider to supply, install, operate, and maintain Toronto's ASE system. City Council also officially requested the Provincial Government to permit the City to collect revenue from ASE and Red Light Camera fines.

As the former Chair of Public Works and Infrastructure, I lifted the decades-long moratorium on the creation of new Community Safety Zones (CSZs) to reduce aggressive driving and speeding in areas with higher concentrations of school children. This was a critical step forward as according to Provincial legislation, ASE can only be implemented in designated CSZs. Last summer, I directed Transportation staff to expand the scope of the program by doubling the number of red-light cameras and ASE to provide more effective traffic enforcement in priority areas.

Excessive speeds have been identified as one of the leading contributing factors to traffic-related injuries. Research from major institutions – including the World Health Organization – shows that slowing down traffic will save lives. Vulnerable road users have a 95% likelihood of death in a collision at 60km/h. At 40km/h the likelihood is reduced to 30%. Speed reductions were identified as the most effective Vision Zero countermeasure, potentially resulting in a 19% reduction in the number of people killed or injured on Toronto's streets.

Photo radar enforcement will encourage drivers to slow down on the streets used by children walking and biking to school. ASE has successfully lowered average vehicular speeds in municipalities throughout North America. For example, New York City reported that traffic fatalities near schools were reduced by more than 50% and speeding by 60%. In Edmonton, severe collisions were reduced by 32% and speed-related collisions by 27%.

After conducting an ASE pilot program in fall 2018, Transportation Services determined that a significant number of vehicles are regularly operating at excessive speeds across Toronto. ASE will help to enforce the posted speed limits and encourage drivers to slow down in school zones.

Once Provincial legislation is enacted, two ASE cameras will be installed in each ward for a total of 50 sites in school and community zones. The sites will be selected using a data-driven approach based on thorough analysis of speed and collision statistics. The City will be working with municipalities across Ontario, including Mississauga, Burlington, Ottawa, Waterloo, Ajax, London, Brampton, and Hamilton to share administrative costs as we continue to roll-out a consistent and comprehensive ASE program in Toronto.

The Future of Recycling: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Plastics have played a large part in Torontonians' everyday lives since the 1950s. Since then, plastic production has increased more than any other manufactured material. Based on a study conducted by the Waste Reduction Week in Canada program, it's estimated that on average, less than 11% of plastics are properly recycled in Canada. As plastic waste accumulates in our environment, it threatens the health of our ecosystems.

I've long advocated for a strategy to shift responsibility for recycling to plastic producers. In 2015, I moved a motion that saw City Council support full producer responsibility and new, comprehensive provincial legislation for waste reduction and resource recovery.

In early June of this year, the Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks announced that the province would be considering moving to the Extended Producer Responsibility model of plastic and packaging product recycling. This change is intended to decrease plastic waste across the province.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program is a comprehensive policy approach to hold Canadian producers, importers, and brand owners accountable for reducing the environmental impact of their products and packaging. Currently, Ontario's recycling costs are split by municipalities and by Stewardship Ontario, a non-profit organization that collects fees from importers, manufacturers, and brand owners of packaging products that end up in our blue bins. In contrast, EPR is a 'cradle to grave' model of product management, which maintains that the producer must manage the product's entire lifespan. This includes waste reduction, recovery, recycling, and reuse.

Toronto is home to the fourth-largest municipal waste system in North America, managing approximately 200,000 tonnes of recyclables annually through its Blue Bin Recycling Program. Waste audits have indicated that contamination in the City's Blue Bin program has been increasing since 2013, which is costing the City millions annually. There is a lack of awareness of the negative implications of improper disposal. In 2017, more than 52,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material was incorrectly put in our Blue Bins. If you are interested, you can find more information on the City's Waste Wizard webpage.

The EPR model will lead to improved recycling practices by rendering the producer wholly responsible for the physical and financial aspects of the disposal of both the product and the packaging. There are also numerous benefits to making the shift for Toronto taxpayers. A producer-run system could encourage manufacturers to create materials that are easier to recycle and become less reliant on single-use plastics. Currently, the materials that can and can't be recycled vary from city to city, and in some cases, it even varies from homes to industrial buildings.

