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Let's Get Moving

At North York Community Council on Tuesday, my Council colleagues and I heard a very touching speech on an item that really struck a chord with me. It was the story of a basketball net installed in honour of a resident’s late father for her kids to shoot hoops at the end of the driveway on a quiet cul-de-sac. Last year, the resident’s husband passed away as well, and the basketball net is the family’s connection to their father and grandfather. Since the hoop hangs over the street a little bit, it needed to come to Community Council for the required permissions, which we happily supported. This resident’s story really got me thinking about our roads—both how they’re used and who they’re used by.

Back when many of us were kids, the streets were part of our playground. These days, I hear from so many parents who are scared to let their kids play in the streets the same way they did, and with good reason. We see far too many injuries and deaths on our roads, whether they be drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians.

Safety needs to be our number one priority when we think about our roads. That’s why the City has been hard at work implementing its Vision Zero plan with the goal of completely eliminating road-related casualties. A key part of the plan is reducing the speed limit on local roads to 30 km/h. The City has been gradually rolling out these speed limit reductions, and we’ll see changes here in Don Valley North at the end of next year as staff work their way east across North York. Vision Zero also tackles road safety using tools like speed humps, school and senior safety zones, and road designs to force people to drive more safely and slowly on our local roads.

Here in Don Valley North, I’m always looking to work collaboratively with parents, school principals, and City staff to work out solutions to hyper-local issues. Just this week, we passed new traffic safety measures around Kingslake Public School and Lescon Public School to help make pick-up and drop-off time safer for students and parents. We’ve also done pilots at Hillmount and Pineway Public Schools, and are working with Brian Public School on possible traffic safety solutions for that longer street as well.

I met with Principal Small at Lescon Public School just last week to talk about much-needed traffic safety measures for the community.

All in all, my goal is to make our local streets safe for families by working together to find solutions that work here in the suburbs. But what about the major arteries that get us to work, school, and out to fully enjoy the city? I’m glad you asked.

We know that congestion is a major issue here in Toronto. It’s an issue that cities all over the world face, and as traffic gradually makes its way back to pre-pandemic levels, it actually feels worse than before. I know I feel it as I drive around the ward each day, and especially when I’m on basketball duty for the grandkids. We all got used to the lull of the pandemic, and I know that none of us missed sitting in a standstill on the DVP. So how do we solve this very real challenge?

For this issue, I’m going to point to a report from the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) that lays out a number of congestion solutions, some of which are better suited to Toronto than others. For instance, I don’t think something like road pricing is the right fit our neighbourhood. Other solutions, like improving traffic signals using smart technology, are a great tool to help our traffic flow more smoothly and intuitively. Better yet, solutions like investing in public transit and expanding transportation alternatives like ridesharing, carpooling, and strategically placed active transportation opportunities can work together to reduce the number of cars on the road, making commutes easier for everyone, including those of us who need to drive. There’s a great video my staff sent me about this:

A TikTok that really highlights why drivers need to be invested in public transit and other measures that help get cars off the road.

So how would these solutions play out here in Toronto? Many of them are already underway. The City already has smart technology operating at some of our intersections, and we’ll see the number of smart signals increase in the coming years. However, when it comes to improving traffic across the City, our number one priority should always be transit.

Here in Don Valley North, this means seriously investing in better transit for our neighbourhood and building the Sheppard Subway extension ASAP. I’ve been advocating for the Province to commit to a firm plan and timeline for this much-needed extension at every turn since Doug Ford announced his transit plan back in 2019. This line will serve the rapidly growing communities along Sheppard from the 404 out to McCowan, and will also serve our own Consumers/Parkway Centre business park, the city’s largest employment area outside of the downtown core.

As we know, even once the Province finally provides a detailed plan for the Sheppard Subway extension, it will take time to build. That’s why we need an “until-the-subway” plan. Early in the term, I convened our DVN Connects Transit Roundtable, made up of residents from across the ward of all backgrounds, to focus on interim solutions for our neighbourhoods. These conversations can be tough, and people might not always agree on the solutions we should pursue, but when you bring passionate people together some great new ideas can emerge.

A DVN Connects meeting from the start of the term.

