This summer there's a big variety of free lunchtime and evening music concerts to choose from, sponsored by the Village BIA and the Downtown Yonge BIA. So pick a date or two to relax and enjoy some alfresco tunes.
The Village Music in the Park concert series takes place 5 days a week in Barbara Hall Park until late September. Lunchtime concerts take place from Wednesday to Friday from 12:30 pm to 2;30 pm; on the weekends concerts shift to the early evening, from 7 pm - 9 pm.
The Downtown Yonge BIA's Play the Parks series is comprised of 50 concerts at seven outdoor venues, including College Park and McGill Granby Parkette. Most concerts start between 11:30 and 1 pm; others are geared to the after work crowd, starting at 5 pm. You can find the concert schedule on on the DYBIA's Play the Parks page.
Downtown East Toronto is in the midst of an overdose and housing crisis and we can see the challenges everywhere around us. Last summer, the one year Downtown East Action Plan, initiated by Councillors Wong-Tam and Troisi, was adopted by Council. The Plan includes 36 actions to address the areas of mental health, substance abuse, housing and homelessness, public safety, economic opportunities, and parks and public realm.
There is now a proposal for a 5-Year Action Plan for the Downtown East that will build and expand upon the work of the 12-Month Action Plan that has been in effect since last year.
On Wednesday, June 26, the Economic & Community Development Committee will vote on the plan. It will be considered by City Council on July 16, subject to the actions of the Committee.
It is extremely important to have the 5 Year Plan adopted by Council. Please sign the petition to support the Plan today.
In the the space of two days in June, the Doug Ford government passed a pair of measures that severely set back the City's ability to regulate development.
Bill 108 brings back OMB, enriches developers, weakens cities
On June 6, the Conservative government passed Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, which weakens 13 existing laws regulating the development industry. Notably, the new law brings back the rules of the old Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), allowing provincially-appointed panels to decide what development is allowed, often overruling decisions of local councils.
It was just a little over a year ago that the Liberal government phased out the OMB and replaced it with the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), which was to have much less power over local decision-makers. Now those reforms will be reversed.
Now that the law is passed, we can expect the old ways to continue, with towers being built that are much taller and denser than what city planners call for. But the situation for Ontario cities will be even worse, as the bill also merges — and significantly weakens — the tools used by cities to negotiate funds from developers to create new parks, schools, community centres and other infrastructure. As well, the law changes where the City can require new affordable housing and how heritage buildings are conserved.
For more information on Bill 108, see the City's web page:
Bill 108:Changes to Ontario's Planning System.
Queen's Park rewrites City's plan for downtown
The City's Official Plan Amendment for downtown, dubbed TOCore, had been in the works since 2012. A key goal was to make sure that development did not run amuck, outpacing infrastructure and crowding out open space. The City is required to have its Official Plan approved by the province, so it sent the TOCore plan to Queen's Park last fall.
On June 5, with no previous consultation, the Province sent TOCore back to the City -- with 224 changes. The amendments weaken language setting out the principle that development should not outpace available infrastructure like community centres, parks and sewer capacity, and allows much taller and denser development than previously considered. The changes also loosen rules around sunlight, shadowing and building setbacks from streets and other rules meant to create more livable neighbourhoods.
The City has little recourse; under the Canadian Constitution municipalities are entirely creatures of the province.
Click here for the In-Force Downtown Plan which incorporates the modifications, as well as a redline version which illustrates the Minister’s changes. City planning staff have prepared a report which summarizes the Minister's modifications to the Downtown Plan as well as the impact associated with Bill 108.
Downtown Councillors Push Back
On July 18, City Councillors Mike Layton, Joe Cressy and Kristyn Wong-Tam announced that they are creating a "green light / red light" system to evaluate development proposals in their wards and determine how helpful they will be in moving those proposals forward. Those deemed unreasonable could be delayed by tactics such as de-prioritizing the projects, holding provisions on development permits and even denying municipal permits during the construction phase.
The measures are designed to encourage developers to start the application process with projects that are more in keeping with the original TOCore plan, rather than the severely weakened provincial version. How effective these measures are in the long run remains to be seen. Delays will significantly increase costs to developers, but they will measure those costs against the potential for greater profits from taller and denser towers.
The City of Toronto is consulting the public to help develop a new 10-year housing strategy. HousingTO: 2020-2030 Action Plan will address homelessness and housing affordability today and in the future. Join us for a presentation, panel discussion and community conversation.
When: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 from 6:30PM-8:30PM
Where: St Lawrence Hall, 157 King Street East (corner of Lower Jarvis St.)
The CWNA held its 2019 AGM on March 21. The meeting was addressed by Councillor Wong-Tam, MPP Suze Morrison and School Board Trustee Chris Moise. CWNA Board members then reported on the areas of development, safety and placemaking.
The draft minutes of the meeting are now available. For an added visual experience, please take a look at the accompanying slide presentation pdf.
Downtown has experienced huge growth over the past few years, making the sidewalks on Yonge Street busy -- and crowded.
The City of Toronto is carrying out a study that focusses on the section of Yonge Street from Queen Street to College / Carlton Street. A number of opportunities will be considered to increase pedestrian space and improve the way people experience Yonge Street.
A public information session about the project was held on May 9, but in case you missed it, check out the online version of the display boards, which map out the process and illustrate various redesign options. One key decision: how much of the street to dedicate to vehicles, pedestrians and bikes.
You can also take an online survey to register your priorities for a revitalized Yonge Street.
The "tower in the park" style of building, pioneered by Le Corbusier, was popular in Toronto in the sixties and seventies. These residential towers were distinguished by the generous amount of open space around them, leaving room on the property for trees, gardens, water features and other landscaping. Now that land values have skyrocketed, owners of some of these properties are looking to monetize their open spaces with infill projects.
One example is Isabella Court, the 27 storey, 400 unit rental building at 33 Isabella. Cromwell Property Management is proposing a 4 storey building on the west side of the property, with 15 apartments and ground floor administrative offices.
A community consultation, held on May 8, provided an update on the original proposal. City staff had noted that, over time, some amenity spaces at 33 Isabella had been replaced by rented office space. As well, the infill building removes the existing outdoor tennis court. Some key points:
Negotiations between the City and the owner will continue before the City provides final approval of the project.
City Staff preliminary report (Dec., 2018)
Toronto Development Application
Strolling down Church Street south of Wellesley these days, it’s hard not to notice the number of darkened storefronts and “For Lease” signs. While you might conclude this is a sign of decline in the Village, quite the opposite is true: because of intensification, land values are increasing, leading to a period of investment. As some businesses close down, others eventually come to take their place. Still, some of these storefronts have been closed for a while. Every vacant shop has a story. Let’s look at some of them:
Toronto’s annual spring cleanup - Clean Toronto Together - is back! Over 200,000 residents will come together for the 16th annual city-wide cleanup of public spaces.
On Saturday, April 27, join your neighbours in The Village Edition of Clean Toronto Together to spruce up Barbara Hall Park, Paul Kane Park, Alexander Street Parkette and Church Street. Meet us at Barbara Hall Park at 11:00 am. Cleaning supplies, coffee and snacks will be provided.