Compostable Coffee Pods

As Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I’m committed to helping Toronto reach its waste diversion target of 70 percent.

With approximately 1 in 4 households in Canada using single-serve coffee brewers, millions of single-serve coffee pods are going to landfill each and every year.

Most coffee pods are made entirely or partly from plastic and thus come with a heavy environmental cost. However, a number of coffee companies – including Toronto-based businesses – are developing pods that are more environmentally friendly, including compostable and recyclable options.

With that in mind, I moved a motion at the October meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee requesting the city review the impacts of coffee pods on our waste management system, including our recycling and organics programs.

Close collaboration between the coffee industry, the City of Toronto and the province is a key piece of this review. As we encourage the industry to continue to develop more environmentally sustainable products, we also need to consider the central role of municipalities, who are responsible for processing the products through to end of life.

City staff will be reporting back in 2017 – stay tuned!

Park Updates

Lawrence Park Playground Revitalization

After months of planning and construction, the playground in Lawrence Park (behind the Locke Library) is now complete!

After two years of working to secure the necessary funds and battling water drainage problems in the park, our community is now home to an improved and revitalized green space.

This newly animated park has elements for children of all ages, including swings, slides and picnic tables, as well as a brand new shaded sandbox and improved walkway lighting.

A grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting will be held next spring.

Lord Seaton Park Playground Revitalization

We have been working closely with city staff over the fall to finalize playground design details.

At this time, they are aiming to begin construction next spring, with full completion expected in summer 2017.

Many of you shared your feedback with me on this project, through a survey and working group, and I wish to thank you for your engagement and participation.

Mossgrove Park Playground Revitalization

Over the next while, we’ll be revitalizing this sprawling park at York Mills and Leslie and improving the playground and green space.

We look forward to working with the community as this project gets underway. Stay tuned for future updates.

Don Mills Trail – Northern Extension

The northern extension of the trail was completed this summer. “Hard” elements of the project such as paving work, stone ground cover and signage was deferred to the fall to help minimize damage to the newly laid asphalt as a result of the summer heat.

The remaining “hard” and “soft” elements – such as landscaping – are expected to be completed by spring 2017.

Don Mills Trail – Southern Extension

I recently facilitated a meeting between senior city staff and local residents.

Despite several setbacks over the years, a very productive brainstorming session took place at City Hall and the working group left the room with a renewed plan to establish this much-needed connection.

Wilket Creek Rehabilitation Project

The Toronto and Region Conservation  Authority, on behalf of the City of Toronto, is currently working on preparations to commence the next phase of this project.

Work for this phase of the project will address sections of the watercourse between the two access routes off of Leslie Street.

Construction is anticipated to start this month pending receipt of all necessary permits and approvals and will carry on through the winter into next year.

Staff will be updating the alternative route map, project information signs and website regularly in order to provide park users and trail enthusiasts with current information on trail closures and the ongoing construction activities.

For more information, please visit the TRCA’s website at www.trca.ca.

Toronto Hydro Outage Map and Tips

As winter approaches, Toronto Hydro’s website is packed with valuable information for home and business owners.

The website features an interactive outage map, where you can see the locations of hydro outages as well as obtain status updates on outages and estimated times for restoration. You can also search the map by address

In the event of a power outage this winter, you can contact Toronto Hydro’s Customer Care team at (416) 542-8000. This number can also be used to report emergencies such as downed or sagging wires.

You can also report power outages and streetlight outages by visiting this link or by calling 311.

If power is down following a snow storm, Toronto Hydro suggests following these tips:

  • Check to see if your neighbours have power. If they don’t, it is likely that more work is planned on your street.
  • If your home is the only house without electricity, check your electrical panel inside your 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.

For additional information on emergency preparedness, please click here.

Waste Disposal Tips

Often during the holiday season, we see a spike in household waste.

That’s why we all need to do our part to dispose of our waste in the right bin. The city is working to meet a waste diversion target of 70% – and knowing what goes where is key to achieving this goal.

Fortunately, the city’s easy-to-use Waste Wizard can help you sort your waste.

In addition, collection calendars are being delivered over the next few weeks. If you haven’t received your calendar by December 19, please contact 311.

You can also visit the city’s Garbage & Recycling webpage for more information and tips.

Winter Tips

The winter weather has arrived and here’s what you need to know to be prepared!

Potholes

Snow, ice and freeze-thaw cycles can cause serious damage to our roadways.

To report potholes, phone 311, the city’s 24-hour service portal, or visit toronto.ca/311. Have the closest municipal address on hand – it helps pothole repair crews work efficiently.

