Creating the East Toronto Railpath

This is to express the strong support of the Federation of North Toronto Residents Assns (FoNTRA) for Councillor Mike Layton’s recommendations intended to advance the acquisition and re-construction of the former Canadian Pacific Railway line, including the “Half Mile Bridge”, as the “East Toronto Railpath” with links to Toronto’s existing trail system components, including the Martin Goodman Trail, and the West Toronto Railpath, and the potential for future links to the East Don Trail and the Meadoway.

As Councillor Layton says, ”At the core of this connection is an abandoned railway bridge that has the potential to link the Don Valley’s public spaces, while providing relief to the existing crowded trails and provide new connections to adjoining neighbourhoods.”

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Iceberg Homes

Iceberg houses are single-family houses with multi-storey underground basements below, and that may extend well beyond, the above-ground footprint of the structure. We have seen various examples recently, including the particularly notable instance in Hoggs Hollow.

In November 2020, the Committee of Adjustment approved an Iceberg home in Hoggs Hollow – a City designated Natural Heritage System located in a flood plain. Hoggs Hollow is also subject to a 1 hour evacuation in the event of a dam release on the Don River.  Despite numerous objections from Urban Forestry, a healthy 250 year old sugar maple was removed.

As a federation of resident associations we are concerned about the adverse impact of these structures, and the apparent lack of regulatory oversight.  It appears that the “iceberg aspects” are not subject to rigorous zoning and building code requirements.  These concerns include:

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Effective Public Participation in City Planning Processes Update

This report provides a status report on public participation processes in City Planning in response to both a Members Motion moved by Councillor Jaye Robinson and adopted by City Council on April 27, and a Motion recommended by PHC and adopted by City Council on July 14-16, regarding systemic barriers.

FoNTRA wrote to City Council in strong support of Councillor Jaye Robinson’s Motion, as follows:

  • City Council direct the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, to review virtual planning consultation meetings, in consultation with members of the public, and report back to Planning and Housing Committee in the second quarter of 2021 with recommendations for improvement, including:
    1. guidelines and practices to ensure that virtual community consultation meetings are consistent and effective;
    2. strategies to improve opportunities for members of the public to participate in virtual community consultation meetings;
    3. best practices related to virtual consultation in other jurisdictions; and
    4. opportunities to improve accessibility for members of the public and, in particular, members of the public participating by phone.

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Concorde Gate Zoning Amendment & Subdivision Applications

This is to provide our concerns about the above noted staff report and its recommendations.  FoNTRA would not generally get involved with “local” applications; however frankly this is an audacious application – out of scale, scope and context for the area.

The Rezoning Application and associated Plan of Subdivision application propose to demolish the existing office buildings on the lands at 1 to 3 Concorde Gate and 10 to 12 Concorde Place, and to redevelop the lands with five residential and mixed-use buildings consisting of nine towers ranging in height from 40 to 52 storeys. Overall, the application proposes a total of 4,086 dwelling units, 307,004 square metres of residential space, 841 square metres of retail space, and 437 square metres of community space. The overall gross floor area proposed is 308,284 square metres, which results in an overall density of 9.95 for the lands.

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Steering Committee Agenda – Tuesday, September 14, 2021

  1. Welcome and agenda approval
  2. FoNTRA organization matters
    • 2021 membership update (Terry)
    • Fall Planning Forum with City Planning
    • Beginning of Election Season – implications for FoNTRA?  
    • Board proposal for funding web site development
  3. City Planning Issues  
    • Official Plan (Our Plan)
      • MTSA Working Group
    • Low-rise/Neighbourhoods
      • Laneway suites – Monitoring Reporting 

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Street Safety in Midtown & Uptown Toronto

August 20, 2021 – the day that 18-year-old Miguel Joshua Escanan lost his life at Avenue Road and Bloor Street. He was cycling north on Avenue Road, and where the protected bike lane ends he was struck by a cement truck passing him in the curb lane. According to his mother he wasn’t an experienced cyclist but he enjoyed getting out on his bike.

Miguel’s death adds to the climbing toll of cyclists and pedestrians who are losing their lives on Toronto’s roads, a direct result of a lack of action to create protected bike lanes on major roads and to regulate and ensure safer trucks on city streets. 

