Developing a Parking Strategy for Toronto

The Federation of North Toronto Residents Association (FoNTRA) is supportive of the Active TO Midtown Yonge complete street Pilot installed last year.  ActiveTO bike lanes are an important part of the City’s transportation system, helping to reduce automobile use, to enliven the streets, and support the businesses along Yonge Street in Midtown.

We appreciate that the current pattern of streets to the west and the Yellow Creek ravine to the east result in land-locked communities that create challenges to the implementation of the pilot. We are aware that Councillors Layton and Matlow are currently working with Transportation staff and residents to resolve the localized concerns about the current installation of bike lanes and CaféTO installations along with related initiatives to reduce traffic congestion on Yonge Street, such as left-turn lanes. Two of our member organizations are opposed to bike lanes on Yonge Street and their impact on traffic, and another has raised issues re: access to residential streets and impacts of upcoming construction related to development projects, we urge the Committee and City Council to ensure that the traffic concerns underlying their opposition are addressed in the proposed extension of the ActiveTO Yonge Street Pilot.

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Updating legislation for Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries

We are writing to express our strong support for the proposed legislation (Bill 74, Mount Pleasant Public Cemeteries Act, 2021), introduced by Jessica Bell, MPP, that will update and modernize the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries Charter, which dates from 1871.The legislation is in desperate need of modernization to bring it up to today’s standards of accountability and transparency. This new bill will repatriate the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries back to the people of Ontario, safeguarding what the public originally created.

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Recommended Parking Requirements for New Development 

This is to provide our comments on the above noted report. While we are in general support of the report’s direction, supporting flexibility in the application of parking standards, we do not support the complete elimination of minimum parking standards.

This review of the parking standards in the city-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 was guided by the principle that parking standards should allow only the maximum amount of automobile parking reasonably required for a given use, and minimums should be avoided except where necessary to ensure equitable access. The review proposes that new developments would still have to provide adequate parking onsite, and not assume residents will be able to park on street.

As the report shows, car ownership rates of apartment dwellers vary greatly depending on household income. More important, they vary greatly depending on location. No minimums may work downtown, but when you travel away from the downtown core, where distances to destinations are longer, we would expect a real shortage of buildings/units with parking spaces, which will have a social impact as well.

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Improving Winter Access to Toronto’s Parks for 2021-22

This is to express the strong support of the Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations (FoNTRA) for the staff report and its recommendations, which we note will have financial implications for the 2022 Budget.

The proposal would have more facilities maintained during the winter, including more snow clearing on multi-use paths, and explore different snow clearing methods in environmentally sensitive areas, such as ravines, which cannot be salted due to the environmental impacts.

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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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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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E-scooters – Accessibility and Insurance Issues

We appreciate the extensive research and stakeholder consultations now being reported on by Transportation Services Division staff, including the learning from other jurisdictions with more experience on the matter. Experiments in large cities such as Chicago, New York, London, and Amsterdam, which have comparable population size and density to Toronto, point to many unresolved issues associated with the use of e-scooters. The experience of e-scooter-associated issues in those cities are more likely to be similar and relevant, than that of smaller cities like Ottawa and Calgary. However, we note that even Ottawa, one of those smaller cities, has banned e-scooters from its most popular destination, the Byward Market, and from National Capital Commission walkways and paths.

The staff report outlines in detail the unique risk factors associated with Toronto’s existing public infrastructure – both road and sidewalk design – that did not contemplate the addition of e-scooters. These include:

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Protecting City Council’s Authority to Regulate Front Yard Parking Pads

The Front Yard Parking Bylaw permits parking pads despite the Zoning Bylaw prohibiting parking in front of a house. The Front Yard Parking Bylaw specifically lists neighbourhoods where parking pad are permitted. Such areas will have been included following a public consultation process prior to City Council approval. Then the licensing of each pad must be separately approved by the City. Detailed requirements must be met, such as the actual size and location of the pad, distances from trees, provisions for permeable paving and the requirement that the rest of the front yard area remain landscaped.

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City Tree Canopy Study

We are the collective voice for neighbourhood associations in North Toronto and North York and have many concerns about the ongoing health and sustainability of our tree canopy. We are writing to voice our support of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee recommendations.

Specifically, we support: using the findings in the 2018 Tree Canopy Study to inform ongoing programming; to increase tree planting and maintenance on private land; to increase the tree canopy to 40%; to facilitate plans to enhance the tree canopy in identified neighbourhoods that have experienced significant losses; and to facilitate the enforcement of tree protection.

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