construction

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.

Unfinished Residential Construction Sites

Residential infill construction activity in Toronto has more than doubled since 2010 – and 33% of this construction is happening in Ward 25 and two neighbouring Wards.

Over the years, based on your feedback and frustrations with residential infill construction, I’ve moved multiple motions to improve the city’s response to this issue.

While the city has been making headway on addressing problem sites, one outstanding issue remains: partially completed or abandoned construction projects. These unmonitored, unfinished sites are disruptive and unsightly for local residents and pose safety hazards.

This October, I moved a motion at the Planning and Growth Management Committee directing staff to report back on a strategy to effectively deal with unfinished and abandoned residential infill construction sites. I’ve asked staff to consider a variety of options, including time limits and the addition of specific conditions to the issuance of building permits.

As residential infill construction activity continues to soar in our community, we need to better manages sites that lay incomplete or deserted – it’s key to maintaining the safety, integrity and aesthetic of our local neighbourhoods.

Improvements to Construction Staging

Battling congestion and gridlock has been one of my top priorities during my two terms in office.

Every single day, I hear from residents frustrated by private developers who stage construction projects on our streets, resulting in prolonged lane closures and congestion.

As Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, earlier this term I fought tooth and nail to clamp down on private construction by increasing fees for street occupation. As a result, fees for developers have now jumped from $5.77 per square metre per month to a maximum of $105.41 per square metre per month. Unfortunately, private developers simply aren’t getting the message.

At this month’s meeting of City Council, there were three items on the agenda related to construction areas and lane closures in the downtown core. The proposed closures would have shut down traffic lanes for two to three years, causing real pinchpoints in our road network and significant congestion.

I voted with my Council colleagues to reject these wholesale closures and directed staff and the developers to consider other options. These alternatives might include further increasing street occupation fees, using side streets and laneways or working within the footprint of the development.

I look forward to reviewing the revised proposals at next month’s City Council meeting.

The bottom line is that the status quo isn’t working – it’s time to start focusing on the public interest instead of catering to private construction.

Progress on Residential Infill Construction

Residential infill construction activity in Toronto has more than doubled between 2010 and 2015 – and 33% of this construction is happening in Ward 25 and the two neighbouring Wards.

Last term, I moved several motions at the Planning & Growth Management Committee – directly based on what I was hearing from local residents – to improve and streamline the city’s response to problem residential infill construction sites.

In response to my recommendations, city staff have designed an interdivisional strategy to minimize and mitigate the negative impacts of residential infill construction activity.

The strategy is three-pronged and involves:

  • Improvements to the complaint management system to ensure complaints are dealt with more effectively, including enhanced coordination between city divisions;
  • Improvements to communication with residents, including the creation of a city website with key information, the development of a best practices guide for builders and required construction signage on-site; and,
  • Development of good construction practices, including improved education, more effective enforcement, a ticketing pilot project and enhanced building inspector knowledge

It’s high time that contractors start playing by the rules and that residents have easy access to information that will help them better navigate what’s happening in their neighbourhoods.

Staff’s recommendations also provide timelines for the roll out of each recommendation – in my mind, this improves transparency and holds the city accountable.

You can read staff’s full report by clicking here.

In early 2017, Municipal Licensing & Standards will provide recommendations on dust control measures, including the enactment of a bylaw regulating dust from construction activities.

Transportation Services Presents INview

T.O. INview, short for infrastructure viewer, is a map that provides information about current capital construction activities across the city.

The map identifies the location and other details of planned capital construction projects to be carried out by the city, utility companies and other agencies, including Metrolinx and the TTC, every year.

It’s important to note that this website only shows planned capital work, not emergency or short-term projects. For that information, visit the city’s road restrictions website.

T.O. INview not only provides details about individual projects but also allows the city to improve the coordination of overlapping projects, which is more cost-efficient and reduces the inconveniences associated with construction activities for residents.

There’s also a handy user guide that can help you navigate the website’s features and make the most of this innovative technology.

To access the T.O. INview website, please click here.

Increasing Fees in Construction Contracts

I chaired the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in summer 2015 where we approved a pilot to apply acceleration and delay costs in construction contracts.

The goal is to reduce congestion by speeding up construction on city roads, particularly high-traffic corridors.

The pilot has a two-pronged approach:

  • Financial penalties for construction delays
  • An innovative tendering process that considers both overall cost and completion time

Other jurisdictions, including Ottawa and York Region, have had success in applying acceleration and delay costs to high-priority construction projects.