FoNTRA, on behalf of the named signatories listed, sent a letter two years ago when a pedestrian was struck and killed by a construction truck near Yonge and Eglinton. We are sending a letter once again to urge the City to take concrete action to better protect our most vulnerable road users – pedestrians and cyclists who put their lives at risk each time they step onto the street.

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Steering Committee Agenda – Tuesday, August 10, 2021

  1. Welcome and agenda approval
  2. FoNTRA organization matters
    • 2021 membership update (Terry)
    • Fall Planning Forum with City Planning
    • Beginning of Election Season – implications for FoNTRA?  
    • Board proposal for funding web site development
  3. City Planning Issues  
    • Official Plan (Our Plan)
      • MTSA Working Group
    • Low-rise/Neighbourhoods
      • Laneway suites – Monitoring Reporting 

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Response from Federal Government re: Environmental Assessment for Don Valley Train Facility

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, asked me to respond to your letter of June 24, 2021, concerning the Don Valley Train Layover Facility proposed by Metrolinx as part of the New Tracks and Facilities Project (the Project).

The Physical Activities Regulations (Regulations) identify the types of projects that are subject to the Impact Assessment Act (the IAA). These project types, as prescribed by the Regulations, have the greatest potential to cause effects in areas of federal jurisdiction. As proposed by Metrolinx, the Project is not described in the Regulations and is thus not subject to the IAA.

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City-Operated Golf Course Review

FoNTRA is pleased that the City of Toronto is reviewing the use of its City-operated golf courses. We believe that it is important that publicly-owned green spaces in the city be available to a wide range of residents.

City-operated golf courses use a considerable amount of land, in some cases in locations that stand in the way of connecting Toronto’s park and trail networks. However, they are currently available only for the single purpose of playing golf, and at a fee. Golf is a worthwhile sport that encourages physical outdoor activity, and we have no wish to make it unavailable to those who want to engage in it, especially given that City-operated courses offer access to this sport at below market cost. However, as several of the City’s courses are strategically located in Toronto’s ravine system, we should consider how they might dovetail with trail-based activities, and offer recreational opportunities in places near to nodes of high population, with few other recreational opportunities.

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Stop Excessive Construction Noise

This correspondence is provided to indicate our strong support for Councillor Wong-Tam’s Motion that “City Council request the Government of Ontario to repeal Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulation 130/20 of the City of Toronto Act, returning the power to regulate construction noise to the City of Toronto” Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulation 130/20, enacted April 7, 2020, does not allow the City to regulate or prohibit noise in connection with construction. The Regulation overrides the City of Toronto’s municipal noise by-law through to October 7, 2021, to the detriment of residents.

FoNTRA wrote to the Premier on April 19 2020 to request that this measure (as well as making residential construction an essential service, opening a significant risk of COVID-19 infection to workers) be reversed. Excessive noise is a health hazard that impacts the physical and mental health, and quality of life of residents.

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Building the East Toronto Railpath

This is to express our strong support for the Members Motion to move forward with this exciting project to convert a disused rail line and bridge to an active transportation corridor in the Don Valley.  This will connect and expand the City’s trail system, dramatically expanding recreational opportunities for Torontonians, provide an opportunity to memorialize the historic railway story of Toronto, realise part of the Don Valley Park vision, and create a new tourism magnet for Toronto.   

The West Toronto Railpath and the Don Mills Trail serve as local models for how rail to trail conversions can provide low cost sustainable recreational opportunities provided other orders of government are willing to cooperate, and providing we (and they) are willing to make the upfront investment.  The East Toronto Railpath project is extraordinarily significant as a “place-keeping” opportunity, and we urge City Council to recognize the opportunities therein for Indigenous partnership.

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Steering Committee Agenda – July 13, 2021

  1. Welcome and agenda approval
  2. FoNTRA organization matters
    • 2021 Membership update
    • Report on June meeting with City Planning
    • Fall Forum with City Planning
    • Board proposal for funding web site development
  3. City Planning Issues  
    • Official Plan (Our Plan)
      • MTSA Working Group meeting with City Planning

 

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Regulatory Framework for Multi-tenant Houses

This is to reiterate our support for the proposed regulatory framework for Multi-Tenant Houses, as previously communicated in our letter to the June 28 PHC.

Our reason for communicating again on this matter is to express our opposition to the motion moved by Councillor Ana Bailao, and adopted by PHC, regarding fraternity and sorority houses. They meet the definition of rooming houses and should be included in the regulatory framework.

