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Throwing back 40 years: the story behind Seven News

By Eric Morse, a communications volunteer with the Cabbagetown Residents’ Association.

For the past year or so, I’ve been tracking highlights of the old Ward Seven News from 40 years ago. The paper was created in 1970 as a “progressive” alternative to mainstream media, and it was in print from 1970 through March 1985, existing in a perpetual state of financial crisis and subsisting on a hot mix of grants, donations, volunteer labour and ad revenue (plus some income from a print shop it owned). Unfortunately, the digital archive for its last year of existence is available only as images of the front page top halves, so the reason for its expiry isn’t immediately available. Did it write its own obituary, or just fold its tents and quietly steal away?

It lived its entire span as an editorial collective, so did not always have a formal editor (and whether or not a masthead appeared seems to have depended a lot on how much ad copy they had managed to sell), but many, many names then and later famous in the reformist movement in municipal politics passed through its pages. Here is a masthead from September 1983:

Recently Ron Kaplansky, one of the board members listed, contacted us after reading Throwback Thursday, and we talked over coffee. A well-known graphic designer in Toronto, he had served on the board for about a year in 1982-83.

“I grew up with socialist politics in my blood. My parents married very young, and left for Israel [then known as Palestine] in the 30s. They returned to Toronto in 1937, and I was born here in 1939.

“In the 1970s, I became very involved in the reform movement. I lived on Hampton Avenue in Riverdale for a few years and then moved to Don Vale – in those days it was still Don Vale, it was the real estate community that changed the name to Cabbagetown later, but the Cabbagetown that Hugh Garner wrote about in his book was where Regent Park is now. From 1980 through 1984 I lived on Sumach.

“I did design work for many political figures in the 1980s, for Bob Rae when he first came back from Ottawa to run in Ontario, and afterwards I did fundraising for social causes in the area and finally sat on the board of Seven News in 1982-84.”

Kaplansky, now in his late 70s, continues in graphic design, and did the early brochures for the Regent Park redevelopment. He now lives in the Annex.

In the period when he was on the board, Seven News underwent some design and layout changes, and one of them was the regular inclusion of line drawings of local landmarks by a talented local artist Joe Houston. At first the idea seems to have been that he would be an editorial cartoonist, but after an issue or two at most his work went in another direction. Here are a few samples:

April 6, 1983

April 22, 1983

May 8, 1983

It’s not that long ago, but it’s a different city now.

There are many people in the community who were involved with Seven News in its 15-year lifespan, and we would love to hear your reminiscences – contact me for coffee! info@cabbagetowner.com.

Posted in Local Interest, Throwback Thursday
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Cycling safety tips from Des Ryan

Des Ryan is a retired police officer who volunteers as a CRA board director and leads our safety and security portfolio.

One of the privileges of living in downtown Toronto is being able to take public transit or ride a bike pretty well anywhere you need or want to go. The increasing numbers of Bike Share locations makes cycling a very favourable mode of transportation, especially for people like me who don’t own a bike (shhh…don’t tell anyone!). And, as you’ve likely been reading (and seeing and experiencing), there are a lot of safety concerns about cycling in our beautiful city, including enforcement by our local constabulary.

While I would like to be able to click my heels and make some of the car drivers in this city stop driving like…well, you can probably fill in that blank…I cannot. So, let’s look at a few ways to be safe(r) while riding your bike.

First of all, what is a bicycle?

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act, which governs the movement on our roadways, defines a bike as a vehicle that has one, two or three wheels (a unicycle, bicycle or tricycle), has steering handlebars and pedals, and does not have a motor (motor-assisted bikes such as electric bicycles or scooters and mopeds are a whole different story!). You don’t need a licence to own one or have any sort of liability insurance on it. And you don’t need a driver’s licence. Having so said, you DO need to know the rules of the road because whether you are operating a motor vehicle or a bike, the law requires you to follow them.

For example, whether in a car or on a bike, you have to stop at stop signs and when streetcar doors open or school bus stop lights flash. Unless otherwise indicated, cyclists must follow one-way street signs. And the list goes on.

Assuming you ride according to the rules, what else can you do to keep yourself safe out there?

Wearing a helmet helps. A lot. Public Health Ontario published the results of a study that looked at the impact of mandatory bicycle helmet legislation and found that, for children 0-14 years of age, wearing a helmet significantly reduced serious injury and death. The difference in mortality rates were not such an issue for adult riders in this study but believe me when I tell you—it is a VERY good idea to wear one. By law, anyone under 18 must wear an approved helmet. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that riders under 16 years of age wear their helmets (READ: you, parent, will receive the offence notice if your child is not wearing a helmet, even if Junior is on a tricycle).

