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Cabbagetown according to … Gina Dineen

Gina Dineen is long-time volunteer with the Forsythia Festival as our MC extraordinaire. Join her this year on May 5 at Wellesley Park!

Best place in Cabbagetown for a bite to eat … A very tough question! It used to be the House on Parliament, which is loved for its amazing atmosphere and awesome menu ( I used to devour the Steak’n Mushroom pie ) , but now that my husband and I have adopted a vegan diet… we need a vegan restaurant … perhaps called “Cabbagetown” … anyone?

Cabbagetown needs … see above plus a venue for Dancing to Live Music!

Favourite block …
Sumach to Parliament, Carlton to Spruce… lived here 40 years and that’s where most of my friends are (OK, I know it’s technically more that one block).


Best public space …
Tie: 1.Sprucecourt schoolyard – well protected from the street (safe for budding cyclists) and home to neighbourhood little leagues and 2. Riverdale West Flats where dogs and owners gather to run and play, rain or shine.

Favourite store … Hands down: No Frills! I shop daily and the specials help me decide what to cook for dinner … it’s also a great place to chat with neighbours and catch up on local news and Ambal Trading (favourite for curry leaves and spices).

Cabbagetown pet peeve …  I can’t stand the concrete sonar tube memorials in our parks. They deteriorate badly, present a tripping hazard and are ugly! Why not bring back classic flat brass plaques? Easier to mow around and safer for everyone.

Cabbagetown’s best kept secret … KClub! Their Summer Camps rock, they have a fantastic party room for rent and offer before- and after-school programs during the school year and Cabbagetown Youth Centre that offers $2/class Step Wednesdays and Sundays for adults as well as tons of programming for local kids.

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Toronto City Council Highlights March 27 and 28

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

Cabbagetown-related information

Appointment of Poet Laureate   
Council voted to appoint Al Moritz ( a resident of Cabbagetown)  the Poet Laureate of Toronto from April 1, 2019 to 2022 or until a successor is appointed. Moritz, who is Toronto’s sixth Poet Laureate, has received national and international honours for his work as a poet/author. As Poet Laureate of Toronto, he is expected to advocate for poetry, language and the arts in general.

Public transit

Toronto’s transit system
Council adopted recommendations and motions that address ongoing discussions between the City and the Ontario government on the management of public transit projects in Toronto. The actions adopted by Council include responding to two letters the City received from the province in late March. The letters name four specific projects as provincial priorities – the Scarborough subway extension, the Eglinton West extension, the downtown relief line and the Yonge subway extension. Discussions are to address responsibilities for undertaking/managing those transit projects.

Public consultation on transit
Council supported proceeding with a joint City/Toronto Transit Commission public information campaign explaining City Council’s position on the transit upload that the Ontario government has announced. The information campaign will detail plans for public consultations and inform Torontonians about matters such as accelerated planning for priority transit expansion projects, integrating transit services and modernizing/enhancing the existing subway system while maintaining it in a state of good repair.

Housing

Updated rules on secondary suites     
Council adopted a recommended zoning bylaw amendment that will support the creation of more secondary suites. The amendment removes a time delay, permits self-contained secondary suites in townhouses (as well as in detached and semi-detached houses), and removes minimum-size and parking requirements. Council also asked staff to review and report on the City’s current policy on development charges pertinent to the construction of secondary suites.   

Location of municipal shelters 
Council agreed to amend the City’s zoning bylaw on locating municipal shelters. The amendment supports having municipal shelters in most areas of the city by removing conditions that had restricted where they may be located. This change will help address the growing demand for shelter services and allow for quick responses to changing circumstances. Shelters are still not permitted in areas zoned for industrial/employment purposes.

Participation in Reaching Home program 
Council authorized the City to enter into an agreement for participation in the new federal government program called Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, which replaces the Homelessness Partnering Strategy in April. The federal strategy is a national investment over 10 years to support the most vulnerable Canadians with affordable housing and to reduce chronic homelessness.

Housing allowance program   
Council voted to ask staff to report in May on potential measures to expand the City’s housing allowance program. Funding options to be considered are to include, but not be limited to, the creation of a new tier of the municipal land transfer tax for transactions above the current top tier. The housing allowance consists of money provided directly to eligible Toronto households as a monthly benefit to help them cope with their housing challenges.