City staff will report back on the pilot to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in 2017.

Click here for more information.

Problem Residential Infill Construction Sites

Residential infill construction can be a major disruption, especially for immediate neighbours and nearby homes.Late last year, I moved a motion asking for a comprehensive report on how the city can improve its response to problem construction sites.

Among other things, I asked city staff to consider:

  • The feasibility of identifying a single city staff lead to liaise with neighbours and coordinate an interdivisional response;
  • Improved and effective enforcement measures to ensure compliance with site and safety by-laws;
  • The feasibility of posting key information on hoarding boards, like noise restrictions and parking permissions; and,
  • Developing a plan to effectively deal with buildings that are not built according to plan.

Earlier this summer, city staff brought a work plan to the Planning and Growth Management Committee. The work plan sets out an extensive review of best practices, research and issue identification as well as ratepayer and industry consultation.You can find the work plan here. A final report is expected in fall 2015.

Construction Coordination Update

We’re at the tail end of an unprecedented construction season.

The increased construction activity signals much needed and long overdue investment in our city’s basic infrastructure but also brings congestion and disruption.

That’s why the city is redoubling its construction coordination efforts.

I recently met with the Director of the city’s Major Capital Infrastructure Coordination (MCIC) group – the lead on construction coordination.

MCIC’s job is to organize and connect key stakeholders from city divisions (Water, Transportation, TTC), third-party utility and telecommunication companies (Toronto Hydro, Enbridge, Rogers, Bell) as well as private developers, share information and identify opportunities to bundle and streamline work.

MCIC’s role does not end when construction starts. Once shovels are in the ground, MCIC is constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce congestion and disruption, including accelerating or decelerating construction activity or implementing short term signal changes on surrounding streets, among other things.

Of course, there is always room for improvement – I see it day in and day out.

Please let me know if you see an example of poor construction coordination by sending me an email or calling my office. Each and every example can help us improve the city’s response going forward!

Northern Don Mills Trail Construction Underway!

As I mentioned in my June eNewsletter, the contract for construction of the northern portion of the Don Mills Trail was awarded this Spring and work has started!

Construction of the northern Don Mills Trail will be done as part of a larger two-year rehabilitation project on the York Mills Road bridge, just east of Scarlet Road. As part of the rehabilitation project, crews will be repairing the bridge deck and installing new asphalt as well as replacing lighting, walls and sidewalks. Construction has just started and is expected to be completed by fall 2015.

Construction of the trail will be completed within six weeks before 2015. The northern part of the trail will run south from York Mills Road through Bond Park to Bond Avenue.

Please note that during construction, the trail will remain closed to the public at Bond Avenue. There will also be lane restrictions during construction

Crosstown Update

Crosstown construction continues on schedule and work will soon begin on the eastern leg!

As I noted in a previous newsletter, crews have started to relocate utilities along Eglinton between Brentcliffe and Leslie for the next phase of the project.

The soon-to-start next phase involves the construction of a launch shaft to provide access points for Don and Humber, the tunnel boring machines that will dig the 3.25 kilometres of underground twin tunnels towards Yonge Street. Crews will also start building the underground support walls at Laird and Bayview as well as an emergency exit building.

During construction, there will be lane reductions along Eglinton as well as TTC stop and sidewalk relocations.

The Crosstown Community Relations Team is working closely with city staff from Transportation Services on all aspects of the project.

They are keeping track of traffic issues and exploring solutions to keep traffic moving, including posting signs with alternate route information and signal retiming.

You can see all of the Crosstown construction updates online at www.thecrosstown.ca.

If you have any questions about the construction process or any traffic issues, please contact the Crosstown Community Relations Team by phone at 416-782-8118, by email at crosstown@metrolinx.com, or, by visiting their new office at Bayview and Eglinton (661 Eglinton Ave. E in the Sunnybrook Plaza) opening soon.

Construction Site Nuisances – Improving Our Response

As I wrote in my last eNewsletter, I brought a motion forward to last month’s Planning and Growth Management Committee asking the city to improve its response to problem residential infill construction.

Living near a construction site can be disruptive, to say the least, and I’m pleased to report that the Committee passed my motion.

