Volume 4, Issue 5, September 2015    

If you live or work in downtown Toronto, Canada, between Parliament and Sherbourne, Carlton and Shuter Streets, then we are your neighbourhood residents' association.  Join us!

Next Meeting Wednesday September 9th, 2015 7pm

Please join us for our next meeting at the Retsina Restaurant 209 Gerrard Street East (near Seaton).  Note we are meeting the 2nd Wednesday this month after the Labour Day Holiday!

We have invited 51 Division Community Police Officers to give us a brief update on police matters in our area.  We are very concerned about the number of break ins, drug dealing and use, and shootings in and around the area.

We will also have an update from Options for Homes on a proposed partnership and redevelopment of the St Luke Church property at Sherbourne and Carlton.  Options for Homes met with us some months back and apparently have reworked some of their plans based on that discussion. The photo left indicates the kind of views that some of the proposed units will have over Allan Gardens and the City.  The proposal to partially demolish the church annex and to construct an affordable condo building is in the works and a plan will soon be submitted to city planners. 

 For more information about Options for Homes click here.

Retsina's opens around 6pm for those interested in joining us for dinner before the meeting.


Cabbagetown Festival September 12th and 13th                     

Mark the dates for the Cabbagetown Festival on your calendar. It is a great time with lots to do and lots going on. Parliament Street is buzzing with parades, displays, booths with great food and drink to be had.  There will be live entertainment and Classic Car Showcase and of course the Arts and Crafts Show at Riverdale Park.  The festival runs Saturday 11 am to 10 pm and Sunday 11 am to 7 pm. The Arts and Crafts Show runs from Friday 1 pm to 7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 6 pm. Rain or Shine, it is a great weekend in the neighbourhood. 

For further information on the festival click here.  For info on the Arts and Crafts Show click here.


Proposed Development of Vacant Lot Sherbourne and Gerrard South East Corner

A proposed development has been presented to our area city planner and Councillor McConnell for the vacant lot at Sherbourne and Gerrard Streets.  The lot formerly housed a gas station many years back and there had been a plan to build a new gas bar/convenience store on the lot.  That plan was scrapped and a new owner is proposing a 13 storey market rate rental apartment building.  The plan calls for 57 one bedroom, 32 two bedroom and 5 three bedroom apartment units.  43 parking spots will also be provided for tenants and guests.  It is our understanding the building will be wholly residential with no commercial/retail space.  The Planning Department and Councillor McConnell will host a community meeting regarding the proposal this fall.  We will pass on information as we get it.        

Vacant and Problematic properties in the area meetings 

Volunteers from the neighbourhood association have been meeting with city staff and Councillor McConnell and staff in hopes of finding solutions for problematic properties in the area.  Properties  include abandoned vacant houses and commercial properties, poorly maintained commercial/retail properties, rooming houses, rental properties and vacant lots.  The property pictured here is one of many properties sitting vacant in our area.

Problems with raccoon and other vermin infestations in vacant houses, garages and sheds seem to go unchecked due to poor regulations and response. Various city departments have jointly inspected properties, determined what bylaw infractions need to be addressed and interviewed tenants to determine if there are infractions in property standards and if there are tenants in need of support services.  The process is slow, the threshold in property standards questionably low and the response from property owners to fix property infractions to minimum code standards often move at a snail's pace.  A storefront convenience store that was operating a BBQ take away at Seaton and Dundas was told to cease unlicensed food sales.  

The city is in the process of reviewing property standards and is looking for input from city residents.  We need solutions to speed up renewal of vacant buildings, vacant lots and find a real solution to the problem with a raccoon population that is overwhelming our neighbourhood and keep a lid on all vermin infestation.  Current laws and standards need to be updated and we recommend area residents get involved with the review process and voice concerns and suggestions to improve the process.  To learn more about the city review process please click here..    

Sherbourne Health and St Mikes continue to move forward with Residential Drug Withdrawal Program

A member of the residents association recently toured Sherbourne Health Center to learn more about the proposed Residential Withdrawal Program to be housed on the upper two floors of Sherbourne Health Center across from Allan Gardens.  Sherbourne Health advise that they have gone to great lengths to insure that the proposed program will have no negative impact on their operation or the surrounding neighbourhood.  Senior Management staff from Sherbourne Health toured a similar program in the city's east end and advise that they did not see any evidence of unwanted behavior in or around the facility there.  St. Mikes advise that they will run a very tight operation with secure entry, a dedicated elevator to their floors and zero tolerance for any bad behavior on the part of their clients.  We were also interested to learn that Sherbourne Health has implemented an outreach program where a registered nurse from Sherbourne Health circulates through the neighbourhood parks and laneways to search out any homeless people in need of help and medical attention or referral, in hopes of moving those individuals forward with their lives.  

For more information about Sherbourne Health Center, the Health Bus and services provided  please click here

For information about the proposed Residential Withdrawal Program click here.

We still have major concerns about Supervised Injection Sites coming to the area.  Although the operators of this proposed withdrawal program have no tolerance for drug use and advise that supervised injection sites are in no way part of their operating plan, there is a Harm Reduction Lobby at St Michael's that are lobbying for supervised injection sites in the City of Toronto.  Our Mayor and Police Chief are on record as opposed to such an operation but other cities are exploring the programs. 