Switching to the EPR model would likely mean that recycling practices would become standardized across the province, eliminating confusion and reducing contamination. I support implementing the Extended Producer Responsibility model to ensure that the City's waste is mindfully managed in a manner that respects our natural environment and benefits the residents of Toronto.

Guide to the Committee of Adjustment

Renovations and new builds are a common feature on the streets of Ward 15. Many of these developments require the approval of the Committee of Adjustment, the citizen member board which holds public hearings on minor variance and consent applications in the City of Toronto.

Over my tenure as a City Councillor, I've worked closely with the Ward 15 community to improve accessibility and transparency for residents participating in the Committee of Adjustment process. Though we have made significant progress on this issue, we have a long way to go. I am continuing to advocate for much-needed improvements to the CoA and would welcome additional community feedback.

Last month, Ward 15 set a new record for Committee of Adjustment applications, with a total of 28 separate applications on the June agenda. You can view all of Ward 15's recent and upcoming Committee of Adjustment applications in map format, available on my website, here.

The City of Toronto's general guide to the Committee of Adjustment, available here, is a great resource for neighbours looking to get involved. As a result of motions I put forward this year in consultation with local ratepayers associations, City Planning now has a webpage with further information about Committee of Adjustment processes and participation, available here.

A useful starting point for anyone interested in development is the Application Information Centre (AIC). The AIC is the database for all areas of development projects in the City, including Committee of Adjustment applications, and is availablehere.

The AIC includes all materials that will be considered by the Committee, including the Zoning Notice, architectural plans, and land surveys. Any additional materials, including letters from the community or reports from City Staff, are uploaded periodically in advance of the scheduled hearing date.

In addition to attending and speaking at the hearing, submitting a letter to the Committee is an effective way to share your thoughts on an application. Should you wish to provide feedback to the Committee, letters or memos can be addressed to the Committee of Adjustment, or, if you'd prefer to use a formal letterhead format, to:

Daniel Antonacci
Manager & Deputy Secretary Treasurer
North York Committee of Adjustment
5100 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M2N 5V7

Letters and materials should also be submitted to the Application Technician assigned to the file. The Application Technician's name and contact information can be found on the Application Information Centre Page for the property. Letters can also include visual materials, such as photos of your property, the neighbourhood, drawings or diagrams. In the event you submit a letter to the CoA, please copy councillor_robinson@toronto.ca so I can stay informed. As a general guideline, I would recommend submitting the materials 5 business days in advance of the hearing date.

As the number and scope of Committee of Adjustment applications continue to increase in Ward 15, community engagement in the development review process is becoming more important than ever.

School Capacity in Ward 15

Even though summer has just begun, it (unfortunately) won't be long until the families of Don Valley West begin preparing for the upcoming school year. Limited school capacity is a critical issue for families across Ward 15, particularly in the neighbourhoods immediately north and south of Eglinton Avenue. While building new schools remains within the jurisdiction of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), I've worked closely with the TDSB to pursue new strategies to address school capacity issues in Ward 15 and across Toronto.

After a monumental community effort opposing the tower development at John Fisher Public School, the TDSB implemented a new policy to ensure they are involved in the evaluation of major development applications. In many cases, this means actively opposing development applications in neighbourhoods where the existing school capacity is not sufficient to accommodate new students in the area. I have raised the issue of school capacity during the development review process on several occasions but without direct involvement from the TDSB. Going forward, I'm optimistic that the TDSB's support will help us to secure better outcomes for our communities.

Over the past eight years, I've been advocating for a moratorium, or "hold", on development in neighbourhoods where there is inadequate infrastructure, community amenities, and schools to support a growing population. Last month, North York Community Council received a letter from the TDSB requesting a hold on the approval of a development proposal in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood for the first time. The TDSB's letter cited the lack of schools in the area and requested a pause on the application until it could be determined that there was sufficient school capacity to support the additional density.

As you may know, Provincial legislation prevents the TDSB from collecting educational development charges (EDCs). The current regulations prevent school boards with excess capacity in any area from accessing the money that developers pay to the schools' system when they build new sites. Due to declining enrollment in certain parts of Toronto, the TDSB will never meet this essential requirement. Funding from development charges could be used to improve school capacity in high-growth areas and support urgent school infrastructure needs.

