As the summer season draws to a close, I recommend making the most of the last days at the CNE. Looking ahead, I'm excited for the return of the Cabbagetown Festival and the St. James Town Festival next weekend as well as the Moss Park Movie Night that I am co-hosting with CUPE Local 416 on September 15.
We have a City Council meeting coming up on September 7th when we'll be tackling the Long-Term Financial Plan and the urgent need to build more affordable homes across the city. We will need to make some difficult but necessary and long-over due decisions but I am hopeful that we will be able to get the City back in the black while ensuring we deliver better programs and services to you and our neighbours.
Last week, the Provincial Government announced they were returning to the pre-pandemic funding formula of 75/25 for local health units along with a minimum 1% increase annually over the next three years. I am grateful for their commitment to public health and will continue to advocate for future funding adjustments that take into account inflationary pressures and the demands resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. I stressed this when I spoke with Dr. Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, earlier this week and I will continue to advocate alongside my colleagues on the Board of Health.
Finally, I hope you will join me and the Ward 13 team at our annual Neighbourhood Town Halls in September and October. They will be an opportunity for me to report on the work my team and I have been doing on your behalf at City Hall and to hear from you about what our priorities need to be in the year to come. We will also be presenting Community Builder Awards to incredible people in our community who have truly made a difference volunteering to make our neighbourhoods more lively, connected, and vibrant.
If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas you'd like to share, please don't hesitate to reach out to my office. Your input is invaluable and helps us better represent you here at City Hall.
Thank you for your ongoing support, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Yours in service,
Ward 13 - Toronto Centre
In this Issue
- Participatory Budgeting
- Downtown East Action Plan (DEAP)
- Pool Season Extended
- Trustee Deborah Williams, TDSB Ward 10
- Toronto Centre Projects - Bell Box Murals
- Cabbagetown Festival
- Cabbagetown Tour of Homes
- Cabbagetown Heritage Conversation District (HCD) Plan - Open House
- Public Noise Consultation
- Yonge Street Linear Parks Project
- Alcohol in Parks Pilot Project
- Allan Gardens Status Update
- Moss Park Movie Night
- Moss Park Civic Appointments
- Just For Laughs 2023 Update
- Nominations for Community Builder Awards
- Neighbourhood Town Halls
1. Participatory Budgeting
I’m so happy to see the amount of community engagement we received this year in our first annual participatory budgeting idea collection phase! Civic engagement is the backbone of democracy and the more engagement we get, the stronger Toronto Centre is.
Back in late May/ early June, we invited local community members of Zone 1,5, and 6 to submit long-term infrastructure ideas that fit within a budget of $750,000 to be allocated for capital projects. We collected over 68 project ideas across the 3 zones across the ward with many fresh and innovative urban ideas. Ideas beyond $750,000 or suggestive of operational instead of capital costs will be deemed infeasible by city staff.
We are now in the process of coordinating with City Staff to review how much each line item would cost based on materials, labour, and additional construction that would be needed.
The costing and feasibility of each item will be ready by October 1–the date voting begins.
All registered residents will have 30 days from October 1- October 31 to vote to fund multiple projects that fit the funding envelope.
2. Downtown East Action Plan (DEAP)
The 2023 Downtown East Action Plan offers a comprehensive strategy to align City services and tackle intricate challenges in Toronto’s Downtown East. These challenges span poverty, homelessness, community safety, mental health, substance use, and the drug crisis. The Downtown East encompasses diverse neighbourhoods like Moss Park, St. James Town, Church Wellesley Village, and Cabbagetown.
While Regent Park falls within this area, it follows a distinct process due to its revitalization, guided by the Regent Park Social Development Plan.
As of August 28, 2023, I attended the 3rd community engagement forum and collected some very important input from our dedicated community members. The five-year Action Plan focuses on four core goals:
- Fostering safe, inclusive communities.
- Cultivating cross-sector trust and collaboration.
- Ensuring stability for marginalized individuals.
- Pioneering a model for the City's response to intricate issues.
The City seeks input on experiences and suggestions regarding Downtown East, aiming to shape the forthcoming phase of the Action Plan.
