eNewsletter

Volume 5, Issue 5, September 2016    


We had a very good turnout at our Cabbagetown South Community meeting on September 7th at The Local Gest at 424 Parliament Street.  We had a speaker from The Laneway Project lead a discussion about new ideas and approach on making our laneways safer and less prone to unwanted behaviour. See article below.  The police also attended and gave us a brief update on the challenges they are facing in 51 Division. For more on that see Neighbourhood Policing below.

There are a lot of things going on in the week ahead with an important meeting regarding Moss Park and an open House sponsored by the Friends of Allan Gardens group.  Ward 27 to our immediate east is also having their Environment Day which give our area residents an opportunity to dispose of hazardous waste such as paint etc.  See the link below.  

 

Please join us for our fall meeting; date and location to be announced.

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!  If you have a neighbour who might be interested in our newsletter or learning about us, or might attend our next meeting, please pass it on. 

Moss Park Redevelopment Meeting 

September 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm 
John Innes Community Centre
150 Sherbourne St, Toronto ON M5A 2R6

The Garden District Residents Association sent us the following article from their latest newsletter outlining some major changes in direction to the original plan.  The upcoming meeting on September 14th is an opportunity to voice any concerns about the change of location within the park to the western boundary.  Please read on.

The Moss Park community consultation this past July laid bare some very unexpected and potentially unwelcome surprises. Unbeknownst to the community, who were expecting the new community centre to be built on the current John Innes site, it was a surprise for many to hear that the proposed new centre is to be built on the west side of the park next to the Armoury. While we have explained that, in general, we understand the need to see the park and facilities upgraded and redeveloped we have major concerns particularly with the proposed site for the new building and the less than open process.

These concerns include the following:

An executive committee was established to make the final decisions thus far. This committee is apparently supported by analysis provided by civil servants from various departments of the city. When asked where we might find the minutes from their discussions we were told they are not available. From a public perception point of view, this creates the impression that the consultation process is either not open or that the committee is unwilling to explain or defend their conclusions in public.

An open process would document all consultations not just the ones that are held at the Community Centre. This information should be made available throughout the process not once decisions are made. It has also led to some concerns expressed that the “so called balanced decision making" is in fact far from balanced with the private concerns of certain interest groups overshadowing all else.

Sadly it has become a familiar routine to hold separate private discussions with groups, with no reports filed, whose supporters also tend to pack the subsequent public meetings. Without more openness, these processes are vulnerable to being seen as window dressing only.

There was little apparent balance sought for residents – particularly those who are not just users but also neighbours. For example when neighbours purchased their homes, no-one would have thought that the city itself would eliminate mature trees and put a major building in the Park. Further, putting a major public space on the roof so users could get a good view of the city - north and south - would also compromise the privacy of those on Shuter, Pembroke and George Streets most of whom have roof top decks/balconies.

In order to construct the new building a large number of mature trees on the Shuter Street side of the park would need removal (contrary to the city’s own tree by-laws). While the plans call for replacement trees along Shuter, taking down 50 to 80 year old trees and replacing them with saplings is hardly a compromise. In reality, the decision to build elsewhere was entirely based upon the internal activities in the current centre.

This would have been an ideal opportunity to begin to address safety issues at the corner of Queen and Sherbourne. These issues will remain, particularly as their plan calls for various activities (e.g. tennis and other courts) along the Sherbourne side of the site - far from the new building.

It was suggested that they could just as easily situate the new building along the Queen Street facade given that it was serviced by transit and was already a commercial street. It would appear that the city is considering building a treed promenade here - eventually stretching from Jarvis to Parliament. It is interesting that they are prepared to eliminate trees along Shuter, in a residential area (neither a commercial nor a transit serviced area) but not on the Queen St. side. The suggestion was made that if they want a "Promenade" then they could easily incorporate that into building and site plans for a Queen St. facility.

The organizers are surprised that there were so many concerns and that not more members had showed up at the meetings. The GDRA stated that this should have been handled the way a developer consultation meeting is with all residents having full knowledge of what was on the table. The assumption for most residents (and indeed those using the park for say tennis) had always been that the current building would be torn down and that space would be used for the new facility. Given that this was a major change in direction (or had not been previously discussed), it should have been shared prior to the July meeting so that neighbours and outdoor park users were fully aware of what all the implications are such as tree removal and elimination of outdoor activities during construction.

