Chair, Public Works & Infrastructure Committee

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

I’m honoured to serve as Chair of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, one of the city’s seven Standing Committees.

I asked for a substantive portfolio and Public Works is it

With a budget of more than $2 billion, Public Works oversees four of the city’s key divisions – Transportation Services, Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management and Engineering & Construction Services. It’s responsible for an incredibly diverse array of issues: congestion, gridlock, drinking water, storm sewers, roads, bridges, sidewalks, highways, speed limits, bike lanes, bike safety, waste collection, recycling and street furniture, to name a few!

Traffic, gridlock and congestion were front and centre during the campaign – in Ward 25 and across the city – and, as I told the Toronto Sun, “it’s my number one priority.”

Last week, I sat down with Stephen Buckley, the General Manager of Transportation Services, to discuss what we can do right now to improve congestion and to tour our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre.

Briefings with other key staff and divisional leads are already scheduled – it’s a big job and I can’t wait to get to work!

Toronto Hydro – Power Outage Update

I’ve been in constant contact with Toronto Hydro since yesterday’s windstorm advocating for Ward 25.

Toronto Hydro just advised that power has been fully restored across the Ward.

If your house continues without power, Toronto Hydro advises that you should:

–Check your electrical panel inside the home to see if the breakers are in the “on” position.

–Check outside and visually inspect if the electrical equipment on your home is damaged or if the service wire is down. If the customer-owned connection point (usually the pipe and wires attached to your home connected to the powerline) is damaged, you may need to contact an ESA-certified electrical contractor. A list is available on the ESA’s website at http://www.esasafe.com.

–Please report your outage to 416-542-8000

Paperbirch, Veery, Overland and Terhill were particularly hard hit and I’ve asked Toronto Hydro to continue their work to solve the neighbourhood’s ongoing power outages once and for all.

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!

Thank You for the Incredible Show of Support!

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The election is behind us and it’s time to move our great city forward!

It’s a privilege to serve as Ward 25’s City Councillor, and I’m overwhelmed and honoured to have received 83% of the vote.

I will continue to represent Ward 25 – Don Valley West with a strong, passionate voice and a focus on customer service excellence.

After months of knocking on doors, I know that transit, congestion, pedestrian safety and gridlock are key priorities. You see it in each and every neighbourhood across the Ward.

Crowded trains, construction-related delays, traffic infiltration into neighbourhoods – it takes far too long to get around. Transit and traffic congestion are front and centre on my agenda, and I’ll be working closely with our new administration to move forward as quickly as possible.

The new term is officially underway on December 1and City Council’s first meeting is scheduled for December 2.

Thank you again for the incredible show of support!

Don Mills Trail Update

Update - August 18, 2014

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. For more details, please see the construction notice below.

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Update - May 30, 2014

The northern extension of the Don Mills Trail will soon be underway!

The construction tender closed earlier this month and the work will be completed this year.

Unfortunately, despite years of good faith discussions, a completed environmental assessment and a general agreement, the southern extension has been delayed because the local property owner pulled out of negotiations with the city.

This means that we will need to find an alternate route for the much needed southern extension.

Currently, I am pulling together an emergency meeting of senior city staff and stakeholders to identify a new route and get the southern extension back on track.

October 3, 2013

I am pleased to report city staff advised me the northern extension of the Don Mills Trails project is out to tender and construction should begin soon.

In 2012, I intervened to break a long-standing delay and negotiated an easement for the city over the Metrus property, making the southern extension possible.

Before the easement can be granted, the province is now requiring the city to carry out an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the land in question. It is an unfortunate delay, but one that is beyond the city’s control – it is mandated by the province.

I am pleased to report the first phase of the environmental assessment for the southern extension of the Don Mills Trail is complete.

The second phase, which began this spring, is nearly complete and city staff expects the assessment to be completed this fall.

The city has already completed its portion of the EA and the province is evaluating the city’s work. If the province concludes that the site is in good condition, work on the southern extension can begin as early as fall 2013.

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

Learning from the Ice Storm

The city’s comprehensive review of its response to December’s ice storm came to July’s City Council meeting.

The review includes key recommendations to improve the city’s response to extreme weather events that grew out of motions I brought forward earlier this year.

Information was difficult to find during the storm, and the review calls for the development of new and proactive communication channels, particularly for vulnerable populations and those experiencing power disruptions.

As you know, our tree canopy was hard hit by the storm, and another important recommendation directs Urban Forestry to work with Toronto Hydro to review its hydro-line clearing program and improve our grid’s resiliency going forward.

Improving Traffic and Pedestrian Safety

Many of you have written or spoken to me about traffic and pedestrian safety issues in each and every corner of the ward.

While there are no quick fixes, four years of hard work have taught me that broad community engagement is integral to each and every effort to improve safety on our streets and sidewalks.

The key is bringing neighbourhoods together around the same table to identify problems and brainstorm solutions. Effective, long term solutions are built on broad, neighbourhood-wide consensus.

There’s a wide range of options and tools available to neighbourhoods to improve safety – improved signage, new or refreshed pavement markings, all way stops and flashing beacons, to name a few – and city staff can walk you through the ins and outs of each approach.

Since the beginning of the term, I’ve spearheaded more nearly 50 motions at North York Community Council to address traffic and pedestrian safety issues. Each and every motion began with a community meeting and local engagement.

If you have a traffic or pedestrian safety issue in your neighbourhood, please don’t hesitate to bring it to my attention by email at Councillor_Robinson@toronto.ca or by phone at (416) 395-6408.

