It has been a long hot and difficult summer in all of the downtown east neighbourhoods with serious criminal activity, assaults, shootings and a fatal hit and run. We are encountering many highly intoxicated individuals wandering about or passing out in our parks and laneways. We did have a stepped up police presence but the sheer number of problems facing the neighbourhood is overwhelming. We wrote the Mayor and Deputy Mayor/Councillor Pam McConnell but have not yet had a reply. Here is a copy of that letter.
Seniors are not safe from armed robbery in their own driveways. See the police bulletin here.We have organized a meeting and Cabbagetown Festival kick off get together for September 7th 7 pm at a new location The Local Gest at 424 Parliament Street. We have a speaker fromThe Laneway Project with some new ideas on making our laneways safer and less prone to unwanted behaviour. The police have also been invited to give us a brief update on the challenges they are facing in 51 Division.
Join us on September 7th at the Local Gest, 424 Parliament Street at 7pm. Some of us arrive early around 6pm for dinner and conversation with our neighbours.
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.
Ontario Street Park Playground still under wraps
As many area residents area are aware an arsonist set fire to the children's playground equipment at Ontario Street Park in early July. Since then the playground equipment has been fenced off and the park has become a hang out for drug addicts, prostitutes and their johns. We have been advised that the playground structure is manufactured in Germany, is still on order and as of the middle of August has still not been shipped. It has been a long sad summer for area kids.
The rubber surface below the climbing apparatus was to be temporarily covered with sand and patched later in the season. Looks like the whole thing is going to be later in the season. We have had area residents helping to keep the playground and park as clean as possible and inviting to young families in the area. It 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 indicated in early July that she and her staff would reconvene the problematic properties group. The new date for the meeting is now September 6th. We hope to get actual help from bylaw inspectors and an update on changes to bylaws regarding derelict properties. Many properties are sitting empty, or in mid renovation due to money issues or permit violations. Municipal Licencing and Standards apparently "deal with" vacant abandoned properties for the purposes of locating missing owners of generally derelict properties. The objective is to make contact and move forward with whatever is planned for the future of the property. This includes issues such as family disputes, estate matters, mental health issues, hoarded and abandoned properties etc.. We need the owners of these properties to get a plan in place to bring these properties up to standard. Some properties in the area have sat vacant for over 20 years and this is unacceptable. We will report back at our next general meeting.
Neighbours near Callaghan Lane have independently entered into talks with the landlord and manager of rental properties at the corner of Dundas and Parliament that back onto Callaghan Lane. The building owner has promised security cameras and a better screening process for his tenants. There was a notorious drug den operation out of one of the Dundas Street properties. Neighbours have indicated that a gang of young men on bicycles are now openly selling drugs along the laneway. They often block traffic in the laneway while deals go down. This lane abuts Lord Dufferin School and such activity needs to be halted immediately. Police are also meeting with the Callaghan Lane Group. Will advise what is happening there at the next meeting.
Revamped Sherbourne/Gerrard redevelopment proposal under study by planning department 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 Center (AIC) and fill in the boxes. Address is 307 Sherbourne Street. Here is a photo of the original rendering for comparison to the new rendering. Oben Flats have outlined changes to the facade and form, but not the height of the building. See the notes below. Let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org and also contact the city planner Jennifer Rennaud at email@example.com with your views on the development. We expect the next steps will be a Committtee of Adjustment at City Hall. Will keep you advised of the details as we learn more.
Since the initial application submission, proposal has been modified as follows:
- Height of podium has been reduced by one storey;
- Height of tower has increased by one storey;
- Reduction in GFA by approx. 220 square metres (reducing number of units from 94 to 93);
- Removal of landscape strip at rear property line;
- Removal of the private patios located at-grade along Sherbourne Street
Heritage Preservation Services
- The elevations were modified to address the comments pertaining to the outboard balconies on the north façade of the proposed development as received from City Planning and Heritage Preservation Services during the June 30, 2016 meeting. The balconies have been removed from the sixth floor only, while the seventh floor balconies have been retained to align with the underside of the soffit at the southwest corner and outboard balconies on the seventh floor, south facade.
- The parking supply has been provided on site as requested (0.38 residential spaces and 0.05 visitor spaces per unit).
- A site plan has been modified to include the collection vehicle's movement.
- Solid Waste Management Services: the drawings have been revised to show the ability of the collection to enter and exit the site in a forward motion with no more than a three-point turn.
- Drawings include a Type G loading space.
- The drawings have been revised to include a 5.0 metre corner rounding required at Sherbourne Street and Gerrard Street East.
- The Functional Servicing and Stormwater Management Report has been modified.
Tree Protection & Plan Review
- Tree protection (including hoarding location and distances) has been included on the plan.
