Hey There! Slow Down!

Hey There! Slow Down!

It’s not a surprise to see evidence that speeding is an issue along Doris Avenue. The 4-lane service road serving as a barrier between Yonge Street and the neighbourhoods to its east has long had a bad rap for cars moving too fast, and sometimes even racing. With four schools nearby and a high population density, there are many reasons to take the problem seriously.

But it was still pretty shocking to see some numbers this week coming from our local Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras. …

Read More »

Province Gambling on Health of Schools

Province Gambling on Health of Schools

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

“See you in a month, I guess,” I said to the staff at our local school dropping my boys off this morning. Having heard the news about a third-wave lockdown in Ontario starting this weekend, I assumed like many, that meant another month of homeschooling.

“Nope, we’re going to be here,” said the staff, already up to speed that the lockdown isn’t going to affect schools.

After confirming that this wasn’t an April Fools gag I started wondering, for the first …

Read More »

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

“Where do you live?”

How many times have you been asked that question? Whether you choose to answer with the name of a city, a neighbourhood, or even a street corner, the answer becomes part of our personal identity and often connects us more deeply with our neighbours.

We were very surprised last week to learn that the City of Toronto was changing neighbourhood names as part of a reorganization of local data collection. How could such changes be made without …

Read More »

Uncertainty around Cummer Station

Uncertainty around Cummer Station

You’d be in good company if you’ve taken the opinion that governments are more interested in creating transit plans than they are in actually getting them built. Between delays on the Ellington Crosstown, the constant debate over how to replace the SRT in Scarborough, and even the responsibility for transit planning shifting from the City to the Province, there has been a lot of arguing, and not a lot to show for it. The result is confusion. And we’re about to pay a steep price …

Read More »

HELP for Energy Efficient Home Renovations

HELP for Energy Efficient Home Renovations

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

Last night, I had the opportunity to join a virtual summit hosted by the grade 8 students at Cummer Valley Middle School. The event brought together representatives of all four levels of government (including our trustee) along with many participants from the community. The message from the students and their keynote speakers was clear: Citizens and their governments need to work together to address the most important crisis of our lifetime. They weren’t talking about COVID-19.  They were talking …

Read More »

Encouraging Curb Lane Cafes in 2021

Encouraging Curb Lane Cafes in 2021

Small business owners remain among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as we head into the 10th week of the current lockdown. Though the lockdown will continue in Toronto until at least March 8, we are starting to see small glimmers of hope. Governments continue to ready a broad rollout of vaccination clinics, the cold weather has begun to show signs of the coming spring, and today the City of Toronto launched registration for the 2021 CafeTO program to help get restaurants up and …

Read More »

A Budget with a Hole – Why That May Be (Mostly) a Good Thing

A Budget with a Hole – Why That May Be (Mostly) a Good Thing

Toronto City Council passed a $12 billion operating budget this week with a $649 million “hole”. In other words, it approved a plan for 2021 with money it hasn’t fully sourced yet. This may seem strange for many who know that in Ontario, City governments aren’t allowed to run deficits.  But in unusual times, this budget takes a balanced approach to City finances, but may pave the way for a “new deal” with Provincial and Federal governments moving forward.

Toronto continues to struggle with the financial …

Read More »

Looking Forward: Municipal Property Taxes Need Revision

Looking Forward: Municipal Property Taxes Need Revision

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

It’s never the best week when the property tax bill arrives. Along with many of you, I received my interim bill this week. As Council also prepares for its budget debate, the big question that always comes up is: “Why do I keep paying more and seem to get less in return?” The answer: Because it’s true.

In the years since amalgamation, property taxes have been frozen by City Council in four of those years – and increased by the …

Read More »

Is Toronto Heading Towards a Cycling “Highway?”

Is Toronto Heading Towards a Cycling “Highway?”

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

Willowdale residents are already familiar with Council’s decision in December 2020 to add a grade-separated Cycle Track to Yonge Street when the stretch from Highway 401 to Finch is reconstructed. The Yonge TOmorrow project, approved by Council this week, has flown a little more under the radar. Focused on downtown Yonge between Queen and College, this plan shares a vision similar to REimagine Yonge, reducing space for vehicular traffic and adding lots of additional space for pedestrians, diners, shoppers, …

Read More »

For Virtual Learning, Teachers Deserve Gratitude

For Virtual Learning, Teachers Deserve Gratitude

Three weeks into full online learning for our school-age kids, the great social experiment continues. The stories I’m sharing with friends and family about my 4 and 7-year-olds often leave them in stitches. From one cowering under their blankets in the middle of class, to messy kitchen experiments when mom and dad are still wrapped up in meetings and slow on the snacks. From IT connection issues (“I don’t know what I did!”), to becoming highly proficient at dumping out of Google Classroom, and getting …

Read More »

COORDINATION A CRITICAL PART OF YONGE NORTH SUBWAY EXTENSION

COORDINATION A CRITICAL PART OF YONGE NORTH SUBWAY EXTENSION

As the City begins to advance work on Yonge Street following the Council vote in December, there are other major infrastructure projects in the works that need to be carefully monitored and coordinated with this work.  Metrolinx, Ontario’s provincial transit agency, continues to advance work on the Yonge North Subway Extension (YNSE) with several reports passing through Council in recent months. The YNSE is one of four priority transit expansion projects that were taken over by the Province of Ontario in 2019.

Metrolinx continues to target …

Read More »

City’s Approach to Sidewalks Must Change

City’s Approach to Sidewalks Must Change

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

In a week without access to school yards, the importance of outdoor infrastructure for physical activity has become even more evident. As with so many families struggling to adapt to online learning for young kids, we’ve been forced to encourage more self-reliance so that we, as parents, can keep up with work.   While this has had predictably mixed results with classroom activities (perhaps a topic for a future column), an independent walk to a local park is something we …

Read More »