Council Update: December 2017

Graphic Images
I put forward a successfully motion for City Legal to examine what steps can be taken to regulate the extremely graphic images we saw from anti-abortion protesters along Bloor Street, and throughout our City, this summer. While I respect ones right to freedom of speech, the graphic nature of these signs are meant to harm and upset adults and children alike. City Legal will be reporting back to the Executive Committee next year on what actions can be taken.

Halloween Road Closures
In the lead up to Halloween, I heard a fair bit of concern from residents regarding some of our destination streets for trick-or-treaters. With some of our streets having over 1,000 visitors on Halloween night, road safety is a serious concern. My motion (MM35.9) is asking staff to examine allowing City Councillors to sponsor Halloween road closures when safety is an issue, to limit the costs to residents. I hope with this motion we will see safer trick-or-treating in 2018!

Short Term Rental (AirBnB)
I voted with Council to regulate and legalize short term rentals within Toronto.  The new regulations will allow a property owner or tenant to host short-term rental in their own residence, where they may share up to three bedrooms, or rent their entire residence for short-term durations (no more than a total of 180 days a year). Secondary suites can be rented out by a tenant, however the home owner cannot rent out a secondary suite that could be used as a long term residential space.

Shelter Beds
A heated debate occurred regarding shelter beds in our City. I am happy to share that Council voted to add 400 new shelter beds this year. I was disappointed to see that Council did not approve a motion to open the Canadian military armouries in the city to the homeless. The vote in favour of more shelter beds is a good step, but I believe it does not go far enough to address the immediate need.

Council Update: November 2017

GO station at Park Lawn  
I was happy to stand with neighbouring Councillor Mark Grimes, as Council agreed to ask staff to work with Metrolinx to make the establishment of a GO station at Park Lawn a priority as part of the Lakeshore West GO rail. Metrolinx has not included a Park Lawn station in its 10-year shortlist of stations identified for expansion. This station could play an important role to future transportation needs in the southern portion of our ward.

Bike lanes on Bloor
I voted with Council to maintain the eastbound and westbound cycle tracks (separated bike lanes) on Bloor Street West between Shaw Street and Avenue Road as a permanent installation following a pilot project. The intention is to improve safety for all road users while minimizing the impact on businesses and curbside operations.

Pilot project for electric vehicles  
I have been hearing an increased concern over the past couple of years regarding the lack of support for electric vehicles in residential neighbourhoods. To look into this concern, Council authorized a one-year pilot project for residential on-street charging stations for electric vehicles at two locations in each of Wards 19, 30 and 32 as well as at a location near Toronto Hydro’s facilities on Commissioners Street. I look forward to seeing the results of this pilot, and what could be done in ward 13 in the future.

Council Update: October 2017

LS20.1: Prohibited Animals Review

As part of the changes to the prohibited animal bylaw, Ward 13 will become one of the four test pilots for areas that will allow backyard chickens.  City Staff are developing and implementing this pilot project with conditions to include Residential be required to register with the city, be allow no more than four hens per property, no roosters, comply with Chapter 349, Article III, Care of Animals and all other applicable laws, would be restricted as to location of the hen enclosure on their properties. The Manager of Licencing and Standards is currently working out the rules and regulations in this regard, which I will share with you as soon as they become available. 

 EX27.8: Ravine strategy for Toronto

I am happy to share that Council adopted a new Ravine Strategy for managing the City's ravine system, directing that an implementation plan be developed and a Ravine Leaders Table convened. We also asked Staff to consider incorporating the concept of ecological integrity into the final strategy. As ravines play an important role in Ward 13's landscape, I look forward to being involved in further discussions.

 MM32.41: Acceleration of Vision Zero planning

Council advised Transportation Services to include options that will accelerate Vision Zero planning, including the acceleration of the School Safety Program. This has been a key priority in our ward, as we work with our schools, school councils, and parents to make our streets safer.

PW23.8: Free-Floating Car-Share Pilot and Interim Policy

I was pleased to see that the car-share pilot project was returned to Staff for further study before the pilot begins across the City. While I am a large supporter of car-share programs, we need to ensure that those paying for on-street parking permits are not left with increased hardship due to the pilot. I have met with car-share companies, and they have agreed to work with the City to have better criteria and regulations moving forward so the pilot will work for car-share users, and private vehicle owners alike.

EX27.14: Creating 298 Affordable Rental Homes in Toronto: Results of the 2017 Open Door Call for Applications

This report outlined the results of the inaugural Open Door Program Call for Applications and recommends seven development proposals for Council approval, representing 298 affordable rental homes across the City. The program is designed to scale up City efforts to achieve Toronto’s targets of creating 5,000 affordable rental homes and 2,000 affordable ownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents. There were 13 units approved for Ward 13 within this report.

EX27.15: Creating new Affordable Rental Housing  

Council authorized financial incentives for the construction of 600 new affordable rental homes. The City incentives include exemptions from development-related charges as well as from municipal taxation.

Council Update: July 2017

TransformTO climate action plan  

After a month's delay I am thrilled to share that City Council unanimously approved the TransformTO action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto by 80 per cent by the year 2050. TransformTO identifies strategies and goals to transform Toronto's buildings and energy, transportation and waste systems by 2050. I was honoured to be a member of the committee that brought forward these recommendations, and look forward to implementing these actions across the City. Now, we need to get the necessary funding to implement this recommendations into the 2018 budget!