And be aware that, if you are in an accident, regardless of who is at fault, you are on a bike. You are vulnerable. If anyone is going to get hurt, you are much more likely to receive significant injuries than someone in a car. Be aware of your surroundings. Drive defensively (but not like a jerk!). All of the reflective clothing and bells and whistles in the world won’t help you if you’re not fully engaged with your journey.

And, just to clarify a common misunderstanding, you DO have to identify yourself to a police officer who stops you for breaking any HTA rules (or any municipal by-law that regulates traffic). Section 218 of the Act makes this pretty clear. If you don’t ID yourself (verbal is sufficient), you can be arrested. And, if you are convicted of any HTA offences that you were charged with while riding your bike, where applicable, the points on your driver’s licence will be affected.

All of this is to say, wear your helmet, follow the rules of the road, and be aware of your surroundings. Aside from the helmet part, this is likely how you drive your car. There is nothing like the smell of the summer breeze on your face as your ride through the various neighbourhoods that surround us and, whether it is on a bike, motorcycle, or with the windows (or top) down on the car, now is the time to enjoy it. Drive carefully.

Posted in Safety and Security
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Cabbagetown according to … Colin Burn

Colin Burn, a corporate lawyer, joined the CRA board in 2018 and is serving as board secretary. He and his wife Courtney moved into their home on Sackville Street in 2017 and have since welcomed their daughter Caroline. Originally from Montreal by way of Ottawa, Colin moved to Toronto in 2012. While not yet ready to admit to his friends and family in Ottawa and Montreal that he is a “Torontonian”, Colin is certainly proud to be a Cabbagetowner.

Best place in Cabbagetown for a bite to eat … A backyard barbecue supplied by St. Jamestown Steaks & Chops.

Cabbagetown needs … more resident-only parking spots

Favourite block … Parliament Street between Carlton and Winchester

Best public space …  Riverdale Farm. It’s the best public space in the cit for young families!

Favourite store … Home Hardware

Cabbagetown pet peeve … I think our community sometimes loses the right balance between preserving our beautiful and historic neighbourhood characteristics in a city that is rapidly changing and falling into some ugly “nimby-ism.” We get it right most of the time, though.

Cabbagetown’s best kept secret … Trick-or-treating in Cabbagetown on Hallowe’en. The whole neighbourhood participates. It has to be one of the best places to be on Hallowe’en in the city.

Best reason to join the Cabbagetown Residents Association (CRA) …  Helping to give back to the neighbourhood community

Posted in Cabbagetown According To...
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Throwback Thursday: July 1978

Eric Morse continues his journey back four decades, perusing the archives of Seven News, a Toronto Community newspaper published in the 1970s and 1980s in what was then Ward 7, covering Cabbagetown and environs.

The landlord-tenant dispute at the Barbara Apartments in St James Town continues to occupy the front page. In keeping with its mandate as a reforming newspaper, Seven News infiltrated one of its star correspondents, Thom Corbett, into an in-camera meeting of the Rent Review Board with tenants and Meridian Corp., the owner. Seven News didn’t pretend to publish balanced coverage, and what emerged was – if not quite Hemingway – a colourful account of what must in any case have been a pretty volatile encounter. As with so much of journalism, the substance fades into the years and we are left with the impressions.

And then, just before press time, (the longer story is undated) a news flash; that Meridian would no longer be responsible for building management, which would now be undertaken by Evergreen Property Management, which already managed several other buildings in St James Town and, as Seven notes, had close ties to Meridian.

On a lighter note, the Caravan cultural festival was on, and the Serbian community pavilion was featured on page two.

A previous edition had announced that Ward 7 Alderman John Sewell would run for Mayor, and that Gordon Cressy would run for the vacant slot; one of two Aldermen for the ward. Seven now notes that Cressy and incumbent Janet Howard might run a joint campaign, but this was not to be. Among other tidbits, the Library House at Parliament and Berkeley was closing for renovations as covered in earlier issues, and Regent Optical was moving from 424 Parliament (which later housed a succession of Cabbagetown pubs – the Ben Wicks, then The Local GEST, and now The Tilted Dog) to the corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard.

Remember the Wellesley Hospital, once a vital part of the community, and demolished in the late 1990s? It put out a call for volunteers for the emergency room. The duties were rewarding, but not for the faint of heart.

