May City Council Recap

We considered over 150 items including affordable housing on the Danforth and in the Port Lands, Ontario Line construction, 'Transit-Oriented Communities' and more.

It was a very busy Council session this week, finishing late last night after we considered over 150 items.

Here are some of the most important issues we discussed.

Affordable Housing on the Danforth

I am pleased to share that City Council formally approved the affordable housing development at 1117 Danforth.

Developed using the innovative model pioneered here in Ward 14, this partnership between Houselink/Mainstay Housing and Core Developments will allow for the addition of 108 affordable rental units along with the renovation of the 27 existing Rent Geared to Income units.

Beginning with the funding of their predevelopment work just last fall, the city has supported and prioritized this development, which will bring more much needed affordable housing to our community.

I want to thank all parties and the local community for their strong support for this important project.

A special thank you to the two tenants of 1117 Danforth who came to Toronto and East York Community Council a few weeks ago to express their support.

Current tenants are moving to other units in Houselink/Mainstay Housing during construction and will be able to move back to the building into new, accessible units.

Asset Management & State of Good Repair

Mayor Chow's first key item was the city's Asset Management Plan, which outlines the amount we'll need to invest to maintain the infrastructure that makes our city work.

The city's 2023 State of Good Repair (SOGR) backlog is an estimated $22.7 billion. The SOGR backlog is comprised of a wide range of items from the TTC, to roads and potholes, recreation centres, parks and Toronto Community Housing,

Mayor Chow's New Deal with the provincial government has already begun to make a difference. The province will upload the cost for fixing and maintaining the Gardiner and DVP. This will relieve the city of two of our major state of good repair liabilities and a significant financial burden in the process.

However, more work is needed. Our Mayor and Council will continue to advocate for a fair and sustainable funding arrangement with other levels of government while making responsible choices to ensure we have the clean, caring and safe city we all want.

Watch staff's presentation to City Council or view the slide deck to learn more.

Congestion Management

I've heard a lot of frustration about the increase in congestion, especially on the Gardiner.

At Council we heard that a number of the strategies being suggested are already being implemented, such as prefabrication & 24 hour construction.

Other strategies the city will implement include creating a working group of industry experts, fast tracking or modifying construction on parallel routes, and studying whether additional prefabrication is feasible. Mayor Chow also moved a motion authorizing the opening of the Jameson on-ramp to offer additional options to commuters.

There will be an update on what can happen to further speed up work and minimize congestion at the July Infrastructure & Environment Committee meeting.

Thank you to Deputy Mayor McKelvie, whose motion ensured this work happens before July instead of the end of the year as was originally proposed.

Transit Oriented Communities

City Council again requested that the provincial government include affordable housing in 'Transit Oriented Communities' (TOC's).

With six TOC's in Toronto-Danforth, the local community is keenly aware of the continued refusal by the province to include any meaningful affordable housing in their plans.

I will continue to advocate for affordable housing to be included in provincial developments on publicly owned land, similar to the principle the city follows when dealing with land it owns.

Ontario Line Road Closures

I recently discussed city Transportation Services staff finalizing traffic plans for the next phase of Ontario Line construction. City Council approved these this week.

I'm pleased to share that Danforth bike lanes will be maintained in both directions during construction in the Pape and Danforth area.

Thank you to city staff who worked very hard to find a solution to allow for the bike lanes to be kept open and to all the residents who shared suggestions and feedback to help make these recommendations work for the community.

Read my recent update for more details and background.

Provincial Bill 185

City Council reviewed a staff report on the province's new Bill 185. While the city lost $2.3 billion in future revenue due to changes to development charges brought forward by the province's Bill 23, the province promised to make municipalities "whole" from any funding lost as a result of these changes.

However, the new Bill 185 only provides $144 Million over ten years to compensate - about six cents on the dollar.

Development charges play an important role in funding new infrastructure needed to support expanded housing. These include new libraries, long-term care homes, child care centres along with wastewater and stormwater management.

This is especially concerning considering the scale of the capital backlog the city is facing. Less development charges mean these needed infrastructure expansions will add additional pressure on the property tax base.

View city staff's presentation and slide deck from this week for more on the impacts of Bill 185.

Expanding Housing Options - Main Streets

City Council voted to permit stacked townhomes and small scale apartment buildings on more major streets across the city. As one of the city's many initiatives to build more housing it is one tool to add more units in areas where it makes sense in a way that is thoughtful and practical.

City Council voted to permit stacked townhomes and small scale apartment buildings on more major streets across the city.

As one of the city's many initiatives to build more housing, this tool allows us to add more units in areas where it makes sense in a way that is thoughtful and practical.

Staff also recommended increasing the number of allowed units after analysis of the initial proposal's financial viability showed that an increase would likely allow for more projects to be completed.

View the Council agenda item for more information.

Housing on the New Island in the Port Lands

City Council is set to consider a report next month on adding more density in the Port Lands in order to increase the amount of affordable housing we can secure.

I moved a motion this week to ensure staff consider all options to maximize housing on the new island being created by the Port Lands Flood Protection project.

The Port Lands Flood Protection project is a once in a generation change that is getting closer and closer to completion. It will re-naturalize the mouth of the Don River and have enormous benefits to stormwater management and flood mitigation. Signature parks and a new island, which has been planned from the ground up, will be created.

For several years I have been pushing for an increase to the amount of affordable housing in this community. I strongly believe the waterfront should be for everyone, not just the wealthy.

To meet that goal, the zoning will be updated to increase density. As we near the consideration of the report next month, I want to be sure we're achieving the highest possible amount of affordable housing given the constraints of the site.

View my motion and visit the Port Lands Flood Protection project website to learn more.

Transparency and Accountability

When City Council previously considered approving Councillor Nick Mantas' request for reimbursement after overspending on a business trip to Turin, he was not required to provide receipts ahead of the vote.

When the receipts were made public later they showed a number of concerning spending decisions.

I moved a motion this week to update the policy to require any receipts be provided before we vote on reimbursing a member of Council for overspending.

The Right to Protest

Council considered a motion to request the province create 'bubble zones' where protest isn't permitted around a number of institutions.

The City Solicitor expressed concern that any move to restrict freedom of expression and assembly would be vulnerable to a court challenge. I also heard from hundreds of residents expressing concern about the impact of the original motion on their Charter rights.

Councillor Matlow moved a thoughtful and considered amendment to alleviate many of these concerns.

I was happy to support this approach which recognizes the need to ensure fundamental charter rights remain protected while doing as much as we can to keep people safe during this time of heightened tension in Canada.

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