Based on Ward 25’s experience, my motion directs the Chief Planner to report on:

  • Posting key information on site, like noise restrictions and parking permissions;
  • Effective enforcement measures to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations;
  • Streamlining the city’s response by identifying a single lead to liaise with the neighbourhood and coordinate an interdivisional response; and,
  • Measures to deal with buildings that are not built according to approved plans and drawings.

Please see the full text of my motion here.

 

Construction Coordination

We are deep into an unprecedented construction season.

While the increased construction activity signals much needed and long overdue investment in our city’s basic infrastructure, it also brings congestion and disruption.

In response, the city is redoubling its construction coordination efforts.

I recently met with the Director of the city’s Major Capital Infrastructure Coordination (MCIC) group – the lead on construction coordination.

MCIC’s job is to organize and connect key stakeholders from city divisions (Water, Transportation, TTC), third-party utility and telecommunication companies (Toronto Hydro, Enbridge, Rogers, Bell) as well as private developers, share information and identify opportunities to bundle and streamline work.

MCIC’s role does not end when construction starts. Once shovels are in the ground, MCIC is constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce congestion and disruption, including accelerating or decelerating construction activity or implementing short term signal changes on surrounding streets, among other things.

Of course, there is always room for improvement – I see it day in and day out.

Please let me know if you see an example of poor construction coordination by sending me an email or calling my office. Each and every example can help us improve the city’s response going forward!

West Don River Valley Rehabilitation

The City of Toronto will be restoring the West Don River valley underneath the Bayview Avenue Bridge after it was disturbed during last year’s bridge rehabilitation project.

Work will take place in the valley beneath the bridge located north of Lawrence Avenue East and south of Post Road (see map below for more detail). Crews will be repairing erosion in the valley, installing erosion protection measures, stabilizing the wall along the West Don River and planting trees.

Please note that while the work is taking place, pedestrian access to the valley will be restricted. For more information, please see the construction notice below.

14SE-05S-Construction-Notice-FINAL1-791x1024.png

Taking Action on Dust Suppression

I’m pleased to report that the Parks and Environment Committee unanimously passed my motion to take action on dust suppression!

Dust – from stone, rock, concrete and tile cutting, among other things – can be a major neighbourhood nuisance. It also has an environmental and health impact, especially for vulnerable residents.

My motion directs city staff to report in the first quarter of next year with an action plan to tackle dust pollution, including the extent of the city’s authority to regulate dust suppression as well as concrete recommendations to improve dust suppression, including amendments to the Municipal Code.

You can find the full text of my motion here.

Residential Infill Construction – Improving Our Response

Residential infill construction can be a major disruption, especially for immediate neighbours and nearby homes.

In my experience, the problems can often be complex and multifaceted, from improper shoring and fencing to noise and site safety issues to impassable streets and sidewalks.

That’s why I’ve brought a motion forward to June’s Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting asking city staff to improve how the city responds to problem residential infill construction sites.

Based on Ward 25’s feedback and experience over the past term, my motion directs the city’s Chief Building Official to examine, among other things:

  • The feasibility of identifying a single city staff lead to liaise with neighbours and coordinate an interdivisional response;
  • Improved and effective enforcement measures to ensure compliance with site and safety by-laws;
  • The feasibility of posting key information on hoarding boards, like noise restrictions and parking permissions; and,
  • Develop a plan to effectively deal with buildings that are not built according to plan.

You can see my full motion here and check my next newsletter for a report on the outcome of the Committee meeting!

Progress on Congestion and Gridlock

Earlier this month, I took the reins of my first Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting as Chair.

Congestion and girdlock remain my number one priority and it was front and centre on Public Works’ agenda.

The Committee voted to move forward with a pilot project to reduce congestion by speeding up city-led construction projects. Among other things, the pilot will explore extending work hours, shifting to overnight work and using incentive-based contracts.

The Committee also took an advanced look at some of the congestion-cutting initiatives lined up for 2015, including the roll-out of 80 additional arterial cameras, a pilot of the latest “smart signal” technology and signal synchronizations on 12 major corridors.

I spearheaded two motions to help get the city moving.

The first asks for a report on using portable cameras at construction sites, allowing us to monitor and respond to construction-related gridlock in real time.

The second asks for a report on how we can better share traffic-related information between the city’s key players, like the TTC and the Transportation Services Division. I also asked city staff to explore using “Big Data” to understand, evaluate and respond to congestion.

You can see copies of my motions here and here. You can also read up on the city’s plan to speed up public-sector construction projects here.