Remember the neighbourhood newspaper, once a vital part of the community? Seven had run a readership survey earlier in the year, and the results were in. Most popular – local news, the community calendar and letters, along with George Rust D’Eye’s neighbourhood history long reads. The editors themselves were surprised at how popular political news was. In demand: “Want more of it”: City Hall coverage, local groups and photos. ‘Want less of it”– advertising.

Readers also wanted more news not covered by dailies, and in your correspondent’s memory, the old Downtown Bulletin prided ourselves on being the source of many important local story leads for the big dailies, the AirBnB problems on Bleecker St. probably being one of the last examples of the type. Community bloggers, take note!

Speaking of advertising, it’s not all dull commercialism. Sometimes it’s sensational commercialism. Remember Y2K? What did you do to prepare for it? (Your correspondent used to tell anxious enquirers that he kept a can of salmon easily accessible on his mantelpiece, only later confessing that there never was either the salmon or the mantelpiece). But you didn’t have to wait that long for some good Malthusian Resilience prep; right there on page six of the July 1, 1978 issue (beside the headline “Why do TTC Fares Rise?” a silly question if ever there was one, since Aristotle has explained at some length that TTC fares rise because it is in their eternal inherent nature to go up) is this great ad:

Finally, as this issue of Throwback Thursday appears, Toronto finds itself in a major crisis around cycling accidents. In 1978, there were many years to go before any attempts to construct bike lanes, but there was a crisis. The province’s response from that year may seem somewhat quaint.

The full stories introduced above are available at http://www.connexions.org/SevenNews/Docs/7News-Volume09-Number04.pdf . The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collective dedicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.

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Toronto City Council Highlights: June 26, 27, 28, and 29

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

Increased funding to support road safety   
Council agreed to spend substantial additional funds on top of $21.3 million that was already budgeted this year to improve and accelerate the implementation of road-safety measures identified in the City’s Vision Zero strategy. The road-safety measures to be pursued include traffic-calming projects, street-design work and potentially the expansion of Toronto’s red-light camera program.

Safety zones near schools   
Council voted to amend certain City bylaws with the intention of making hundreds of Toronto schools eligible for automated speed enforcement under Ontario’s Safer School Zones Act. The amendments will also enable the City to double speeding fines in key walking and cycling routes to and from schools. The goal is to help reduce aggressive driving/speeding in areas that have a high concentration of schoolchildren.

Addressing gun violence in Toronto   
Council agreed to call for an emergency meeting of City officials together with police and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation to address the increase in gun and gang violence. Council also supported making requests to the Ontario and federal governments, including on legislation to control firearms, a review of guidelines on granting bail in cases involving possession or use of illegal firearms, and changes to the Highway Traffic Act to strengthen the deterrent to having an unlawfully possessed firearm in a vehicle.

Planning for shelter infrastructure     
Council approved a plan that addresses shelter infrastructure in Toronto, with various actions pertaining to respite services and refugee/asylum claimants in Toronto. Council agreed to advise the governments of Canada and Ontario that the City has exhausted its resources for meeting the housing needs of current refugee/asylum claimants who are using Toronto’s shelter system. Council also agreed to reiterate its request for a regional response on this issue.

New committee on housing and shelter   
Council voted to establish a Housing Committee with the mandate to monitor and make recommendations on housing and shelter in Toronto. This new standing committee replaces the Affordable Housing Committee, which was a special committee of Council. Having a standing committee on housing will help direct more City resources to housing and increase the amount of affordable housing that Council approves for construction.

Appointment of City Manager     
Council appointed Chris Murray to the position of City Manager, the most senior official in the City of Toronto’s administration. The City Manager is accountable to City Council for policies and programs delivered by the Toronto Public Service. Interim City Manager Giuliana Carbone will resume her position and duties as Deputy City Manager, Cluster A when Murray starts work at the City on August 13. The former City Manager, Peter Wallace, left the City earlier this year.

Security at Toronto City Hall       
Council approved the implementation of physical checks of baggage as people enter Toronto City Hall and the use of metal detectors at entrances to the council chamber, among other measures for enhancing security. The goal is to maintain an accessible, safe and secure Toronto City Hall while providing a reasonable level of protection from foreseeable threats.

Community councils   
Council voted to amend the City of Toronto Municipal Code by adopting community council boundaries that take effect on December 1. The amendment makes minor adjustments to capture the city’s new 47-ward structure (instead of the current 44 wards) and extends the western boundary of the Toronto and East York Community Council from Keele Street to the Humber River by moving the new Ward 17 from Etobicoke York Community Council to Toronto and East York Community Council. Map: https://bit.ly/2zdeEPa

Response to opioid overdose crisis     
Council supported Board of Health recommendations for the opioid overdose crisis in the context of the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, including actions specified for the Toronto Community Housing Corporation. Toronto Public Health has worked with City divisions and community partners to implement the action plan over the past year. Council also approved the use of one-time provincial funding for additional staff and supplies to support the supervised injection service at 277 Victoria St.