Proposal for large and very tall development at Ontario Street south of Queen Street
The City of Toronto hosted a meeting on May 30th regarding a large proposal to redevelop a property at Ontario Street south of Queen. The Area's city planner Henry Tong firstname.lastname@example.org has advised that many area residents voiced concerns about the size and scale of the proposed building and the demolition of the existing warehouses on Richmond Street. Others voiced support for new infill housing that will bring more pedestrian traffic and commercial/retail development at the street level. The site includes the former Ontario Paint Store location which burned down several years ago as well as what was a heritage listed commercial building illegally demolished by the owner last year. For an article on the demolition and reprecussions of that action please click here.
The photograph is from the grounds of Moss Park Apartments looking south west.
It is our understanding that city planners have asked the developer to rethink the size and scale of the proposed towers and to come back with a better plan. The developer may do that or could decide to go directly to the OMB and see if they would approve the current plan. We hope the developer will rethink the plan and continue to work with city planners and area residents. Will keep you abreast of any new plans for the site.
The area south of Queen between Parliament and Jarvis is under considerable pressure for redevelopment. With talk of a relief subway line along Queen and a subway stop near Queen and Sherbourne there will be even more building proposals brought forward. Hopefully a master plan for the area could help save more of the commercial storefronts and warehouses which presently dot the neighbourhood. For information on the proposal please click here.
Shuter Street Probably one of the less appealing walks in our neighbourhood is along Shuter Street between Parliament and Sherbourne Streets. There is very little to attract pedestrians to the area. The one variety store at Ontario and Shuter has very little to offer residents and there is often street prostitutes working the various corners. It is time for lawmakers to find a solution for hooker strolls in residential neighbourhoods where families walk their kids to school. City Hall can regulate where street vendors set up shop and need to do something similar around street prostitution. It also needs to determine if these women are in the sex trade of their own volition. Pimps controlling women through intimidation or by drug addiction must be stopped.
A new "specialty pharmacy" and medical clinic recently opened at Poulett and Shuter Street.The owners/pharmacists have indicated it will be a clinic for people with HIV or possibly a clinic to help the mentally ill. Although somehow connected with Rexall, this is not a typical retail pharmacy but appears to be just a pharmacy dispensary. We asked if their objective is to operate a methadone clinic and were advised that is not the objective. We question the need of more services in the area with St Mikes, Sherbourne Health and Regent Park Community Health all so close by. Lack of parking for that building has added to the shortage of parking in and around the area.
The Catholic School Board has purchased the old Duke of York school property and are moving forward with construction of a new school. We have no details yet but would not be surprised if they partner with a condo developer to build the school on the lower floors of a high rise building. There is a community consultation planned for October 11th at St Michaels elementary school at 60 George Street South.
The redevelopment of the Moss Park Apartment blocks with the reintroduction of the street-grid south of Shuter to Queen needs to get done. Shuter on the south side should be redeveloped to include townhouses or low rise housing with underground parking rather than surface parking for the Moss Park Apartments. A plan to include mixed housing with both market rate and geared to income housing similar to what is happening in Regent Park would improve the block and generate much needed revenue for TCHC. In the mean time TCHC needs to keep the greenspace on the south side of Shuter clear of litter and debris and create better lighting and sightlines. Police routinely patrolling Shuter along this stretch would also be helpful in moving johns and hookers away from residential blocks.
Community Gardeners bring life to Berkeley Street and laneways
A group of dedicated neighbours and gardeners have been working diligently at creating a community garden at the corner of Berkeley and Callaghan Lane. The southwest corner of Lord Dufferin School had been a favoured location for illegal dumping and the efforts of the Berkeley Street residents has made a great change on the street. No longer a dumping ground but a pleasant garden with many many varieties of plants shared by area gardeners has taken shape.
We would also like thank gardeners who continue to create greenspace along our many alleys. Funds from the Beer Store Donation window also helped with some seed money. Please remember to donate your wine and beer bottles through the donation window to help fund community improvement projects like this one. Thanks to all the gardeners that work so hard at keeping our area looking good.
We remind area residents that taking the time to call the police when you witness any criminal behaviour, including sexual activity, public alchohol and drug consumption and any other nusance or unwanted behaviour. Call 416 808 2222 or click onto the complaint form at the bottom of this article. The number of officers assigned to 51 Division is based on the number of calls and complaints received.
Warm weather usually brings (and certainly did) more house and car break ins, robberies, assualts and other unwanted activity in our area and it was stressed that residents keeping an eye out for neighbours is a very good strategy. For contact information for both community officers and Toronto Community Housing Safety Unit please see below.
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.