The last piece of the puzzle is one that I’ve been talking about quite a bit over the last couple of years: addressing the state of our base TTC system and the service that we run right now. We will never attract ridership back if we run poor service that doesn’t meet the needs of our communities. We need to focus on improving service, making the system safer to ride (especially for women, who make up the majority of riders), and being responsive to shifting needs. It’s all the more important that we do this now while we have some financial support from other levels of government.

We have a perfect example of this right here in Don Valley North, and one that I’m working to address this month at the TTC Board: the 51 Leslie bus. Back in 2013, that bus would arrive every 13 minutes during rush hour. Now, it’s every 26 minutes, and that’s if it’s on time. Google Maps will actually tell you to take an Uber from Leslie Station instead of taking the bus, and that just doesn’t make sense. We need to provide service that is convenient for people, otherwise they’ll continue to choose to drive when they don’t need to.

One thing’s for certain—we have great mobility and transportation options here in Don Valley North. You’re never too far from a transit stop, a highway on-ramp, or a beautiful trail. While we’re making slow and steady progress every day, we must never stop looking for ways to improve everyone’s ability to get around our neighbourhood and our city safely and efficiently. It’s a key piece in making our neighbourhoods liveable for all.


Planning & Development Updates

Prepared by Tom Gleason, Chief of Staff

Upcoming Community Meeting

2500 Don Mills Road:

Tuesday, July 5 @ 6:30 PM

City Planning staff will be hosting a virtual community meeting to hear from residents about this development application. The application is proposing a mixed-use development consisting of two towers (30- and 39-storeys), atop a four-storey podium, with 823 residential units and 982 sq. m of retail at grade.

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.

Coming to North York Community Council – July 8, 2022

71 Talara Drive

City Planning is recommending that City Council approve the revised development application at 71 Talara Drive, which would demolish the existing 3-storey rental building and construct a 23-storey tower (down from the initial 27-storey proposal). The revised proposal also better transitions away from the neighbourhood and aligns with existing setbacks. The redevelopment would completely replace the existing 29 rental units and current tenants would be provided with a comprehensive Tenant Relocation and Assistance Plan, in addition to the right to return to the new building.

Through negotiations, $2.25M in Section 37 funding has been secured for community facilities in the neighbourhood. This will be the last new Section 37 agreement for this community, as the Province has mandated a transition to the new, lower Community Benefit Charge. Shelley will be writing more about this in the coming weeks once City staff release their full proposal for the new charge.

The full report can be viewed here. Interested parties can submit their feedback on this item via email by clicking the report link and clicking the "Submit Comments" button at the top of the page.

For questions on the specifics of the application, you may contact the City's Planner reviewing the application directly:

Committee of Adjustment – Survey on Public Participation in Hearings

In 2021, City Council directed City Planning to conduct a review of the Committee of Adjustment. The goal of the review is to identify recommendations to improve the effective participation of both the public and applicants in the public hearing process. Members of the public are invited to provide feedback on participation at the Committee of Adjustment through the following survey:

The survey is open until July 7, 2022. The survey is designed for residents who have participated in a Committee of Adjustment hearing either in support or opposition to an application.

Once this review is complete, the City Planning Division will report on the recommendations to the Planning and Housing Committee.


Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Oriole Community Centre (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.)

North York General Hospital & Flemingdon Health Centre are continuing to operate the walk-in vaccine clinic at Oriole Community Centre every Thursday in July from 5:00 - 8:30 PM. First, second, third, and fourth doses are available for those eligible. For more information, visit the link below:


Meet Aidan D'Souza, our Don Valley Northerner of the week!

Aidan is a recent graduate of Seneca College, where he was deeply involved in his community. Aidan was on the Varsity Cross Country team, and has been instrumental in helping promote a sense of community on campus. A member of our last Youth Council cohort, Aidan also sits on several boards, including for eCampusOntario and the Canadian Youth Road Safety Council. Thank you, Aidan, for your deep dedication to advocating for youth in your community!

Nominate a Neighbour! Do you know someone in your neighbourhood who makes a difference? Nominate them for Don Valley Northerner of the Week! To submit a nomination, please send a short blurb (~100 words) about the person you are nominating to My team will contact you if we select your nominee as Don Valley Northerner of the Week!


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