Glen Cedar Bridge Engineering Repairs – Temporary Repair with Windows Fall 2016

After awaiting the results from the engineering assessment carried out this past summer for the Glen Cedar Bridge, it is nice to see that my request for a temporary measure to provide a clear view of the ravine was approved and carried out this Fall.  Viewing windows have been created on both sides of the bridge since the sidewalk platforms were able to be re-enforced and stabilized to meet safety standards.  Thanks to the residents passing by who provided their opinion to help decide the window locations!  The full remediation work for the bridge should begin at the end of summer 2017 with final completion expected in Spring 2018.   I will be meeting with city staff in the New Year to go over the full scope of work for the bridge.  A community consultation will be scheduled for residents to learn more and provide feedback sometime in late winter.  For further details see the previous post from July 2016.glencedarbridge_window

Glen Cedar Bridge Engineering Repairs-Sidewalk Platforms

Glen Cedar Bridge Sidewalk Platforms – Update
In late June I met with City staff on the Glen Cedar Footbridge.  We discussed the scope of repairs needed to the side walkways, options for accelerating the schedule of work and an improvement to the chain-link fencing.  The City has consultants assessing the engineering scope of work at this time and the rehabilitation work for the bridge has been moved sooner.  This fall, the consultant will provide the assessment of work and I have asked for a short term solution that could be done before the winter. The full remediation work for the bridge will aim to begin at the end of summer of 2017 and would likely have final completion in Spring 2018.  This is great news since the first estimated start date was in 2019.

Regarding the chain-link fence, the height of the fence cannot be reduced for safety and liability reasons, so City Staff have agreed to create viewing windows in the fencing on both the north and south sides when the first temporary work is done. A section of fence will be removed where people can stand and see a clear view of the ravine on both the north and south sides.  Some people have compared the height of the chain fence to the original bridge railing.  It turns out the bridge railing does not meet the current safety code.  When the full rehabilitation work is carried out, the railing will be made higher by approximately 12 – 18 inches. When the full project design plans are ready in 2017, a consultation will be held for the community to provide input.

Water Infrastructure Study to Reduce Basement Flooding – Cedarvale and Vicinity “Area 37”

WaterInfStudy_MapArea37

The City of Toronto Water Department is currently undertaking a Basement Flooding and Water Quality Improvements Study to determine the contributing factors for surface and basement flooding.    The study will result in recommended solutions to improve the City’s sewer system and overland drainage routes in order to mitigate flooding problems.

After an increase in basement flooding from extreme rains since the July 2013 storm and flood, I meet with city staff to advocate for studies in Ward 21.  Cedarvale was an area of particular concern with a large spike in the level of basement flooding.  Study Area 37 is located in the York-Cedarvale area (view map above).   In response, the city has begun a comprehensive Master Plan Class Environmental Assessment (EA) Study.

In May, an Open House was held at Vaughan Road Academy to inform people of the study.  Another consultation will be scheduled early in 2017 to share developments as the study progresses.  View the presentation boards here:

WaterInfStudyArea37Apr2016

The City would appreciate your opinion and hearing about your experiences.  Visit www.toronto.ca/bfea for more information about the subject citywide and choose your area to find the Survey.  To review the information newsletter from Toronto Water that was delivered door to door and to read more about the subject click this link:

BasementFloodingNewsletter-Area37

Note that a second area in Ward 21 – “Area 40-Cedarvale Forest Hill” which extends east of Bathurst Street will have its first consultation this Fall. Stay tuned for meeting details through my e-newsletter, via our Events Calendar here and via social media.

 

TTC Infrastructure Improvements

Beginning in mid-June, the TTC will be co-ordinating various accessibility and infrastructure improvement projects along the St Clair streetcar route and inside both St Clair and St Clair West stations. Throughout this construction, buses will replace streetcars along the 512 St. Clair streetcar route. For details about the scope of the construction, please see a complete overview of the projects here.

Glen Cedar Pedestrian Bridge: Update #3

The fences on the Glen Cedar pedestrian bridge were put up to protect residents from rotting planks on the “sidewalk” sections of the bridge. This bridge gets inspected as part of the City’s bi-annual inspection program. As part of the last inspection some wear and tear on some of the planks was noted and suggested for replacement in the next couple of years. However, it recently came to the attention of Transportation staff that the sidewalk portions were unsafe and that rotting had occurred to an extent that posed a safety risk to users. The sidewalk portions of the bridge were installed in a different fashion from the main walkway of the bridge and as a result have shown quicker deterioration. In order to ensure the safety of the bridge users, the raised “sidewalk” sections will have to remain fenced off until the bridge rehabilitation works are completed. My office is working with Engineering Construction Services to determine a reasonable timeline for this work.

