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December 5th, 2015 · No Comments

A Ward 20 year in review

By Joe Cressy

In Ward 20, we’ve had a busy year! We’ve worked hard on the dozens of development files that populate downtown, improving our green spaces, and building liveable communities — and we have a lot to be proud of.

We worked together on 484 Spadina Ave. (The Waverley/Silver Dollar Room), and after a long appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board, we won! The proposed 22-storey building was reduced to 15, with significantly reduced shadow impact on Lord Lansdowne Public School and heritage restoration of the Silver Dollar.

We’re working with the Annex Residents’ Association, Huron-Sussex Neighbourhood Organization, and Harbord Village Residents’ Association to stand up to aggressive development on Bloor Street, east of Spadina Avenue.

We’ve initiated the Davenport Triangle Study to ensure we’re planning sustainably in the Davenport Avenue and Dupont Street area. And, we passed the Madison Avenue Heritage Conservation District, the culmination of 10 years of work by the Annex Residents’ Association and City of Toronto staff. Together, we’re building and protecting neighbourhoods across our community.

In July, news broke that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) on College Street was being threatened by displacement. Over 1,200 people signed our letter opposing its displacement, the neighbouring residents’ associations got engaged, and our voices were heard. CAMH announced in November that a court-appointed appraiser ruled in its favour. The appraiser found that “fair market value” for the facility should be based on the existing institutional zoning, a position held by CAMH, the City of Toronto, and the surrounding community. Thanks to our collective work, CAMH is here to stay!

In Harbord Village, we’ve worked with the Residents’ Association to develop the Harbord Village Green Plan — a comprehensive action plan to green forgotten concrete spaces in the neighbourhood. The final green plan was released in late November and, starting in the new year, we’ll be working to green flankage corners and laneways and plant trees in the neighbourhood. Also in the new year, we’ll be starting consultations on improving the Huron Street playground and Ryan Russell Parkette. This spring, we’re excited to be (finally) moving forward with improvements to Margaret Fairley Park and Brunswick-College Parkette.

We have also acted to improve traffic safety in our community. In the Toronto and East York District, our community council lowered the speed limit on all local roads to 30 km/h. We’re working closely with neighbours in Seaton Village, Harbord Village, and the Annex to continue to prioritize safety for all road users.

On Bloor Street, we’ve started consultations on a bike lane pilot project to run from Shaw Street to Avenue Road. Bike lanes on Bloor Street have been discussed for years, and working with local residents, businesses, transportation experts, and schools, I’m excited to see the project taking shape for 2016.

As a community we’ve all been shaken by recent events in Syria and around the world. I was proud that Toronto City Council responded to and approved my request for the city to develop a resettlement program for Syrian refugees. The program has resulted in the creation of an inter-divisional team at the city to lead the project, an inter-agency team (including the Canadian Red Cross) to coordinate services, and the provision of continued support to Lifeline Syria and other settlement agencies. But residents of Toronto have also been leading this work: in our neighbourhoods, local groups along Major Street, Howland Avenue, Palmerston Avenue, Robert Street, and many more have stepped forward to sponsor families. Toronto at its very best, if you ask me.

I’ve also heard from hundreds of neighbours over the past year on local and city-wide issues — and our Ward 20 team is working hard to respond, answer questions, and provide assistance. Across the ward, we’ve worked to build more affordable housing in Alexandra Park and CityPlace, we’ve secured a partnership between the city and the YMCA for a brand new community centre, we’ve initiated a $25 million project to animate space under the Gardiner, and we have stopped jets from flying from the island airport! It’s been quite a year.

There’s still lots of work to do. As I’ve discovered in my first year, in Ward 20 the work never stops. More importantly, the relentless work of our local residents (volunteer work, I might add!) also never stops. I look forward to continuing this work, together.

Joe Cressy is the councillor for Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina.

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