Our members who have lived experience with such student housing properties in their neighbourhoods report that these properties, which have similar features of rooming houses, can, unfortunately, have similar negative impacts on neighbours. Not all fraternity and sorority houses manage themselves well, and ensure safe conditions, and the community suffers.

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Midtown Town Centre Vision

Midtown

The Federation of North Toronto Residents Association (FoNTRA) strongly supports the motion, tabled by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam at the PHC meeting of June 28, 2021 to request a review of all aspects of the vision presented in “Imagining a New Town Centre for Midtown Toronto” prepared by the Midtown Working Group.

The unique opportunities for the Canada Square site were recognized by designation as a Special Study area in the Midtown in Focus Plan, developed with community consultation to provide comprehensive planning direction for the Yonge and Eglinton area. Unfortunately, the City’s lease agreement with Oxford Properties Group was made before that study could be undertaken. The Midtown Town Centre vision begins to provide the way forward.

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Construction noise – repeal Ontario regulations overriding Toronto by-law

In April 2020, the City of Toronto’s bylaws limiting construction noise were suspended by Ontario provincial regulations 130/20 and 131/20 that permitted extended construction hours for a period of 18 months (till October 2021).

We recognize and understand the need for the Covid-19 related restrictions that were imposed on the various business sectors and social interactions over the last twelve months. All of Ontario is encouraged by the progress against Covid-19 through the aggressive and successful execution of the vaccination programs. As we look forward to the opportunity to return to some semblance of normal life, we believe now is the appropriate time to revisit the noise guidelines that extended construction hours on essential projects during the pandemic.

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Questions regarding implementation of Multi-Tenant Housing Report

  1. Enforcement problems/life-threatening situations are reported with non-compliant and unlicensed Rooming Houses in zoned areas. What will be done between now and Nov. 1, 2022 in terms of inspection/enforcement to improve the situation? How will MLS and Toronto Fire make progress with these houses, especially the high risk priority houses, if they did not seek Budget allocations in 2021 to hire additional enforcement officers and fire inspectors, and are not planning to in 2022?
  2. Within the City of Toronto, fraternity houses were deemed to be Rooming Houses and they were given 3 years to become licensed. This has not happened. How is the City going to deal with these houses between now and Nov. 1, 2022? Are additional inspection/enforcement officers required?
  3. How will the City deal with illegal Rooming Houses between now and Nov. 1, 2022?

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Garden Suites – Proposals Report

Garden Suites

This is to provide our comments on Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods – Garden Suites – Proposals Report and its recommendations.

We note that the report is intended for public consultation not for decision on the proposals. While the types of proposals are generally OK, the details may need adjusting depending on the feedback, and also on the results of the laneway housing review. We are pleased that the report recognizes that neighbourhood character should be protected, and that consultation with the affected neighbourhoods is essential. While the learnings from the laneway housing experience will be useful, we continue to note the significant differences, particularly related to access, between laneway and garden suites.

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A New Regulatory Framework for Multi-Tenant Houses

This is to express our support in principle for the above noted report to create a new comprehensive regulatory and compliance framework (zoning bylaw amendments, licensing requirements), for Multi-Tenant Houses across Toronto.

We appreciate that this represents a cross-divisional multi-pronged initiative that has been a long time in development. We also note that City Planning delivered on our request made in connection with the earlier report (November 2020) to ensure that resident associations (including both tenants, homeowners) are given the opportunity to be engaged in the process of public and stakeholder engagement on the proposed zoning standards for city-wide permissions for multi-tenant housing.

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Environmental Assessment for Don Valley Train Facility

We request the Federal Government (which has the authority, the resources, and the mechanism – Federal Impact Assessment Study) to do a proper environmental assessment of Metrolinx’s proposed Don Valley Train Layover Facility.

The Project

The Don Valley Train Layover Facility is one of four new layover facilities proposed under Metrolinx’s New Tracks and Facilities TPAP. The facilities are apparently required in order to reduce the congestion currently experienced at Union Station, and provide a location for storage and light maintenance (including cleaning, garbage disposal, and sanitary sewage removal) for GO trains during off-peak periods. Whether the plan includes diesel fuel servicing/storage needs to be confirmed.

Metrolinx intends to situate the Don Valley Layover site on part of the Don Branch rail corridor (not operational for the past 22 years), that runs parallel to the Don Valley Parkway (See attached plan).

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