Weekend Newsbrief: April 28, 2018
What happened at Toronto City Hall this week
Council pushes forward SmartTrack plan. City council approved terms for a transit agreement with the Province of Ontario on Wednesday, based on a modified version of the Mayor John Tory’s 2014 SmartTrack plan that served as part of his election platform. The locations of the stations involved in the agreement are: 1) St. Clair Avenue and Weston Road, 2) King Street and Dovercourt Road, 3) DVP and Lake Shore Boulevard East, 4) Gerrard Street East and Carlaw Avenue, 5) Lawrence Avenue East and Kennedy Road, 6) Finch Avenue East and Kennedy Road, 7) Bloor Street between Lansdowne and Symington Avenues, 8) Spadina Avenue and Front Street West, and 9) Union Station.
City council recesses first day of meeting to “show our respect” Almost all councillors were present in council chambers on Tuesday morning, a day after what Mayor John Tory called a “horrific and deliberate attack near Yonge and Finch in the north part of our city.” Tory moved that Toronto City Council recess its meeting on Tuesday. “This gesture on our part today is a small but meaningful way in which we can show our respect to those who are hurting, especially the families and friends and co-workers of those who lost their lives or were injured yesterday, but also show our respect to the first responders and to the hospital staff and to the witnesses, people who were just there, on a sunny spring day.” Local Councillor John Filion also spoke. “Many images will be left in peoples’ minds from what happened yesterday and many memories. The ones that I would like to remember the most, and that hopefully a lot of residents of Willowdale will remember the most, are the acts of caring and kindness and bravery by people who saw what was going on … just your regular citizens. People who were watching from their balcony and rushed down to help, and the tremendous emotional toll that that took to stay with someone while they’re dying, and stay with them and comfort them. It’s really exceptional.” (Read the story)
Sign of the times? Council passes amendment to sign bylaw to allow logos and images on apartment building signs… even for a commercial investment company. Council passed an amendment to the city’s Sign Bylaw allowing logos and images on signs in Residential Apartment (RA) Sign Districts. Previously, the bylaw only allowed residential sign copy, making the Starlight Investments apartment signs (of which there were 100 in Toronto in the fall) not allowed. According to the report before council this week, the change supports the revitalization of older apartment towers and their neighbourhoods through the introduction of small-scale non-residential uses. “Approximately 500 apartment sites across the city are designated as Residential Apartment Commercial (“RAC”) zones in the City’s Zoning By-laws; however, many of these sites are located in RA Sign Districts. Tower Renewal Program staff, with input from the Tower Neighbourhood Inter-Divisional Committee, have determined that allowing signage for small-scale, non-residential uses is key for the success of these RAC sites,” the report says. This means apartment building owners can display their signs along with logos and images identifying their buildings to prospective renters, and can also advertise a specific good, product or business (if available on the premises.) In the case of Starlight Investments, the city considers the star and triangle portion of the sign (similar to the logo they use on their company website) as a first-party sign identifying a good, product or service available on the premises.
As Botanical Gardens expands with private funding, local councillor asks Parks GM to consult with union before implementing any measures that would cut staff. Following a heated exchange between Councillors Jaye Robinson and Mike Layton at the Parks and Environment Committee earlier this month, the issue of who would be responsible for taking care of which gardens (Edwards or Botanical) has been resolved, for now. At issue between Robinson and Layton was whether the agreement between the city and Toronto Botanical Gardens specifies that all future maintenance and construction within Edwards Gardens, the larger park to the west of the botanical gardens, will be by the city’s unionized workers. Layton brought a motion that council direct staff to include a condition in the fundraising and construction agreements with the Toronto Botanical Gardens “that existing and future parks maintenance of Edwards Gardens continue to be provided by City of Toronto employees (CUPE 416).” Robinson did not see it as a friendly amendment, calling it “getting into the weeds and the details.” Layton withdrew his motion and said he will work with the councillor and staff with the intent of clarifying what work will be done by whom before the item goes to council. At council this week, Robinson brought a motion “That City Council direct the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation to consult with Local 416 and seek Council approval prior to implementing any measure that would result in the elimination of existing Local 416 positions at Edwards Gardens.”
In other news… Council supported a development plan that will allow Woodbine Entertainment Group to expand the racetrack and gaming facility into a bigger 24-hour casino alongside developments including restaurants and hotels. Despite concerns from some members of the community, council moved the community benefits agreement and zoning amendment. Also, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, nominated by Mayor John Tory, was voted deputy Speaker for the remainder of this council term. Councillor Gord Perks was also nominated by Councillor Mike Layton.
Race for the 2018 – 2022 council term begins Tuesday. Residents running for mayor, councillor and school board trustee for the next term of council can begin filing their nomination papers on Tuesday with an election scheduled for October. Potential candidates need to provide proof of address and 25 original signatures from eligible voters in order to throw their hat in the municipal ring. The ward boundaries have changed for the next term, adding three new wards to the city — two of which are downtown. Some details:
- Parkdale Ward 14 (Gord Perks) and Little Portugal Ward 18 (Ana Bailão) are mostly merged with the northern boundary pushed south to Bloor Street.
- Annex/downtown Ward 20 (Joe Cressy) essentially splits into two. The southern revised ward will be Ward 20 (and is bordered by John St. instead of University Avenue) and the northern will be Ward 24.
- Rosedale/Danforth/Toronto Island/Cabbagetown/Regent Park Wards 28 (formerly the late Pam McConnell, now Lucy Troisi), 27 (Kristyn Wong-Tam), and 29 (Mary Fragedakis) turn into five revised wards. The island and downtown (east of Yonge Street) stay together. A new ward is created (where Google’s Sidewalk Toronto neighbourhood is planned). Currently Wong-Tam’s ward becomes revised Wards 25, 22 and 34 (approximately). Currently Fragedakis’s ward extends to Rosedale Valley Road.
Good to know
Allen Road is partially closed this weekend for spring maintenance including road resurfacing and repainting pavement markings, litter cleanup, graffiti removal, and more. The city is encouraging motorists to use Dufferin or Bathurst Streets, and is implementing traffic signal changes help traffic flow.
University Avenue between College and Bloor Streets (Queen’s Park Crescent) will be closed in the morning for The Bum Run.
University Avenue will be partly closed from Dundas Street West to Queen Street West for Khalsa Day for the day.
This Newsbrief is by Arianne Robinson
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