The recently completed Heritage Conservation District (HCD) study recommended a stable historic residential neighbourhood. These plans make a mockery of that work particularly as the park itself was excluded as it was a municipal park!

The driveway for deliveries and garbage is planned for Shuter across from the residential neighbourhood, beside a busy crosswalk. This has the potential to increase truck and vehicle traffic on Shuter and side streets such as Pembroke and George. There are no answers to date as to why this driveway was not proposed instead for the Queen Street side of the park. It was noted that residents already have issues with the Armoury and Grand Hotel driveways and they will not willingly accept yet another.

When questioned about the very busy path along the Armoury side of the park, it was noted that they plan to replace it with a much broader path running behind the new building which would have entrances to the new facility, large windows, a new fence blocking the Armoury and lighting. There are still many doubts regarding the safety of this, particularly at night given the lack of visibility especially at either end of the building.

Concerns have also been raised about the balance between active uses of the park versus passive uses of the park. They have stated that they felt the public consultations made it clear that those who have been consulted wanted more dual usage areas for passive uses such as movie in the park nights, more informal eating spaces/cafes, entertainment, etc. It has been noted however that the balance we have between Allan Gardens (more passive) and Moss Park (more active) works well now.

Finally, in the long term, should the current Armoury property be acquired in the future, the current site decision would cut the potential space in half. We are unaware of any discussions that have taken place with the Department of National Defence and/or the Armoury.

The GDRA has made it clear that we understand the need for, and support the redevelopment and upgrading of both John Innes and Moss Park.

That said we have made our objections to the current proposal well known to those in charge and are expecting feedback very shortly. HOWEVER WE WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBOURS TO ATTEND THE UPCOMING COMMUNITY CONSULTATION ON SEPTEMBER 14TH AT THE JOHN INNES COMMUNITY CENTRE (6:30-8:30 PM) TO ENSURE YOUR CONCERNS ARE EXPRESSED!



The Laneway Project


We had a very interesting presentation on how to improve our area laneways  and rethink how our laneways are used. It is clear that we need to take a proactive approach in making our laneways safer, cleaner and less susceptible to unwanted behaviour. It will involve some effort on our part to organize a laneway team to identify the problems that currently exist and a plan to help deal with those problems.


An area resident has stepped forward to work with The Laneway Project volunteers to help develop a plan to move forward.  We will need volunteers from all of the streets with laneways behind to help take stock of laneway conditions and challenges. We need to determine if more lighting is needed, what kind of surface materials would work, if security cameras should be installed etc.. We need to determine whether partnerships with arts groups such as Rosedale School for the Arts or amateur theatre and musical companies would help bring interesting ideas and concepts for new uses of the lanes.  We will also need help in fundraising for the plan and putting the plan into action. Please have a look at the Laneway Project Presentation and let us know at info@cabbagetownsouth.ca how you can help.  


Ontario Street Park Playground languishes 

City Parks and Rec Staff have been slow to fix this ongoing problem. As many area residents area are aware an arsonist set fire to the children's playground equipment at Ontario Street Park in early July and now we are looking at October or later before things get fixed.  Parks staff have indicated that the equipment was more severely damaged by the flash fire than originally estimated.  It is unclear if they intend to replace the entire structure or still hope to repair the damaged section of the playground equipment and the rubberized playground surface. The Parks department and the Fire Marshall's office has not properly investigated the arson as they initially ruled the damage was under $10,000 and did not justify further investigation.  A Milan Street neighbour witnessed two suspects exiting the park as the fire erupted but apparently was never interviewed by police or fire investigators. Our concern is that once this structure is repaired the same persons could return and do this again.  The playground equipment remains  fenced off and the park has little to offer area families.  The park has returned to being a hangout for drug addicts, prostitutes and their johns.  We have been advised that the playground structure is manufactured in Germany, and an order was placed in late July for a replacement or parts but still has not arrived in Toronto.  Why are our tax dollars being spent in Germany when it is very likely that playground structures are manufactured in or near Toronto?  It has been a long sad summer for area kids.

The playground had been working well and many area families would gather in the park late afternoon and early evening.  Everyone is perplexed by why anyone would chose to target a children's playground in this manner.  Hopefully the arsonist will not come back when the park is back up and running.  Hopefully area residents with kids will come back. We will keep everyone advised when the repairs are done and will try to organize a little bit of decorating and a reopening party. 