Be at John Innes Community Recreation Centre on Wednesday, September 20th from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM to voice your concerns!
3. Pool Season Extended
We are happy to share that Parks, Forestry and Recreation will be extending the pool season at ten pools, until Sunday, September 24, 2023.
The selected pools will be open Monday – Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 7:00 p.m. The pools that will remain open are:
- Pine Point Park Outdoor Pool
- Wedgewood Park Outdoor Pool
- Sunnyside Gus Ryder Outdoor Pool
- Ledbury Park Outdoor Pool
- Alex Duff Memorial Pool
- Monarch Park
- Leaside Outdoor Pool
- Kiwanis Outdoor Pool
- McGregor Park
- Heron Park
Leisure swim will be available at all 10 locations and lane swim will be available at select locations. The extended pool opportunities will be promoted through a news release, social media, and on-site signage.
Residents will be directed to Toronto.ca/swim for schedules and program-related information. The updated information will be live on August 17.
4. Trustee Deborah Williams, TDSB Ward 10 (University-Rosedale and Toronto Centre)
My name is Deborah Williams. It is my honour to serve as your school board Trustee for Toronto District School Board’s Ward 10 (University-Rosedale and Toronto Centre).
By prioritizing student achievement and well-being, and considering the broader public interest, I work as a member of the Board to make decisions to benefit all stakeholders. I believe that strong public education builds strong communities.
As your Trustee, I regularly hold Ward Forums to share information and provide opportunities for parents/guardians, caregivers, and our school communities to learn and share with each other. The dates, topics, and locations will be listed on my TDSB Ward 10 website.
5. Toronto Centre Projects - Bell Box Murals
Since 2009, the Bell Boxes Murals Project has adorned over 530 murals onto Bell Canada outdoor utility boxes across more than 40 communities spanning Toronto, Southern Ontario, and Quebec. Administered by Community Matters Toronto, a local nonprofit situated in the St. James Town neighbourhood of Ward 13, the Bell Box Murals Project benefits the entire community.
During each summer, a set of selected Bell boxes in distinct communities are transformed into murals. Approximately six to eight projects are undertaken annually. Requests are accepted year-round, and discussions with each community are held to outline potential projects for the following year.
This year, our ward was lucky enough to have 12 Bell Boxes beautified with themes of Toronto Centre and the neighbourhood they are located in. Artists have begun painting as of August 28, 2023, and expect to be complete by September 10, 2023.
6. Cabbagetown Festival
I am pleased to announce the return of The 44th Annual Cabbagetown Festival on Saturday, September 9, 2023, from 11 to 11:40 a.m. The event will take place on the eastern corner of Parliament St & Carlton St.
Returning for the first time since 2019, this year's festival promises to be the grandest yet, welcoming over 50,000 locals and visitors from across the GTA for a delightful and family-friendly weekend of entertainment.
I will be attending the Opening Ceremony of The Cabbagetown Festival, alongside Mayor Olivia Chow, MPP Krystin Wong-Tam, MP Marci Ien, and Chairperson Bill Renieris, to “Cut the Cabbage” at the annual cabbage-cutting ceremony!
The community is eagerly looking forward to coming together once again after a hiatus of three years due to the COVID pandemic, and my team and I would be honored if you could join us in celebrating this momentous occasion.
Taking place in the heart of Toronto's historic Cabbagetown neighborhood from Saturday, September 9 to Sunday, September 10, 2023, this two-day extravaganza has something for everyone. Our vibrant street market will showcase the creations of local artisans and vendors, offering unique crafts, artwork, and delectable treats.
The festival's lively atmosphere will be enhanced by captivating live music performances by talented local bands and musicians, leaving attendees tapping their feet and swaying to the rhythm.
Families and children will find joy in the dedicated children's zone, complete with thrilling games, inflatables, and engaging performances. For those seeking culinary delights, the festival’s mouthwatering food trucks and pop-up patios will serve an array of cuisines to satisfy every palate.
7. Cabbagetown Tour of Homes
Also happening in Cabbagetown will be the return of the Cabbagetown Tour of Homes.
Join this showcase of historic and contemporary treasures on Sunday, September 17, 2023 12:00 – 4:00pm.
