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Cabbagetowner according to … Paloma Ellard and Matthew Scott

Paloma Ellard and Matthew Scott were first-place winners in the 2018 Cabbagetown Holiday Lights Contest. They credit their top vote-getting to the fact their cute dog, Panda, was in the picture of their Hillcrest Street home overlooking Wellesley Park. 

Best place in Cabbagetown for a bite to eat … House on Parliament: cozy in the winter, beautiful patios for the summer and the food is always delicious. Kan Pai (at the northeast corner of Parliament and Carlton) is really grea,t too. 

Cabbagetown needs …  an art gallery or a bowling alley! Actually an art gallery with a bowling alley seems like a winning idea…

Favourite block …  our block, Hillcrest Park! We love living on the park and it was a great reason to get a dog. 

Best public space …  Broadcast Lane’s graffiti between Carlton and Winchester, west Parliament. Love public art in the neighbourhood. 

Favourite store … Labour of Love. Regina is the best. Not only does she have great taste (which makes finding special gifts in her store easy) but she really values this community.  We are lucky to have her.

Cabbagetown pet peeve…  Nimbyism, dog poo and the fact the city doesn’t clear our lanes when it snows.

Cabbagetown’s best kept secret … the easy access to Brickworks through Wellesley Park.

Best reason to join the Cabbagetown Residents Association (CRA) …   Support the Forsythia Festival! Our favourite weekend of the year. 

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Porch thefts: Security advice on prevention and response

Des Ryan, a retired Toronto police officer, is a CRA board director and our volunteer safety and security lead.

It seems there has been an increase in porch thefts in our neighbourhood recently. Neighbours are advising that their Amazon packages have been taken, strollers have been snatched away and, it would seem, any item that can be left without a signature is up for grabs.

What to do?

Arrange to have the package left with a neighbour who can receive it or consider picking up your package from Purolator or FedEx or at Penguin PickUp, the package-delivery service that has sprung up on Parliament.

If you can opt for “signature required” on packages, it should not be left at your door but returned to a courier depot for pickup. (In my personal experience, that’s not always the case, though.) If you can choose a delivery courier – often you can’t, as it’s shipper’s choice – remember that Purolator is run by Canada Post and a package that cannot be delivered to the recipient goes back to the nearest Canada Post outlet: for most of us, that’s the Shoppers Drug Mart on Parliament Street.

If none of these work for you and your package gets stolen from your porch, report to police. Whether the package taken contained a $5 children’s book or a $380 attaché case, it is still a theft, and police need to be notified.

If the person or persons are stealing your package(s) or property right now (or you see them leaving your porch with your property), call 9-1-1. This is a Theft in Progress. The call-taker will want to know what the person looks like (i.e. height, weight, clothing description, anything unusual/remarkable about their appearance) and last known direction of travel, and whether they are on foot, bicycle, or hop into a vehicle.

If you have been notified by the delivery company that the parcel was delivered, and it is not on your porch, file a report online.

Again, the value of the property stolen is immaterial when considering whether to report or not. What is important is that our local police are aware that thefts are taking place so that, hopefully, they will increase patrols in the area.

If you have security footage, please provide it to the police. Some people have been posting the images from their footage on social media. While stating that the individual captured on the footage is a thief may not be appropriate (morally or legally), suggesting that they may be a person of interest in relation to the thefts in the neighbourhood could be helpful in alerting us to be aware.

If you see the individual who you believe may be of interest in these thefts, call 9-1-1. Advise the call-taker that you are calling regarding a suspect for the porch thefts in the area. Again, you will be asked to provide descriptors such as height, weight, and clothing.

Simply put, it is imperative that we alert the police about this criminal activity. While we may believe that having officers respond and/or investigate such a minor crime is a waste of their time, it is not. Patrols are report-driven. If there are no reports of criminal activity in Cabbagetown, we cannot possibly expect we will see officers on our streets or bicycling through our parks in the summer.

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Think Spring! Sponsors needed for the 48th annual Forsythia Festival

Stout Irish Pub and its sister business Cifer Brewery sponsored the 2018 Forsythia Festival beverage tent.

Think Spring: Think about sponsoring!

The 48th annual Cabbagetown Forsythia Festival will be held on Sunday, May 5 and planning is in full swing.

This magical community festival is steeped in tradition and is our neighbourhood’s official welcoming of spring. This is an event free for all to attend and we can’t do it without a little help from our friends.

