swimming soon ?

The pools at the Regent Park Aquatic Centre have been filled, but no signs on the building to indicate an opening date.

Updated: mid-Aug opening, according to our city councillor’s office (see details)

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Regent Park: June 2012

June 26 was the 2nd meeting of the “Regent Park Community Construction Liaison Committee”.  No Regent Park residents attended; neither did the contractor. See meeting minutes and TCHC’s presentation; following is our account of this meeting.

The problem of construction dirt on Shuter St – on the road, and accumulating on the south side of the street – remains unresolved.  In 2011, as well as operating a sweeper truck, the contractor periodically “washed” the street via tanker truck.  This year, only sweeping (no street washing) in spite of this promise 6 months ago, from TCHC.

No continuity from Councillor Pam McConnell’s office – for this 2nd meeting, Sean McIntyre attended (previous meeting, Pam’s rep was Glenn Gustafson).  Sean advised that the city will study the feasibility of parking on alternate sides of the street (to allow periodic cleaning of the south side of the street). Glenn made the same suggestion four months ago, and TCHC’s Tom Burr said the same thing eight months ago, so no progress. Pam McConnell was already our city councillor when bike lanes (and street parking) were added to Shuter in 2002 – 10 years later, and the city and Pam still have no plan for adequate street cleaning.  Since April, TTC buses (replacing the 501 streetcar) have detoured along Shuter; these large vehicles stir up all of the dust at the side of the road – see June 12 video of delivery van (buses have same “suction” effect). Can you tolerate the TTC buses on Shuter until the end of October?

(Two city workers used brooms and shovels on June 29, and worked between parked cars, to scoop up some of the dirt on the south side of Shuter, but lots of dirt still remains.)

TCHC admitted that one promised dirt control technique – wheel wash station – wasn’t implemented (in spite of their written commitment:  see Feb 29 presentation, page 12; and Feb 29 minutes)  Now they are hinting “it’s too expensive”, so one questions whether our concerns are taken seriously. TCHC’s contractor uses a 4 foot pile of dirt to hold up a fence (see photo, above) – obviously not serious about minimizing dirt which blows around the site. TCHC claimed that “mudmats” were implemented on access roads, but how much “mud prevention” is provided by this bit of gravel on Sackville ? (see photo).

The school board (TDSB) did attend this meeting, and presented a timeline for completion of school renovations in time for Sept 3 opening.  An official “public open house” is tentatively planned for Sept 13.  The school will be heated via the central Regent Park energy plant, which should be an improvement (residents directly across the street should no longer experience the loud rumbling noise that previously emanated from the school’s furnace).  TDSB’s extensive renovation of the school is planned to meet silver LEED standard (for energy efficiency).  New windows were installed on the 2nd and 3rd floor, but the old windows remain on the 1st floor (see June 28 photo) – hard to imagine that these old windows give good noise or temperature insulation. (TDSB is likely running out of time or money, but wouldn’t admit it when asked).  In terms of construction dirt, TDSB claims that they will clean the street “on request” – doubtful that works (who requests? how quickly does cleaning occur?).  TDSB will remind their contractor to respect the noise bylaw, concerning early morning construction activity on weekdays and on Saturday.

We were told by TCHC that the Aquatic Centre should open early Aug 2012, and the Arts Centre in Sept; the Community Centre (still not started) now has a promised completion date of Sept 2013.

– added photos (July 1)
– added official minutes, presentation (July 12)

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Regent Park: March 2012

It’s been almost a year since TCHC met with residents living adjacent to Regent Park, to give us an update. For several months, Shuter St has been clogged with mud, from TCHC and TDSB construction activity (see photos).  In response to TCHC’s meeting invite, a week before the meeting, we replied:

Please invite someone from TDSB (school board) who is knowledgeable about the renovation of Nelson Mandela Park Public School. Their construction is also affecting the neighbourhood. The neighbourhood needs a single point of contact to address concerns – hopefully this “Community Construction Liaison Committee” will be that single point of contact.

TDSB was a “no show”, without offering any explanation.

Here is a copy of TCHC’s presentation, given Feb 29, and minutes prepared by CPLC.  Trefann Court’s highlights from this meeting:

To reduce the large amounts on mud tracked onto Shuter Street by construction trucks accessing the site, the contractor is finally implementing a truck washing station (on Sackville north of Shuter), mud mats, and repeated an earlier promise to spread calcite on roadways, to control the dust. The Daniels Corporation representative claimed that an employee inspects the entire area surrounding the Regent Park construction site throughout each day, and takes immediate action to remedy any negative impacts, including the removal of dirt from nearby streets.

