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FORUM: Keeping it green and safe in University-Rosedale (Fall 2023)

December 4th, 2023 · No Comments

Over 100 development files pending in this ward alone

By Dianne Saxe

I hope you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather as much as I am. Thank you to everyone who helps to look after Toronto school children returning to school, including teachers, cleaners, cooks, bus drivers, and crossing guards. 

My office has undertaken a number of important initiatives impacting the Annex over the last couple of months. Here are some highlights:

I have approved the use of section 37 funds to transform the Bloor and St. George intersection into Toronto’s first “Dutch junction” by the summer of 2024. This innovative intersection design prioritizes pedestrian and cyclist safety, making them highly visible and protecting them from turning cars. The project is part of the Bloor Street reconstruction from Spadina to Avenue Road. I am actively working to minimize construction impacts while ensuring improved safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists.

Extensive negotiations between my office and the TTC have led to plans to repair damage at Dupont Station. The initial phase involves replacing mismatched glass entrance panes and purchasing replacement stair and penny tiles. Additionally, a collaborative effort involving myself, the TTC, the Dupont Castle BIA, and the Annex Residents’ Association is underway to enhance the station’s exterior entrances with improved lighting and seating, in partnership with Plaza Partners.

As a result of my motion to improve pedestrian safety on Avenue Road between Bloor and St. Clair, important consultations have been taking place in September and October. If you care about this issue, please make your voice heard. Details can be found here:

Two staffers from my office recently met with Head Gardener Paul Richard at Paul Martel Park for a Circle Garden Teaching session, enjoying the beautiful autumn weather. The park, originally designed as Ecology Park by Paul Martel, serves as a native memorial to the lost Taddle Creek, with a natural landscape and canoe-shaped beds paying tribute to the Ojibwa people who once lived along the creek. 

Important work awaits us this fall. At the top of the list is ensuring adequate revenue tools to fund city services. I had a lively town hall at the end of September where the subject was addressed with residents. There is widespread agreement: the city has a revenue problem, not a spending problem, and should act accordingly. Increased parking levies, a modest share of provincial sales tax, and property taxes in keeping with the provincial average are all on the table. Mayor Chow has taken office with a clear focus on this issue, and I look forward to supporting her work.

There are other recent victories that should become apparent as you traverse the Annex. I coaxed Fleet Services and Municipal Licensing & Standards into letting some field staff perform their duties on bikes. This will save time, money, pollution, and congestion while actually making city work flow more promptly. It was great to see the first 21 service staff at work in their new city uniforms. I am also working to require the vehicle-for-hire industry to operate zero emission vehicles by 2030, and I am working with Toronto Hydro and the Toronto Parking Authority to make charging facilities available for EVs and e-bikes.

Finally, there is another major issue that never escapes the attention of my office: the frenetic pace of development. Total development files on my desk are consistently in excess of 100.  

Every condo tower that seeks my approval is having to up their game on liveability, affordability, and climate action. For instance, they now have to try to deliver actual parks, not just give the city a meager cheque. 

Approving new large residential developments while measurably increasing housing stock is a critical priority. Watch this space for strong new measures to require an increase in rental units as part of developments going forward.

Dianne Saxe is city councillor for Ward 11, University-Rosedale.


Tags: Annex · Columns · Opinion