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E-BLAST: Making Don Valley North Work For You

It’s no secret that Don Valley North is changing. Some of us can remember when the intersection of Finch and Leslie was mostly farmland, with just a few new residential pockets popping up here and there. Now, it’s a bustling intersection that serves tens of thousands every day.

These photos show the intersection of Finch & Leslie in 1964 (left) versus today (right).

Change is always happening in a big city like Toronto, and it’s part of what makes cities such a great place to live. Of course, as we grow and change, we have to make sure our amenities keep pace. To make a neighbourhood truly feel like home, and to make sure everyone who lives there has the supports they need to succeed, there’s a lot we need to deliver. This week, I want to walk you through all the work happening to make Don Valley North a place where people at every stage of life can thrive. Whether you’re a senior, a student, a new family who’s just moved to Toronto, or you’ve lived here for decades, we’re hard at work to make sure your neighbourhood is liveable for generations to come.

One of the first things that comes to mind when people think about liveable neighbourhoods is green space. It’s something we’re lucky to have a lot of here in Don Valley North, and it’s important that we make the most of those spaces to animate our neighbourhoods. There are a number of park enhancements in the works across Don Valley North, including at Elkhorn Parkette and Leslie Park. We also have dozens of park and other neighbourhood improvements underway resulting from our Participatory Budgeting processes in Bayview Village, Henry Farm, and Pleasant View over the past few years. These are some of my favourite projects to see realized because they came directly from the community. You are the local experts, and I always want to hear your ideas to make your neighbourhoods the best they can be. These improvements include everything from playground enhancements to the creation of pollinator gardens, new benches, lighting fixtures, and more.

A photo from one of our Bayview Village Participatory Budgeting vote days.

We’ll soon see two new dog parks in Parkway Forest Park and Old Sheppard Park. I know how important these spaces will be to accommodate the growing number of pets here in DVN, especially in our growing communities along Sheppard. Having designated off-leash areas in our parks ensures that everyone can enjoy the space, and they’re often a great place to socialize and meet your neighbours. This is always a central aim of the work we do at the City—creating spaces and amenities that help make your neighbourhood feel like home.  

Speaking of growing communities, we have to make sure our densifying neighbourhoods have access to green space, too. I’m pushing for more quality greenspace at Bayview Ave & Sheppard Ave, where Provincial planning policy is directing a lot of our intensification (as we’re seeing along the rest of Sheppard). I am always looking at options to use land swaps and other tools to make sure our high-rise neighbourhoods include park access. 

Another important piece in keeping our neighbourhoods liveable is school capacity. A new TCDSB school may soon be a reality at the base of the proposed development at 1001 Sheppard Ave E. I am also hard at work on a partnership to build a new TDSB public school in the neighbourhood. Integrating schools into tower neighbourhoods would go a long way in making those spaces into complete communities that support growing families. Our new child care facility at Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ CRC will open soon, providing even more support to families in DVN.

For folks already living in our many apartment buildings, like the dozens of older buildings in and around The Peanut, we’re taking steps to improve liveability in your units. Last summer, I directed City Staff to design an Adequate Temperature Bylaw that will ensure tenants are better protected from extreme heat and our changing seasons. I know this has been a growing challenge as we grapple with climate change, and I look forward to seeing a comprehensive report come back later this year.

The other major factor that is essential to creating liveable neighbourhoods is making sure folks can get around safely. Our community in Don Valley Village recently shared their first round of feedback on the Peanut Neighbourhood Streets Plan, which will deliver a host of traffic solutions to make some of most dangerous streets much safer to travel along, especially for school kids and seniors. We also have major road work happening and upcoming along a number of thoroughfares to ensure our roads are in good condition and are designed with the safety of all road users in mind.  

As our neighbourhoods grow, we need to increase transit options if we want to carry more people on our roads without worsening traffic. That’s why I’ve spent years pushing for an extended subway along Sheppard. The Province has committed to extending this transit line, but they haven’t said in what form. We need a transit line that can support our community for decades to come and provide the connections to transit in Scarborough that could radically change mobility in the east end of our city. I’m also pushing to see greater progress on the relocation of Oriole GO Station with Leslie Subway Station to better facilitate transit connections for riders in Don Valley North.

Of course, there are a number of other things that go into making a neighbourhood liveable. We need to support economic growth and create an environment where local businesses can thrive, which is why I’m looking at ways to support the creation of a local Businesses Improvement Area here in DVN. That proposal would be even stronger if we could open more small-scale retail and shops in communities to provide options and access to necessities in neighbourhoods. To me, a liveable neighbourhood is one where you can grab your groceries, prescriptions, and go out for a nice bite to eat right around the corner.

Finally, all of these amenities and neighbourhood spaces don’t mean much if the people in our neighbourhoods feel disconnected. As your Councillor, part of my job is to bring people together and build strong communities across Don Valley North. This was the main goal when I started my Park Pop-Ups, which are back this summer. They started as a safe way to gather and connect during the pandemic, and have become a wonderful opportunity to bring neighbours together and hear about your priorities right in your neighbourhood. I’m also thrilled to once again be able to host our annual Summer Celebration and offer a full afternoon of free food and activities for all ages to enjoy. We’ll also have a number of fantastic community organizations there that you can connect with. It’s always such a delight watching hundreds of Don Valley Northerners come out to the celebration and enjoy a summer afternoon at Oriole Community Centre.

A photo from Summer Celebration last year!

My goal is that when you step outside your home, whether it’s a standalone bungalow, apartment unit, or brand-new condo, you can access everything you need: You can wake up and take a nice stroll through your local park, drop the kids (or grandkids) off at school or daycare with ease, get to and from work without headache, and return at the end of the day to a neighbourhood that feels like home. Our suburban neighbourhoods here in Don Valley North deserve just as much care and attention as any other part of our city. I know that this is never a final destination, it’s something we must always keep working towards as our neighbourhoods continue to grow and change. At every step of the way, remember that my job is to hear from you and put in the work to improve Don Valley North in every way we can.


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