Until we see major change on this front, I will continue to work with the TDSB to respond to development applications on a case-by-case basis in our neighbourhood. It's critical to ensure that the City has adequate hard and soft infrastructure to support additional residential density before issuing building permits.

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I was honoured to speak at the graduating ceremonies of several esteemed schools in Ward 15. I wish all the graduates of Bedford Park Public School, Hodgson Middle School, Northlea Public School, and Leaside High School (as well as those whose graduation I did not attend!) the very best in the next chapter of their lives.

Crime and Safety - An Update on the Toronto Police Service Modernization Plan

As our City continues to grow and change, so must our approaches to combatting crime and improving neighbourhood safety. While Toronto has been ranked the safest city in North America, community safety remains my top priority as your City Councillor for Ward 15 – Don Valley West.

In my May 2019 newsletter, I included an update on The Way Forward – Toronto Police Services' (TPS) comprehensive and transformational modernization plan. While my previous article focused on the creation of the Neighbourhood Policing Program (NPP), I want to provide you with additional information on the broader TPS modernization strategy.

The Transformational Task Force has created an Action Plan to improve the police force's operational structure by optimizing the use of technology to enhance capacity and capability in the force. Officers will be provided with mobile computer workstations, GPS systems, and smartphone mobile devices that will ensure they are fully connected to the communities they're working in. This update lends itself particularly well to the NPP, which will assign specialized officers to individual neighbourhoods so they can familiarize themselves with the unique needs of a community.

Mobile computer workstations will allow officers to remain active in the community while completing routine duties like paperwork and reports, rather than requiring them to commute back and forth from the Police Station. This initiative will improve response times and ensure that more officers are present in our neighbourhoods.

Finally, smartphone mobile technologies will eliminate the use of radios and paper note-taking, which are still widely used throughout the force. Officers will use mobile devices to return phone calls, send emails, and record information without returning to the station. Smartphones may also be used to take official photographs that can be used during investigations.

For more information and to read the full Action Plan, please visit the TPS website here.

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Thanks to the Lawrence Park Ratepayers' Association and The Neighbourhood Watch for hosting the Crime and Safety Meeting – it was great to engage with the community on such an important topic.

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Amendments to the Noise By-Law

Various international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), are raising awareness of the impacts noise pollution can have on our health. Toronto Public Health is currently working with City partners to develop a comprehensive Noise Action Plan to mitigate environmental noise. In a parallel effort, the Municipal Licensing and Standards division has undertaken a review of the City's Noise By-law to regulate episodic types of noise.

In April, City Council approved updates to Toronto’s Noise By-Law (Municipal Code, Chapter 591), including new and updated definitions, noise level limits, and a more streamlined exemption permit process. These changes will come into effect on October 1, 2019. More information on the Noise By-Law Review can be found online, here.

I supported specific provisions discouraging overnight events and construction activity, requesting the Provincial government to review its noise guidelines, and directing city staff to monitor and report back on the implementation and impact of the amendments.

To reduce your exposure, Toronto Public Health has recommended the following actions to residents:

  • Buy Quiet – select and purchase low-noise tools and appliances, including leafblowers

  • Maintain tools and appliances routinely

  • Reduce the volume on your television and portable music devices

  • Isolate the noise source in an insulated room or enclosure

  • Use sound barriers, such as double paned windows, weather stripping or planting trees to act as a buffer between the noise source and your family

  • Wear an ear protection device for noisy commutes or other inescapable noisy environments

If you experience any specific noise-related issues, I would encourage you to report the incident to 311 for further investigation.

The Transportation Division is Re-Organizing!

This year, the Transportation Services division is undergoing a complete re-organization to streamline the delivery of services, improve efficiency, and eliminate duplication.

Among other improvements, this re-organization has resulted in the creation of a new local transportation unit -- Area Transportation Planning.

Area Transportation Planning's approach will be a significant departure from the current Traffic Operations model, which assesses traffic and pedestrian safety concerns on an issue-by-issue basis. Instead, Area Transportation Planning will evaluate broader neighbourhood traffic patterns and approach solutions more holistically.