Review of community housing 
Council adopted a motion that calls for expanding the options to be addressed in a staff report now underway on Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s governance and mandate. As a result, the review will cover various options to improve services for tenants of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, including the possibility of dissolving the corporation and integrating it into the City as an agency or commission.

New affordable housing project     
Council supported a plan for the City to support the creation of up to 65 affordable rental units at 640 Lansdowne Ave. as part of the Open Door program. The City will provide financial incentives for the company undertaking the project (Magellan Community Charities). This project will result in new housing opportunities for seniors, with good access to public transit. The site is owned by the Toronto Transit Commission, which has designated the site as surplus.

Standards and health

Heat relief – apartments   
Council supported a Board of Health recommendation on steps for the City to take pertaining to excessive heat in many Toronto apartments during periods of hot weather. For example, staff are to look into options for window protection in apartment buildings that balance child safety with the ability to permit air circulation for heat relief, and to explore technology available for monitoring apartment temperatures. City communication with apartment buildings’ landlords is another focus.

Planning and public realm

Site plan review process 
Council agreed to communicate with Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to express concerns about the province considering reducing the scope of municipalities’ review of site plans. Information provided with the motion that Council adopted says the current site plan approval process, which takes place in the context of the Planning Act, serves Toronto well and weakening it would compromise high-quality design.

Co-ordination of work for accessibility   
Council voted to ask for a report on the viability of creating a City program that will encourage businesses and property owners to co-ordinate their property improvements with the City’s public-realm sidewalk construction, utility upgrades and repair work so as to achieve compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Sidewalk cafés and parklets   
Council agreed to establish a separate chapter of the Toronto Municipal Code for sidewalk cafés, public parklets and marketing displays. The result is a harmonized bylaw that will ensure application standards and fees are consistent across the city. The harmonized bylaw will come into force on September 1. Staff’s preparations for the new bylaw will include providing information about café and marketing permits via the City’s Open Data web portal.

Public realm/sidewalk standards   
A motion calling for a review of enforcement levels and educational efforts currently in place to maintain the City’s public realm and sidewalk standards, along with related actions, received Council’s support. Related actions to be pursued include, among others, educating owners of businesses and properties about their responsibilities/roles in helping to make the city clean and beautiful.

Economy, culture and events

Continuation of Toronto Global   
Council approved the City’s continued participation as a supporter of Toronto Global for the next five years, subject to conditions pertaining to funding and other governments’ commitments. Formally launched in 2017, Toronto Global is an organization that is working to attract foreign investment and support economic development in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.

Street festivals   
Council adopted a motion calling for staff and the police chief to discuss policing costs and protocols for Toronto’s neighbourhood street festivals, leading to a report for Council on ways to reduce those costs while ensuring public safety at the events. It was noted that some local business groups have expressed concerns about the rising costs of providing paid duty officers at street festivals, which could affect the viability of some of these summer events.

New attraction for Toronto Zoo   
Council approved having the City assist with financial arrangements for the Toronto Zoo’s management board to enter into a contract with the Moment Factory for a “Lumina experience” at the zoo. The interactive exhibit, scheduled to open later this year as a ticketed event promoting conservation, will increase awareness of the zoo as a year-round operation and has the potential to bring economic benefits to the city’s east side in the general vicinity of the zoo.

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Cabbagetown according to … Robin LeBlanc

Robin LeBlanc (@thethirstywench on Twitter) is a freelance writer and has been living on Winchester Street for two years.

Best place in Cabbagetown for a bite to eat … So many places, but I can often be seen having a club sandwich with an amazing beer at the House on Parliament or picking up some ingredients for a homemade meal at Epicure. If it’s a simple snack I’m in the mood for, Daniel et Daniel’s mini chicken chimichangas are the way to go! Oh jeez, and Thai Room for some amazing Pad Thai!

Cabbagetown needs …  More stores and cafes that are open late.

Favourite block … Where the action is on Parliament, from Carlton to Spruce. Seeing all of the amazing shops and all the people going about their day is nothing short of invigorating. A VERY close second, however, is Metcalfe from Winchester to Carlton. That place turns into a theme park come Hallowe’en. 

Best public space …  Riverdale Park West, of course! A lovely place for a relaxing picnic and a chance to do some quality dog watching!

Favourite store … Again, too many to fully list here, but Epicure is definitely one of my favourites for every day or special occasions. And I love seeing what new glasses designs Face Furniture Optical are showcasing. I got my sunglasses there and wear them often! 

