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City Update

March 2014 edition

The City of Toronto's e-newsletter City Update focuses on the latest services, innovations and accomplishments in Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government. This e-newsletter, published six times a year, is for the public, stakeholders, media, City Council and staff.

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Read the latest edition below.

VMS sign on GardinerCity taking steps to reduce traffic congestion
City Council has approved a five-year congestion management plan aimed at improving traffic congestion on Toronto streets. Recent studies show that congestion costs Toronto commuters several billion dollars annually in travel delays, vehicle operating costs and accidents. Among the key elements of the congestion management plan are upgrading traffic signal management software, the co-ordination of about 1,000 traffic signals, the installation of 100 traffic cameras, and the addition of 13 variable-message signs along the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway. These changes will allow the City to better respond to changes in traffic conditions, provide motorists with updated information, and improve traffic efficiency.

Articulated busBendy buses on Bathurst and Dufferin
The TTC is modernizing its bus fleet and enhancing the customer experience with the introduction of articulated buses. At over 18 metres long, the bendy buses started hitting the road on the 7 Bathurst route late last year, and more recently on the 29 Dufferin route. These accessible, clean-diesel vehicles are slated for service on the 36 Finch West, 6 Bay, 63 Ossington, 85 Sheppard East and 53 Steeles West routes by the end of the year. The buses carry 45 per cent more riders than the TTC’s regular 40-foot buses, and with three doors, they provide quicker loading and unloading times. All 153 bendy buses are scheduled to be in service by the beginning of 2015.

New infrastructure projects on City's website
The website of the Major Capital Infrastructure Coordination Office has been expanded to show the location and type of infrastructure that is planned for construction in 2014 and 2015.  New water, sewer, transit and transportation projects are illustrated, as well as work that will be performed by utility companies, other City divisions and external agencies. The MCIC website also provides a new tool that generates a printable list of infrastructure projects in each ward. The City has another website, www.toronto.ca/torontostreets, which contains details on emergency and short-term closures as well as special events.

Office of Emergency Management ready to respond
The recent ice storm highlighted the importance of being prepared for an emergency. The City's Office of Emergency Management is prepared to assist Toronto during an emergency but residents also have a role to play. Residents can be emergency-ready by preparing an emergency kit, keeping cell phone batteries charged, knowing the locations of all electrical panels, water and gas shutoff valves in the house, and keeping flashlights where you can find them in the dark. During an emergency, residents can keep updated by following the City on Twitter @TorontoComms. 

 

City offers tips to prevent basement flooding
With April showers around the corner, now is the time to flood-proof your home and basement. Start by clearing eavestroughs and downspouts of debris; disconnect your downspouts that empty into the City's sewer system (it's mandatory, where feasible); fix cracks in windows or your foundation; install a backwater valve and sump pump, and landscape so the ground is sloping away from your home. More tips and information about what the City is doing to help prevent basement flooding is available on the City's website.  

 

 

Newcomer Office can help with settlement, integration
The Toronto Newcomer Office facilitates the implementation of the City's Newcomer Strategy, adopted by Council in 2013. Staff work with other City divisions, provincial and federal departments, community agencies and Toronto residents to make positive changes to newcomer lives and advance their successful settlement and integration. In January, staff from the Newcomer Office organized two Open Dialogue sessions to discuss permanent resident voting rights and newcomer access to City services. They also worked with community partners to run information sessions about City grants and funding. Photo: Chris Brillinger, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration speaking at an Open Dialogue session. (Photo courtesy of Ranjit Bhaskar, Maytree)

Transition program gives academic lift to Malvern students
Grade 8 students in the Malvern neighbourhood will have an opportunity to progress academically this summer by attending a free program planned for the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. The program is a City initiative in collaboration with the Malvern Neighbourhood Action Partnership and community partners. The six-week program begins on July 2 and is targeted to students who are not working to their academic potential due to their socio-economic circumstances. The program includes intensive math and literacy learning, in addition to career, leadership and employment readiness skills, and exposure to post secondary education options. For more information, contact Claudia Coore at 416-392-6248 or Leolyn Hendricks at 416-491-5050 extension 44755. Photo: Local residents at Grade 8 graduation ceremony.

 

Fraud and Waste numbers reported
The City's Fraud and Waste Hotline, operated by the Auditor General's office, was set up as a practical tool for employees and the public to report complaints concerning fraud, waste or wrongdoing that impact City resources. The Auditor General issues an annual report to Council through the Audit Committee on the activity of the City's Fraud and Waste Hotline program. The report includes details about the program's operation, statistics and highlights of substantiated complaints. In 2013, about 1,000 allegations were received.