Glenn Gustafson (Councillor McConnell’s rep) attended this meeting, and was told that the dirt can accumulate 2 inches deep in the eastbound curb lane of Shuter. Three hour parking is currently permitted; in practice vehicles park here throughout the day and night, so and the curb lane doesn’t get cleaned for several months at a time. More parking enforcement won’t solve this problem; we’re expecting prompt action from the councillor to implement temporary parking restrictions (eg. no parking on 15th and 30th of each month) so that the increased accumulation of dirt/debris from construction traffic is periodically cleaned off the street.

According to TCHC, the school is scheduled to re-open in Sept 2012, even though it will still be in the middle of a construction zone.  One resident suggested:  to avoid exposing school children to high levels of dust, construction traffic and other potential safety hazards resulting from ongoing Regent Park phase 2 reconstruction, the school re-opening should be delayed for a year. A seemingly reasonable suggestion, but no one from the school board was in attendance at this meeting to listen/respond.

TCHC re-iterated that the community centre (not yet under construction) will be completed this year, also the big park. Sackville and Sumach road re-construction will be completed this year and these roads re-opened to the public, allowing travel from Shuter to Dundas.

As detailed on pages 6-7 of the presentation, Phase 2 will have a mix of “market-priced condo” (m) and “subsidized rental” (r).  See map showing location of each block #.
– projects underway:  block 20(r), 24 north(m), 25(m)
– in 2012/2013:  block 21(m), 22(r), 24 south(r), 23 (m? r?)

Still no decision yet, on whether “block 23″ (NW corner of Sackville and Shuter) will be rental or market condos. TCHC promised to advise this committee as soon as their decision is made public.

(Corktown Association also attended this meeting; here is their summary.)

– added photos, link to corktown.ca (March 4)
– added minutes prepared by TCHC (March 12)
– added additional info from TDSB (March 20)

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TCHC in the West Don Lands

589 King Street EastToronto Community Housing is planning a 3 building development in the West Don Lands: 589 King Street East (south east corner of King Street East and St. Lawrence Street). An eight storey 128 unit building fronting on King Street is designed for seniors. Two four-story buildings will provide 115 rental housing units for families.

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Rebuilding Regent Park – an independent view

[Ryan Kohls is a student in Ryerson’s Masters in Journalism programme. Ryan’s blog contains other writings.]

As Regent Park enters the second, and largest, phase of its $1 billion facelift, some nearby residents and at least one expert fear that history is about to repeat itself. The 15-year revitalization project, which consists of six phases, is beginning its southward expansion. With development approaching Shuter Street and the Corktown neighbourhood, residents are voicing their concerns.

“If you look at what’s happening in the city today the mayor’s saying cut back 10 per cent on everything,” says Bill Eadie, a resident of Shuter Street since 1983. “They seem to be good at getting money to demolish and build new buildings, but I don’t think they’ve considered how they’ll maintain it 10 years from now.”

When it was first constructed in the 1940s, Regent Park was the largest social housing experiment in Canadian history with all tenants occupying subsidized housing. But maintenance of the buildings lagged, and as the site rotted so too did the community. Crime and drugs trafficking increased. The revitalization, which began in 2004, aims to lower the proportion of subsidized housing to 44 per cent while adding condominiums and townhouses at market prices. “Toronto Community Housing’s vision for revitalization goes beyond replacing housing,” said Kyle Rooks, the media relations consultant for Toronto Community Housing. “Our goal is to transform communities to build great neighbourhoods for everyone, based on the tried and true mixed-income approach that is so successful elsewhere in Toronto.”
Continue reading

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Regent Park dirt

Look at these photos; our neighbourhood continues to get “substandard” service from the city. If they were considerate of the existing Trefann Court residents, TCHC and the City of Toronto would be making more effort to promptly clean construction dirt from streets surrounding the Regent Park re-construction, without repeated requests from residents.

Private construction sites:

  • have staff who immediately shovel / sweep mud from the street access to their construction sites
  • install “barrier cloth” to prevent dirt from clogging the sewers

Why doesn’t the city expect the same from TCHC? See photos taken Oct 12-13.

For the past month:

  • the sewer at the north-west corner of Sackville and Shuter has been clogged with mud
  • as a result, the street remains flooded for a week after each rainfall, and the sidewalk is impassible to pedestrians
  • the street hasn’t been washed, so passing motorists create clouds of dust, and accumulated dirt makes the bike lane unsafe
  • when street was washed in the past, mud just accumulated at the side of the road, since parked cars, and inadequate parking restrictions prevent sweeping all sections of the street
  • today, the dirt is 3-4 inches thick, on the road at the construction entrance immediately west of Nelson Mandella School

Two hours after Trefann contacted TCHC and Councillor McConnell about this problem, a street sweeping machine was at work on Shuter St. But TCHC’s site supervisor should be taking the initiative to promptly remedy such problems, without requiring ongoing complaints from Shuter St residents.

