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Dr Lillian McGregor Park Open House

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Statement on Bill 139, Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017

The provincial government has tabled a bill that will reform the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), with the stated goal of empowering municipalities. As a long-time critic of the OMB, the proposed reforms fail to give Toronto the deference and responsibility it deserves.

In 2012, I helped lead a push to remove Toronto from the purview of the OMB. My goal has not changed. The OMB frustrates residents, planning staff, and local councillors. It issues unaccountable decisions, sets undesirable precedents and drives land speculation and applications for inappropriate development onto unsuitable sites.

The reforms rename the OMB as the “Local Planning Appeal Tribunal” whose members will be appointed by the provincial government in a similar manner, with only one tribunal member required to make decisions, just as the OMB functions today. This new tribunal appeals to be "local" in name only. The problematic language in the Planning Act that directs OMB members to “have regard to” the decisions of municipal councils would also permit the tribunal to continue giving little to no weight to the decisions of City Council.

Furthermore, all applications for zoning by-law amendments and most applications for official plan amendments remain appealable. While Council would be given the opportunity to make a new decision, the tribunal is still given the opportunity on a second appeal to craft a new decision without deference to City Council, even when supported by professional planning reports.

Toronto has a professional and sophisticated planning department that deals with thousands of planning applications. We don't need the current OMB and we certainly don't need an OMB-lite that allows a single unelected tribunal member to upend the work of residents, planning staff and local government when responding to an application.

If the City must be saddled with an unelected tribunal, then quorum at a tribunal hearing should require a minimum of three members. In addition, the standard of review should be reasonableness. If the city makes a reasonable decision that is consistent with a policy statements issued under the Planning Act, conforms with or does not conflict with a provincial plan and conforms with our official plan, then no appeal should be allowed.

This is a 100-year opportunity to see real fixes to our land use planning policies in Toronto and Ontario. I urge, the Province to enact real legislative change, and not merely tinker with or simply rename the OMB.

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Trails Week!

 

From May 29 through June 4 we celebrate Trails Week!  Toronto has over 600km of natural and multi-use trails for residents to explore and enjoy.  Our trails system not only provides residents with recreational benefits but they also greatly contribute to the quality of life we enjoy, a quality of life envied around the world.  Learn more about our great trail system and get out and hike a new trail: Toronto.ca/trails

 

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Safe Seniors' Symposium

 

Toronto Fire Services will be hosting a Safe Seniors' Symposiums as one component of their Seniors' Safety Awareness Month outreach activities this June.  The Symposium will focus on Presentations and Information Displays pertaining to the ongoing safety of older adults in Toronto.

Details for the June 7 session is as follows:

 

 

Registration remains open! Please register by responding to the Public Education Division Email Address :  tfspubed@toronto.ca  and include:

Participant First Name           Participant Last Name                    Symposium to Attend (June 7)

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The Ward: Our Living History

 

The Ward: Our Living History

Saturday, May 20, 2017

1-3pm

Toronto City Hall

Members’ Lounge

The Ward: Our Living History builds on the work and the relationships formed during the creation of the Picturing the Ward exhibition that was commissioned by Infrastructure Ontario (IO) in 2016 on behalf of the Province of Ontario.  As with the exhibition, this event brings together former Ward residents and their descendants to share, exchange and discuss what it was like to live in St. John’s Ward, which was once one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto. Through storytelling and family photographs uncover aspects of Ward life – experiences that, although rooted in the past, still resonate today. The legacy of this neighbourhood lies not in the buildings that once stood, but lives on in the lives of those who remain to tell their stories.

The Ward

Bound by College Street to the north, Queen Street to the south, University Avenue to the west and Yonge Street to the east, the Ward was where many newcomers to Toronto from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century first settled. It was a densely populated neighbourhood and at various points home to African-Canadians, refugees from the Irish Potato Famine, African-Americans who escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad, Russian and Eastern European Jews, Italian and Chinese immigrants, and many more. Prior to this, the area was a site of human activity for at least 15,000 years, with the land most recently being the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit River (Ontario First Nations Maps, 2016). 

Amid protest, residents of the Ward were eventually pushed out of the neighbourhood. Businesses, churches, synagogues, theatres, and shops closed as residents were moved out of the area. Buildings were demolished to make way for hospitals, government buildings, department stores, a bus terminal, new City Hall and Nathan Phillip Square.

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