Implementation of Tenants First strategy     

Council approved the integration of City programs and services for seniors at more than 80 seniors-designated buildings in the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) portfolio, as recommended in the Tenants First report. The seniors-designated buildings will be managed by a new entity separate from TCHC. In addition to this important work, I was happy a motion passed directing TCHC not to permanently close any additional housing units in 2018 or 2019.

King Street pilot project  

Council authorized the King Street transit pilot project between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets starting this fall. This pilot project is primarily about improving the speed and reliability of public transit on King Street, Toronto's busiest route for surface transit. A motion that Council adopted will give taxis greater freedom of movement than general traffic on King Street from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am to coincide with the theatre, restaurants, and bar closings.

The passing of my friend, Pam McConnell

Council ended abruptly with the tragic news that our college, Pam McConnell had passed away. Pam has been an influential player at City Hall for over 20 years. She has dedicated her life to social justice issues, leading the City's Poverty Reduction Strategy this term on Council. On a personal note, when I was a new Councillor, Pam was always willing to help, sharing her wisdom and advice. She was a great friend, and will be truly missed.  

Council Update: May 2017

The Downtown Relief Line
Council voted to take the next steps in planning the relief line for the subway. While we have spent years debating a one stop subway in Scarborough. I am thrilled that we are finally moving forward on a proposal that will make a huge difference to all those that enter our downtown to work and play. Council approved the relief line alignment, which will run east from the downtown core and north under Carlaw Avenue to Pape Station. It will consist of five new stations between Pape and Queen Station, then connect Queen to Ossington. Staff will also be providing a business case for extending the relief line farther north to Don Mills.

The 2018 City Budget
Council also started discussing the 2018 City Budget. I continue to feel that we are not funding what is important to the City of Toronto. The proposed 0% increase to City Divisions is not in keeping with inflation. It will result in an approximate 2% cut to our organizations such as parks, libraries, and affect our most vulnerable residents. Although this motion passed, I will continue to fight for the needs of the residents of Ward 13 throughout the entire budget process.

Council Update: April 2017

Community consultation on emergency shelters
I am pleased to share that Council adopted a new community engagement process that sets out how the City will engage with the public concerning new or relocated municipal shelters to serve homeless people. As our community saw through the Runnymede shelter process, the current system is not working.  This new approach should help local residents and shelter users have more understanding of the proposals, and the role they can play in the process.  As part of the same agenda item, Council also authorized staff to introduce a new service model to apply at four new shelter programs operating on a pilot-project basis. Together these changes should help modernize our shelter system.

Protection of heritage buildings  
Council adopted motions requesting reports on protecting heritage buildings, including creating a "heritage survey" of all the buildings/structures across the city that have potential heritage value. Heritage buildings or areas identified as being under threat of demolition for development would be afforded some protection under the Ontario Heritage Act and through the City's process for demolition permits. This has been an issue not just in Ward 13, but throughout the City, and I am happy to see these important steps move forward.

Support for refugees and other newcomers
Council voted in favour of several recommendations tied to the City's role related to refugees, refugee claimants and undocumented Torontonians. Among the actions adopted is a request for the Canadian and Ontario governments to provide more funding to the City, including for the Toronto Newcomer Office and various municipally delivered social services that face increased demand for their services.

Council Update: March 2017

Scarborough subway extension    

Council was again debated the Scarborough Subway Extension. I was very disappointed that the majority of Council members continued to support moving forward with the one stop subway. Even basic votes such as looking at the business case for the extension were voted down by the Mayor and Council. Council approved the McCowan alignment for the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway (Line 2) from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Centre. Council also endorsed a concept for a 34-bay bus terminal at the Scarborough Centre station.

Standards for apartment buildings

A new apartment by-law was also passed, applicable to Apartment Buildings that are rental properties with three or more storeys and ten or more dwelling units available for rent. Apartment building owners will be required to pay an annual registration fee and submit information about compliance with property standards. The resulting apartment bylaw, effective July 1, will apply to rental buildings three or more storeys tall and having 10 or more dwelling units available for rent..

Federal investment in affordable housing      
I'm also happy to share Council supported a motion for the City to ask the Canadian government to implement the commitments to housing funding made in the 2017 federal budget and to establish a housing funding allocation model for investing funds based on housing need. Council agreed to ask the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to release the government's proposed national housing strategy.

Council Update: January 2017

Waste collection east of Yonge Street
Council considered the matter of curbside waste collection service east of Yonge Street.  I am happy to share that Council voted to refer the matter to staff for further study and a later report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. The current curbside collection system is split between contracted collection west of Yonge Street and in-house collection by City workers east of Yonge Street. 

Resources for review of development applications       
Council asked staff to prepare a report on the City's development approval process, including improvements for identifying buildings of heritage significance that may be under threat of demolition. The City is increasing staff resources to handle increased development applications. Applications in City Planning have increased by 27 per cent over the past three years, with a total of 4,790 applications submitted in 2016.

Sponsorship of Syrian refugees    
Council supported asking the federal government to ensure that Syrian refugee families, as well as families from other countries, are processed and travel arrangements made so sponsorship groups ready to host families can welcome them to Canada within three months. Council is also asking the government to reconsider its current cap on the maximum number of privately-sponsored refugees and to review Canada's refugee resettlement plan for 2017.

 Appointment of Medical Officer of Health   
As the vice-chair of the Board of Health, I am happy to share that Council approved the appointment of Dr. Eileen de Villa as Toronto’s new Medical Officer of Health. The new Medical Officer of Health is scheduled to start work at the City on March 27.