 

 

 

Planning report looks at priorities and accomplishments
City Planning has released its first-ever annual report highlighting major accomplishments for 2013. These include city-building initiatives such as "Feeling Congested?", The Tall Building Guidelines, Eglinton Connects and the Harmonized Zoning By-Law, as well as Divisional initiatives, such as the new Strategic Plan. The report also looks ahead to identify priorities for 2014, including the creation of new Heritage Conservation Districts, advancing mid-rise development, planning for new transit infrastructure, and advancing the Development Permit System and the ongoing Official Plan Review process.  

 

EMS Safe City Program saves lives
Toronto Emergency Medical Services' Safe City Program places and maintains more than 1,400 Automatic External Defibrillators (AED's) in public buildings including TTC stations, police stations, recreation centres and pools. Seconds count when a heart stops beating. Bystanders who see someone in cardiac arrest, unconscious and not breathing can help paramedics save a life by providing cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a shock, if needed, from a public access defibrillator. In 2013 the Safe City Program contributed to saving the lives of 11 people.

 

 

Changes to the Smoke-Free Bylaw
Toronto City Council approved changes to the Smoke-Free Bylaw in December. The new restrictions in Toronto's bylaw increase the areas where smoking is banned. It is now against the law to smoke within nine metres of an entrance or exit of any building that is used by the public. Toronto has a history of enacting bylaws that protect residents from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Smoke-free bylaws also help smokers reduce and quit smoking altogether. For information and support to quit smoking visit Live Tobacco-Free.

City of Toronto's 2014 budget
Council on January 30 approved the 2014 Budget for the City of Toronto. The 2014 Tax Supported Operating Budget is $9.6 billion and the 10-year Capital Budget and Plan for investment in the City's future capital needs/priorities totals $18.6 billion. The Operating Budget includes a 2.71 per cent property tax increase for residential properties. The 2.71 per cent residential properties tax increase translates into an increase of $68.59 for the average residential property assessed at $499,521, which will pay $2,598 in municipal taxes in 2014. The total average increase for non-residential properties, which includes multi-residential apartments, is 0.30 per cent.

Solid Waste and Water budgets for 2014
In December, City Council approved the 2014 budgets and rates for Solid Waste Management Services and Toronto Water. The Solid Waste Management Services operating budget is $354.2 million and the capital budget is $96.5 million. This includes an increase of 3 per cent to the volume-based rates in order to maintain and enhance assets and waste diversion programs. City Council also voted to suspend the collection of solid waste user fees for 2014 from non-residential customers including charities and not-for-profit organizations. In 2014 Toronto Water has an operating budget of $403.2 million and capital budget of $613.3 million. The budget also includes a 9 per cent water rate increase. The total cost for all Toronto Water services – drinking water, wastewater treatment and stormwater management – for an average Toronto household is $2.43 per day.

Working together to recover from the storm
Although the 2013 ice storm created multiple challenges for everyone, it was an opportunity for City staff to work together for the greater good. First task was the round-the-clock work performed by the City and Toronto Hydro, the Province of Ontario, Ontario Hydro and other municipalities' hydro and forestry crews to remove fallen branches from power lines and restore power to the city. Transportation crews then focused on clearing debris from blocked streets and removing hazards from roads and sidewalks. In early January, Solid Waste Management Services took the lead to co-ordinate ground wood debris cleanup efforts involving crews from Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR), Transportation Services, Toronto Water and external contractors. Forestry staff continue to resolve tree hazards and assess the damage to Toronto's tree canopy. Residents can help rebuild Toronto's damaged tree canopy by donating to the Recover the Canopy project.   

City plan reduces lead in drinking water
Older water pipes and some household fixtures are made of lead, a soft metal that can negatively affect health. The City has a strategy to reduce lead in drinking water that includes lead pipe replacement and a faucet filter program. In 2014, the City is also implementing Corrosion Control, a provincially-mandated program supported by Toronto Public Health that involves adding a small amount of phosphate to prevent lead from entering the drinking water.

Community Environment Days start in April
This year, the City will hold 44 Community Environment Days (one per ward) from the first weekend in April to the last weekend of July. At each Community Environment Day event, residents can donate many types of household items for reuse (arts and craft supplies, used clothes and household items that are in good condition). They can also drop off electronics for recycling and household hazardous waste (batteries, compact fluorescent bulbs, propane cylinders and tanks) for safe disposal. A list of accepted items and the 2014 schedule is available on the City's website.