I'm looking forward to working with the Area Transportation Planning unit and the local community to improve road safety in our Ward 15 neighbourhoods.

Banbury Park and Mossgrove Park Playgrounds are Now Open!

Despite a delayed start due to an unseasonably rainy spring, I'm pleased to announce that the new playgrounds at Banbury Park and Mossgrove Park are now open to the public!

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After years of hard work and extensive consultation with the community, Banbury Park and Mossgrove Park are now home to brand new playgrounds.

A new junior play structure was installed at Banbury Park, featuring a mini summit climber, lolliladder, tight rope, and smart play cube. At Mossgrove Park, staff installed a new playground complete with swings, slides, and a teeter-totter, along with a unique "bamboo jungle" fitness component.

Some of the damaged turf areas at Mossgrove Park will remain fenced off to protect the newly-restored grass. The protective fencing is anticipated to be removed before the fall.

Many thanks for your patience and engagement throughout this process.

Playgrounds are a critical element of a complete, liveable community and I hope you are all as excited about these new improvements to the neighbourhood as I am!

A Missed Opportunity for Cost Savings – Open Tendering in Toronto

With much of the City's attention focused on the Raptors' NBA Championship, a very important vote flew under the radar at the June meeting of City Council.

City Council had a unique opportunity to exempt Toronto from the nine, exclusive collective agreements that have dominated our Industrial (ICI) sector for decades. The Province's Bill 66 included a clause permitting closed-tendering cities to become "non-construction employers," meaning that they could accept bids from any qualified contractors, as opposed to only awarding contracts to contractors using the nine designated trade union subcontractors.

Open tendering would encourage competition in the City's procurement process. With a $2.2 billion State of Good Repair backlog, Toronto cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity for significant cost savings. City staff estimated that on the low-end, cost savings could amount to $12 to 48 million yearly. Other experts have predicted savings in the hundreds of millions due to the increasingly competitive bids the City would receive on its construction tenders.

According to the report from the City Manager, cost savings could result from:

  • Firms that are currently permitted to perform City work competing more aggressively for City work;

  • Firms competing for City work having a broader pool of subcontractors to draw from;

  • Legal cost savings – the City is typically party to 30 grievances annually when a union alleges that a contractor has violated one or more collective agreements which the City is bound by;

  • Firms bound to other unions now being permitted to perform City work, and;

  • Non-union firms also being able to compete for City work.

To quote directly from City staff's supplementary report: "…it is important to understand that the greater the number of collective agreements that the general contractor must comply with and the greater the number of subcontractors the general contractor is required to utilize, the greater the impact such compliance costs may be for the general contractor which the contractor will pass onto the City." (11)

City staff also found that the significant limitations imposed by certain collective agreements have led to lengthy delays in the delivery of municipal ICI projects. For example, some trade unions abide by 4-day or 36-hour work weeks. This restriction can cause major delays as other trades cannot proceed until the work is completed.

The current restrictions have made it very difficult for the City to enter into Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) and other agreements with the private sector. Staff found that the City would gain significant "maneuverability" as a non-construction employer when entering into Section 37 agreements, leases, joint venture, philanthropy, donation, and commercial agreements that result in construction work being performed.

Unfortunately, City Council ultimately decided to support special interest groups at the expense of the Toronto taxpayer. Council's vote disregarded two comprehensive reports from City staff recommending that Toronto opt-in to the Province's Bill 66 to become a non-construction employer open to all union and non-union bidders.

Without any consultation or objective review process, City Council instead voted in favour of an individual Councillor's motion to add a single union to the exclusive list of subcontractors eligible to work on the City's ICI projects.

City Council's decision on the matter was short-sighted and disappointing. The City of Toronto has missed a rare opportunity to achieve significant cost savings, accelerate construction timelines, and encourage innovation. Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie recently voted to opt-in to Bill 66 - Toronto is now the only municipality in Canada to have a closed-tendering process for ICI projects.

Various news outlets recently reported that a coalition of "open-shop" contractors will be pursuing legal action against the City's decision.