Problematic Properties/ Callaghan Lane Working Group

Councillor McConnell, city bylaw enforcement staff, parks and rec. staff, police, fire and Toronto health personnel met with concerned neighbours about several properties in the area on September 6th. We were advised by James Slocum head of by law enforcement that all properties on the list have been visited by a joint force of appropriate city staff from the departments listed above.  New work orders were issued on some properties and property owners have been given notice that they must show evidence of progress with properties that are currently sitting empty or in mid renovation. In some cases, an extension was granted to property owners in legal disputes with contractors or insurance providers. One vacant property on Milan Street has apparently been sold to a neighbour interested in renovating the property back into a habitable home.  We will be following up on all the properties currently on our list and if you notice any work or improvements in the condition of those derelict properties near you, let us know what is going on. If you are aware of any properties in bad shape and dire need of inspection, let us know as well.  Contact us at Info@cabbagetownsouth.ca.  

Reaction from neighbours to Sherbourne/Gerrard Oben Flats Redevelopment        

The Oben Flats proposal for a market rate apartment building on the vacant lot at Sherbourne and Gerrard has been revamped after the last public consultation.  To have a look at the entire revised plan/documents please go to the City of Toronto  Application Site, click Application Information Centre (AIC) and fill in the boxes.  Address is 307 Sherbourne Street.  We have heard from area residents who are "appalled" by the new plan that is actually one storey taller than the original proposal. We have heard from neighbours who continue to support the plan and feel that the building is appropriate for the site. Those living close to the proposed building continue to be concerned about the height of the building and how it will impact on their light and privacy. We expect the developer will go to Committee of Adjustment with this current plan and will advise area residents of that meeting when announced.  In the meantime we recommend you direct your views to our city planner Jennifer Renaud at jrenaud2@toronto.ca. Please cc Kelly Sather from Pam McConnell's office at ksather@toronto.ca . 

 

 



Area Resident takes on the Beer Store

A Gerrard Street neighbour has taken on the Beer Store over the sale of beer with high alcohol content and the sale of beer to intoxicated individuals. Cabbagetown South and our neighbours have engaged with the Beer Store in the past over these same issues. The Beer Store claims to have high standards of personnel training for its staff and has outlined their approach below.  In discussions with our community police officers it has been determined that the Beer Store has been hiring private security rather than off duty police officers who are better equipped to deal with those beer store patrons who are clearly over drinking and intoxicated.  

The Beer Store states that initiatives are in place in many of their locations and that they have placed a greater focus on them at the Gerrard and Seaton site. These include, but are not limited to :

  • Active discussion and evaluation of the sobriety of all patrons. If in doubt, service is refused
  • Enhanced evaluation of the sobriety of patrons who have purchased from us on previous occasions within the same day
  • A discussion with patrons who may be purchasing for intoxicants and a reminder that if they are purchasing for known intoxicants, they themselves will be refused service
  • Monitoring of panhandling activities around our store and advising patrons that they will not be served
  • Monitoring of activities around our premises for any drinking or loitering and discussion with patrons that they will not be served and potentially being banned from our premises if the activities continue
  • Discussion with the known regular patrons, many of whom are homeless, that public display of drinking and intoxication will not be permitted and that we may take additional action, up to and including banning from our site if there are persistent complaints and issues with them.

Homelessness and public drunkenness often run hand in hand and is a very difficult issue. City operated hostels have in some cases implemented wet areas within their buildings so that problem drinkers can drink under supervision and in a safe environment.  However they cannot force their clients to use these facilities and we see public drinking and intoxication, and the bad behavior that goes with it.  Again, we need to house these folks with the support systems in place to better help the homeless move forward with their lives. If you have comments you would like to address to the Beer Store, the community service contact is Cat Boni email cat.boni@thebeerstore.ca .


Neighbourhood Policing

Officers from the Community Police Team again took the time to meet with us at our September 7th meeting.  We received good news that officers are addressing problems around neighbourhood drug dens and areas where drug dealing is happening.  They are actively monitoring and challenging blatant sexual activity in and around Hooker Strolls in the area.  We were also pleased to learn that extra street patrol and bicycle patrol officers have been assigned to our area on afternoon and evening shifts Fridays to Mondays.

