Toronto Water: Not Down the Drain Campaign

In my role as the Chair of Public Works, I’m happy to advise that Toronto Water has launched a new public education campaign to change behaviour and raise awareness about items that shouldn’t be put down the drain.

Every day, many items are flushed down toilets or poured down the drain that should not be. Examples of items that could cause serious damage include fat, oil, grease, wipes and dental floss.

Putting these items down the drain or toilet could cause:

  • Damage or blockages to home plumbing, which may lead to basement flooding.
  • Damage or blockages to the City’s sewer pipes located under the streets, which may also lead to basement flooding.
  • Damage to pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants
  • Harm to the environment and aquatic habitat in the lake, local streams and rivers.

To learn more about items that shouldn’t be flushed or put down the drain, please visit this website.

Residential Infill Inspection Information

Based on feedback I received from residents, I moved several motions directing the city to improve its response to residential infill construction sites and ensure that our neighbourhoods are protected and respected when undergoing development.

In response, City staff developed a multi-faceted strategy to minimize the negative impacts of residential infill construction and streamline how the City deals with problem properties.

As part of this strategy, Toronto Building has created an infill development website with information on how to be a good neighbour during the construction process and how the city effectively responds to and addresses complaints about construction sites.

Furthermore, if you have concerns about a residential infill development in your neighbourhood, you are now able to find the contact information of the City’s building inspector online here.

For more information on the City’s Residential Infill Development Strategy, please visit www.toronto.ca/infill.

School Safety Zones

At the beginning of this term, I spearheaded the development of Toronto’s first-ever comprehensive and city-wide Road Safety Plan. The City has now embarked on a five year commitment to make real changes to our roads to make them safer for everyone.

On the first day of school, I unveiled the City’s latest measure to improve road safety – our School Safety Zones. By the end of the year, we will have 22 School Safety Zones in place, with another 20 in 2018 and each year after that.

The School Safety Zones feature:

  • New school zone safety signs with flashing beacons
  • School zone pavement markings
  • “Watch Your Speed” driver feedback signs
  • Zebra markings at school crosswalks

Staff are also extending the coverage of enhanced pavement markings up to 250m away from schools in support of active and safe routes to school.

The prioritization of school zones are based on consultation with the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic District School Boards, local Councillors and the police and takes into consideration the number of collisions in the area and the area’s walkability index. The list of schools will be provided to the Toronto Police Services in order to increase enforcement.

As you know, we are now in the Fall season when the days are shorter and it gets darker earlier. Unfortunately, this is also the time of the year when collisions increase. For this reason, since approval of the Toronto’s Road Safety Plan, we’ve also:

  • Accelerated the implementation of the Pedestrian Safety Corridor program. By the end of the year, there will be 46 of these corridors which include a variety of measures to reduce safety risks for pedestrians.
  • Rolled out Senior Safety Zones, which include increased walk times at traffic signals, improved pedestrian markings and better signage.

To stay up to date, check out our website toronto.ca/VisionZeroTO.

Reimagining the Garden: Edwards Gardens and Toronto Botanical Garden Master Plan

The city’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division is currently partnering with the Toronto Botanical Garden on an initiative called Reimagining the Gardens.

In consultation with the public, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and other City of Toronto divisions, PF&R and the TBG is developing a master plan which outlines long-term physical, environmental and program improvements for the gardens, as well as a Management Plan to guide implementation and operations for the future.

The goal is to think holistically about long-term plans for Edwards Gardens, the ravine system and the TBG complex within Edwards Gardens to help elevate them to the level of other globally-renowned gardens and attractions in an ecologically and fiscally responsible manner.

The third and final Public Open House was recently held on June 7 where the draft concept was presented and comments from the public were heard. To review the presentation, please click here.

You are invited to provide input through their survey. To participate in the survey, please click here.

For more information on the Master Plan, visit the website or contact Ruthanne Henry, Senior Project Coordinator and the city’s lead on this project, at rhenry@toronto.ca.

Vision Zero Update

2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.

Since 2015, as Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I’ve championed the creation of a comprehensive strategy to improve safety on our roads. Last summer, City Council unanimously adopted Toronto’s Road Safety Plan and since then, we’ve been implementing safety improvements on streets and at intersections across the entire city.

In the coming months, we’re focusing on improving safety for seniors and children, our most vulnerable road users.

Since the winter, city crews have been fast-tracking the creation of 12 Seniors Safety Zones across Toronto. These zones involve increasing walk times at traffic signals, enhancing pedestrian markings and improving signage and street lighting.