Snow Clearing

Did you know that the city clears 5,604 km of roads each and every time it snows?

Expressways are cleared after 2.5 cm of accumulated snow and arterial roads after 5 cm. Local roads are cleared following the accumulation of 8 cm of snow.

If it’s been 18 hours since the end of a storm and your street has still not been ploughed, please call 311.

Icy sidewalks are a serious pedestrian safety hazard, particularly for our older neighbours and those with accessibility issues. So please be nice and clear your ice!

Senior city staff advised that contacting 311 is the fastest and most efficient way to report snow and ice issues. Each time you contact 311, your issue is recorded (with a service request number that can be tracked) and the request goes immediately to Transportation Services for investigation and follow up.

This year, the city also has a great new online tool where you can watch snow plows and salt trucks in real time! Be sure to check out toronto.ca/plowTO this winter!

Improvements to the Committee of Adjustment

As you may know, in my first term I moved several successful motions requesting significant improvements to the Committee of Adjustment (CoA) in order to strengthen transparency and accountability.

I’m please to let you know that City Planning is finally moving ahead with a number of these improvements.

Earlier this year, city staff implemented my recommendation to record CoA hearings. In the coming months, they’ll also be mobilizing technology in other ways to reduce costs and waste.

For example, the newly launched eServices portal requires digital submission of CoA applications – this means that information and decisions relating to active applications will be easily available online at the Application Information Centre on the city’s website.

City Planning has also prepared a CoA brochure that will help residents navigate the processes and procedures of the Committee and more effectively engage in hearings.

Moving forward, city staff will be conducting a full review of CoA processes in each district of Toronto to ensure a more consistent practice across the entire city.

Frozen Pipes

As the cold weather approaches, it’s important to take steps to protect your pipes from freezing.  Not only can frozen pipes leave you without water, but the pipes may burst and cause damage to your home and property.

Here are some tips to help you prepare your pipes for the cold weather ahead.

  • It is important that you know the location of the main water shut-off valve in the event of a break.
  • Turn off the outdoor water supply and drain taps before the first freeze.
  • Insulate pipes that are susceptible to freezing, especially those outdoors, near outer walls and in crawl spaces. Pipes can be insulated by using foam pipe covers available for purchase at home building supply stores.
  • During extremely cold weather, let water trickle (just a thin stream) from the taps as water movement may help prevent pipes from freezing.

If frozen pipes are a reoccurring issue for you, you may want to hire a plumber to investigate whether there may be some underlying issue.

For more information, please visit this link.

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.

Strengthening Enforcement of Toronto’s Tree Bylaws

This past summer, 40 trees were illegally removed by a developer on Bayview Avenue. This is one of the most significant violations of the tree bylaws in Toronto to date.

In October, I requested that city staff prosecute this case at the Ontario Court of Justice and pursue the maximum penalty.

To stop developers from committing similar violations in the future, I also moved a motion directing staff to strengthen the city’s tree bylaws. In particular, I asked for improvements to the investigations process to make it more transparent, efficient and accessible.

Most importantly, I’ve requested staff to consider stiffer penalties for bylaw contraventions, including higher fines, stop work orders and the suspension of building permits.

Incidences of illegal tree removals are occurring across our city, and the City of Toronto needs to take a tougher stance and send a clear message that cutting down trees without permits is unacceptable and will be met with severe penalties.

Lawrence Park Revitalization

Park-Revitalization-Logo-web.jpg

Update - November 15, 2016

I’m very pleased to announce that the playground renovation in the Lawrence Park (behind the Locke Library) is now complete!

After two years of working to secure the necessary funds and battling water drainage problems in the park, our community is now home to an improved and revitalized park for all ages. This newly animated green space includes swings, slides and picnic tables, as well as a brand new shaded sandbox and improved walkway lighting.

A grand opening community celebration and ribbon-cutting will be held next spring.

Until then, I encourage you to go out and enjoy this incredible new space while the weather is still nice!

Update - May 30, 2014

After a series of meetings with senior Parks staff, I am pleased to announce we are making progress on the revitalization of Lawrence Park (at the southeast corner of Yonge and Lawrence behind Locke Library).

Sta have finalized their drainage solution and work will be completed this summer.

Parks staff are also in the process of hiring a landscape architect to complete the designs for the new park, including a new playground and landscaping.

I’ll be holding a public meeting to give the community a chance to have input into the design! Stay tuned for further information about a neighbourhood meeting in my upcoming newsletters!

August 27, 2013

I am pleased to announce that the revitalization of Lawrence Park (at the southeast corner of Yonge and Lawrence behind Locke Library) is well underway!