Vote for the City to remain an exclusive, construction employer:

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Around Town with Jaye

Bob Rumball Canadian Centre of Excellence for the Deaf - 40th Anniversary Celebration

I was honoured to attend the 40th Anniversary celebration for the Bob Rumball Canadian Centre of Excellence for the Deaf. By advocating for Deaf Canadians & those living with multiple challenges, the Bob Rumball Centre continues to empower Torontonians affected by hearing loss. Congratulations on this milestone!

South Eglinton Ratepayers' & Residents' Association Annual General Meeting

From transit to traffic, I always appreciate an opportunity to discuss neighbourhood priorities with Ward 15 residents. Thank you to SERRA for inviting me to speak at their Annual General Meeting - Davisville Village is an incredibly engaged community!

St. Anselm Catholic School road safety meeting

I visited St. Anselm Catholic School with local parents and residents to assess traffic in the area. Looking forward to continue working together with the community to improve school safety.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

May 2nd marks Holocaust Remembrance Day - I was honoured to meet Holocaust survivor and educator, Pinchas Gutter.

Fraser Mustard Learning Centre Tour

It was a pleasure to visit the Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy, and it's always great to see TDSB trustee Rachel Chernos-Lin!

Leaside Lawn Bowling Club Opening

It was great to see friends and neighbours out in Ward 15 for the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club's Opening Day.

Mental Health Week Announcement

I was honoured to show my support for mental health initiatives by celebrating the launch of the TTC's new mental health campaign for Mental Health Week. The "New Mentality" posters were designed by a youth group from East Metro Youth Services (EMYS).

Thorncliffe Park Tennis Club Opening

Had a fun afternoon at the Thorncliffe Park Tennis Club's Opening Day, thank you for having me!

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Mayor's Iftar Dinner

It was an honour to attend the Mayor's Iftar Dinner commemorating the holy month of Ramadan. I was happy to see some familiar faces from Thorncliffe Park.

C.D. Howe Institute Transit Roundtable

A big thank you to the C.D. Howe Institute for inviting me to speak as the Chair of the TTC at their Roundtable Luncheon on the future of public transportation in Toronto.

University of Toronto's Don Valley Urban Forest Clean Up

Kicked off a day of meetings and events in Ward 15 by taking part in the University of Toronto's Varsity Mountain Bike Team's Don Valley Urban Forest Clean Up event! Had a great day beautifying our community.

140 Erskine Meet & Greet

It was a pleasure to meet the new Board of the Upper Canada Tenants Association in Ward 15.

Wanless Park Spring Fair

A big thank you to the Bedford-Wanless Ratepayers Association for organizing this year’s wonderful Wanless Park Spring Fair. This year, I kept up my annual tradition of judging the Egg Toss competition.

The Uptown Yonge BIA's Mother's Day weekend Sidewalk Sale

Congratulations to the Uptown Yonge BIA on another successful Sidewalk Sale event!

Northlea Elementary and Middle School's Shark Tank

Had a great time participating in Northlea Elementary and Middle School's Shark Tank. I enjoyed being a Shark and hearing the students' pitches on improving sustainability and accessibility in the school community.
 
Thank you to all Northlea E.M.S faculty, parents, students and my fellow Sharks for making the event such a success!

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Teddington Park Residents Association's Annual General Meeting

Great speaking with neighbours at the Teddington Park Residents Association's Annual General Meeting.

Maurice Cody Public School's annual Spring Fair

My inaugural visit to Maurice Cody Public School's annual Spring Fair was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to working collaboratively with the Maurice Cody P.S. administration and parents on important school safety initiatives.

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Islamic Society of Toronto's Iftar Dinner

Had a wonderful evening commemorating Ramadan in Thorncliffe Park. Thank you to the Islamic Society of Toronto for the warm welcome at Masjid Darus Salaam. Ramadan Mubarak!

The CONTACT Photography Festival's TTC Exhibit

As TTC Chair, I'm pleased that the TTC is a part of this year's Contact Photography Festival. I enjoyed viewing the exhibit at Bay Station with the TTC's own photographer, Derek Stryland.

Visit to Rolph Road Elementary School

It was great to meet with Sandra Larosa, the Principal of Rolph Road Public School in Leaside, earlier this month.

