The Week at Toronto City Hall #5
Live music, laneway suites, lots of new developments, trees and more
Community Council week at City Hall brings lots of new developments, plus local traffic by-laws and tree removal applications. Laneway suites, the Yellowbelt, and the Ontario Line are up for discussion at the Planning & Housing Committee. Read on for my summary!
The Week at Toronto City Hall: New developments, the end of parking minimums (maybe), and, wait, are falling walnuts dangerous?
MONDAY: 🌳 Etobicoke York Community Council’s big-ticket item is Pinnacle Etobicoke, a multi-tower development near Dundas Street West and the 427. The agreement includes public parkland along Dundas St. W.
The folks behind this application, for a mid-rise building near Weston and Lawrence, seem to have rebranded what might legally be a rooming house as #disruptive “co-living units”. Clever move, if it works.
Who would want to remove this gorgeous catalpa?! The owners say its roots are damaging the pool, but “this evidence was never submitted”.
🏗 CreateTO, the City real estate agency now headed by Mayor John Tory’s former staffer and election campaign chair, gets an update on the 11 mixed-income Housing Now developments.
Also on the table: the next phase of the Parkdale Hub, a redevelopment of the cluster of public buildings at Queen Street West and Cowan Ave. The plans include a development with 32 units of affordable rental housing, new space for Artscape’s Art & Culture Centre, and expanding the existing community recreation centre.
Immediately afterwards there’s also a Joint Meeting of Build Toronto and the Toronto Portlands Company [PDF], whose boards were folded into CreateTO in 2018, so…wait, hold on, this is Frege’s “evening star vs. morning star” puzzle, isn’t it?!
TUESDAY: 🌳 At North York Community Council, City Planning wants to go to the Ontario Land Tribunal over this 32-storey development at North York Centre. As ever,
The applicant has appealed the application to the Ontario Land Tribunal (the “OLT”) due to City Council’s failure to make a decision within the timeframe prescribed in the Planning Act.
Did you know you can just put up stop signs and “no parking” signs, and if they’re reasonable enough the City will actually make it legit? Because that’s kind of what this looks like.
A pathway to the Earl Bales Ravine will be named after a late and much-beloved resident, Gerald Spring.
Regarding safety concerns over being struck and injured by falling walnuts, information was requested from the City of Toronto Corporate Finance, Insurance and Risk Management group, in 2017, as to whether the City had ever received a claim as a result of a falling walnut. Staff advised that they received one claim for property damage in September 2014. The claim was not paid and the file was subsequently closed. Historical claims experience suggests the risks associated with falling walnuts do not pose a significant exposure for the City.
🎶 The Toronto Music Advisory Committee will learn about the second year of the property tax reduction for live music venues. The average tax break was $18,995. But because the tax break goes to the building owner, not the tenant (who is usually the actual venue operator), the amount needs to be announced earlier in the year so it can be passed on to tenants via lower rents.
WEDNESDAY: 🌳 The Toronto and East York Community Council agenda is packed, as usual, but here’s a sprinkling of items:
That weird below-grade grotto at the Ontario Hydro building at College and University will be getting a makeover as part of a new development. The development also brings also over $4 million in Section 37 funds for affordable housing.
Two new developments are coming to the Broadview & Danforth area—the current site of the Loblaws south of the Danforth, and the plaza north of the Danforth at Pretoria Ave. Both are only in the preliminary stages; public consultations are still yet to take place.
How’s the Ontario Line going? A new report summarizes the status of the five proposals for downtown stations, plus public feedback from consultations so far. But it’s short on actual details, because they’re confidential. “Discussions are ongoing to encourage the Province to make their proposals public earlier.” (We’ll see how that goes.)
This tree removal application for Walnut Avenue is, disappointingly, for a spruce tree and not a black walnut. Wait, I have an idea: let them cut down the spruce as long as they plant a black walnut tree in its stead.
Is it kind of weird that hundreds of people can vote to remove overnight parking on their streets but there’s still 27 active permit holders so Transportation Services says no dice? Just me?
🏆 Bid Award Panel contract award of the week: $4,832,229 for designing and building a new organic waste processing facility.
THURSDAY: 🏘 The Planning and Housing Committee has a lot on its plate!
It’s been a few years since laneway suites were introduced. A new report provides some interesting statistics on the program so far (average rent is about $3.25 a square foot, compared to $3.60 for purpose-built rental) and suggests amendments to the by-law (mostly minor relaxations).
Minimum parking standards are out—maximum parking standards are in!
New heritage designation of the month: the Frank P. Wood estate, currently the Crescent School, a prestigious boys’ private school.
FRIDAY: 🌳 Scarborough Community Council gets a presentation on The Scarborough Opportunity—a recent UTSC report [PDF] that proposes a comprehensive pedestrian and cycling network for the car-centric borough.
THE WEEK AFTER NEXT: 🕎 Hanukkah begins! There’s a TTC board meeting, as well as Economic & Community Development Committee and Infrastructure and Infrastructure & Development meetings.
Nev’s Bug Report
This week’s bug is a creature of many names: woodlouse, pill bug, potato bug, sowbug. These harmless critters are actually terrestrial crustaceans in the order Isopoda, comprising thousands of species found all around the world. While Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur has derided them as “useless curl up-ass grubs”, they play a key ecological role as detritivores who eat dead wood, leaves, and fungi. Some people even keep them as pets!
In Monday’s edition of City Hall Watcher: it’s the milestone 150th issue, so it’ll be free to read. Maybe there will be cake? No promises. But I can promise the launch of a new project looking at campaign donations all the way back to the halcyon days of 2006. Who’s donated the most cash to City Hall candidates since then? We’ll find out together.
— Matt Elliott
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