As you may have noticed, Mother Nature is trying to recapture the section of Lawrence Park behind Locke Library. Due to the park’s location in a natural bowl, there are substantial flooding and drainage  issues when it rains.

While we need to address these drainage issues, this is a fantastic opportunity to revitalize the playground and surrounding park.

We have already started to brainstorm different ways to deal with the flooding problem, and this month I will be meeting with senior city staff and residents to finalize an environmentally-friendly and sustainable solution. As soon as the drainage problems are addressed, we can design and install a new playground and revitalize the entire area!

Jo’Ann Alderson, Erin Nella and Elaine Newman deserve special thanks for taking the lead on this project and forming the Lawrence Park Ravine Revitalization Committee. I encourage you to visit their website, submit your ideas and get involved!

Mandatory Downspout Disconnection

In Toronto, it’s mandatory for property owners to disconnect their downspouts from the city’s sewer system – doing so reduces the risk of basement flooding and improves our city’s water quality.

While mandatory downspout disconnection is already in effect for most of Toronto, the final area – including parts of Ward 25 – will be required to disconnect by December 3, 2016.

To see when your disconnection comes into effect, please view this map.

For more information on when you are required to disconnect, how to disconnect safely or what kinds of exemptions are available, please click here or call 311.

Update on the Independent Toronto Airspace Noise Review

In May 2016, Toronto Pearson’s partner and Canada’s air navigation service provider, NAV CANADA, announced an independent review of Toronto’s airspace. The goal of the review is to identify opportunities to reduce noise exposure from aircraft operations.

The review is being conducted by a third party aviation consultancy firm, Helios, and is in its early stages. The first round of consultations took place this past September and the Terms of Reference have been drafted.

The next phase of the review focuses on local issues and concerns, and a second round of consultations will begin this November.

If you would like to receive updates on upcoming opportunities for consultation, please email torontoairspace@askhelios.com.

For more information on the Toronto Airspace Noise Review, follow this link.

Update on the City’s Road Safety Plan

This past July, City Council unanimously approved Toronto’s first-ever comprehensive Road Safety Plan, which I spearheaded as Chair of Public Works. I’m excited to share that we’re making significant progress on putting the plan into action!

By November 1st, all of the 14 Pedestrian Safety Corridors identified in the Road Safety Plan will be completed, and over the next two months at 13 locations across Toronto, city crews are implementing geometric safety improvements to make our streets safer for all who use them.

To give you a sense of the scale of this work, new and improved pavement markings have been completed at 317 intersections since the summer. To cap it all off, last month I was fortunate to attend the Transportation Association of Canada’s conference, where the City of Toronto was awarded the 2016 Road Safety Engineering Award for its Curb Radii Design Guidelines.

These guidelines are designed to improve safety by decreasing the frequency and severity of collisions. By having smaller curb radii, pedestrians spend less time crossing the intersection. In addition, tightened curb radii improve visibility of pedestrians and help ensure drivers slow down at intersections.

This prestigious award recognizes Toronto’s Curb Radii Design Guidelines as the new national standard across Canada – it also showcases our city’s commitment to encouraging innovation in transportation and road safety.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Road Safety Plan this fall!

Getting Toronto Moving : An Update on Phase 2 of the Congestion Management Plan

Earlier this year, I announced Phase 2 of Toronto’s Congestion Management Plan, and I’m pleased to let you know that the city is taking action this fall to combat gridlock and congestion.

Thanks to Big Data, or vehicular probe data, which I helped bring forward earlier this term, city staff have identified the 10 most congested intersections or “hot spots” across the city.

Transportation staff are currently implementing targeted solutions – from signal retiming to increasing “green time” at traffic lights to capital improvements – in order to improve traffic flow at each of the 10 locations.

You can read about the actions being taken at each intersection as well as the timelines for completion here.

Ontario Municipal Board Review

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has had a significant impact on Ward 25 – from Yonge and Eglinton to Bayview Avenue and Don Mills, our neighbourhoods are under intense pressure because of the OMB.

The OMB is a provincially appointed, quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that hears planning appeals from the municipal level. When an application is appealed to the OMB, it’s the OMB – not the City of Toronto – that decides whether to approve the application.

The OMB Members that preside over cases are often not from Toronto and do not have the intimate knowledge and local context of our neighbourhoods that the city’s planning departments and local representatives have.

Additionally, while many jurisdictions have planning appeal bodies, none have the same power and broad rights that the OMB does. The OMB has more extensive influence over local planning-related matters than any other provincial board in Canada.