Hoggs Hollow Valley Fair

It was great seeing friends and neighbours at the Hoggs Hollow Valley Fair. A big thanks to all of the volunteers who organized this event.

Kids’ Lit Quiz Competition Winners – Hodgson Middle School

Written by guest contributor: Jennifer Ankenmann

In January, four students from Hodgson Middle School in Ward 15 won the Kids’ Lit Quiz Canadian National Final, hosted at McMaster University. They will be travelling to Singapore in July to compete in the 2019 Kids’ Lit Quiz World Final. It is the second consecutive year this team competed in the Canadian National Final and this year they were victorious!

Team Canada members Gillian, Lila, Julia, and Leah are working hard in preparation for the World Final and look forward to meeting students from other countries who share their love of reading.  They hosted an online silent auction at the end of May to fund raise for their flights to Singapore.

Kids’ Lit Quiz, also known as the Sport of Reading, is an international quiz game for 10-13 year olds that tests their knowledge of children’s books. It inspires students to become lifelong readers by emphasizing the fun of reading and showing young readers that they belong to a worldwide community. Kids’ Lit Quiz takes place in 13 countries, and is run by volunteers in every country. In 2019, 200 teams across Canada competed for the honour to represent our country at this year’s World Final.

On behalf of Don Valley West, congratulations to our Ward 15 Team Canada members and best of luck in the World Final!

Update on Toronto's Gypsy Moth Program

Last month, the City of Toronto began its Aerial Spray program.

The program will be conducted until June 15 to manage the high levels of gypsy moth caterpillars in certain Toronto neighbourhoods. Caterpillars feed on the leaves of oak and other tree species, which can severely weaken or kill trees.

The first round of treatment was applied from May 26-27 and a second round will be applied from June 6-7 in some areas of Ward 15. Residents are encouraged to check for updates on the City's website here, or call 311 for additional information. A map of the designated spray areas, which identifies each location's specific spray date, is also available here.

During the aerial spray, two helicopters will fly about 15 to 30 metres above the tree canopy to apply a biological insecticide. The product must be applied directly to tree foliage, as gypsy moth caterpillars must feed on the treated leaves for the insecticide to be effective. No special precautions are required for residents in the spray zone.

In addition to ground-based control methods, the Aerial Spray program is an important initiative to protect the City's tree canopy.

Ward 15 Community Environment Days

On April 6th and May 9th, neighbours from across Ward 15 joined my team and I at York Mills Collegiate Institute and Leaside Memorial Community Gardens to donate and recycle their used materials. Ward 15 had two of the most well-attended Community Environment Days in the entire City of Toronto!
 
Thanks to the incredible engagement from residents at this year's event, there was an overwhelming amount of donations that went to help local schools and community organizations. The Toronto Salvation Army even brought in a second collection truck to accommodate all of the great donations they received! 
 
Countless electronics and household hazardous waste items were also brought to my Environment Day for safe disposal. The free compost was particularly popular as families geared up for spring gardening.
 
I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with many friends, as well as new neighbours, about local Ward 15 initiatives. Thank you to all who stopped by my booth to say hello - without your contributions, donations and disposals, my Environment Day events would not have been such a great success.
 
I also would like to thank the dedicated volunteers, organizations, and staff who attended. It was great to see so many City divisions involved including Toronto Water, Live Green Toronto, Solid Waste Management Services and 311. Community organizations such as Cycle Toronto, the David Suzuki Blue Dot Group, Enbridge Gas and the Salvation Army also made important contributions, both in terms of donation collections and providing information to residents about their organizations.
 
These are some of my favourite events in Ward 15 and I am already looking forward to next year's Community Environment Days!
 
For a list of events hosted by other Toronto City Councillors, please visit the City of Toronto's website here.

The TTC's First Electric Bus Hits the Streets of Toronto

As the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, I was pleased to be joined by Mayor John Tory and Marco Mendicino, MP for Eglinton-Lawrence to launch the TTC's first battery-electric bus (eBus).
 
This eBus hit the streets of Toronto after undergoing a series of tests since April. It can be spotted along the 35 Jane route from Jane Station (Line 2) to Pioneer Village Station (Line 1) with a special exterior wrap. The TTC's fleet now contains clean-diesel, hybrid-electric, and battery-electric buses.
 