 

Live Green Toronto grant applications due April 7
Since 2008, Live Green Toronto grants have been helping to fund community-inspired projects that green our neighbourhoods, reduce emissions and help us adapt to changes in our climate. Grants of up to $25,000 are available to Toronto-based not-for-profit groups and organizations such as resident associations, community groups and parent councils. Projects eligible for funding include the naturalization of school grounds, the creation of community gardens and park improvements. The deadline to submit a letter of interest is April 7. 

 

Eco-Roof Grants extended to residential buildings
Since 2009, the City's Eco-Roof Incentive program has helped fund the installation of more than 100 green and cool roofs on industrial, commercial and institutional buildings.  In 2013, residential buildings also became eligible for funding. Green roofs and cool roofs (light-coloured roofs that reflect the sun's rays) help reduce energy costs and emissions, and help cool our air. Incentives available include green roofs up to $75/m2 to a maximum of $100,000; and cool roofs up to $5/m2 to a maximum of $50,000.

 

 

Planning to improve your home's energy efficiency? HELP is here
The City has launched a new pilot program called HELP – Home Energy Loan Program.  If you live in certain areas of the city, you are eligible to apply now. Through HELP, the City provides low interest loans to qualifying homeowners who are interested in improving the energy and water efficiency of their home. Homeowners receive the funding required to complete the improvements and then repay the City over time through instalments on their property tax bill. To learn more about HELP, visit the Live Green Toronto website.

Financing for energy and water improvements in apartments
The Tower Renewal Office has launched the High-rise Retrofit Improvement Support (Hi-RIS) program. Hi-RIS makes financing available for energy and water improvements in apartment buildings in Toronto and helps property owners to control costs and improve building conditions. The program has a $10 million fund available over the three year pilot project. Financing is available at competitive rates with terms ranging from five to 20 years. To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit the City's website or contact tower@toronto.ca.

Enter and vote in the Live Green Toronto Awards
The City's 2014 Live Green Toronto Awards are now open for entries and voting. The Awards recognize the people, groups and businesses that are helping to green our city. Entrants are required to submit a short video and tell their green story in 500 words or less, and the public can vote for their favourites online. Winners will receive $2,500 courtesy of award sponsors and a chance to share their story on CP24. The deadline to enter and vote is April 28. Winners will be announced on May 20.

 

 

City wins awards at Government Technology Exhibition and Conference
The City won two awards and an honourable mention for Information Management and Technology in the public sector at the Distinction Awards Gala held by the Government Technology Exhibition and Conference (GTEC) in October. Chief Information Officer Rob Meikle was the municipal recipient of the Leadership for the Next Generation Award. The Employment and Social Services Division won an Award for Excellence in Public Service Delivery for its City Services Benefit Card project, and the Social Development, Finance and Administration Division's Social Policy Analysis and Research unit was also recognized for their project, Wellbeing Toronto. Photo: Rob Meikle, Chief Information Officer, City of Toronto

 

 

 

Interdivisional work pays off
This past year, City Planning and other divisions were recognized by three professional associations for advancing leading-edge policy initiatives with the following awards:
1. The Eglinton Connects Planning Study received the 2013 Project of the Year (Toronto section) Award from the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
2. The Official Plan Heritage Policies received the2013 Award of Excellence for outstanding achievement in heritage planning and policy from the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals.
3. The Tall Buildings: Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto Studyreceived the2013 Excellence in Planning Award (Research / New Directions category) from the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Green Bin implementation recognized 
Solid Waste Management Services was recently awarded the 2013 Management Innovation Award from the Ontario Public Works Association (OPWA) for its strategy to promote Green Bin (organics) implementation in apartments and condominiums. Solid Waste implemented an education and outreach campaign to increase the number of buildings participating and improve diversion rates at buildings already enrolled in the program. A new Customer Service Implementation Team was created to support the rollout to multi-residential buildings. By the end of 2013, Solid Waste surpassed its target with close to 3,000 buildings (over 180,000 units) participating in the Green Bin Program.

Explore Toronto's buildings at Doors Open, May 24-25
The 15th annual Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf will offer free access to 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city. This year's theme is Secrets and Spirits… Exploring the Mysteries Behind the Door. Secret spaces and stories exist all over Toronto from an underground bowling alley in one downtown church and a secret tomb in another, to the hidden nooks and crannies at the University of Toronto and the little-known ghosts that haunt the Historic Distillery District. This year's event includes walking tours, a speaker series and art exhibits.