Please see this recent Globe and Mail article about the push for supervised injection sites in Canadian cities.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/safe-injection-site-proponents-push-on-despite-harpers-opposition/article25967472/

City of Toronto Dog behavior and Responsible Dog Ownership Review

The city has launched a review to determine how the City can effectively  balance, manage and address dogs' and their owners' behaviour and responsibilities and public safety.  We have had complaints about unleashed dogs in area parks, dog's lunging at and biting other dogs and area residents.  There is also a problem with dog owners not cleaning up after their animals in our laneways, sidewalks and area greenspaces.  Dog owners who own dogs that bark non stop need to effectively deal with the problem.

For further information on how to help form effective policies and actions to resolve problems around bad dog's and bad owner's behaviour, please click here.

 Ward 27's Environment Day September 12th 

If you missed Councillor McConnell's Environment Day last spring, you have another opportunity to safely dispose of many household waste items at our neighbouring Ward 27's Environment Day September 12th at Allan Gardens North.

For further information on what you can safely dispose of click here.

Rooming House Review and Rooming House Licensing Hearings 

A Berkeley Street Rooming House is currently under orders to clean up it operations or lose their operating license.  The property owner who owns many houses in the area has been negligent in not employing a property manager to operate his rooming houses/rental properties.  Complaints about noise, garbage, drug sales/consumption and prostitution continue due to the property owner's inability to properly manage tenants and his property.  In the past his rooming houses have had their licenses temporarily revoked which usually results in reducing the number of tenants to 4 per house. (Landlords are allowed to rent out properties to 4 unrelated tenants without any type of license.)  This has at times helped reduce the number of problems and complaints from neighbours but also limits what city inspectors can do and the number of times they can call on or inspect a property.  Another former rooming house in the area now sits boarded up and deteriorating with minimal city resources to inspect and deal with complaints about raccoons, mice and rat infestation.  The boarded up property is an eyesore and subject to illegal entry, dumping etc. and has created a health hazard for neighbours. 

Rooming Houses are a difficult housing alternative but do we want boarded up vacant buildings in their place?  It does not appear that this rooming house owner is willing to sell off his properties and there is no guarantee that a new owner would change the property back to single family homes. Some rooming house operators are leasing their entire building to social housing providers such as Fred Victor at 386 and 388 Dundas street.   It is our hope that this arrangement will result in a residence that operates quietly and has little impact on their neighbours. 

The City and Rooming House Licensing Commission has a mandate to preserve rooming houses in the downtown core and will do their utmost to keep rooming houses operating in the area.  Housing activists indicate it is often just one or two of the rooming house tenants that cause disruptions within and around their properties and removing licenses impacts on all the tenants. Housing activists stress the need for affordable housing throughout the city and rooming houses are considered an affordable housing alternative.  It has been suggested that larger well managed rooming houses are best suited for main streets rather than residential neighbourhoods, but that kind of change is likely to be a long term goal rather than an immediate reality. 

The suggestion from Councillor McConnell is to bring a third party supportive housing operator into the Berkeley Street property to manage the building and better screen tenants. The property owner would have to agree to an outside service provider as well as fix any outstanding problems with the property in order to maintain his rooming house license.  Councillor McConnell is in the process of arranging a meeting with neighbours of the Berkeley Street property to see if a compromise which ensures good management of the rooming house would be a possible solution.  We will keep you abreast of any upcoming meetings. 

For information about the City Review of rooming house operations and licensing and how you can make your views know, please click this link .   

City of Toronto's Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Program                                      

Area residents would have recently received a reminder notice that the city requires house owners to disconnect their downspouts from city sewer lines by December 2, 2016.                                            

This causes issues for many homeowners where the house structure or placement of the house on the lot makes the runoff caused by disconnection into a real problem for either the home owner or neighbours.  

The City recognizes this and has made provisions for an exemption.  Several of our members have already applied for and received an exemption  If you fell that disconnection cannot be safely done or technically done for your home click here to review the exemption criteria and obtain the necessary forms. 

Contact information and some interesting links 

To renew your Cabbagetown South membership please click here http://www.cabbagetownsouth.ca/admin/

Councillor Pam McConnell email Councillor_mcconnell@toronto.ca

MPP Glen Murray email gmurray.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org 

MP Chrystia Freeland email chrystia.freeland@parl.gc.ca

For information on ReLeaf please click the link. http://cabbagetownreleaf.typepad.com/home/

For 51 Division Community Policing call 416 808 5124 and ask for Staff  Sergeant Chiu or email at sin.chiu@torontopolice.on.ca .  Or email in a  complaint form for non emergency issues.

Watch this interesting article on policing at 51 Division click here.

Here is just an interesting link to a discussion about drug addiction click here. 

An interesting YouTube video on How to Make An Attractive City click here

Animal Control Stoop and Scoop Regulations http://www.toronto.ca/311/knowledgebase/15/101000051015.html 

Sound Times

A service provider called Sound Times opened some time ago on Parliament Street south of Dundas Street.  It seems to be a drop in/counselling facility for individuals with mental health issues who have been incarcerated and are in need of help getting housing.  What is troubling is Sound Times' configuration of their offices which has clients entering their building from Poulett Street.

 Poulett Street is primarily a residential side street with some commercial delivery access and parking for Parliament Street businesses.  Sound Times is drawing clients to the area that are loitering, sleeping on resident's doorsteps and using the street as a toilet.  This is unacceptable.  

Neighbours have had discussions with Sound Times management and are working on a solution.  Sound Times is routinely checking the street to make sure clients are not causing issues so hopefully this will help.  If the problems continue we will ask that they put the entrance on Parliament Street.  Should neighbours continue to observe unwanted behavior we recommend they contact the Community Police line at the number listed above and report problems.  Additionally keep a log of issues for further discussions with Sound Times. 

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