top of page

E-BLAST: Reporting Back: Golf, Garden Suites & More

Throughout the year, Councillors ask for many reports from staff. We like to give them enough time to write a detailed and useful report, so you’ll often hear us say “Report back to us on this in the new year.” Well, January has rolled around again and our committee agendas are loaded with important items.


This week, the Infrastructure & Environment Committee and Planning & Housing Committee both considered items that I’m paying close attention to for our neighbourhoods. Read on to see what these items mean for us here in Don Valley North.

 

GOLF


At Infrastructure & Environment Committee (IEC), staff reported back on the future of the City’s five public golf courses. Over 40 community members joined the meeting to share their thoughts, and they raised many of the issues I wrote about in this E-Blast back in September. Most speakers were disappointed that the report doesn’t show any real imagination. There isn’t much proposed to improve our courses or the non-golf uses of the golf course lands.

In the end, IEC rejected staff’s recommendation to start a planning exercise that would reduce Dentonia, the only course that’s perfectly subway-friendly, to nine holes. Instead, IEC directed staff to improve connections to nature at all five locations and do a better job of promoting the non-golf activities the City already offers on these lands.


Interest in golf has continued to grow over the pandemic across our diverse communities here in Toronto. Even with a shortened season, our public courses returned over $800,000 to the City’s coffers last year. I hope this newfound interest in our public outdoor spaces over the past two years becomes a permanent part of our lives in the city.

 

MAINTAINING OUR PUBLIC WALKWAYS


Ever since I was a little girl, I can remember making my way through the neighbourhood by walking along the little pedestrian paths that run between houses and connect our streets. City staff call them public walkways, I call them cut-throughs. They are a wonderful feature of our neighbourhoods when they’re maintained, but every summer my team takes calls about these cut-throughs being in very rough shape.

An example of a cut-through here in Don Valley North. This one runs between Bellbury Crescent and Nymark Avenue.

In 2015, I moved a motion that staff take inventory of all of our cut-throughs and create a plan for proper maintenance. This plan never materialized. Councillor Peruzza tried again last year, and staff have reported back that there is enough funding in the capital budget this year to repair public walkways in urgent need of maintenance. A full plan for all of our city’s public walkways will finally be produced this year so we can take a more proactive approach going forward. By January 2023, staff have promised to create a proper 10-year state of good repair plan. If at first we don’t succeed, we Councillors band together to try-try-again.

 

MORE TRANSPARENCY IN THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS


I sat in on Planning & Housing Committee (PHC) on Wednesday because, once again, there were many items that impact our ward. First up, PHC considered an item that will create more transparency in our development process. As some of you may know, it is quite common for a developer to meet informally with the Planning department to get an idea of what’s possible on a given site before making a formal application. They may still apply for an amendment to the Official Plan down the road, but these meetings give the developer a sense of how much their application will cost in terms of public process and mandatory infrastructure expenses. I have long been uncomfortable with the lack of transparency around this informal phase of the development process.

At PHC yesterday, the Chief Planner presented a report that creates a formal process for this preliminary step. In my opinion, this is long overdue. Our Chief Planner is proposing a formal pre-application phase, where both Planning staff and the developer have set responsibilities. More importantly, any of the work done in this phase will be presented to the community at the first public meeting. PHC also added to the recommendations to require a pre-application meeting with community stakeholders and Councillors. I’m happy to see this phase in the development process formalized to make it more transparent to residents.

 

GARDEN SUITES

The Planning & Housing Committee took another big step at yesterday’s meeting: adopting guidelines for Garden Suites. Garden Suites are single housing units that can be built at the rear of a property, sometimes called nanny suites. They are similar to laneway homes, which have been permissible for some time now but don’t exist in Don Valley North because we don’t have vehicular laneways behind our houses. Garden Suits cannot be severed from their lot and sold separately, they can only be rented or owner-occupied. These suites must also meet all of the Ontario building code requirements for any detached dwelling unit.