Discover Scarborough as a Cultural Hotspot
From May to October, the Cultural Hotspot project will shine a spotlight on arts, culture and community in south Scarborough inspiring new ideas about where culture thrives in Toronto. This City of Toronto and partner-produced initiative will feature a series of projects that will include art in storefronts and restaurants, streetscape art, gateway murals, youth mentorship and employment, local festivals and more. This project will help locals and visitors to discover Hotspot neighbourhoods and the places within, to experience arts, culture, heritage and parkland as well as where to get fantastic food.

New direction for Library services to school-aged children
In January, Toronto Public Library unveiled a new framework for the services it provides to Toronto’s children ages six to 12 and their families. Based on the latest research, and building on the programs and services currently offered, the library’s Middle Childhood Framework provides a blueprint for supporting the healthy growth and development of school-aged children as they transition into independent learners. The framework is built around three core library service pillars: making reading fun, encouraging self-directed, interest-driven learning, and promoting fun and play as an important part of a child’s development.

Library launches series of Digital Innovation Hubs
Toronto Public Library’s first Digital Innovation Hub officially opened at the Toronto Reference Library in February and more hubs are planned to open this year at Fort York and Scarborough Civic Centre branches. These hubs will be flexible places that house a range of digital technology (including 3D printers) that will allow people to learn, create and explore in a welcoming environment. The Hubs are also intended to be collaboration spaces for people to connect and learn from each other. There will be monthly meet-ups, speaker and networking events, and free classes on everything from 3D design to computer programming.

Downton Abbey costumes on display
The City's Spadina Museum, in partnership with VisionTV/ZoomerMedia, will present the Canadian premiere of Dressing for Downton: Costumes from Downton Abbey. Twenty costumes worn by the characters of the award-winning British television series will be on display until April 13. The exhibition features costumes and photographs from the series, Downton-themed tours and teas. The tour takes visitors through the museum's family and servants' spaces and links the characters and events from the TV show to real Toronto history.

Market Gallery profiles Ontario Black History Society
The City's Market Gallery is presenting an exhibition on the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) through April 19. The exhibit provides an overview of the society's 35-year history using photographs and historic materials. A portrait of William Peyton Hubbard is one of the many important historic persons featured in the exhibit. Hubbard was the City of Toronto's first Black councillor. He held office from 1894 to 1913, and was Deputy Mayor in 1906 and 1907. The City honours his influence then and now with the annual William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations. Caption: Portrait of William Peyton Hubbard, c. 1907, Photograph (courtesy of Heritage Toronto)

 

 

 

 


So cute! New babies at the Zoo 
Spring has sprung at the Toronto Zoo, and with it has come many wonderful Zoo babies including a four-month-old polar bear cub, Humphrey, who can be seen exploring his outdoor den and maternity area in the Tundra Trek. Other youngsters include zebra foals, Luke and Leia, and a giraffe named Mstari. There is also a young gorilla in the African Rainforest Pavilion. Toronto’s favourite giant panda pair, Er Shun and Da Mao, are also at the Zoo. Their exhibit includes an Interpretive Centre featuring interactive themes such as Eating Bamboo, Threats to Giant Pandas and Saving Giant Pandas

 

 

 


Get ready for the Toronto Challenge
Start training now for the Toronto Challenge on Sunday, June 8. Whether you complete the 5k run, 5k walk or 1k walk, you will be raising funds for Toronto Long-Term Care Homes & Services residents and for other non-profit organizations. Support seniors in your community and visit www.toronto.ca/challenge to register. For 23 years, the Toronto Challenge, presented by MonsterMortgage.ca, has been bringing together participants from all ages and abilities to raise funds to improve the quality of life for seniors.

Past Issues

City Update Banner - Winter 2013.jpg

City Update - Winter 2013

The City of Toronto's e-newsletter City Update focuses on the latest services, innovations and accomplishments in Canada's largest city and sixth largest government.

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City Update - Autumn 2013

The City of Toronto's e-newsletter City Update focuses on the latest services, innovations and accomplishments in Canada's largest city and sixth largest government. 

 

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City Update - Summer 2013

The City of Toronto's e-newsletter City Update focuses on the latest services, innovations and accomplishments in Canada's largest city and sixth largest government.