While the TTC was already an environmentally-friendly way to travel around the city, the eBus takes it one step further. These eBuses are considered to be truly green as they operate on battery power, have zero tailpipe emissions, and are charged with electricity that is 100% nuclear and emissions-free.
 
This is an exciting milestone for the TTC as part of its green initiatives. By the first quarter of 2020, Toronto will have 60 new eBuses and one of the largest electric mini-fleets in North America. As TTC Chair, I am proud that the TTC is becoming an industry leader.
 
The new eBuses are just one part of the TTC's commitment to becoming 100% emissions-free by 2040. For more information on how we are working to modernize service, innovate for the long term, and plan for climate change, please visit the TTC's website.

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Apartment Standards: RentSafeTO and Elevator Repairs

With over 30% of Torontonians living in more than 3,500 apartment buildings throughout the City, it's critical that we have a comprehensive plan in place to ensure that building owners comply with the prescribed by-laws and standards.
 
In 2017, City Council approved a brand-new Apartment Building Standards Program called RentSafeTO, which imposes regulations on how building owners operate, maintain the premises, and communicate with tenants. This program applies to buildings that are three storeys or higher, and have ten or more units.
 
Through RentSafeTO, the City's By-law Officers are required to conduct evaluations of buildings every three years and issue a score based on the results of their inspection. Buildings must score at least 50% to pass the inspection and failure to meet this standard results in an in-depth audit of the premises.
 
Property owners who do not comply with the Apartment Building and other applicable by-laws can be issued substantial fines. In addition to general fines, the RentSafeTO program also allows staff to issue continuing and escalating fines for ongoing offences by negligent building owners.
 
You can find more information about RentSafeTO on the City's website, here.
 
While RentSafeTO has provided us with some of the tools necessary to keep our apartment buildings clean, safe, and liveable, there is still more work to be done.

Delayed elevator repairs remain a top-of-mind concern in Ward 15 and throughout the City of Toronto. Currently, the City has no means to enforce the timeline by which an elevator must be returned to service following a mechanical issue. Elevating devices fall under the purview of the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) – a Provincially regulated body.
 
Reliable elevator service is critical to keeping our City's apartment buildings accessible for families, seniors, and residents with mobility challenges.
 
At the April 2019 meeting of Planning and Housing Committee, I moved a motion directing staff to study the feasibility of establishing an enforceable timeline for elevator repairs through the RentSafeTO program.

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Road Safety at Yonge-Eglinton

While construction of Metrolinx's Eglinton Crosstown LRT project unfolds along Eglinton Avenue, pedestrian safety remains a top concern at the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton – one of the busiest junctures in our City.
 
At the May 2019 meeting of Toronto City Council, I moved a motion with Councillor Mike Colle requesting Metrolinx to provide crossing assistance personnel at Yonge and Eglinton for the duration of the Crosstown construction to improve pedestrian safety.
 
Traffic and pedestrian safety remain some of my top priorities as your City Councillor. I look forward to our continued work together to improve road safety across Don Valley West.

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TTC Capital Investment Plan (CIP)

With over 104 cranes in the sky, Toronto is now the fastest growing city in North America. Our population is projected to rise from 2.93 million in 2017 to 3.91 million in 2041, an increase of 33.5 percent. As the third largest transit system in North America, one of the most significant challenges for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is maintaining and improving our network to meet future demand.
 
This winter, the TTC published the 15-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP), 2019-2033. The CIP is the first-ever comprehensive report on the various initiatives required to maintain and improve our existing transit network.
 
The numbers are staggering. Over the next 15 years, the TTC will require $33.5 billion in capital investment to improve capacity and keep the system in a state of good repair. Of the investment required, $23.7 billion is currently unfunded. As the new TTC Chair, I've directed TTC staff to continue to provide honest assessments of our capital needs and financial challenges going forward.  
 
The TTC's major capital challenges were exacerbated by the Province's sudden cancellation of planned capital funding over the next ten years earlier this spring. Under the previous government, the Provincial Gas Tax contribution to Toronto was set to increase on a yearly basis. Despite a campaign promise to the contrary, the Province suddenly cancelled the planned increase last month. As a result, the TTC will lose $1.1 billion over the next ten years.  
 