Capital projects – greenhouse gas reduction   
Council agreed to authorize receipt of about $52 million in provincial funding under the Municipal Greenhouse Gas Challenge program. The funds are to be distributed among 10 major City projects that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, undertaking these projects – such as retrofits to emergency vehicles in the City’s fleet – is expected to achieve long-term operating cost savings through efficiencies. These projects and others like them are tied to the City’s TransformTO climate action strategy.

Minimum wage   
Council affirmed its support for the minimum wage increasing to $15 an hour starting January 1 and agreed to encourage the Ontario government to not rescind the law increasing the minimum wage. Last year, the previous Ontario government passed a bill raising the minimum wage to $14 an hour for 2018 and to $15 an hour effective January 1, 2019.

Improvements to bus and subway service   
Council approved a Toronto Transit Commission plan to hire 84 additional staff to support implementing measures to improve transit service. Specifically, the measures aim to improve reliability on Line 1 (the Yonge subway line), relieve peak crowding on 20 bus routes and off-peak crowding on 14 bus routes, and implement seven new express services in peak periods on a trial basis.

Services in the east downtown area   
Council adopted a 12-month action plan for the east downtown area. The plan is a response to Council’s earlier request for short-term and five-year action plans that address the community’s needs and related service co-ordination. Downtown East, as the area is known, faces complex challenges related to poverty, homelessness, housing affordability, community safety, mental health and opioid-related drug use and overdoses.

Student nutrition   
Council agreed to increase funding of the City’s student nutrition program by about $2 million this year, bringing the total subsidy to about $14 million for 2018. The Medical Officer of Health received authorization to enter into agreements with two organizations that will administer the funding and distribute it among eligible student nutrition programs at schools across Toronto. The six-year municipal funding plan for the student nutrition program is now in its final year.   

Trail naming to honour Ron Moeser   
Council approved naming the waterfront trail that runs through Ward 44 Scarborough East “Ron Moeser Trail” in honour of former City Councillor Ron Moeser, who died last year while he was Ward 44’s representative on City Council. Consultation with the Moeser family and the community led to the trail-naming proposal. Ron Moeser worked for many years as a proponent for creating a waterfront park and trail system in the Lake Ontario shoreline area of east Scarborough.

Bloor Street West bike lanes   
Council directed staff to immediately undertake improvements to “corridor safety” along the Bloor Street West bike lane route. A focus of work to be undertaken is improved separation of bike lanes from vehicle-traffic lanes and management of turns for better safety at intersections.

Sex education in schools   
Council voted to affirm its support for comprehensive sex education as provided in Ontario’s current public education curriculum.

Safe Third Country agreement   
Council agreed to ask the Canadian government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States “due to the actions taken by the United States government, in particular the policy of separating children from parents who are seeking refugee status.” The Safe Third Country Agreement requires refugee claimants to request protection in the first safe country they arrive in unless the claimant qualifies for an exception.

Planning framework for laneway suites     
Council approved the establishment of a planning framework for laneway suites in neighbourhoods in the Toronto and East York district, making them a new as-of-right housing option, subject to certain criteria. The approval covers implementation measures and the introduction of a pilot program for affordable rental units as part of the Changing Lanes initiative. The City is preparing guidelines detailing application requirements and other practical information about laneway suites.

Support for Finch Avenue West businesses   
A motion that Council supported will result in the City working with Metrolinx transit agency on ways to support Finch Avenue businesses and residents during the construction period of the Metrolinx Finch Avenue West LRT (light-rail transit) project. Construction work, now started, will continue until the scheduled opening of the transit line in 2023.

Galleria Mall lands project       
Council authorized City staff to enter into a land exchange agreement that will facilitate the redevelopment of the Galleria Mall at Dufferin and Dupont Streets. The shopping-centre site will be demolished and replaced with a large-scale, mixed-use development that includes the provision of affordable housing. As part of the project for a complete community, the nearby Wallace Emerson Community Centre will be replaced and Wallace Emerson Park will be enlarged and redesigned.