As we head into summer, our next big push is School Safety Zones, which we’re aiming to have in place for September at a number of schools to coincide with back-to-school and the shorter days of the fall season when there are typically increased rates of collisions.

We’ve also got many more safety initiatives lined up for the remainder of 2017, including:

  • Physical engineering improvements at 16 locations
  • Accessible pedestrian signal installations at 20 additional locations
  • Increased pedestrian walk times at 42 additional locations
  • Road safety audits to be conducted at 14 locations
  • Expansion of the permanent Watch Your Speed signs at 20 additional schools

Last month, I was also pleased to host Toronto’s second annual Vision Zero Summit, which brought together more than 20 stakeholder groups and road safety experts to discuss progress on the Road Safety Plan and our next steps as a city. It’s always a great discussion, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Summit!

To learn more about the safety improvements planned for 2017, check out our website toronto.ca/VisionZeroTO.

Intensification & the OMB in Yonge-Eglinton

The Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood is experiencing some of the most extreme intensification in the entire city – by 2030, between 24,000 and 28,000 new residents are expected to live in the area.

The Ontario Municipal Board has continued to approve development after development without considering whether there is the infrastructure capacity to handle such a huge increase of development and the impacts to the existing community.

The OMB-approved 35-storey building at 18-30 Erskine Avenue – right next to John Fisher Junior Public School – is the ultimate example of this irresponsible and narrow-focused provincial planning process. While I’m encouraged by the province’s recently announced reforms to the OMB, they’re unfortunately too late for already approved developments like the one at 18-30 Erskine and the overdevelopment of Yonge-Eglinton more generally.

In the meantime, the city is developing a new planning framework – called Midtown in Focus – to improve parks, open space and streetscape in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood. In 2015, I moved to expand the scope of Midtown in Focus to include a review of the performance and capacity of city infrastructure, including transit, transportation networks, community services, water and energy.

Midtown in Focus will begin to come to fruition later this year when city staff bring forward draft recommendations for the updated Yonge Eglinton Secondary Plan. The new Secondary Plan is expected to be completed in mid-2018.

Improving Residential Infill Construction Sites

In my first term, based on feedback from residents, I moved several motions urging the city to improve its response to residential infill construction sites and ensure that our neighbourhoods are protected and respected when undergoing development.

 

In response, last year city staff developed a multi-faceted strategy to minimize the negative impacts of residential infill construction and streamline how the city deals with problem properties.

Since the approval of this strategy, we’ve made significant headway in encouraging good construction practices and ensuring proper enforcement, including:

  • A new introductory inspection to clarify the city’s expectations with the builder
  • A policy for expanding the use of tickets as an enforcement tool
  • Enhanced training for building inspectors

Toronto Building is also in the midst of developing requirements for a new and improved notice that permit holders will be required to post on site.

Be sure to check out toronto.ca/infill, which provides resources for residents, including a Good Neighbour Guide outlining requirements, best practices and communication tips to help everyone involved move smoothly through the project.

Reforming the Committee of Adjustment

For the past six years, one of my chief priorities at City Hall has been to make the Committee of Adjustment (CoA) more effective, accountable and transparent.

In 2014, I placed multiple motions intended to overhaul the Committee of Adjustment, recommending professional training for CoA members, better engagement of residents and improvements to the public notices and notification process.

This year, there are plans to hold training sessions for CoA members in all four districts. This training will focus on the Neighbourhoods policy of the City’s Official Plan to ensure that CoA members are more attune to and respectful of the needs and desires of our local neighbourhoods.

City Planning is also planning to host a roundtable discussion this year with resident groups in each district to discuss outreach strategies and how the CoA can be more accessible and user-friendly. As a result of recent meetings I’ve had with Planning staff, the notice sign is also being redesigned to make it more visible and staff are exploring other strategies to improve the public notice process altogether.

I’ve long advocated for the audio-visual recording of CoA meetings, which finally came to fruition last fall. Currently, the city is working to enable live-streaming of CoA panels on Planning’s Youtube page by the end of the summer, this will increase the accountability of the CoA and allow residents to follow the proceedings in real time..

Local Appeal Body Update

Since I became your local Councillor in 2010, I’ve fought to transform our city’s local planning processes to make them more responsive to the needs and concerns of our city’s local neighbourhoods.

Over the years, there have been significant obstacles in getting the city to establish its own Local Appeal Body, an independent decision-making body that will replace the Ontario Municipal Board in hearing appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions on minor variance and consent applications.

But after years of hard work, Toronto’s Local Appeal Body (TLAB) is finally up and running at 40 Orchard View Boulevard, in the heart of the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood!