Since I became your local Councillor, nearly every major development in Ward 25 has been appealed to the OMB. This has resulted in over 3,800 residential units and 330 storeys being decided by the province, not the city.

I’ve voted four times with City Council to remove Toronto from the jurisdiction of the OMB. Although the province has not yet acted on releasing Toronto from the OMB’s grasp, they’ve launched a review of the Board’s scope and effectiveness.

You can read more about the review here.

In particular, the province is focusing on five areas:

  • The OMB’s jurisdiction and powers;
  • Citizen participation and local perspective;
  • Clear and predictable decision-making;
  • Modern procedures and faster decisions; and,
  • Alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings.

I strongly encourage you to participate in the review and share your feedback on the OMB with the province. There are several ways to get involved:

  • Submit or upload your comments using an online web-form
  • Email OMBReview@ontario.ca
  • Call 1-855-776-8011
  • Mail a submission to: Ontario Municipal Board Review, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Provincial Planning Policy Branch, 777 Bay Street (13th Floor), Toronto, M5G 2E5

The deadline for providing feedback is December 19, 2016.

I also encourage you to attend the province’s OMB Town Hall in Toronto on November 15 at 6:00 p.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. To RSVP, please click here.

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.

Have Your Say: Independent Toronto Airspace Noise Review

In May 2016, Toronto Pearson’s partner and Canada’s air navigation service provider, NAV CANADA, announced that they would be undertaking an independent review of the Toronto Airspace in order to identify opportunities to reduce community noise exposure.

The review is being conducted by a third party aviation consultancy firm, Helios, and is independent from the GTAA and airport operations. This is a unique opportunity for residents to share their feedback about noise management.

The review team will be holding a community consultation next week on Wednesday, September 28 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville (90 Bloor St. East).

At this meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the review team and share your comments on the draft Terms of Reference of the review. You can find the draft here.

For more information on the Toronto Airspace Noise Review, visit www.torontoairspacereview.ca.

If you would like to receive emails from the review team related to upcoming opportunities for consultation, please email torontoairspacereview@askhelios.com.

Get Involved: Basement Flooding Master Plan Environmental Assessment Study

As you may know, city staff are currently conducting a Basement Flooding Study Master Plan that covers parts of Wards 16, 22 and 25.

A Notice of Study Commencement was released in January 2016 and includes information about the study area and process.

The Project team has just released its second newsletter with useful information about what causes flooding and what the City can do to address surface and basement flooding. There’s also a link to an online survey – the survey gives residents the opportunity to participate early in the process.

You can also learn more about the study at an upcoming Public Information Centre (PIC) on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 from 6pm to 8pm at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (200 Eglinton Ave. West).

At the PIC, you can view display boards about the study and speak one-on-one with project staff.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Mae Lee, Senior Public Consultation Coordinator at either 416-392-8210 or rmlee@toronto.ca.

Park Updates

Tournament Park Tennis Court

As those who have already hit the courts will know, the city recently completed a State of Good Repair rehabilitation project at the Tournament Park tennis courts. The newly installed lighting system gives residents the opportunity to play tennis later into the evening.

Sunnybrook Park

As part of Urban Forestry’s continued efforts to rebuild our city’s tree canopy following the emerald ash borer, city staff planted new trees and shrubs in Sunnybrook Park this spring.

Yonge & Lawrence Playground Revitalization

Notices have sprung up in the playground behind the Locke Library. City staff have been working closely with the contractor on the construction schedule – weather permitting, work is expected to begin in early summer and wrap up by the fall!

Our City’s Financial Direction

With experience on both sides of the fence – as a former senior manager in Economic Development and now as a City Councillor – I’m well aware of the challenges the City of Toronto faces to deliver services while also balancing the books.

I’m a firm believer in fiscal responsibility and accountability. During my two terms in office, I’ve consistently pushed city staff to reign in spending and find efficiencies from within.

Unfortunately, the Standing Committees and City Council often vote on items without being presented with a full assessment of how new services or programs will affect the city’s operating and capital budgets.

The City of Toronto’s financial envelope is limited, and we need to make sure that Council is aware – before it votes – of every new line item on the budget and its long term implications for the city’s financial sustainability.

With that in mind, I moved a motion at last month’s Executive Committee directing the Chief Financial Officer to prepare a financial impact summary outlining the financial and staffing implications of reports from the various Standing Committees.

We must keep track of what we’re approving and how we’re going to pay for it – that’s the only way to ensure smart, strategic investments and maintain our city’s financial health.

I’m pleased to let you know that Executive Committee and City Council supported my motion  – you can read it here.