Toronto City Council special meeting on June 26

Appointment of Councillor for Ward 41
At a special meeting of Council that was held before the regular business meeting on June 26, City Council heard candidates’ presentations and voted to appoint Miganoush Megardichian as the councillor for Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River. The appointment, which fills the vacancy resulting from Chin Lee’s resignation, will be in effect until the end of the current term of Council (November 30, 2018).

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Cabbagetown Safety and Security Questionnaire results

Thanks to the residents who participated in the residents’ association safety and security questionnaire, which we had in the field in late 2017. The survey results were presented to the CRA Annual General Meeting held on June 8, 2018.

The area the Cabbagetown Residents’ Association represents – bounded by Gerrard to the north, Parliament to the west, St. James Cemetery to the north and the Don Valley to the east – covers around 2,000 households and 4,000 people.

Our questionnaire, which we promoted via our Cabbagetowner e-newsletter (627 subscribers), Facebook page (500+ followers) and Twitter account (1,900+ followers), drew 132 responses, of which 114 identified that they lived within the CRA boundaries. The numbers below are based on the responses from those 114 individuals.

Respondents were most concerned about personal safety: CRA’s past president Phil Frei, who has gone over all the survey responses in details, said he grouped together a variety of responses under the umbrella of personal safety, such as concerns about walking at night, muggers, and panhandlers on Parliament Street.

* Personal safety: 32 per cent
* Break-in/thefts: 28 per cent
* Violent crime/shootings: 13 per cent
* Other: 10 per cent (includes road safety issues with cars and bicycles)
* Drugs: eight per cent

The remaining 10 per cent said they had no/little concern, or left the question blank.

Of those who responded, 55 per cent said they had experienced a theft, or attempted theft or vandalism, at their home, 73 per cent said they had experienced a theft, or attempted theft or vandalism, of their car, and 59 per cent said they had experienced a theft, or attempted theft or vandalism, of their bicycle.

Des Ryan, a retired police officer and CRA board director who is the volunteer lead on safety and security issues for the CRA, points out that people who have experienced a theft would be more disposed to respond to a questionnaire on safety issues because they had heightened awareness due to that personal experience. He cautions against extrapolating the experience of 60 to 80 people into percentages for all Cabbagetowners and our households.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents who had experienced a theft or other crime had reported it to police. About one third got a response from police, usually a follow-up on investigation. Why did the others not report to police? Among the responses:
* The police wouldn’t do anything
* It was my fault for leaving the door open / unlocked
* It’s not serious enough to report.

Des reminds everyone to report everything, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, because the police allocate resources based on reporting: it was only when more people reported on vandalism to their cars parked on the streets this winter, for instance, that police understood there was a pattern and likely common perpetrators.

Posted in Crime Prevention
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Policing and security updates for June

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

Can you believe that it’s the end of June already? Wow.

I’d like to share a couple of important updates with you.

Like myself, many of you are likely wondering what happened at St. Martin’s Catholic School on May 29. There were numerous stories swirling about, but here is what actually happened as per the police report. Two individuals were involved in a robbery that day and a firearm was alleged to have been used. The investigation led to St. Martin’s, where two 18-year-old youths were arrested, along with a third youth. There was, thankfully, no gun. One of the young men arrested had a knife tucked into his waist that had been mistaken for a gun by one of the original callers.

I have been in communication with the unit commander of 51 Division regarding the gun violence we are experiencing in and near our neighbourhood.

Superintendent Tony Riviere advised that, as of June 8, there had been 17 reported incidents of shots being fired within 51 Division (Bloor/Yonge/Lake Ontario/Don River). Of those 17 incidents, none of them were within our catchment area specifically, but nine occurred within the area bordered by Gerrard/River/Shuter/Parliament (Regent Park). Of these incidents, some resulted in injury, while many did not. Our police division is joining with other downtown divisions to launch for Project Red Brick, which aims to combat gun violence and has already resulted in the arrest of eight individuals, four on June 12 and another four on June 15, for gun- and drug-related offences.

“There is definitely an increased level of gun violence as compared to last year,” Riviere told CBC News. “It’s of concern to us.”

On June 18, Councillor Lucy Troisi invited me to a meeting of a working group that included herself, Mayor John Tory, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, and a small group of people from the city to discuss safety and security issues in and around Cabbagetown. Gun violence and police response was certainly at the top of the list, followed closely by issues such as shelter support and ongoing outreach for homeless individuals, park cleanliness, and all of the things that make us feel safe in our communities.

Service level adjustments are being recommended this week in some of the “‘hot spots” of what is known as Downtown East, which do not include Cabbagetown. It was made clear at the meeting, however, that whatever is (or is not) done directly impacts our use and enjoyment of the businesses, parks, and facilities in our neighbourhood.