8. Cabbagetown Southwest Heritage Conversation District (HCD) Plan - Open House
Are you passionate about preserving the city’s cultural heritage?
The Community Consultation Open House on the proposed Cabbagetown Southwest HCD Plan will feature display boards explaining the draft HCD Plan including the area’s cultural heritage value and objectives, draft policies, guidelines and the permit process.
The proposed Cabbagetown Southwest HCD is an area with a concentration of heritage resources within an area that distinguishes it as a place of cultural heritage value and merits protection under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (see accompanying map of the proposed HCD).
The event will be a “drop-in” format with opportunities for residents and property owners to meet the project team and ask questions and provide their feedback on the proposed HCD to help inform the preparation of the draft of the Plan for a Council decision in early 2024.
An open house to discuss the proposal will be held on September 21, 2023 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM at the Central Neighbourhood House, 349 Ontario Street, Toronto to ask questions and learn more about your community!
If you are not able to attend the event, the Open House display boards will be made available online.
What is a Heritage Conservation District (HCD)?
This is an area with heritage value that is protected by a municipal by-law. The HCD Plan enables The City to manage and guide future change in an area with policies and guidelines for the conservation, protection and enhancement of the area’s special character.
Cabbagetown Southwest is a Victorian neighbourhood located east of Toronto’s downtown. It was developed throughout the latter half of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, rich with Canadian history.
The HCD Plan was initiated through a Study which was received by the Toronto Preservation Board in June 2019. The HCD plan was officially launched in Summer of 2020 and developed based on the district's cultural heritage value, informed by the community’s input.
9. Public Noise Consultation
Toronto is a bustling city whose noise levels are controlled through bylaws so that noise pollution can be kept to a minimum. If this is something you would like to weigh in on, I invite you to attend the City’s public consultations on a review of recent changes to the Noise Bylaw, which are happening September 12-21.
The Noise Bylaw (Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 591) provides standards for noise and applies to all properties in Toronto. It must balance the desires of all residents to enjoy their homes and environments, and at the same time recognize that in a City as large and vibrant as Toronto, certain levels of noise are reasonable and reflect life in a densely populated area.
The 2023 Implementation Review of the Noise Bylaw will assess amendments made to the Bylaw in 2019 and consider potential refinements.
There will be six (6) consultation meetings to seek feedback on the public’s experience with the amended Noise Bylaw and the refinements under consideration. Each consultation will focus on one particular area related to the Noise Bylaw, as listed below. There will be a combination of in-person and virtual meetings. Note that there will be two identical meetings held for Amplified Sound and General Noise, one virtual and one in-person. If you’re interested in attending, please register using this link and select the meeting(s) that most align with your interest(s). You are welcome to attend multiple sessions. Links to the virtual meetings are available on the dedicated registration pages.
You can also submit your feedback by emailing [email protected] by October 15, 2023.
10. Yonge Street Linear Parks Project
I have exciting news for our community — after a long period of closure, we have a date for the completion of parks in the Yonge Street Linear Parks project!
Construction has been underway since the end of May for both George Hislop Park and Norman Jewison Park. My office has been pushing for an updated and final timeline for the completion of this project, which is now anticipated for June 2024. I look forward to enjoying the newly renovated spaces that celebrate these two prominent Torontonians and their contributions to our City.
Additionally, we have received an update regarding Alexander Street Parette. The City’s Parks, Forestry, and Recreation department has been in communication with the condo developer in charge of that space — and due to coordination between the City and the Developer, work is expected to be substantially complete in late 2023, with full completion in Spring 2024.
11. Alcohol in Parks Pilot Project
Earlier this year, City Council approved a pilot project to allow responsible alcohol consumption in a small number of parks City-wide. This pilot will run until October 9, and will inform any future recommendations from City staff about a City-wide policy for allowing alcohol in parks.
The rationale for permitting alcohol in parks is three-fold. First, we all know that alcohol consumption in parks is already occurring, but enforcement remains selective, and primarily targeted against racialized and/or individuals experiencing homelessness.
