It was a somber week at City Hall as Toronto said a final goodbye to Rob Ford. My thoughts remain with his family and close friends during this difficult time. His passing came far too early at the young age of 46.
Rob was my Council colleague for more than 15 years. Over time, we developed a strong and respectful working relationship. I was pleased to have served on his Executive Committee while he was Mayor of Toronto. Rob accomplished a great deal during his tenure, and while he remains a polarizing figure for many, he had a genuine love for this City and he was committed to helping people.
Rob Ford will be remembered as a one-man political tour de force, but for my colleagues and I, we'll remember him as our friend. As I said on the Council floor last week, while looking at Rob's empty seat and remembering his familiar words, as a final tribute to the man: "Buddy, we're going to miss you."
Council Highlights - March 31, April 1st, 2016
I'm pleased to provide highlights from last week's City Council meeting.
City Council approved Phase 1 of developing Toronto's transit network plan by advancing planning and technical analysis on SmartTrack, Scarborough Subway Extension, Relief Line and Waterfront Transit. Projects of this scale require considerable time to properly plan, and require direction from Council on which proposals to study. This item removes some transit corridors from further consideration. Staff will report back in June on Phase 2 which explores a more comprehensive vision for transit in Toronto.
City Council overwhelmingly endorsed the Hybrid Alternative Design 3 that re-aligns the Eastern Gardiner-DVP connection closer to the rail line, and frees up available city-owned waterfront land for re-development. It is refreshing to move forward with wide-support on what had been a contentious issue at Council. City staff will now complete the Gardiner East Environmental Assessment for submission and approval by the Province.
Source: Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard East Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment (EA) and Integrated Urban Design Study–Evaluation of Preferred Design - Figure 1 - Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, February 17, 2016
Source: Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard East Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment (EA) and Integrated Urban Design Study–Evaluation of Preferred Design - Figure 2 - Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, February 17, 2016
City Council adopted the governance structure and recommended preparations for the City's new Local Appeal Body (LAB). The LAB will serve to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as an appeal body for planning applications with regard to minor variances and consent (e.g. lot severance/lot addition) which are heard by the Committee of Adjustment. The OMB will continue to hear appeals on developments.
While the Province has mandated that the LAB operate in the same manner as the OMB, Council endorsed my recommendations that prior to a hearing, the applicant or a neighbour can request mediation to resolve issues. This distinct component can be a valuable tool in resolving tough disputes.
City Council supported my recommendations to secure affordable housing at the proposed regeneration area on Tippett Road in North York. The approved funding (through the Home Ownership Assistance Program) and exemptions allows for 50 new affordable rental homes and 50 affordable ownership homes at 36 Tippett Road. The Tippett Road property is a parcel of land declared surplus by the City that was transferred to Build Toronto for re-zoning and sale. I will continue to work with City Staff in our Affordable Housing department and through Build Toronto to help secure more affordable housing across Toronto.
Source: Tippett Road Area Regeneration Study–Final Report - Planning and Growth Management Committee, October 23, 2015
Strategy for Minimizing the Negative Impacts of Residential Infill Construction
Willowdale and other areas in Toronto face a considerable amount of infill construction activity, often with the associated road and noise disruptions that can irritate nearby residents. I worked extensively with the City's Building Department to develop a new strategy to minimize the impact of residential infill construction activity on Toronto's neighbourhoods. This includes more effective enforcement measures, encouraging good construction practices, improving communication to residents, and better managing complaints about problem sites. The Chief Building Official will report back to the Planning and Growth Management Committee with an update on the implementation process.