At the April meeting of City Council, I moved a motion asking the Province to restore this critical funding. The TTC had already budgeted $585 million for major capital projects including the Line 2 subway car fleet overhaul, bus improvements, and track upgrades.
 
The TTC needs a plan for transit expansion, but more importantly, we need a plan to maintain and improve our existing network to serve Torontonians for decades to come.

Opposing Bill 108

On May 2, 2019, the Province tabled Bill 108: More Homes, More Choice Act in the legislature. Bill 108 includes major amendments to the planning processes used to review development applications in the City of Toronto. These changes are incredibly discouraging and, if passed, will have a significant impact on the future of our neighbourhoods.
 
After years of hard work fighting to protect our neighbourhoods and improve the accountability of the planning process for local residents, the proposed changes are extremely disheartening.
 
Over the past eight years, I've moved countless motions to improve the local planning process for residents. As you know, I've been a vocal opponent of the OMB, a quasi-judicial Provincial body that makes the final decision on development applications appealed in Toronto. From the townhouses on Bayview to the high-rises along Eglinton, most of the development applications in Ward 15 have been appealed to and approved by this unelected, unaccountable body.
 
In spring 2017, after significant advocacy from residents across Toronto – including many groups in Ward 15 – the province announced sweeping changes to the development appeal process through Bill 139. This legislation replaced the OMB with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), a true appeal body with limited power to overrule municipal decisions, and enacted new policies to give communities a stronger voice in the planning process.

If passed, the new provincial legislation, Bill 108, will walk back many of the neighbourhood-planning based reforms we fought for as a community. Significantly, this includes a return to the former OMB rules and procedures. Instead of reviewing appeals based on the existing, rigorously researched municipal and provincial planning policies, the revised LPAT would be able to issue a decision on a development independent of the municipalities and neighbourhoods affected.

Bill 108 proposes to reinstitute “de novo” hearings, or hearings started anew without reference to the City’s decision on an application. This change will limit the City’s ability to deny development applications and instead will expand the authority of the province to make decisions that impact our local neighbourhoods, without any consultation. The proposed legislation is essentially a reversion to the format of the former OMB hearings under the new LPAT name.
 
Bill 108 also proposes a major reduction in planning decision timelines. The proposed legislation would reduce timelines for consideration of Zoning Bylaw Amendment (ZBA) applications from 150 to 90 days and Official Plan Amendment (OPA) applications from 210 to 120 days. Reducing the time planners have to review applications and report to City Council will ultimately allow applicants the ability to appeal to the more developer-friendly LPAT system much earlier in the process, thereby circumventing the City’s rigorous development review process.
 
Additionally, Bill 108 proposes significant changes to the development charge process. Currently, under Sections 37 and 42 of the Planning Act, developers are required to contribute to neighbourhoods being affected by new development through financial provisions for community benefits such as parks, streetscape improvements, and neighbourhood services. Bill 108 proposes a provincially-determined cap on all parkland and community-related development charges.
 
At the May meeting of City Council, I introduced a series of successful motions:

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While the Province closed the official comment period on June 1, allowing less than a month for the public to respond to Bill 108, the City has requested the Province to provide more time for feedback. The City has also released a comprehensive report detailing the implications of Bill 108. You can access the full report here. In response to my Council motion, an online website and public guide is now available here.
 
I would encourage you to continue to share your thoughts on this concerning legislation with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing at minister.mah@ontario.ca.

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Along with my colleagues on City Council, I hosted a Planning Town Hall to discuss the impacts that Bill 108 will have on the City's development review process.  There was a fantastic turn-out at the meeting and Chief Planner Gregg Lintern kicked off the evening with a presentation on how the proposed legislation will affect Toronto's neighbourhoods.

Along with my colleagues on City Council, I hosted a Planning Town Hall to discuss the impacts that Bill 108 will have on the City's development review process.

There was a fantastic turn-out at the meeting and Chief Planner Gregg Lintern kicked off the evening with a presentation on how the proposed legislation will affect Toronto's neighbourhoods.