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E-BLAST: Spring Reminders 2024

You know what they say: “April showers bring May flowers.” If that’s the case, we had better be in for a pretty spectacular May. Even with the gloomy weather we’ve been having this week, this time of year always puts me in a hopeful mood. With warmer and sunnier days right around the corner, I wanted to share a few spring reminders to help us all get ready for the season.



Clearing Catch Basins


With the amount of rain we’ve gotten so far this spring, I wanted to start by reminding folks about the importance of clearing catch basins. Catch basins are also known as sewer grates—the metal grates with slats that drain water off the road and into our sewer system. These play an extremely important role in draining city streets and keeping our roads safe.


A picture of a catch basin


Occasionally, these catch basins become blocked with debris like leaves, twigs, and even snow/ice. This can lead to water pooling around the catch basin, or even partial flooding of a street during heavy rainfall. There are over 120,000 catch basins across the city, so you can be a big help to your neighbourhood by clearing debris from the catch basin near your property if you notice it’s blocked. If there’s a catch basin that is damaged or blocked in a way you can’t clear, you can submit a request to 311 to have it fixed:

Property Standards


Spring is also the time of year when folks may start to notice some property standards issues in their neighbourhood. The top complaint my office hears about every spring is overgrown grass. If you have “turfgrass” on your lawn (the typical grass that is on most North American lawns), you must keep it shorter than 20 cm. You also have to keep your property free of “prohibited plants”. These include plants like ragweed, poison ivy, garlic mustard, giant hogweed, and other plants that pose a threat to human health and/or our natural environment.



The reason there is a very specific list of prohibited plants is because the City wants to make sure that people are permitted to grow pollinator-friendly gardens, which include plants like goldenrod that some folks might think of as weeds. If you’re looking for ways to support pollinators and your local ecosystem, considering replacing some of your turfgrass with pollinator plants. The Toronto Master Gardeners have a great set of resources online if you’re interested in creating a pollinator garden on your lawn:

Beyond lawncare, there are a number of other property standards bylaws that apply to your property. This includes setting out your waste properly and keeping your property free of litter, debris and clutter. If you notice property standards issues in your neighbourhood, you can report these to 311 using their handy online report tool or by calling 3-1-1.

You may also notice that a portion of your property was damaged by a snow plow over the winter. If this is the case, you guessed it, submit a report with 311. Once you make a complaint, your address will be added to the queue to be repaired.


Compost Days, Environment Days & Community Clean-Ups


April is also Earth month, which means there are hundreds of events being hosted across Toronto to help us help the planet. My office is hosting four Compost Days this month so that folks can get their gardens going! All Compost Days start at 11 AM. Historically, the compost goes pretty quickly, so get there as soon as you can. Below are the dates and locations of our Compost Days:


  • Saturday, April 20: Cliffwood Park

  • Sunday, April 21: Hobart Park

  • Saturday, April 27: Dallington Park

  • Sunday, April 28: Bestview Park



Like I said above, compost is first come, first served while supplies last. You also have to bring your own container to put the compost in. Fun fact: the majority of the compost we hand out at these events comes from our yard waste program, while about 5-10% comes from the Green Bin program.


We’re also hosting our first Community Environment Day of the year on Saturday, May 25 at Old Cummer GO Station. Environment Days are a one-stop shop for you to dispose of your electronic waste, household hazardous waste, and to donate items like clothing, books, electronics, and more for reuse. We’ll also be accepting non-perishable food for donation. There will also be free bagged compost available (limit of two bags per household, while supplies last) at Environment Day. You can learn more about Environment Days and find a list of all the other events taking place across the city at the link below:

Finally, Toronto’s annual spring cleanup, Clean Toronto Together, is happening from April 19 to 22. Over the course of four days, family, friends and neighbours will come together and help clean up litter from our parks, ravines, and other public spaces. There will be hundreds of clean-ups happening across the City. Here in Don Valley North, I know the Bayview Village Association is hosting a Community Clean Up on Saturday, April 20 (more details here). If you want to register a group to start a clean up in your neighbourhood, you can do so through the City’s website:

If you register a community clean up, I would also love to know about it so that we can give you a shoutout and promote it in this E-Blast. Feel free to send me an email and we can put together a list of the clean-up events happening across Don Valley North to share with the community.


 It’s always great to see our community come together to help keep Don Valley North beautiful. We’re lucky to have an incredible network of ravines and parks, and it’s important we keep those spaces litter-free both for our own enjoyment and to protect local wildlife and their habitats.


A photo from a Don Valley North community clean-up last year.


We’re supposed to be in for some sunshine this weekend, so I hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy all our little neck of the woods has to offer. Happy spring!


 

IMPORTANT: Info on Vacant Home Tax Notices


My office has received a number of calls and emails from residents who have received a Vacant Home Tax bill this week. Right out the gate, I want to make it clear: if your home has been occupied for more than six months this year, you do not owe the Vacant Home Tax.


These notices went out to residents who did not file the Vacant Home Tax declaration by the deadline. It has also come to my attention that many residents have received a Vacant Home Tax bill despite having filed the declaration on time. It seems this happened to people who filed the declaration on time but after property tax bills had been issued. If you have received a Vacant Home Tax bill in error, you will not be required to pay the $21.24 late penalty.


If you have received a Vacant Home Tax bill and your home is not vacant, you need to submit a Notice of Complaint to the City. You can do so online at the link below:

If you are not able to complete the Notice of Complaint online, you can go to any Civic Centre or City Hall and submit the Notice of Appeal in person at an Inquiry & Payment Counter. Much like 311 over the past few days, there will likely be higher than average wait times for in-person services. The counters are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM - 4 PM. You can find more information below:

I understand that this has been incredibly frustrating for thousands of residents here in Don Valley North and across Toronto. I continue to be in conversation with the Director of Revenue Services, our Chief Financial Officer, and the Director of the City's Communications division to ensure that this is a much-improved process next year.


If you are experiencing issues filing your Notice of Complaint, you are welcome to contact my office for assistance. I do want to note that my office is also experiencing higher than usual call and email volumes due to this issue, and my team is working as fast as possible to respond to all inquiries. We thank you for your patience. 

 

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