Next Steps to Addressing Vacant Homes

Next Steps to Addressing Vacant Homes

After generating much discussion, action on a Vacant Homes Tax was not ultimately part of this year’s budget cycle. This will, however, be something Council takes a close look at over the coming months.

Over a relatively short number of years, the issue of housing affordability in Toronto has grown from concerning to crisis level. Real estate prices have escalated so quickly, both for home ownership as well as for rentals, a whole generation is finding itself priced out of the market. Rental vacancy rates are …

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Councillors Unify On 2020 Budget (But Important Questions Remain)

Councillors Unify On 2020 Budget (But Important Questions Remain)

Toronto City Council unanimously adopted its 2020 tax-supported operating and capital budget on Wednesday. Council came together in an unusual way to balance the City’s priorities and keep costs down for residents while investing in critical infrastructure projects.

Council approved a 2% property tax increase for residential properties and a 1% percent increase for commercial properties. As per provincial legislation, there will be no increase for multi-residential or apartment buildings. Additionally, the current City Building Levy will increase to 1.5%, bringing 2020 property taxes, along with …

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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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Moving Forward On Transit Partnership

Moving Forward On Transit Partnership

As the City of Toronto and Province of Ontario continue to move forward on a partnership ensuring high-speed transit expansion, John continues to watch negotiations carefully.

Last spring, a deal was reached between the City and Province on a $30 billion transit expansion plan that would see extensions of subway Line 1 to Richmond Hill, Line 2 to Scarborough Centre and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to Pearson Airport; along with the creation of an ‘Ontario Line’ between the Ontario Science Centre and Ontario Place that would …

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City Rolls Out Photo Radar

City Rolls Out Photo Radar

Pedestrians and cyclists in Willowdale sometimes find themselves dodging drivers who don’t respect posted speed limits.

In December, Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras (photo radar) and signage were  added to Toronto streets to increase road safety, reduce speeding, and raise public awareness about obeying posted speed limits.

Initially, 50 cameras will be installed on local, collector and arterial roads in Community Safety Zones near schools. In Willowdale, the cameras will be installed at Patricia Avenue between Laconia Drive and Homewood Avenue, and Lillian Street between Abitibi Avenue …

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Trashing the Rebates – Why Smaller Black Garbage Bins Will Cost More

Trashing the Rebates – Why Smaller Black Garbage Bins Will Cost More

Several years back, the City of Toronto moved away from paying for water and garbage disposal through property tax rates. A new funding model was introduced to fund those services separately through a utility bill.

In Willowdale, where residents pay higher than the city average in property tax rates, homeowners were previously paying much more than residents in other parts of the city for the same services. By breaking out the costs onto a separate bill, all residents would not only pay a uniform rate but …

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City Council Approves Building Levy Hike

City Council Approves Building Levy Hike

In December, Toronto City Council approved an increase to the City Building Levy that will raise an estimated $6.6 billion for new TTC upgrades and repairs and affordable housing.

The current levy of 0.5% annually, will increase to 1.5% in 2020 and 2021. An additional 1.5% annual increase will continue until 2025.

This is not a vote that John took lightly.

By law, cities in Ontario must apply a uniform property tax rate to the values of properties as assessed by MPAC. The system is highly problematic — …

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City Council Approves HousingTO Action Plan

City Council Approves HousingTO Action Plan

The skyrocketing cost of Toronto real estate over the past few years has created a housing affordability crisis, especially in Willowdale.

In trying to address the variety of housing issues across the City, Toronto City Council recently approved HousingTO Action Plan 2020-2030, a 10-year strategy that looks to address a variety of housing issues, from homelessness and social housing to affordable rental housing and long-term care.

Implementing the estimated $23.4 billion plan will require investments from all three levels of government. The City will fund $8.5 billion, …

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LPAT Upholds City’s Rules on Short-Term Rentals

LPAT Upholds City’s Rules on Short-Term Rentals

The City of Toronto will be able to regulate how properties are listed on short-term rental sites such as Airbnb. That was the result of a decision this week from the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) upholding Council’s approved short-term rental bylaws from 2017. Those rules had been on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

In recent years, the popularity of online short-term rental sites has had several undesirable impacts on local neighbourhoods. They have reduced the number of available rental properties driving up prices, …

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Transit Deal: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Transit Deal: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

This week, Toronto City Council endorsed a deal with Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario that will create some stability after a turbulent year in which the Province had announced plans to seize all high-speed transit assets in the city. The deal allows all parties to move forward productively, but comes with details both good and bad.

Here’s a look at some of the key details.

The Good

The Province has backed down from a plan to seize the City’s transit network. As transit and city planning are …

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Improving Protection For Our Trees

Improving Protection For Our Trees

Trees are a critically important part of our community. They beautify our neighbourhoods, clean the air, offer shade from the sweltering heat during the summer, and help keep sewers from being overwhelmed during a storm. The City of Toronto has committed to increasing its tree canopy to 40% coverage. Despite this good news, many trees are being lost throughout the construction process.

Over the past several years, John has worked with Toronto Urban Forestry staff to improve the speed of inspections and tree protection to ensure …

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Toronto Declares Climate Emergency

Toronto Declares Climate Emergency

Climate scientists widely agree that the world must rapidly reduce carbon emissions over the next 10 years to reduce dangerous effects on our collective health, infrastructure and economy.

This week Toronto City Council unanimously voted to declare a Climate Emergency, joining hundreds of governments around the world and cities across Canada seeking to ensure that Toronto does its part.

Council had previously introduced a climate action strategy in 2017 titled TransformTO. It seeks to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into Toronto by focusing on more efficient …

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