This working group seems to be quite sincere in generating positive outcomes and I shall keep you posted as I am updated.

In the meantime, stay cool!

Posted in Crime Prevention
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Throwback Thursday: June 1978, courtesy Seven News

Volunteer Eric Morse continues his explorations of the archives of Seven News, a weekly local newspaper in Toronto 40 years ago for what was then Ward 7, including Cabbagetown.

Rent and municipal politics were the big items in the first two June issues of Seven News.

Tenants of the Barbara Apartments in St. James Town were protesting major rent increases of up to 20 per cent amid allegations that landlord Meridian Properties had been manipulating paperwork and claiming expenses that had not been incurred.

The Page One piece for the June 3 issue went on to note that the building, which had been designated low-income and had been built with low-cost government loans, had seen rents double over the course of 17 years, that tenants had been embroiled in rental disputes continuously since 1976, and that the current rent increases amounted to 20 per cent.

The theme continued on Page Four of the issue, with a major piece by regulars Thom Corbett and Ulli Diemer, criticizing the apparent intentions of the Bill Davis Government to lift rent controls. The heart of the debate is a familiar one: are controls a disincentive to the construction of new rental housing? Seven clearly had little sympathy for this: the article concludes that “a million [Toronto tenants] committed to the proposition that good affordable housing is a right, not a privilege that depends on someone making a high enough profit from it, could be a potent political force.”

But the big political news came in the headline of the June 17 issue: John Sewell had declared his candidacy for Mayor in the elections to be held November 13, 1978. The Ward 7 Alderman (and founder of Seven News as an alternative to the major dailies) had broken onto the municipal stage nearly a decade before as a reformer, and felt that now was the time to seek the top job, which had been vacated by ‘Tiny Perfect” Mayor David Crombie, then seeking the Federal nomination in Rosedale riding. Notwithstanding its origins, Seven News expressed concern that Sewell might be co-opted by the conservative interests on Council, as (in the paper’s view) had been Crombie and his predecessor Mayor William Dennison. Sewell noted that if elected, he hoped to build a coalition of reform-minded councillors.

The other big political news was that Gordon Cressy, the former Chair of the Board of Education, would run for Ward 7 Alderman in an attempt to succeed Sewell. According to the article, his major concerns were to fight the growing trend in rent increases for low-income housing, and rising unemployment in Toronto. Cressy had run provincially as an NDP candidate in the 1977 provincial election and had lost to Margaret Scrivener. He stated that although he felt that party politics had no place in municipal elections, he hoped to gain NDP endorsement for his candidacy.

Identity issues were alive and well in the education system; correspondent Frances Watman notes that South Asian advocacy groups had called for the elimination of 14 texts on the Ministry of Education approved list contained racist terminology and should be removed from the list.

And finally in sports, the young talent at the Cabbagetown Boxing and Youth Centre shines again in the tune-up matches for the All-Ontario Juniors in Oshawa that month. In the line-up: future (1984) Olympian Shawn O’Sullivan. Club Member Andy Williams, 12 years old, contributes a poem.

The full stories introduced above are available online.

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City Council Highlights, May 22, 23, and 24

Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. Follow here for the City Clerk’s formal documentation.

Eglinton East transit project   
Council approved the next steps for the Eglinton East Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project, with planning now to include an extension of the Eglinton East LRT line to Scarborough’s Malvern neighbourhood via Sheppard Avenue East and Neilson Road, north of Highway 401. The envisaged extension includes up to six stops and a terminus stop near Malvern Town Centre. An earlier plan had proposed that the Eglinton East LRT extension end at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus, south of Highway 401.

City’s strategy to support seniors   
Council adopted “Version 2.0” of the Toronto Seniors Strategy with 27 recommendations that build upon the initial version of the strategy in 2013. Reiterating its commitment to ensure seniors’ needs are met and that Toronto seniors are supported to live full, healthy lives, Council directed staff to review and update the original strategy. The 27 new recommendations add up to what is called a service-system management approach to addressing seniors’ needs.

Service model for seniors housing     
Council approved steps for restructuring seniors housing and services at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). This Tenants First project will involve designing an integrated service model for seniors housing to promote aging in place and a better quality of life. It will also involve establishing an interim TCHC seniors housing unit to oversee the seniors-designated building portfolio and implement the new integrated service model.

Planning downtown Toronto’s next 25 years   
Council adopted the Downtown Official Plan Amendment and infrastructure strategies related to parks and public realm, mobility, community services and facilities. This official plan amendment brings forward a policy framework to shape growth in Toronto’s fast-growing downtown over the next 25 years. It provides the City with a blueprint to align growth management and infrastructure, sustain livability, achieve complete communities and ensure there is space for the economy to grow.