Posted in city services, development, Regent Park | 1 Comment

Busy Beavers

If you have a large enough machine, you can chop down trees so quickly, that almost no one will notice. Regent Street is to be retained as part of the “New and Improved” Regent Park; too bad the city doesn’t follow the same rules as a private developer (who would be obligated to save some of these mature, healthy trees which line the street). Instead, they were swiftly “axed” on May 16. (See article in May 17th Toronto Star.) The city’s 2007 official plan contains this amusing “doublespeak”: “Redevelopment of Regent Park will provide for the retention and relocation of existing trees where possible”. Doubtless there is a “Green Canopy Master Plan” as part of the Regent Park Rebuilding Scheme, but it will still take 50-60 years before there are trees of comparable size to these ones.

(click on the above image to view larger version)

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BIA? – up to local businesses

As a course project, a team of Ryerson undergrad students recently studied the “opportunities for enhancement of the public realm, a strengthened business base, and a safer community for Corktown”. As one of the few Trefann Court residents who attended the students’ April 13 presentation; I was shocked to hear that one of their suggestions was a new BIA (business improvement area) for Corktown: the area bounded by Berkley, Queen, River, King and Eastern / Front Streets. Call it “Son of Queen East BIA” – will this be another horror story? Long-time Trefann and Corktown residents may know some of the seamy history of a previous BIA attempt; I’d like to share my recollections. (In writing this, I couldn’t easily find any information on the www.corktown.ca website about the 2007 BIA, but at least Google provides a few links. For further BIA details, check the Trefann email list, circa 2006 – 2007.)

A significant portion of the $15,000 of Section 37 money given to the city by Shoppers Drug Mart (for permission to build their store at Queen+Parliament) was spent in 2006 on a brochure promoting concept of a Queen East BIA. An organization that I thought was already defunct by this time – QUEBRA – publicly endorsed the BIA, along with the CRBA. It was rumoured that one CRBA board member who was promoting the BIA was simultaneously jockeying to become the paid staff person for this new BIA.

Most informed Toronto residents know that downtown Queen Street East does not have a strong retail community. Within the boundaries of the proposed 2006 BIA – Queen St, from Victoria St to River St- one finds a large hospital, a city-owned parking garage, a large military facility, a park, 2 churches, a school, TCHC housing, private homes, some men’s hostels, and several social agencies. In total, this accounts for at least 50% of the frontage along Queen and would all be exempt from paying any BIA levy. So the remaining private businesses along this 1.5 km stretch of Queen East would have to carry the full financial burden of a BIA. (There were, and still are, numerous vacant storefronts on Queen East; it’s unclear whether they would be assessed “reduced rate” BIA fees).

It was frustrating that the city allowed only a very short period of time for local businesses to vote whether they wanted a BIA. Many businesses voted “no”, but 153 of these 190 “no” votes were deemed invalid by the city, since some property owners didn’t provide the city with a list of official building tenants. Another peculiar tactic was the city’s “negative billing”-like to BIA voting: businesses who didn’t vote were counted as “yes” votes. We reported these irregularities to the City Auditor, but didn’t receive any feedback. The city simply claimed that there were sufficient “yes” votes to approve creation of this BIA. Continue reading

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from all sides

You likely know that Google Maps will display satellite photos (as well as street views).  One nice feature of Bing aerial photos is the ability to view from several different angles. (when using “angled views”). To demonstrate, here are four photos of 90 Sumach taken from Bing:

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Old Toronto

If you live in one of Trefann Court’s older houses, and are curious about its history, fire insurance plans are one source of information. These plans provide detailed information about buildings and neighbourhoods. They can be used to determine when a building was built or demolished, details of building materials, position of building on lot, lot and address numbers, and lot sizes and shapes. Fire insurance plans were originally compiled by mapmakers and leased to insurance companies, who used the information about building sizes and construction materials to determine the fire risk and therefore the cost of insurance premiums. Toronto resident Charles E. Goad and his company created the plans from 1880 to 1916.

1899 Goad's fire planSome of these plans are available online: for example, Goad’s 1899 plan.

Here is a closeup of Goads Fire Insurance Plan for 1899. Older homes along Shuter and Sumach are clearly visible. See Sydenham Street (now Shuter), Dominion Brewery, Wascana, Davies Brewing, Don Brewery.

1876 mapHere is “Bird’s Eye View of Toronto, 1876″, from the University of Toronto’s collection. In this closeup, Queen, River, Sumach, Bright and Power Streets are visible. This map shows a church at Queen and Power, the predecessor to the current stone church on that site, built in the 1890s.

Davies Brewing, 1876Davies Brewing is one of the illustrations shown in the margin of this 1876 map.

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