Dear friends and neighbours,
I wanted to provide you with some highlights from the most recent City Council meeting.
Developing Toronto's Transit Network Plan to 2031
I have always been a strong supporter of building higher-order transit throughout the City of Toronto. Regrettably, since the Sheppard subway line was completed in 2002, the City has fallen far behind on expanding its transit network. City Council took an important step forward last week by approving a 15-year Transit Network Plan that outlines Phase 1 of our transit strategy. The Plan includes the preferred route for a Downtown Relief Line, SmartTrack, an Eglinton LRT extension, and continued work on the Scarborough Subway Extension.
Long Term Waste Management Strategy
The entirety of the City's collection of solid waste—both residential and non-residential—is sent to the city-owned Green Lane Landfill near London, Ontario. At a current diversion rate of 53% (the rate at which recyclables including organic waste is diverted from disposal), the landfill will be at capacity by 2029. City Council approved a new Long Term Waste Management Strategy that seeks to increase that rate to 70% within ten years (representing as much as 200,000 tonnes of material) and thereby extending the estimated lifespan of the landfill to 2040. A new concept included in the strategy is the goal of a circular economy and zero waste future, which looks to prevent waste generation and maximize resource recovery. Each of us can do our fair share by continuing to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible.
Basketball and Hockey Nets on the Public Right of Way
It's hard to imagine a more Canadian pastime than street hockey with childhood friends. However, under the City of Toronto Act, 2006, basketball and hockey nets were officially prohibited from encroaching onto the City right of way. The actual playing of any game or sport on the roadway was also prohibited. These provisions were rarely enforced. City Council voted to amend these bylaws to permit hockey and basketball play on the roadway under certain conditions (see link above for details).
Road Safety Plan 2017-2021
Many constituents have called my office at some point about a road safety-related matter. It may be complaints of speeding on a local street, aggressive driving in a school zone, or near-collisions at a major intersection. The City's Transportation Services division has heard these concerns city-wide, and in response produced a comprehensive Road Safety Plan to better protect vulnerable road users. You can read the full report, as well as City Council's additional amendments, at the link above.
Schools as Community Assets
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has reviewed 23 properties for potential sale, among them the former McNicoll Public School site at 155 McNicoll Ave. The Province has instructed the TDSB that any properties declared surplus and approved for disposition must be sold at fair market value, essentially making the City's acquisition of the portfolio cost prohibitive. City Council approved a framework to help evaluate current and future properties for sale to determine the City's best response.
The old school building at 155 McNicoll Ave currently houses the McNicoll Childcare Centre, as well as program and office space for Adventure Place. The TDSB recently declared the property surplus. At my request earlier this year, City Council expressed interest in developing the site as a community hub so we would not lose the childcare centre or Adventure Place.
Fortunately, the School Board has not yet included the site in their disposition list. I was encouraged that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services heard our community's concerns and expressed interest in acquiring it.
At our June City Council meeting, I also secured Council support to direct our City Manager to work with the Province to maintain public access to the property's green space and to ensure childcare services continue on site. The building and its services represent an important community asset, and should be maintained in the best interests of residents.
City-Wide Real Estate Review
The City of Toronto has a number of divisions, agencies and boards that own real estate assets. Together, these assets form an estimated $27 billion portfolio—one of the largest in Canada. City Council directed the City Manager to review this portfolio and provide recommendations to better address the City's priorities moving forward.
Council approved the resulting report that recommended the City move towards a centralized operating model for real estate in order to better meet our strategic objectives, save 5-10% of a $600 million operating budget and generate more revenue. A transition team, which I have been asked to serve on, will be working on the planning and implementation of this direction.
Implementing Supervised Injection Services in Toronto
Since 2005, the Board of Health has contemplated having supervised injection services, which were recommended for implementation by the Chief Medical Officer of Health in 2013. Recently, the item was considered again with three community health centres proposing to provide supervised injection services. The Board of Health heard many deputations from residents, stakeholders and health professionals.
As a result, the Board recommended that City Council support the implementation of small scale supervised injection services at Toronto Public Health (The Works), Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre and South Riverdale Community Health Centre. City Council adopted the recommendation from the Board of Health without amendment.