An illustration of Garden Suites in a neighbourhood.

During the debate, Councillor Bailao offered some very helpful insight. She’s Chair of the PHC and the Councillor for Davenport where most of Toronto’s laneways exist. She predicts that Garden Suites will follow a similar trajectory to laneway homes when they were first allowed: There will be a lot of interest expressed at the application counter initially, but homeowners will quickly learn that many steps are required before a building permit is awarded. Tree protection and stormwater management plans need to be commissioned, legal work will be mandatory, and much more. In short, these Garden Suites won’t spring up overnight.


Planning staff are going to produce a detailed information booklet for homeowners interested in applying for a Garden Suite so they know what to expect of the process. PHC also added a recommendation that Councillors should be notified of all Garden Suite applications, regardless of size. These suites are a great opportunity for families in our neighbourhood to grow and age in place.

I shared my thoughts on Garden Suites at Planning & Housing Committee.

 

MUNICIPAL COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW


My team has written about the Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) in the Planning & Growth Update of a past E-Blast. This month, City Planning presented their initial assessment of the over 150 applications received to convert General Employment Lands to other uses (mostly a combination of residential uses). In the Consumers/Parkway Centre Business Park, there are five such applications.


It’s critical that the City protects its employment lands and preserves local jobs wherever possible. The next step of this process will include public consultation, with a final report back by July 2023. I’ll share more on this in a future E-Blast.

 

All of the committee matters discussed above are on their way to Council in the first week of February. This gap between committees and Council gives us Councillors time to think about all the details that still need to be addressed. It’s important for me to hear your questions and concerns before Council. Every Councillor gets an opportunity to ask questions of senior staff at our meetings, and your feedback helps me know how to vote on last minute changes that may be added to these items by the Mayor and my Council colleagues. As always, feel free to reach out to my office to share your thoughts on any of the above.

 

PLEASANT VIEW PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING


We're starting a Participatory Budgeting process in Pleasant View!


We'll be hosting a virtual idea-gathering meeting on Wednesday, January 19th at 6:30 PM to hear from Pleasant View residents on how to spend $500,000 in your community. To RSVP for the meeting and to learn more about participatory budgeting, visit our website below:

These funds come from community benefit charges collected from local developments and can be spent on capital projects on City-owned land in your community. Proposals can be for “things” (a one-time cost) but not services (an ongoing cost). These new community amenities can be located in parks, community centres, libraries, and other public areas. We need your ideas to move forward and allow the community to decide which projects get built.


After this meeting, our office will work with City Staff to assess the costs and feasibility of the proposals. Once this is done, we’ll ask you to vote on which proposals should be implemented.


My team and I look forward to working together to create exciting new amenities for the Pleasant View community.

 

Planning & Development Updates

Prepared by Tom Gleason, Chief of Staff

TONIGHT: Community Meeting for 1 Greenbriar Way/635 Sheppard Avenue East

Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 6:30 PM City Planning staff will be hosting a virtual community meeting tonight to hear from residents about this development application, which proposes an 11-storey mixed-use building with 134 units and 454m2 of non-residential gross floor area. You can join the meeting online by WebEx or call in by phone. Please register here and you will receive further instructions by email. As always, our office will keep you informed and involved after the initial community consultation.


Clarification Re: Sheppard Ave E Secondary Plan Review

Last week, we shared an update from North York Community Council on the Sheppard Avenue East Secondary Plan Review. The update stated that City Planning will undertake a prioritized study and consultation process along Sheppard, but was missing a line that explained that this review only covers the portion of Sheppard from Bayview to Leslie. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

 

Booking Vaccine Appointments

COVID-19 vaccine appointments for first and second doses are available for those ages five and older. Third dose appointments are available for those ages 18 and older. Appointments cam be booked through the provincial booking system online or by phone:

  • Online: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/

  • Phone: 1-833-943-3900

For more information on vaccines, visit the link below:

 

Comments


bottom of page