To learn more about the TLAB, including the hearing schedule and how to appeal a Committee of Adjustment decision, please click here.

Building the Downtown Relief Line

As you may know, last month City Council voted to move ahead with planning and design work on the Downtown Relief Line.

Throughout my two terms in office, I’ve consistently said that the Relief Line has to be our top transit priority. Each and every day I hear from residents frustrated by the overcrowding and delays on the Yonge line. As a transit user, I’ve also experienced these problems first-hand.

The Downtown Relief Line has now been divided into two projects: the Relief Line South (from Pape Station south to Queen St) and the Relief Line North (from Pape Station to Eglinton or Sheppard Ave).

While planning on the Relief Line to date has focused on the southern piece, I’m pleased to share that the city is now kick-starting planning work on the Relief Line North and will deliver an initial business case in early 2018.

The northern extension of the Relief Line will be a huge win for Ward 25ers who sometimes have to wait for two or three trains before they can get on and get where they need to go. To move this planning forward, I tabled a motion at Executive Committee asking staff to develop a robust community consultation plan, consider naming the new transit line the Don Mills line and look at building the Relief Line North up to the Sheppard line to maximize transit connectivity.

But in the meantime, to deal with the current capacity problems on the Yonge Line, I’ve pushed TTC staff hard on what efforts are underway to improve service and reliability, including the status of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) project. This project involves updating the signalling system so that the speed of and separation between trains will be controlled automatically.

ATC is expected to increase capacity on the Yonge line by 25% by cutting train headways from 2.5 to 2 minutes. In other words, ATC will improve train capacity and shorten wait times.

However, implementation of ATC has been slow going and over budget. That’s why I also moved a motionrequesting that the TTC provide quarterly updates to the Committee on the status of the ATC implementation project and consider all options for acceleration.

Faster, better and more reliable TTC service can’t come soon enough.

Update on Improvements to Residential Infill Construction

In my first term, based on what I was hearing from residents, I moved several motions urging the city to improve its response to residential infill construction sites and ensure that our neighbourhoods are protected and respected when undergoing development.

In response, last year city staff developed a multi-faceted strategy to minimize the negative impacts of residential infill construction and streamline how the city deals with problem properties.

Since the approval of this strategy, we’ve made significant headway in encouraging good construction practices and ensuring proper enforcement , including:

  • A new introductory inspection to clarify the city’s expectations with the builder
  • A policy for expanding the use of tickets as an enforcement tool
  • Enhanced training for building inspectors

Toronto Building is also in the midst of developing requirements for a new and improved notice that permit holders will be required to post on site.

Be sure to check out toronto.ca/infill, which provides great resources for residents, including a Good Neighbour Guide outlining requirements, best practices and communication tips to help everyone involved move smoothly through the project.

Update on Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan

Since 2015, I’ve championed the creation of a comprehensive strategy to improve safety on our roads. Last summer, City Council unanimously adopted Toronto’s Road Safety Plan and since then, we’ve been implementing safety improvements on streets and at intersections across the entire city.

In the coming months, we’re focusing on improving safety for seniors, our most vulnerable road users. In 2016, 86 percent of pedestrian fatalities were aged 55 and older.

With that in mind, city crews have been fast-tracking the creation of 12 Seniors Safety Zones across Toronto. These zones include improvements such as increasing walk times at traffic signals, reducing speed limits and enhancing pedestrian markings, signage and street lighting.

We’ve also got many more safety initiatives lined up, including:

  • Physical engineering improvements at 16 locations
  • Accessible pedestrian signal installations at 20 additional locations
  • Expansion of the permanent Watch Your Speed signs at 20 additional schools

To learn more about what’s planned, check out our brand new website toronto.ca/VisionZeroTO!

Streamlining & Modernizing City Services

Over the years I’ve heard from residents who want to see City Hall get its house in order – and that means ensuring that the city is not duplicating work currently performed by other levels of government.

That’s why, during this year’s budget debate, I moved a motion requesting that the City Manager conduct a review of the overlapping of services currently provided by the city.

I’m also pleased to let you know that the city is embarking on a much-needed plan to modernize city operations, increase efficiency and generate millions of dollars in savings. The plan includes:

  • Offering more online services and streamlining the city’s service counters
  • Maximizing city office space to increase productivity and engagement
  • Reviewing the city’s current real estate holdings

Toronto’s financial envelope is limited, which is why we always need to be on the lookout for alternative ways to conduct our business more efficiently and effectively.

Get Involved: Toronto’s Long-Term Financial Plan

The first phase of the public consultation on Toronto’s Long-Term Financial Plan concluded in December 2016. The results of this phase can be found at the bottom of this page.