Secondly, the global pandemic has introduced an element of risk to hosting indoor gatherings, and with COVID-19 variants still circulating, expanding options to share a drink with friends can reduce opportunities for viruses to spread.
Thirdly, many Torontonians are not fortunate enough to have their own private outdoor space, and thus there should be some consideration to allow everyone to enjoy a drink outdoors without being at risk of a ticket.
For the pilot, City Councillors were permitted to nominate parks within their ward to test the waters of allowing alcohol.
In Ward 13, I nominated two parks within the Corktown Area; Corktown Commons, as well as Underpass Park. Corktown Commons is a very large park in the Downtown context, and Underpass Park has a popular Farmer’s Market, so both made some sense to be included in this pilot. Please note that for Underpass Park, vendors must still obtain the appropriate permits/licenses to sell alcohol.
There are rules associated with this pilot however, including:
- You may drink only within the pilot parks and between park hours (5:30 a.m. to midnight.
- You are to dispose of empties in a park recycling bin or take them home with you.
- Please be respectful and do not disturb other park users.
- You must be legal drinking age of 19 years.
- You are not to supply or serve alcohol to people under the legal drinking age of 19 years.
Alcohol may not be consumed:
- Within two metres of playgrounds, wading pools, splash pads or skateboard parks.
- Inside the gates of an outdoor swimming pool or deck.
- Public intoxication and disruptive behaviour including public urination are not allowed. Please avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs and energy drinks. Stay hydrated, and eat before and while drinking.
The City is running an online survey to garner feedback about the Alcohol in Parks pilot.
12. Allan Gardens Update
As the summer draws to a close, it is with a mix of cautious optimism and shared frustration that I update you on the ongoing encampment crisis within Allan Gardens.
Frustration because – like yourselves – I would have loved nothing more than for residents to have had the opportunity to utilize the grounds fully and safely this summer; picnicking, playing, and enjoying the warm weather with friends and family. At the same time, I am optimistic, as the efforts of both city and park staff have yielded encouraging advancements towards what will hopefully be an expedient and complete return of the park to its prior state.
Sadly, there are still barriers standing in our way. It was recently brought to my attention that fake eviction notices were distributed to those dwelling in the park. This cruel and unfortunate instance is an example of the type of measures that will only compound the crisis further.
It should also be noted that reactionary solutions – such as the immediate eviction of those dwelling in the encampment sites – would merely displace current numbers to other parks/areas of the city while escalating on-site tensions further. It would not solve the epidemic of homeless, mental health, and addiction our city is facing.
Let me be clear: The only permanent solution to this crisis is affordable housing.
This cannot be done without the full cooperation of both the provincial and federal governments, working in partnership with the city. In the meantime, I am doing all that is within my power to solve the most pressing issues affecting residents.
13. Moss Park Movie Night
Due to the overwhelming success of our St. James Town Movie Night my team and I hosted earlier this summer, we have decided to host another screening, this time of the animated feature Turning Red (2022)!
Join us on September 15 at 8:00 PM, 260 Queen Street East, at Moss Park Open Park, just east of Kim’s Convenience. We will be offering free popcorn and juice boxes for those in attendance.
What is the film about?
Turning Red is an animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. It's a heartwarming and relatable story that follows a young girl named Mei Lee as she navigates the challenges of growing up, all while dealing with a unique twist – whenever she gets too excited or emotional, she turns into a giant red panda!
14. Moss Park Civic Appointments - Vacancies
Moss Park Arena is the only City-funded indoor skating rink in Downtown Toronto, located at 140 Sherbourne Street. The Moss Park Arena Rink is 170 ft x 80 ft in size and is insulated from the elements to avoid ice melting during Toronto's warm summer months. It has served the community of Moss Park and surrounding Neighbourhoods for decades and is best known for its customer service and programming.
Currently, the board of membership is recruiting 3 vacant positions in the leadership responsible for managing the arena. In need of community-oriented minds and fund management experience, the Arena and community would greatly benefit from your support in finding a positive, friendly, and passionate individual who loves community centres.
15. Just For Laughs 2023 Update
As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, Just for Laughs (JFL) will be returning this year to the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood to entertain with a slate of local and international comedians. JFL has shared their site layout with our office.