Police Constable Julie Rice phone 647-921-6395 email email@example.com
Police Constable Scott Hodgson phone 647-921-6395 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Toronto Community Housing Issues contact Community Safety Advisor Michael Bezoff phone 416-899-8454 email email@example.com
Officers from 51 Division point out that the more calls they receive from a particular neighbourhood, the more patrols that neighbourhood receives. If problems are persistent it is also recommended you contact
Staff Sergeant Peter Troupe directly at 416-808-5152 to follow up. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Emailing a general complaint form is also a great idea as it helps determine the number of officers assigned to particular divisions. Click here.
Smaller Hostels are the way to goThere are several smaller hostels in the downtown east that seem to have less of an impact on the surrounding neighbourhood and a more manageable number of clients. The Salvation Army Hostel on Queen Street east pictured here does not have the number of clients hanging about that we see daily at Max Meighan or Seaton house. A real problem with all hostels is the lack of day programs which give their clients support and programs to help get the people through their day and tools to move forward into housing. For an article about problems shelter operators are facing click here. The need for affordable housing needs to be addressed and there is a proposed provincial plan to force new housing development to include a certain percentage of geared to income and supportive housing units into their plan. Apparently some councillors and city staff are fighting this proposal as they feel that incorporating affordable housing into new builds will take away section 37 funding that goes to parks and other city infrastructure. The process will no doubt be long and drawn out with appeals to the OMB.
Working together with our new School Trustee Chris Moise
Area residents have reached out to Chris Moise to discuss the creation of a new elementary school program for the Arts in the downtown east neighbourhood. There are models for the program in North York and Etobicoke at the elementary level, that act as feeder programs for Arts based high schools such as Karen Kane School for the Arts in Etobicoke. We have an arts based high school (Rosedale Heights School for the Arts) at Bloor and Castle Frank but no junior school in the area feeding students to the arts programs.
We are also in discussion with Chris to see if we can draw talented students from Jarvis Collegiate and Rosedale Heights to volunteer their time and talents to help with The Laneway Project.
Schools are an important marker in the success of a community. If our schools are successful and thriving, the surrounding neighbourhood becomes a better and healthier place to live. Moss Park and Cabbagetown South are the only downtown neighbourhoods where the population has decreased. Families with kids often leave our neighbourhood when the kids hit school age due to a perception that our area schools are falling behind. Other families do not move into and invest in our neighbourhood, again looking for better school districts. This problem makes our neighbourhood a less desirable, and a less energized place to live. This effects us all.
To learn more about Chris Moise click here.
To learn more about People for Education click here.
Trustees are responsible for setting the school board’s overall policy direction and the board’s budget, and they represent the interests of the community, parents and students in their area. By law, they must consult with their communities on the board’s multi-year plan and they must bring concerns from their community to the school board as a whole.
Proposal for 32 Storey Condo at Shuter and MutualA 32 storey building is proposed for the south east corner of Shuter and Mutual streets clickhere.
Toronto Noise Coalition
Area residents were concerned to learn that the city was considering lightening up regulations around noise, decibel levels, and acceptable hours for music venues, construction etc. The plan to lessen restrictions around noise that would allow for outdoor concert venues to operate at higher decibel levels and longer hours. Bar and restaurant patios will have less restrictions, 24 hour construction noise could become the new norm. Many area residents enjoy the tranquility of our quiet and leafy neighbourhood. On May 12th, the City of Toronto released their proposed changes to Toronto's noise bylaw. An organization called The Toronto Noise Coalition had analyzed the proposed new bylaw and has found that it failed on three key fronts:
- Key weaknesses in the original by-law remain unchanged;
- The proposed changes further reduce noise protections;
- No efforts have been made to strengthen enforcement.
They asked for the assistance of resident and ratepayer associations, BIAs etc. to contact city staff and our area Councillors to object to the proposed changes. As a result the city is reconsidering their plan and doing further study on the issue. Thanks to all that made the effort to voice their concerns. For a link to the Coalitions website and how to voice your concerns please click here.
Proposed NEW Green Bins
A letter objecting to the new and much larger green bins was recently sent to CIty Hall by the Cabbagetown Preservation Group. The next generation of "raccoon proof" bins will be very difficult for most 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. Area residents that properly store the current green bin securely out of site have no issues with marauding raccoons. We do have a huge raccoon population that needs to be controlled by neutering and spaying raccoons to reduce that population.
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. We would ask that area residents be given a better alternative to the new larger green bin. Residents should be given an option to keep their current bin or order a smaller sized household friendly "tamper proof" green bin. We recommend you contact Councillor McConnell on this issue. If we hear of any better alternatives to the new larger green bin we will let you know.
For information about the bin program please click here.
Volunteers always neededIf 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 advertise on our website would also be a big help. If we can get ten or so advertisers willing to donate $40.00/year to place a business card advert on our site it would help pay our yearly website fee.
Please contact us at info@cabbagetownsouth,ca