Organizers are looking for businesses and residents open to sponsoring the 48th Annual Cabbaagetown Forsythia Festival.

Insurance, permits, fencing, porta potties, tents, tables, supplies, musicians, decorations: these all cost money. We are very lucky to live in a community where local businesses such as Steak and Chops, Stout Irish Pub, Weenan General Contracting, Meridian Credit Union, The Sumach by Chartwell, House on Parliament, F’Amelia, Canada Trust, and many more donate money, product and time to make our festival happen. Please check out the full list of our 2018 sponsors.

If you own or work at a business that would be interested in sponsoring the Forsythia Festival we want to talk to you! We also have a few residents who donate individually to the festival. If you are open to sponsoring as an individual, as family, or even as a group of neighbours or street, we would love to hear from you. All donor levels and recognitions are featured on CRA website, cabbagetowner.com. If you have any questions our wish to chat further, please contact festival organizers Carolyn Jarman or Shawna Pereira via info@cabbagetowner.com.

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Toronto City Council highlights, January 30 and 31

Council Highlights is a summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk’s full, official documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Housing Now     
Council approved the Housing Now plan, which is designed to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing in mixed-income communities by making municipally-owned properties available to non-profit and private organizations. The first phase of Housing Now is expected to deliver about 10,000 new residential homes, including up to 3,700 affordable rental homes with average rents not to exceed 80 per cent of Toronto’s average market rent.

Supportive housing in Toronto   
After discussion and debate, Council voted to have staff convene an urgent meeting with key providers of supportive housing in Toronto to identify ways to increase supportive-housing options that will help people exit homelessness. In addition, Council will ask the federal and provincial governments to commit funding to support the annual creation of 1,800 new units of supportive housing in Toronto to help reduce homelessness.

Expanding supportive housing and services 
Council agreed to request a report from staff on options for an aggressive plan for building supportive and transitional housing in Toronto. Among other components of the adopted motion is a request for a report describing current mental health and addiction supports available in Toronto’s emergency shelters, respites and transitional housing, and identifying opportunities to expand those kinds of support services.

Cycle tracks on Richmond and Adelaide
Council supported making cycle tracks on Richmond and Adelaide Streets permanent, as well as the cycle tracks on Peter and Simcoe Streets. The cycle tracks (separated bike lanes) were installed between 2014 and 2016. The Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks are the most heavily used in Toronto. During the pilot, the rate of cyclist collisions decreased by 73 per cent and serious motor vehicle collisions decreased by 18 per cent on Richmond and Adelaide, which are key commuter arteries downtown.

Planning heat relief services for 2019
Council provided direction to staff regarding the City’s co-ordinated implementation of heat relief strategies for 2019. A work plan to be developed will include the creation of a bylaw requiring property owners to maintain an up-to-date list that can be used to contact building tenants in extreme weather emergencies. Working with Municipal Licensing and Standards, the work group will consider also consider asking landlords to provide a “cool room” and/or a shade structure on their properties.

St. Jamestown highrise buildings
A motion that Council adopted calls for a review and report on the City’s emergency response to the recent electrical power outage at 260 Wellesley St. E. and last year’s fire-related evacuation at 650 Parliament St. The motion includes a request for a review of building evaluations under the RentSafeTO audit program to make sure there are appropriate building and life-safety audits of all St. Jamestown residential towers.

Accelerating the Tenants First project
Council adopted a motion calling for steps to be taken to accelerate the City’s Tenants First project, an initiative that would see Toronto Community Housing’s seniors housing units managed under a new model that partners with health service institutions to provide services for seniors to age comfortably in place. This approach will allow better service to be provided to seniors while enabling Toronto Community Housing to focus on other tenants, including families and vulnerable persons.

Legal challenge to Bill 5
Council gave instructions to the City Solicitor pertaining to legal matters involving the Ontario government’s Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, 2018. That legislation included reducing Toronto’s electoral wards to 25 for the 2018 municipal election. The province’s appeal of a related Superior Court decision is scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal this June. Council’s instructions to the City Solicitor include opposing the province’s appeal at the June hearing.

Potential impacts of Ontario’s Bill 66
Council adopted a motion to express Council’s opposition to several of the schedules that are components of the Ontario government’s Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. The proposed legislation has significant interest for Toronto and other municipal governments.   

