New Full Size Community Centre for Willowdale

New Full Size Community Centre for Willowdale

As Willowdale’s population increases rapidly, providing enough public facilities to meet the rising needs becomes a vital part of planning our community. Last month, we made a great stride forward on that as Council approved my plan to double the size of the community centre to be built as part of the development of the former Newtonbrook Plaza.

Prior to the last election, this area was represented by a different councillor who negotiated a community centre so small that city staff didn’t want to build it. …

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Tragic Fire on Norton Avenue

Tragic Fire on Norton Avenue

Early Tuesday morning, a fire at 37 Norton Avenue killed one resident, put firefighters at risk of serious injury, and forced seven others to run for safety with whatever they could carry. It was an entirely preventable tragedy.

Eight unrelated people were living in the house. The incident is still being investigated by Toronto Fire, the Office of the Fire Marshall, and Toronto Police, so I shouldn’t speculate about their conclusions or what charges may be laid.

What I can say is that one way to help …

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Schools Should be Growing With Our Neighbourhoods

Schools Should be Growing With Our Neighbourhoods

By Markus O’Brien-Fehr – Chief of Staff

As a dad sending young kids to school this fall, I’ve shared apprehension with many parents about how this year is going to work. Can kids be adequately distanced in these spaces, especially with surging COVID-19 numbers in our community?

I’ve made a few observations over the first couple of weeks. First, teachers are working very hard and adding great creativity doing their instruction in a completely different and difficult educational environment. Second, schools simply don’t have the resources or …

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Yonge St North & Transportation Master Plan Meeting

Yonge St North & Transportation Master Plan Meeting

Virtual Community Consultation Meeting
Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

Next week, please join City Planning staff to help determine the future of our neighbourhood. City planning staff want your feedback on the Yonge Street North Planning Study, and the Transportation Master Plan. Your voice is important to help the City develop policies for this changing area.

The objective of the Yonge Street North Planning Study is to develop a long-term vision for the area and to manage and guide the expected growth in the future, through …

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UPDATED: New Provincial Rules Would Help Developers, Hurt Communities

UPDATED: New Provincial Rules Would Help Developers, Hurt Communities

 

Residents may be interested in the formal submission made by the City of Toronto to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on April 20 as part of the formal consultation process.  That submission can be read here.

John’s submission is also linked at the end of the original post below.

Original Post (April 17, 2020):

Most developers in Willowdale will be paying much less towards the cost of new parks, child care centres, community centres and other facilities if a new Ford Government proposal becomes final.

In …

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Potential Building Code Service Changes Could Put Public At Risk

Potential Building Code Service Changes Could Put Public At Risk

In the pursuit of reducing red tape and speeding up development, the Provincial Government has recently proposed changes to how the Building Code is enforced in Ontario.

Part of a discussion paper circulated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, a central change would create a new ‘Certified Professionals Program’ allowing developers to hire private architects and engineers to perform inspections currently carried out by City of Toronto’s Building department.

John, along with the majority of Council, was immediately alarmed by this proposal. Having critical safety …

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Win For Families At Yonge Sheppard Centre

Win For Families At Yonge Sheppard Centre

Image: Catherine LeBlanc-Miller (pictured) stands alongside one of three child care playgrounds at the redeveloped Yonge Sheppard Centre.

If you’re the parent, or caregiver of a young child, chances are good you’ve shared the struggle of finding high-quality, affordable child care. In Willowdale, our population growth has created long wait lists, challenging young families looking for a supportive and welcoming space for their little ones.

Throughout his career, John has taken a creative approach to establishing new child care spaces, leveraging surplus school space and development revenue …

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The Party Is Over For Party Houses

The Party Is Over For Party Houses

In recent years, the surge of short-term rentals popping up on websites like Airbnb has hurt communities like Willowdale by reducing the stock of available rental properties, leading to soaring prices and less stable neighbourhoods.

With land speculation continuing to be a significant factor in the local real estate market, owners have become more creative in monetizing properties on these web platforms, renting out homes as party venues and causing headaches for large groups of neighbours seeking John’s assistance.

That party, however, is about to end. In …

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Proclaiming Bad News

Proclaiming Bad News

When Provincial politicians go out of their way to help their developer friends, they do it as quietly as possible.

So it’s not surprising that you didn’t hear anything about Bill 108 being proclaimed into law September 3, complete with a clause that allows just about any developer to decide if they want their good fortune applied retroactively. And who wouldn’t want to have their appeal of a Toronto planning decision heard under a set of rules which basically takes back the city’s ability to control …

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Planning Rules Upheld For Sheppard West

Dear Residents,

We received a rare bit of good news from a provincial appeal body this week when the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board) upheld City planning rules that limit the size and location of development in the Lansing and West Lansing areas.

The City’s rules restrict building heights on Sheppard to five or six stories in most locations and limit development to properties fronting onto the main street. This plan, initiated by me and supported by area residents, was opposed by …

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Neighbourhood Zoning – “The Missing Middle”

Toronto’s housing stock is made up mostly of single homes and highrises – with a relatively small amount of townhouses, duplexes and four-storey walk-ups.

Recently, housing advocates have begun calling for planning changes in areas such as Willowdale, where they believe this “missing middle” should be allowed alongside single homes on neighbourhood streets.

This would be a major departure from rules that exist now, and a reversal of a city promise to residents not that long ago when the city adopted a new Official Plan. Accept high …

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Basketball Court Upgrades at Willowtree

Basketball Court Upgrades at Willowtree

At the July meeting of City Council, John passed a motion in support of the upgrades of the basketball court at 415 Willowdale Avenue, an affordable housing complex known as Willowtree.

John’s motion directed half of the required funding to assist Toronto Community Housing (TCH)  with the other half being provided by TCH.

These funds will be used to increase the size of the court, upgrade the poles and nets, provide new benches and fencing and make the site more accessible. Construction on the court is slated …

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