 

The bridge is not undergoing an Environmental Assessment with the province as was last reported.

Refugee Resettlement Program Q&A

Councillor Joe Cressy and I were recently appointed Toronto’s Newcomer Advocates. I am honoured to take on this role and help to make newcomers to Toronto feel welcome and supported.

There are a lot of questions flying around about what Toronto’s role will be as part of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program across the country.

For a full list of frequently asked or need to know questions please click here.

Questions include: How many refugees are headed to Toronto? What steps has the City taken? What are the most immediate needs to settle the refugees? etc…

If you have questions that aren’t included here you can contact my office or Councillor Cressy’s office and we will do our best to give you the most up to date information.

Glen Cedar Road pedestrian bridge: update

My office has received a few requests for information on why chain link fences have been put up on the sides of the Glen Cedar Road pedestrian bridge that crosses over the Cedarvale Ravine.

The update that we received from City Staff last week was that the bridge is currently being surveyed by City engineers to determine whether any structural concerns need to be addressed. The fences are up as a safety precaution and can be expected to be there for several weeks while work is being assessed. The bridge will remain open.

Winter Updates

As cold weather approaches, Toronto Water wants to help Torontonians learn more about how to prevent frozen and burst pipes this winter. The most important step is to insulate the pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls, and in crawl spaces, the attic and garage. It is also important to seal air leaks around windows and doors, and to disconnect hoses and drain the outdoor water supply before the first frost. For more helpful tips, visit toronto.ca/frozenpipes. For winter updates in the coming months, visit our “Winter Updates” page here.

Why a casino is still a bad idea for Toronto

It’s Groundhog Day all over again! In May 2013 Council had a very vigorous and public debate over whether to host a casino either downtown or at Woodbine Racetrack. Council very wisely then decided that neither location would serve the interests of building a better Toronto. This was an incredible success story for the organizers of the No Casino Toronto campaign and for the grassroots communities who bonded together in opposition, including faith communities from across the city and concerned citizen groups.

Now we are at it again. This week the plan to expand gaming at Woodbine Racetrack has gone through the Executive Committee and will be forwarded to City Council on July 7th.

Executive Committee voted in support of the expansion of the Woodbine Racetrack facility into a full-scale casino. This expanded facility could include up to 5,000 slot machines and up to 2,400 live table gaming positions.

As Chair of the Board of Health, I oppose expanded gambling in Toronto. In 2013, the Medical Officer of Health and the Board of Health submitted a report to Council recommending that City Council oppose the decision to build or expand casino facilities. This opposition was renewed at the June 1st, 2015 Board of Health meeting with an updated report on the health impacts of expanded gaming at Woodbine.

The vote now on the table for City Council this coming week is similar to the vote held in May 2013. The expansion of the Woodbine Racetrack would have the same detrimental impacts for the surrounding community in Rexdale. Such impacts cannot be ignored, despite this being an existing facility. The revenue and jobs for the City that have been touted are unlikely to support the community in a stable and beneficial way, especially when the revenue will not be geared to provide local economic development. Economic analyses note that casinos are job losers because the purchasing power of local residents is diminished by virtue of less disposable income. Other businesses lose economic activity when hundreds of millions of dollars are being sucked out of the local economy by a casino. The economic pie does not increase; it simply takes money from one group and transfers it to the casino operator and provincial government coffers.

Further, as with all casino development, we will see a rise in problem gambling in Toronto. The greatest impact will be on vulnerable and low income populations. The physical and mental health impacts of which include depression, stress, possible alcohol abuse, and the decline of family and social relationships. It is worthy to note that the largest percentage of revenue for casinos comes from people who have a severe or moderate gambling addiction problem.

The casino industry is not an industry that develops local communities. You can probably picture places like Niagara Falls, Windsor, and Orillia where casinos are surrounded by big box retailers and cash advance stores. We need to learn from other jurisdictions. We need to recognize that money that comes into casinos does not stay in the hands of the local community.

Many of you reached out to me in 2013 when this debate was last on the table. I would love to hear from you again. Please let me know what you think and let other Councillors and the Mayor (mayor_tory@toronto.ca) know how you feel about a full-scale casino being created within this City. It feels silly to have this debate again so soon but now we must act fast to renew our commitment to a casino-free Toronto!