Potential acquisition of Hearn Generating Station
Council adopted a motion for the City to initiate negotiations to buy the decommissioned, now privately owned, Hearn Generating Station site in the Port Lands. The City’s plans for transforming the Port Lands have identified the site for a major public park and include re-use of the Hearn building for community purposes. Previous owner Ontario Power Generation sold the site last year. Council also directed staff to pursue heritage designation of the site.   

Governance of Toronto Parking Authority
Council adopted a recommendation for the recruitment of a new Board of Directors for the Toronto Parking Authority, the City agency that manages parking and the Bike Share program in Toronto. The board, with two members of Council and five public members, will put into place new governance policies and procedures once the board is appointed by Council.

Street parking on New Year’s Eve
Council adopted a motion calling for a report on the feasibility of allowing a grace period for street-parking violations (officially “Park in Permit Parking Location without a Valid Permit”) between 10 p.m. on December 31 and 10 a.m. on January 1 each year.

Advisory committee for Toronto Islands
A motion for Council to continue its Toronto Islands Advisory Committee during the current term of Council was adopted. The advisory committee, initially created in 2014, has focused on strategic planning for the islands as Toronto’s centrepiece park, with the goal of enhancing the islands attractiveness as an accessible, year-round destination.

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City seeking community input on bylaw reviews

The City of Toronto is reviewing the following bylaws and wants your feedback: all of these topics affect Cabbagetown.

Clothing Drop Boxes Bylaw Review

February 28, 2019, 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall, Committee Room 3

The aim of the review is to discuss potential improvements to the Clothing Drop Boxes Bylaw to ensure that clothing drop boxes remain safe and maintained. More information: http://ow.ly/SqGe30nItzE

 Body Rub Parlours and Holistic Centres Bylaw Review

March 4 to March 19, 2019

The aim of the review is to update the licensing bylaw to promote public health and safety, as well as effective oversight and enforcement. There will be four public consultations and five stakeholder meetings. More information: http://ow.ly/zPdw30nGZC8

Vehicle-For Hire Bylaw Review

March 4 to March 19, 2019

The aim of the review is to discuss potential updates to the bylaw for taxicabs, limousines and private transportation companies, such as Facedrive, Lyft and Uber.  There will be nine public consultations, each focused on a specific area of the bylaw. Topics to be discussed include accessibility, vehicle equipment and public safety. More information: toronto.ca/vehicleforhirereview

There are a number of ways you can be involved and help shape policy. Visit the consultation websites for more details on how you can:

– Attend public consultations

– Submit written feedback

– Subscribe to email updates

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Property tax dates: First payment due March 1 for most

There are many options in Toronto for paying property tax, with most having a first payment on March 1 on the interim bill (set out before city council sets the tax rate for 2019). However, one option, the 11-payment installment plan, has a first payment of Feb. 15.

So check your mail, see what kind of plan in which you’ve enrolled, and get that payment date into your calendar.

Read all the details from the city notice:

The City of Toronto has issued its 2019 interim property tax bills – the first of two tax bills mailed annually. The 2019 final tax bill will be mailed in May.

Payment due dates for the interim tax bills under the three-instalment plan are March 1, April 1 and May 1.

For property owners enrolled in the Pre-Authorized Tax Payment (PTP) program, the 2019 interim tax due dates are:
• Two-instalment plan: March 1
• Six-instalment plan: March 1, April 1, May 1
• Eleven-instalment plan: February 15, March 15, April 15, May 15, June 17

Payments can be made through banks or financial institutions, by cheque or in person at the City’s inquiry and payment counters. Locations and hours of operation are available at http://www.toronto.ca/inquirypaymentcounters/. Property owners should pay early to ensure payment reaches the City’s office before the due date.

Residents who have recently purchased a property and pay their property taxes through  pre-authorized payments or their banking or financial institution are reminded to update their account information with the City or with their financial institution to avoid incurring fees from misdirected payments. Property owners can sign up with Canada Post epost™ to receive a digital property tax bill. Visit http://canadapost.ca/epost for details.

Property owners can access their property tax account details by using the online Property Tax Lookup tool available at http://www.toronto.ca/propertytax or by speaking to a customer service representative at 311, available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Customers outside of city limits can call 416-392-CITY (2489) and TTY users can call 416-392-0719.

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Cabbagetown Lights 2018 – a tie for first!