Officers stressed that area residents must take the time to call the police when you witness any criminal behavior, including sexual activity, public alcohol and drug consumption and any other nuisance or unwanted behavior.  Call 416 808 2222 or click onto the complaint form at the bottom of this article and forward by email.  The number of officers assigned to 51 Division is based on the number of calls and complaints received. 

For contact information for both community officers and Toronto Community Housing Safety Unit please see below. 

We need to be vigilant and report suspicious activity, and stress that residents keep an eye out for our neighbours and their property.  If you sense something is amiss report it. 

We cannot emphasize enough to get to know your neighbours on your street and the laneway behind, and note names and contact information so should you see something amiss you can contact them.  Letting neighbours know when you are going to be away on vacation etc. is highly recommended.  It is also important to call 911 if you witness individuals acting suspiciously, trespassing, attempted break ins, altercations etc..  Police dispatch will assign officers to respond as manpower permits.

Obviously assaults or violent activity get priority responses but police need to know about suspicious activity or if something seems out of place.  If you sense something is wrong or something is about to happen, let the police know about your concerns.  To report nuisance behaviour, such as public drug and alcohol consumption or intoxication, drug dealing and street prostitution or sexual activity in public spaces call 416 808 2222 and report it.  A follow up call (or email) to our community police reporting the incident and location is also helpful.  Talking to the police and especially the community team is what gets officers patrolling our neighbourhood.

Staff Sgt. Henry Dyck: 416-808-5152 email Henry.Dyck@torontopolice.on.ca

Police Constable Julie Rice: 647-921-6395 email julie.rice@torontopolice.on.ca

Police Constable Scott Hodgson: 647-921-6395 email scott.hodgson@torontopolice.on.ca

For issues at Toronto Community Housing properties such as noise, drug dealing, etc.follow up with

Community Safety Advisor Michael Bezoff: 416-899-8454 email michael.bezoff@torontohousing.ca

Staff Sergeant Peter Troupe: 416-808-5152 to follow up. His email is peter.troup@torontopolice.on.ca

Emailing a general complaint form is also a great idea as it helps determine the number of officers assigned to particular divisions. Click here.


Proposed New Green Bins

The next generation of "raccoon proof" bins will be very difficult for many area residents to store out of sight and the concern is that they will become permanent fixtures on the streetscape fronting our tiny front gardens. We recommend you contact Councillor McConnell on this issue and ask that area residents be given a better alternative to the new larger green bin. Keeping the current smaller bin should be an alternative. 

A letter objecting to the new and much larger green bins was recently sent to CIty Hall by the Cabbagetown Preservation Group.  

Area residents that properly store the current green bin securely out of site have no issues with marauding raccoons.  Timing the roll out of your garbage/recycling bins and green bins to the curb the morning of pick up, rather than the evening before pickup, helps greatly in thwarting nocturnal raccoon activity.  

Raccoons continue to be a problem and are destructive and a potential health hazard to area residents, children, grandchildren and our family pets.  We need a solution to reduce the raccoon population in the City of Toronto.    

For information about the bin program please click here.

Friends of Allan Gardens Open House and Ward 27 Environment Day

The Friends of Allan Gardens (FOAG) have invited area residents to to an open-house to discuss ideas about the future of the beloved park.  Here is the invitation:

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 10am to 2pm.

The open house is part of FOAG’s Refresh initiative, and is proudly also a part of the Community Environment Day organized by the office of Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

The Allan Gardens Refresh is a collaborative project between FOAG and the City of Toronto Parks Forestry & Recreation department. It aims to lay the groundwork for a holistic revitalization of Allan Gardens, bringing design excellence, new programming and new visitors to the park. This open house forms part of an ongoing consultation process that we are engaging in through the summer and fall months.

We will be set up in the Children’s Conservatory, and look forward to sharing our ideas with you and hearing what you think!

For information about Friends or Allan Gardens please click here.
For information about the Community Environment Day click here

Volunteers are always needed


If you can spare a couple of hours a month we can always use some help in making the neighbourhood a better place to live and work in.  We need help in maintaining our website, organizing social events like garden tours, community yard sales, etc.  A volunteer willing to help seek out area businesses willing to sponsor us on our website would also be a big help.  If we can get ten or so businesses willing to donate $40.00/year to place their business card advert on our site it would help pay our yearly website fee. 

Please contact us at info@cabbagetownsouth,ca




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