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Our Final Council Meeting

This week’s Council session is the final one of the term. It means saying farewell to some long-time colleagues, both on Council and in the public service. It also means a record-breaking agenda with hundreds of motions that Council wants to get through before the election hiatus. We’re currently on day three of what will likely be a four day session. Below, I’ve provided a rundown on the items with the biggest impact on our community here in Don Valley North. Let’s dive in.

I want to applaud the hundreds of members in our community who wrote in to oppose the massive digital billboard proposed at Leslie and the 401. I knew our community would come together to fight this dangerous, distracting eyesore. As your Councillor, I did everything I possibly could to fight the all-powerful sign lobby and stop this installation on your behalf.

My comments at Council on the 401/Leslie sign.

City staff were on our side, too. They recommended against any billboard being added to the 401, both here in Don Valley North and over in Councillor Perruzza’s ward at Wilson and the 401. Unfortunately, Mayor Tory and a thin majority of Council approved the billboard application. I’m disappointed in this outcome, and I know our community is as well.

The many updates to the Animal Bylaw passed, though without the provision that would have outlawed domestic cats roaming at large. I’m aware that the community is divided on this issue: many will be disappointed that this was taken out of the proposed changes while others will rejoice. I want to thank all of you on both sides of the issue for getting in touch with my office to share your opinion.

I amended the committee recommendations to take this piece out and ask Animal Services to study it further. In the end, it comes down to what City staff can realistically do to enforce a bylaw like this. After spending the past two weeks working with staff to understand what’s possible, it became clear that we need to work hard to increase the number of cat owners who license and microchip their pets if we want to join other GTHA municipalities in having an anti-roaming bylaw for cats. Staff will report back on gains being made on those fronts in the New Year.

Stamping out Anti-Asian racism must always be a priority, and it has been a particular focus for our city since the beginning of the pandemic. Mayor Tory and Councillor Lai convened a community roundtable to set out a course of action to tackle this issue.

I joined former Councillor Wong-Tam (centre) and Councillor Lai (right) at the Stop Asian Hate rally in March last year.

The big win I want to focus on is the expansion of Chinese language translation services provided by the City. Here in Don Valley North, over 30% of our community speaks Mandarin or Cantonese. My team has been providing translation services when requested, but it’s great to see that this will be a more standard practice provided by the City starting next year.

We are continuing to make progress on implementing the Federal $10-a-day child care system, but we need to continue negotiations with the Province on a few important details. I worked with our Children Services Director and former Councillor Janet Davis, both child care experts, to amend this motion to ensure that the City keeps advocating for increased funding and oversight to ensure that we are offering affordable, high-quality child care to all families.

There were a number of items passed that considered how our City is going to respond to Provincial changes to our Growth Funding Tools. Across the board, these tools are what allow us to fund the infrastructure and services required to support population growth from new developments.

These Provincial changes drastically reduce the amount of community funding we will receive from developers for things like parks, community centres, and other important community spaces. We’re talking about a reduction of about 70%. This makes it all the more important that we update our other growth funding tool: Development Charges (DCs).

DCs are long overdue to be increased in Toronto. I touched on this in a May E-Blast—essentially, these fees are in place to ensure our local infrastructure, like roads and sewers, keep pace with growth. Our fees here in Toronto are significantly behind those in other municipalities, so we did approve a substantial increase at Council, but it will still keep us slightly below the GTHA average and will be phased over several years in light of current economic uncertainty. This will ensure our City has the proper resources to respond to continued growth in the coming years.

The proposed phase-in schedule for Development Charges. Click on the image to view a larger version and the full report.

The applicant at 680-688 Sheppard Avenue offered a third vision of their development just days before Council. My team and I worked hard to make sure the terms were public, and even dropped flyers to the surrounding neighbourhood offering to meet outdoors and talk through the newest proposal.

City Planners have worked to achieve significant carve-outs for the community. The new building, if approved, would be between 55 – 107 feet away from the condo living rooms to the west. The building has also been terraced down on the east to protect the residents on Whitaker Crescent and reduced at the rear to eliminate shadow impacts on St. Gabriel's Church. Based on these gains, City Planning has recommended that Council support the revision at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

In the mid-2000s, when the City designed the expansion of Oriole Community Centre, the expanded gymnasium was cut from the project due to lack of funds. Since then, we have negotiated enough funding from local developments to finally begin the process of expanding the gymnasium to meet the needs of our growing community. More details will come forward during our next City Budget process in the winter, and I look forward to getting the ball rolling on this huge win for our community.

Many folks joined us for Neighbours Night in the Oriole Community Centre Gym last month. This is a great community hub already, and can be made even better.

With all of the development we’ve seen along the Sheppard subway from Bayview to Leslie, there is a pressing need for a new public school in the area. I have worked with City staff to pool some available community benefit funds to support the creation of a new joint City-school facility on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) site south of Bessarion Station. However, we can’t do this alone. I look forward to having the City take the lead on bringing the TDSB and Province to the table to get much-needed action in our community at this site.

The City is looking to expand access to affordable space for charitable organizations. The Social Impact Hub model is not new to Don Valley North. Several years ago, I worked with North York Harvest to establish the Oriole Food Space in Oriole CC. This has proven to be a very successful model for better integrating key community services directly into the neighbourhoods they serve, and I look forward to seeing more communities benefit from this.

After extended conversations with Parks and Toronto Water, City staff will be consulting our community on a possible Dog Off-Leash Area in Old Sheppard Park. This idea was first proposed back in 2015 during a Participatory Budgeting Pilot run by the City Manager but unfortunately, after residents voted for this project, staff declared that the parks in the area did not meet the requirements.

After significant continued interest in the dog park during our last Pleasant View PB process, I worked with staff to resolve previous location issues to make this a possibility for our community. Now, it will be up to the Pleasant View neighbourhood to review the design and share feedback when City staff come out for consultation early next year.

A few other notable motions from Council:

  • After much public outcry, City Council has called on the Roncesvalles Village BIA to keep the original name of the Roncesvalles Polish Festival

  • In honour Aga Khan’s forthcoming visit, Mayor Tory and Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong led Council in assigning the ceremonial name “Aga Khan Boulevard” to a portion of Wynford Drive

  • The City will be working with students, post-secondary institutions, and other stakeholders to determine how best to build more safe and affordable housing for students. This will help relieve pressures on our rental market and reduce the number of commuter trips to campus.

Planning & Development Updates

There are many new developments at various stages of the planning process in our ward. My team and I have created a web page with the most recent updates on every single active application, which you can view at the link below:

Fourth Doses Now Available for All Adults 18+

As of Thursday, July 14, individuals age 18 and older who received their third dose (first booster) five months ago are eligible for a second booster dose. This group joins previously announced eligible high-risk groups, which includes individuals aged 60 and older, immunocompromised individuals, and First Nations, Inuit or Métis peoples. Individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 need to wait three months before receiving their next dose. Appointments cam be booked through the provincial booking system online or by phone:

  • Online:

  • Phone: 1-833-943-3900

For more information on vaccines, visit the link below:

Photo credits to Marlene Duhig

Meet Gary and Geri James, our Don Valley Northerners of the week!

Gary and Geri are true community champions in Bayview Village, constantly organizing fun events and advocating for important changes in the neighbourhood. Whether it be through Geri's tireless work with the Bayview Village Association, or Gary's stewardship of our local ravines, neighbours can always rely on them to work hard to improve our community. Gary and Geri often lead community members on guided walks of the ravine and diligently report concerns they see to help protect our environment. Bayview Village and our local ravines are all the better because of their efforts. Thank you, Geri and Gary, for all that you do.

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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