This year was the fourth Cabbagetown Holiday Lights contest (#CabbagetownLights) and was another successful festive event. Once again, all the photos showed our neighbourhood in a great light. After all the votes were counted, for the first time ever, we have a tie for first!

The home of Paloma Ellard and Matthew Scott (and dog Panda) overlooking Wellesley Park from Hillcrest Park, and Bryan Hewitt and Steffen Ploeger’s house on Wellesley St. East,  share the crown this year.

Wellesley St. East was well represented in this year’s event, with houses on the street also coming in second place as well as tied for third with the Christmas Tree Lot on Spruce Street.


The contest received 375 votes, close to the number of votes received in 2016 (2017 shattered the record at more than 800). Like other years, there was a rush of votes at the very end of the contest period. Thanks to board director Tyler Fleming for running the contest.Congrats to the winners and all participants for another great neighbourhood showcase! And a reminder to all, it’s never too early to start planning next year’s lighting extravanganza.

You can view the full gallery of holiday lights photos on our Cabbagetowner Facebook page.

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Cabbagetown according to … Annette Robertson

Annette Robertson and her family live near Sackville-Amelia.

Best place in Cabbagetown for a bite to eat… Hey Lucy! Kids eat free on Tuesdays and the food is as delicious for grown-ups as it is for children.

Cabbagetown needs …  a fish monger.

Favourite block …  Metcalfe, between Carlton and Winchester. The old brick between the sidewalk and street, mature trees, and majestic Victorians always take my breath away.

Best public space …  The Necropolis, for its history and paths that double as a safe place for children to cycle/scooter.

Favourite store … Labour of Love. My husband has gotten me a piece of jewelry by local artists there every year they’ve been in business.

Cabbagetown pet peeve …  The neighbourhood’s inability to keep its restaurants in business. We’ve seen too many close in the 17-odd years we’ve been here.

Cabbagetown’s best kept secret … All the laneways and side streets that boast the same calibre of architectural gems as our signature streets.

Best reason to join the Cabbagetown Residents Association (CRA) …  To give a voice to the variety of issues facing our community, from safety to quality of life. 

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Winter safety tips, canine edition

Des Ryan is a CRA board director and our safety and security lead. Photo of Beckett by neighbour Michael Rowe.

Winter has arrived.

I know: Thank you, Captain Obvious.

If this winter is anything like previous winters, we will be lulled into a false sense of security with a few warm days, and then, BAM. The bitter cold will hit again.

A few quick reminders for those brutally cold days.

When you have to go outside, bundle up — really bundle up. And that goes for your dog as well. If your dog is like most, it will take one sniff of the cold air and turn around, leaving you standing there, all set for the “as required” walk. Your dog is not a fool.

But your dog still needs to piddle, so just bear in mind that, as cold as it is for you, it is cold for your dog as well.

This is not the time for that Trim-to-the-Wood grooming. If you do have to shave your dog down, or if your dog is a short-haired, think about getting a warm sweater or coat that covers from tail to neck and around the belly.

And then there are the booties. Seriously. The salt on our public sidewalks can be intense. If your dog is not the boot-wearing type, consider any number of protectants that can be massaged into paw pads. Be aware that ice can build up between the pads during the walk, causing irritation and/or pain. A cloth or your warm fingers to defrost the ice will help.

After the walk, be sure to wipe your dog’s paws off thoroughly to ensure that the salt and chemicals and whatever else they use on the ice doesn’t soak into your pup.

And, just as we burn up a little extra energy during winter months (some of us less than others, of course…), your dog burns up more trying to stay warm, even if you do just go for the Speed Walk around the block. Might want to give Sparky a little extra food during these cold months.

Finally, we all know that ethylene glycol (antifreeze) can be lethal if ingested. Knowing that dogs eat snow to hydrate during a walk, be sure to clean up any spills you may have when you fill up the antifreeze in your car. A very small amount is extraordinarily toxic for animals.

More cold weather tips for dogs are available at http://www.toronto.ca/petsinthecity. Pets are also welcome at all 24-Hour Respite Sites. More information about services, including the 24-Hour Respite Sites, is available at https://www.toronto.ca/homelesshelp.

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Toronto City Council highlights Dec. 4, 5 and 13, 2018

Council Highlights is a summary of selected decisions that Toronto City Council has made at its business meetings. The City Clerk’s full, official documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Governance under 26-member Council
Council adopted an interim committee structure that includes four standing committees called Economic and Community Development, General Government and Licensing, Infrastructure and Environment, and Planning and Housing. In addition, Council established a Special Committee on Governance with terms of reference to consider how the reduction in Council’s size from 45 members last term to 26 members this term will impact the City’s governance structures and processes.

