From City Hall: SmartTrack Moving Forward with Study Approval at Council

From City Hall: SmartTrack Moving Forward with Study Approval at Council

It was a centrepiece of Mayor Tory’s election campaign and with Council’s approval in February, a work plan will get underway formally studying the feasibility of the SmartTrack proposal and seeking to integrate the work with the Province’s ongoing Regional Express Rail (RER) plan.

SmartTrack seeks to piggyback on the Province’s existing plan to electrify the GO transit lines – specifically the Etobicoke/Lakeshort East,Kitchener and Eglinton West lines – running new surface subways along those routes from Markham to Mississauga.  SmartTrack would seek to add 13 …

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From City Hall: Local Appeals Body

From City Hall: Local Appeals Body

City Council has approved my motion to establish a Local Appeals Body to hear all appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions. Currently, these appeals are heard by the developer-friendly Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

As you may know, the OMB – an un-elected, provincially-appointed body – has the final say on all planning issues. Ontario is the only province that has this system which over-rides decisions of the elected municipal councils.

Additional reports will be coming to Council after the election regarding some details of the new body, …

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From City Hall: City Action on Pipeline Safety (UPDATED)

From City Hall: City Action on Pipeline Safety (UPDATED)

UPDATE (April 2014)

As Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline is running through Ward 23’s hydro corridor, the recent decision of the National Energy Board to allow the line to carry diluted bitumen has raised significant concern in the area.  While it’s important to understand that jurisdiction overseeing pipelines belongs to the federally appointed NEB and not the City of Toronto, Council continues to monitor the situation closely and recently addressed some of residents’ safety concerns.

Actions include asking the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to order an environmental assessment of Enbridge’s proposal to …

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From City Hall: Jets at Billy Bishop? (UPDATED)

From City Hall: Jets at Billy Bishop? (UPDATED)

UPDATE (April 2014)

Over the past year, this issue has generated more calls and emails to my office than any other. Opinion is strongly split between those who see expansion of the Island Airport as being convenient and business-friendly and those concerned about the negative impact on  the environment, the island, and the waterfront community. As a Porter flyer, I know the convenience of the airline and have enjoyed their commitment to customer service.  I also believe that Toronto Island is a gem that needs to …

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2014 City Budget

2014 City Budget

This week, City Council has approved a budget with a residential tax increase of 2.23%. Part of this increase (.5%) is to cover part of the costs of the Scarborough subway. This rate does not include an additional .5% cost to cover the provincially mandated reduction of commercial property taxes and provincial education tax which effectively cancel each other out.

Overall, I am pleased that Council was able to keep the increase low despite huge costs associated with July’s rain storm and December’s ice storm. It is worth …

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From City Hall: Council Appointment in Ward 3

From City Hall: Council Appointment in Ward 3

On August 26, 2013, Toronto City Council held a special meeting to decide on how the Council seat in Ward 3, vacated by Doug Holyday’s election to the Provincial Legislature, would be filled.  In my view, this was a difficult decision.  Giving voters in Ward 3 a chance to have their voices heard in a by-election would naturally be given weight in our democratic system.  However, we as Councillors must also be mindful of all municipal spending and determine whether taxpayers are truly getting value …

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From City Hall: Casino Debate (UPDATED)

From City Hall: Casino Debate (UPDATED)

UPDATED (May 2013): The many hundreds of e-mails I received, along with the numerous individual conversations and discussions at community meetings were very helpful in determining that my stance against casinos reflected the views of the majority of my constituents.

By the time all of the information was available to members of Council, the vote was 40-4 against casino expansion in the City – and I believe even some of the 4 only favoured casino expansion at Woodbine and not in the downtown.

The one good thing that …

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From City Hall: Transit Funding Update

From City Hall: Transit Funding Update

Last week’s debate on transit funding  was certainly not Council’s finest hour. The good news is that Council is strongly behind an array of transit improvements, including both subways and LRTs. The bad news is the mish-mash of confusing and sometimes contradictory motions provided no coherent answer to the burning questions: what are our transit priorities and how are we going to pay for them?

Metrolinx, the provincial agency responsible for transit planning,  will report to the Province by early June, recommending new fees or taxes that would be a dedicated source …

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