Improving Planning Notices

You’ve no doubt come across a sign from City Planning with information about a new development proposal.

The signs are confusing and difficult to read – you certainly don’t walk away with a clear sense of the proposal or how to get involved.

That’s why I supported a proposal at July’s City Council meeting to redesign City Planning’s public notices!

City Council directed the Chief Planner to review its public notices and look at making them more accessible by using straightforward language and informative illustrations.

Consultation will be part and parcel of the review and a report is expected in early 2015.

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.

Bayview Traffic Working Group Update

As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, traffic and congestion have been front and centre throughout city planning’s ongoing Bayview design guidelines study.

Based on your feedback and the advice of senior city staff, I passed a successful motion directing city staff to establish a Bayview Avenue traffic working group. The working group complements city planning’s design guidelines study and focuses on traffic and congestion issues on Bayview between Lawrence and the 401 – including the traffic impacts of intensification.

More than 800 notices were mailed out for the kick off meeting in late June. City staff agreed to undertake a thorough analysis of this important stretch of Bayview and return to the table to continue the discussion. If you would like to get involved in the traffic working group or the design guidelines study just send me an email or give my office a call.

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!

Moving Forward on Planning Reform

Toronto is moving ahead on real and significant planning reform!

The movement starts with City Council’s recent decision to create a Local Appeal Body (LAB). The LAB will hear appeals from the Committee of Adjustment (CoA) instead of the Ontario Municipal Board.

The LAB is expected to be in place by September 2015. I worked alongside the former Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee to get the LAB concept off the ground, and I am pleased to see it become a reality.

As I said during the debate at City Council, this is an opportunity to take control of our city’s planning and development and shift some decision-making power to the local, neighbourhood level where it belongs.

The decision to create a LAB is a great opportunity to rethink the CoA – to rebuild the minor variance process from the ground up.

That’s why I championed a motion at the Planning and Growth Management Committee asking for fundamental improvements to the CoA.

My motion passed unanimously and directed the Chief Planner to look at everything from extending the notice area to improving the training and professional development of CoA members to having a city planner on hand during hearings to answer questions from residents.

I also asked city staff to develop a participation strategy to ensure that the public is not only well informed but has the tools and know-how to effectively engage in the process. You can see the full motion below.

The Chief Planner’s report is expected in early 2015.

PGM TLAB by jayerobinson on Scribd

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.

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Phase 3 of Hoggs Hollow Stormwater and Road Improvement Project Begins!

As I mentioned in April, the first and second phase of the city’s $24-million Hoggs Hollow stormwater management and road improvements project are complete and construction on the third phase has just begun.

Construction is starting soon on the following streets:

  • Donwoods Drive from Knightswood Road to Donino Avenue;
  • Donwoods Grove;
  • Winton Road;
  • Plymbridge Road from the bridge to Donwoods Drive; and,
  • Donwoods Drive from Donino Avenue to Ivor Road.

The work involves storm sewer installation and road reconstruction. Phase IV is set to get underway in the second half of 2014.

See the construction notice below for more information.

For more information about any aspect of the project, you can contact Manveer Ramburrun, the Project Engineer, at mrambur@toronto.ca or (416) 395-1112.

Wilket Creek Project

In partnership with the city, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has undertaken an environmental assessment to develop a long-term plan to stabilize Wilket Creek.

This spring, a number of residents reached out to my office with concerns about the project and the environmental impact of recent work in the area surrounding the creek. I immediately reached out to the TRCA and pulled together a meeting to address the issues. At the meeting, TRCA staff committed to taking any and all measures to reduce the footprint of the work and provided key contacts for residents.

I also attended the most recent public meeting where TRCA staff reviewed the different options for creek stabilization and discussed preferred solutions. If you would like more information about this study or want to receive updates, please contact Patricia Newland, Project Manager, at (416) 392-9690 or pnewland@trca.on.ca.

Friends of Banbury Park

Ward 25 has its first Park People Group! In the spirit of giving back to the community where they grew up, Denna Berg and Daphne Cheung recently founded the Friends of Banbury Park.

On Saturday, June 21, the Friends are organizing a guided nature walk from 10 a.m. to noon, beginning in Banbury Park. For more information about this event, see the poster below and to get involved with the Friends of Banbury Park, check them out on Twitter at @BanburyFriends or on Facebook.

Environment Day a Big Success!

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My Environment Day at York Mills Collegiate was a great success!

Over 540 people came out to York Mills Collegiate and we collected 4,900 kilograms of donations for Goodwill, 15,525 kilograms of hazardous waste and 10,000 kilograms of electronics. We even had to order a second truck to collect all of the electronic recycling!

Many thanks to all who came out!

Bayview Traffic Working Group – Public Meeting, Tuesday, June 24, 7 p.m.

Traffic and congestion have been front and centre throughout city planning’s ongoing design guidelines study of Bayview Avenue between Lawrence Avenue East and Highway 401.

Based on your feedback and the advice of senior city staff, I passed a successful motion directing city staff to establish a Bayview Avenue Traffic Working Group. The working group will complement city planning’s design guidelines study and focus on traffic and congestion issues on Bayview between Lawrence and the 401 – including the traffic impacts of intensification.

The kick off public meeting is set for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24 at the Centre for Creative Learning at Crescent School (2365 Bayview Avenue). All are welcome – please RSVP by sending me an email or calling my office at (416) 395-6408. I look forward to seeing you there!.