Apartment temperatures
Council adopted recommendations to address the matter of excessive indoor temperatures that can occasionally occur in apartment buildings in the spring and fall. Among steps to be taken, the City will communicate to landlords that there is no requirement to have their buildings’ heating systems on during unseasonably warm periods of the spring or fall as long as apartment units are warm enough (at least 21 Celsius) without the heating systems turned on.

Next steps on traffic safety measures   
Council authorized next steps for the City to move ahead with measures for road safety such as implementing a traffic warden/special constable program, streamlining the process to have road safety infrastructure installed, facilitating automated speed enforcement in school zones and streamlining the procedure for introducing traffic-calming measures. Council also adopted motions that pertain to speed regulations and traffic calming.

Transportation plan for Scarborough Centre 
Council endorsed the Scarborough Centre Transportation Master Plan in principle and made various requests to City staff and the Toronto Transit Commission on roads and transit issues in the Scarborough Centre area. The plan, which presents a recommended transportation network that has been developed through study and public/stakeholder consultation, supports the evolution of Scarborough Centre into a walkable and connected urban centre supported by an efficient, safe and balanced transportation network.

Scarborough waterfront project   
Council adopted a series of recommendations in support of moving ahead with the Scarborough Waterfront Project. The recommendations pertain to a completed environmental assessment, the pursuit of opportunities for funding and several other matters to support the project’s goal of creating a system of green spaces along the Lake Ontario shoreline between Bluffer’s Park and East Point Park. The project is designed to protect the Scarborough Bluffs, enhance the habitat and give visitors a safe, enjoyable waterfront experience.

Indigenous cultural competency training     
Council agreed to ask City agencies and corporations to require their board members and staff to attend training provided by the City (or comparable to the training provided by the City) for Indigenous cultural competency. The Chief of Police is asked to ensure that all Toronto police staff attend the training. In addition, agencies and corporations are to incorporate in their board meetings the City’s acknowledgment statement on traditional Aboriginal land.

Use of data to support equity goals   
Council directed staff to produce a report detailing a disaggregated data strategy for the City. Disaggregated data refers to smaller units of data within a larger, aggregated data set. Council approved objectives to guide the City’s use of disaggregated population- and place-based data to help support efforts to ensure that all Torontonians are served equitably by City programs and policies.

Accessibility in municipal elections
Council adopted two recommendations pertaining to accessibility in elections and requested that the City Clerk review options to recruit persons with disabilities for election work and consider the possible creation of a fund for candidates in making their campaigns accessible. 

Residential infill construction sites 
Council adopted recommendations intended to minimize nuisance issues involving residential infill construction sites. The recommendations include a new requirement for a public notice to be posted at the sites. Toronto Building in consultation with partner divisions will report back in 2019 with a further update and evaluation of an inspection and enforcement program for residential infill construction activity.

Support for Toronto’s green sector     
Council approved continuing the City’s Green Market Acceleration Program for another four years as a way of supporting economic growth in Toronto’s green sector. The program enables local businesses in the green sector to apply to the City to use municipal infrastructure and buildings for research, concept testing and demonstrations.

Energy-efficiency retrofits   
Council authorized extending the Home Energy Loan Program and the Highrise Retrofit Improvement Support Program to the end of next year. Both are part of a residential energy retrofit program that has, since 2014, provided financing to support Toronto property owners in undertaking energy efficiency and water conservation improvements. City staff are taking steps to increase uptake on the two programs.

Free-floating car sharing   
Council directed staff to consult further with the free-floating car share industry and to report back to next month’s City Council meeting on possible recommendations for changes to improve the viability of the City’s recently established Free Floating Car Share Pilot for Toronto.

Rebates on water charges – home dialysis     
Council authorized the City’s provision of rebates to Toronto residents who are having dialysis treatments at home. Dialysis removes toxins from the blood when the kidneys have failed. The new rebate program recognizes the significant additional household costs for water incurred by people undergoing dialysis treatment at home instead of in a hospital.

Cultural grants for 2018   
Council approved this year’s grant allocations to support the programs of 11 major cultural organizations, six local arts service organizations, three museums that have specialized collections and eight organizations approved for grants through the Culture Build Investment Program. A motion that Council adopted calls for the preparation of a report on ways the City can support festivals in various parts of the city that draw 100,000 or more attendees.