The city is now launching the second phase of public consultations. Members of the public are invited to participate in an interactive afternoon of workshops and discussions at Toronto City Hall (100 Queen St. W.) on Saturday, April 22 from 1p.m.-5p.m. This session will provide opportunities for the public to provide input on how City Hall can both balance its books and its long-term priorities.

An online survey will also be available from April 22 to May 14.

Click here for more information about consultations on the Long-Term Financial Plan.

My Environment Day 2017

It’s that time of year again – Community Environment Day is right around the corner!

Date: Saturday, April 8
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: York Mills Collegiate Institute (490 York Mills Road)

Environment Day provides a great opportunity to clear out forgotten items as well as used electronics and household hazardous waste.

You can bring everything from computer equipment and electronics to compact and fluorescent light bulbs for disposal and recycling. Items for donation will also be accepted such as sporting goods, books and small household items like dishes and utensils. Hope to see you there!

Heritage Toronto Legacy Plaque Installation: Helen Sawyer Hogg

As you may know, a new Heritage Toronto plaque has been installed in our ward. This plaque commemorates the home of astronomer Helen Sawyer Hogg (1905-1993) and is located at the entrance to Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens.

Helen, referred to as the “first lady of science” by her former colleague Donald MacRae, lived at 2875 Yonge Street. Her work on variable stars and globular clusters made her an international authority on astronomy and her work continues to be influential.

Her honours and awards include six honorary doctorates, appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada (1976), and medals from the American Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Further, she was the first Canadian to receive the prestigious Rittenhouse Medal.

For more information on Helen and the Legacy Plaques Program, please visit this link.

Crosstown Updates

Metrolinx’s 19-kilometre light rail transit (LRT) construction project, the Crosstown, is well underway. Running along Eglinton Avenue, the Crosstown line will connect Mount Dennis in the west to Kennedy Road in the east and is expected to be up to 60 percent faster than the current bus service.

There will be 25 stops plus connections to three TTC subway stations and the Union-Pearson Express.

The stops that will be closest to Ward 25 include Eglinton, Mount Pleasant, Leaside, Laird and Sunnybrook Park.

The Crosstown’s Community Relations team is constantly updating their website to include the latest construction news. You can also sign up for specific updates related to the stations nearest you. For more information, please visit their website or call 416-482-7411.

Clean Toronto Together 2017

It’s that time of year again! As the weather warms up and spring cleaning begins, the city is looking ahead to its annual Clean Toronto Together & Community Cleanup Day events.

Each year, thousands of Torontonians gather at the end of April to remove litter and beautify our city – last year, more than 190,000 residents took part in over 1,000 cleanups!

On Friday, April 21, schools and businesses are invited to participate in the 20-Minute Makeover.

On Saturday, April 22, neighbours and residents associations are invited to clean up a local playground, trail, or park.

Registration for this event opens TODAY, March 1!

The city supplies you with litter and recycling bags and helps coordinate special litter pickups when your event ends.

For more information, please visit this link or contact Jeff McCormick with the city’s Environment & Energy Division at jeff.mccormick@toronto.ca.

Committee of Adjustment

Since I became your local Councillor in 2010, I’ve advocated for reforms to make the Committee of Adjustment more effective, accountable and transparent. While there is still a long way to go, I’m happy to let you know that a number of improvements have been announced recently.

One of my goals has been to make the Committee of Adjustment more accessible and user-friendly, and I’m pleased to share that detailed information about minor variance and consent applications is now available through the Application Information Centre. This means that you can easily access all variance lists, site plans and supporting documents online.

The city has also just announced the launch of the Committee of Adjustment’s Mediation Pilot Program. This free and voluntary program will allow neighbours to access professional assistance and avoid extensive – and expensive – appeals.

The mediation sessions will be conducted by a neutral third-party mediator and a neutral, experienced professional planner with knowledge of the city’s planning policies and minor variance legislation.

To learn more about the Mediation Pilot Program, click here.

Street Furniture Installations in Ward 25

Transportation Service’s Street Furniture Management team has been hard at work this winter, preparing for their 2017 installations.

I’m pleased to share that Ward 25 will be receiving 11 new transit shelters, 38 litter receptacles, 4 benches, 1 poster structure and 1 publication structure.

Also, as part of the Street Furniture Program, the city is offering Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) the opportunity to request the installation of on-street benches for up to the entire BIA area, free of charge.

With the goal of improving the amenities around businesses and the community, the city will work with BIAs to determine feasible bench locations, and BIAs will get to choose the bench colour.

For more information, please contact Antonia Markos at antonia.markos@toronto.ca.