As a quick summary of the document:
1) Both Front Street East, between Yonge Street and Church Street, as well as Scott Street, between Wellington Street East and The Esplanade.
2) JFL’s stage is set up at the Wellington Street East and Scott Street intersection, with back of house activity (via an 8-foot tall fence) moving south on Scott Street.
3) Food trucks will be positioned on Front Street East on the southeast side of Berczy Park.
4) Washrooms will be positioned on Wellington Street East on the northeast side of Berczy Park. Fencing has been set up to provide privacy for patrons, including a 6ft tall fence that shields the activity from pedestrians using the south Wellington Street East sidewalk through Berczy Park.
In order to accommodate the four-day closure of Front Street East–which would include the three day street festival and a day for set-up and tear down–there will need to be some temporary traffic changes to add additional eastbound capacity. Staff are reviewing options, but the likely option at this point is to temporarily convert Wellington Street East into either two-way traffic, or eastbound traffic only.
The above site plan has been reviewed by Transportation Services staff, and temporary traffic changes should not further impact JFL’s plans for their street festival.
Staff are unfortunately still working on the traffic changes so a full description is not available for this e-newsletter.
My staff will endeavour to provide that information on my website once it is available.
If you would like any updates on this project, including noise modelling JFL has done for their 2023 Street Festival Event, please contact my staff lead in this area, Edward LaRusic ([email protected]), as he would be happy to share any information we have.
16. Nominations for Community Builder Awards
Toronto Centre is a dynamic community filled with dedicated individuals who strive to enhance our neighbourhoods. Over the past year, I've met numerous remarkable people who have left a lasting impact on our area. They've engaged in activities like tending to public gardens, adorning our streets with murals, advocating for safer neighbourhoods, and even doing research for naming our laneways. Their tireless efforts have made our community more vibrant and connected.
To honour these unsung heroes, we are introducing the Community Builder Awards, to be presented annually at our Neighbourhood Town Halls. These awards aim to acknowledge and celebrate those who have gone above and beyond to create positive change in Toronto Centre.
Each successful nominee will be presented a Ceremonial Key to Ward 13 as an award and token of appreciation from your neighbours, friends, and family.
Residents of Toronto Centre are encouraged to nominate individuals who have made a significant positive impact. Whether they have organized after-school programs, mentored youth, promoted well-being, or preserved our shared history, we want to recognize their exceptional contributions.
Nominations are open to everyone, as long as both the nominee and nominator reside within Toronto Centre. Nominees should have made voluntary contributions to the community within the past two years, beyond their regular paid employment. The deadline for nominations is September 7, 2023.
Let's come together as a community to celebrate these outstanding individuals who make Toronto Centre a better place to live, work, and play.
Award Ceremonies will happen on October 5th, 2023 at the Zone 6 Townhall - Cooper Koo Family YMCA.
17. Neighbourhood Town Halls
I am so excited as I stand before you today with immense joy and gratitude as we prepare to gather for Ward 13's first annual Town Hall meeting.
It is a true privilege and honour for me to host this event and see so many engaged community members in attendance from our 14 neighbourhoods at our 6 major town halls. Your presence here is a testament to the vibrant spirit of our democracy, and it fills my heart with happiness to witness it.
Direct democracy is a fundamental pillar of our society, one that we hold dear and treasure. It allows every citizen to have a voice in shaping the decisions that impact our lives. In an era where communication can often feel detached, there is something truly special about coming together in a physical space to discuss the matters that matter most to us.
I look forward to seeing you, meeting you, hearing you, and being present whereever you are.
Zone 1 - Bay Cloverhill, Bloor East, Church-Wellesley, Mcgill-Granby, Upper Jarvis Neighbourhood Town Hall
Zone 2 -St James Town, Cabbagetown, and Winchester Park Neighbourhood Town Hall
Zone 3 - Moss Park, Garden District, Cabbagetown South Neighbourhood Town Hall
Zone 4 - Regent Park Neighbourhood Town Hall
Zone 5 - St Lawrence Neighbourhood Town Hall
Zone 6 - Corktown, West Don Lands, Distillery District Neighbourhood Town Hall