Appointments to committees and boards   
Council approved various Council member appointments to committees and City boards such as the Toronto Transit Commission and the Toronto Zoo board. Most of the appointments are for the first two years of the current 2018-22 Council term.

Housing Now action plan
Council adopted recommendations and motions aimed at increasing Toronto’s supply of new, affordable housing – including approval to develop 11 City-owned surplus sites identified for the development of affordable housing in mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented communities. Council approved a set of guiding principles to facilitate delivery of the City’s Housing Now initiative.

Cannabis stores in Toronto   
Council voted in favour of permitting provincially licensed cannabis retail stores to operate in Toronto. The decision is Council’s response to Ontario giving municipalities the option of opting out of having licensed cannabis stores within their boundaries. The City will ask the province to grant it regulatory authority to restrict the specific locations of cannabis stores.

King Street transit pilot project 
Council decided to extend the King Street transit pilot project between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets until July 31, 2019 to provide time to further evaluate the pilot project before deciding whether or not to make it permanent. The goal in undertaking the pilot project a year ago was to improve transit reliability, speed and capacity on Toronto’s busiest surface transit route.

Toronto’s transit system   
Council adopted a series of motions concerning Toronto’s transit system, including noting Council’s support for keeping ownership of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) with the City of Toronto. The City will pursue negotiating joint terms of reference to guide discussion with the Ontario government on the alignment of transit responsibilities, giving consideration to the City’s guiding principles on transit.

Massey Square bridge         
Council requested the preparation of a City report on a range of issues pertaining to the recent collapse of the pedestrian bridge at Massey Square. The report is to include recommendations on improving safety standards for privately-owned, publicly accessible bridges. Massey Square bridge connects an elementary school and nearby apartments.

Efforts to improve road safety     
Council directed the Budget Committee to consider allocating additional funds to Vision Zero as part of the City’s 2019 budget process to accelerate the rollout of the Vision Zero road safety project. Council’s direction to staff included the implementation of all remaining school safety zones by the end of 2019. The City will have installed 74 senior safety zones, 128 school safety zones and 268 community safety zones by the end of this year (2018).

Protecting vulnerable road users
Council voted to express its support to the Province of Ontario with respect to Bill 62, the Protecting Vulnerable Road Users Act. The bill, if passed, will allow for more serious consequences for drivers involved in collisions that seriously injure or kill a vulnerable road user. The term vulnerable road users generally refers to seniors, children, people with limited mobility and cyclists.

Funding for cycling infrastructure
Council decided to ask the federal government to fund the shortfall created by the cancellation of provincial financial contributions to support cycling infrastructure in Toronto over the next three years. In addition, the City will request the federal government to create a long-term strategy for investment in walking and cycling infrastructure in cities and communities across Canada.

Safety of vehicles for hire
Council agreed to ask staff to include recommendations to increase the training requirements of private transportation companies and other vehicles-for-hire in Toronto for the sake of public safety. Council’s decision on this item also calls for the establishment of a new public reporting process on the safety records/performance of private transportation companies and licence holders.

Appointment of Deputy City Manager   
Council appointed Tracey Cook as the City’s Deputy City Manager, Infrastructure and Development Services. Cook, who has been Toronto’s executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards since 2012, is scheduled to start work in her new role at the end of January.

Collective agreement with firefighters 
Council approved a memorandum of agreement between the City and the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters, Local 3888 for a five-year collective agreement that takes effect January 1, 2019. The parties resolved 23 operational and non-monetary items during negotiations this fall, leading to an agreement in principle on December 4 and the signing of the agreement on December 5.

Future of Ontario Place
Council agreed to ask the Ontario government to work with the City on any potential future redevelopment of the Ontario Place site on the Toronto waterfront. In addition, Council will request the province to conduct an open consultation process on the site’s possible redevelopment. The province recently announced the dissolution of the governing body of Ontario Place and indicated an interest in redevelopment of the lands.

Council’s meeting schedule for 2019
Council adopted a meeting schedule for City Council and its committees in 2019. Twelve meetings of Council will be held, generally with two days designated for each meeting. The meetings will normally run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. Committee meetings routinely include evening hours, from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

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