City’s collection of fines   
Council adopted a report from the Audit Committee with 31 recommendations to help the Court Services division collect defaulted Provincial Offences Act (POA) fines. The administration of POA-related matters at the City, such as fines for violations of the Highway Traffic Act, is managed by Court Services. An exception is the collection of payments for parking violations, which the City’s Revenue Services division handles.

Portrait artists on city streets   
The annual permit fee for portrait artists in Toronto is being reduced considerably as one of the steps Council approved concerning artists who set up work stations on sidewalks to draw pictures/caricatures for a fee. The City’s recent regulation of portrait artists by treating them as street vendors has led to an absence of portrait artists on Toronto’s streets today. The changes will enable them to work like buskers, paying an annual permit fee of about $40 instead of the much higher street-vendor fee.

Naming of Toronto’s wards   
Council asked for a report recommending a process for the City to follow in naming Toronto’s wards early in the new Council term (2019). A naming process could not start until the ward boundaries were finalized after recent appeals. The City’s 2018 municipal election will be conducted using a new 47-ward boundary model for Toronto, a change from the current 44-ward model. The 47 wards are currently identified by numbers.

Councillor vacancy in Ward 41   
Council declared a vacancy in the office of Councillor for Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River following the recent resignation of Chin Lee and approved the process to fill the vacancy by appointment. Provincial law prohibits by-elections after March 31 in an election year. This appointment, when it is made on June 26, will fill the position until the end of Council’s current term (November 30, 2018).

Toronto City Council special meeting on May 22, 2018

Appointment – Ward 33 Don Valley East
At a special meeting of Council that was held on May 22 before its regular business meeting began later that day, City Council heard candidates’ presentations and voted to appoint Jonathan Tsao the Councillor for Ward 33 Don Valley East. The appointment, which fills the vacancy resulting from Shelley Carroll’s resignation, is in effect until the end of the current Council term (November 30, 2018).

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Throwback Thursday: Cabbagetown spring, 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse takes a look back at spring, 1978, with a selection of stories from the April and May issues of Seven News, a community newspaper published in Cabbagetown.

The front page photo and story in the April 22 issue is about the funny-looking “lonely house” in the middle of the St James Town stretch of Parliament Street. You know the one – the last Victorian house left in the development, at 600 Parliament St.

The author explains that the owner had held out against Meridian while they were assembling the real estate in the mid-60s, so Meridian responded by redesigning the development around the property. There it stood, as photographed by Seven’s indefatigable photographer Cherry Hassard.

It looked somewhat undernourished in 1978 when Hassard shot it, with an (apparently vacant) storefront already replacing the Victorian facade. You wouldn’t recognize the place 40 years later (with an east-west gable added, and the new cladding and commercial shopfront and all), but it’s still the solitary holdout, paying its freight as “One of the Biggest Washers in GTA”. And still, as the article puts it, affording several thousand people a birdseye view of the backyard.

George Rust d’Eye has two long reads in this issue, including an article about John Ross Robertson (1841-1918), Toronto publisher and founder of The [Evening] Telegram, who owned a mansion at 291 Sherbourne St., just south of Gerrard, pictured in the article as it was when Robertson owned it.

The next issue notes that Cabbagetown had a 100th anniversary celebration. Who organized it and how they decided that it was the 100th birthday is not stated, but it took place in what is now Anniversary Park, and we have this charming kid-and-pony photo from the event.

Some stirrings of progress toward what was to become the old Regent Park Community Centre at 8 Sackville Green are documented in a brief story.

The 6th Annual Forsythia Festival took place May 7 in Wellesley Park, where it’s still held today. At the time, the dog show was more prominent than it is today.

On the same page in the same issue (May 20), Seven News goes for some balanced coverage under the headline “Dog Dirt Denounced”. There was a major and somewhat umbragineous meeting of Cabbagetowners at the “new farmhouse” on Riverdale Farm to discuss the dog-do crisis in Riverdale Park.

News reporter Howard Huggett contributes a brief history of the Broadview streetcar line.

On the subject of streetcars, which Cabbagetown is temporarily without, your correspondent made a fascinating pilgrimage to the Halton County Radial Railway in Milton. It’s an under-promoted repository of Toronto’s transit history with three working antique cars restored to splendid condition giving rides on a two-kilometre km track, and it’s well worth a day trip.

And finally, Seven News celebrated its ninth year of publishing. It was in the middle of a
fundraising /membership campaign to replace government grants that had lapsed earlier in the year, and the campaign was doing well. (it must have done well as Seven News was around until 1985!)

The full stories introduced above are available online.

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