Cabbagetown pet peeve …  The odd store that just remains vacant, occasionally being used as a candidate HQ when an election comes around. I’d very much like to see those empty spaces become something.

Cabbagetown’s best kept secret … The beautiful and quiet streets to go down for a nice walk at night. Also being a roughly five minute walk from nearly anything you need!

Best reason to join the Cabbagetown Residents Association (CRA) … To stay up to date on all of the community goings-on and upcoming events!

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Spring cleanup safety tips by Des Ryan

Des Ryan, a retired Toronto police officer and author of the Mike O’Shea Crime Fiction Series, is a CRA board director and our volunteer safety and security lead.

Spring has sprung, and the snow is melting. Really!

And perhaps, like me, you have noticed the dog poop, needles, condoms, and other not-so-nice items that those frequenting our neighbourhood have occasionally left behind.

The dog poop? A bag and a shovel and you’re good to go. And the condoms? A plastic bag and gloves (although you might have worn gloves for the poop clean-up, as well).

The needles? A bit of a different story.

As you may know, the city won’t pick up what they consider to be harm reduction items on private property. Kicking them onto public property is not advisable.

So, what to do?

If they are on public property, call 3-1-1 and the city will arrange for removal.

Needles and syringes found on private property, however, are the responsibility of the home owner or property management to dispose of. What you will need to do is place the item(s) in an approved sharps container or in another type of container (plastic jug, water bottle, etc.) that cannot be punctured by the needle tips and seal it. Clearly label the container “Needles” or “Syringes” and call 3-1-1 to arrange to have the Toxic Taxi drop by and pick up the container. Or, if you like, you can send them an email at http://www.toronto.ca/311/.

The container, by the way, will not be returned to you.

The upside to all of this? Unlike other items, there is no required minimum to have them come by. If you are keen on more details, the city has a 19-page document all about it: Needle Disposal: Guidance for Policies and Procedures (link opens a PDF).

Now that your yard is cleaned up, it’s time to think about planting, but I’ll leave that to much more learned neighbours than me to advise you about that!

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Cabbagetown according to … Jodi Thibodeau

Jodi Thibodeau is the owner of JoLT390 Photography; he lives at Wellesley and Sackville, and runs his business in Cabbagetown, as well.

Best place in Cabbagetown for a bite to eat …  I am torn, and it’s because of my passion for mushrooms! The Irv has a TO DIE FOR mushroom grilled cheese then F’Amelia and Salt and Tobacco have equally delicious Fungi pizza. Yum!

Cabbagetown needs … a vegan restaurant.

Favourite block … My Wellesley/ Sackville ‘hood is pretty awesome. It is chock full of lovely people who have become dear friends.

Best public space … Wellesley Park. My dog Dori voted for this one.

Favourite store … Home Hardware. I have always been able to find that one little thing I forgot at Home Depot, but with a friendly face.

Cabbagetown pet peeve … Parking on the narrower streets, especially in the winter when snow piles up on the sides. Clearly, nothing can be done, but still a pet peeve.

Cabbagetown’s best-kept secret … Salt and Tobacco pizzeria delivers through Uber eats and they have a vegan option for my partner. Changed our lives (and waist lines)

Best reason to join the Cabbagetown Residents Association (CRA) … As with any association, it gives a forum for all the individuals in the region to voice opinion, views and ideas.

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Seeking volunteers directors for the CRA!

The Cabbagetown Residents Association is looking for new directors to sit on the board starting in June at our 2019 Annual General Meeting.  We need people who have a passion for the neighbourhood and who wish to contribute to the community.  

We have particular need for people who like to help co-ordinate community events, book keeping or who have interest liaising with the City of Toronto on issues both local and broad, but there’s always room to pursue other passions that are in residents’ best interests (social, economic or environmental).  

If you or someone you know might be a good fit for the role, please contact us. The Nominating Committee will get in touch with each nominee and arrange to meet in person to discuss the role.

Read about the current board of directors here
Read the by-laws governing the nomination process here

A board director is expected to attend monthly business meetings with fellow board directors (although we take a break in the summer, and the December meeting tends to be more social than business). As well, a board director commits to volunteer for our major events, such as the Forsythia Festival on the first Sunday of May. Finally, each board director takes on a portfolio of interest, whether that’s running events, serving as treasurer, attending city meetings, leading environmental initiatives, or working on communications.

Thank you for your consideration, and we hope that you’ll consider joining us.

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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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