Sherbourne-Shuter puddle

shuter-sherbourne-intersection.jpgWe asked:  “The following problem has existed at the intersection of Sherbourne + Shuter, for at least the past 4 months. In the centre of the northbound lane of Sherbourne St, right at the interscetion of Shuter, there is a depression in the pavement, which has been patched several times with ashpalt paving.  Even when there has been no rain for a few weeks, this depression in the roadway is filled with water, which suggests that there is very likely a slow, underground leak from a nearby watermain.
Hopefully this problem can be fixed soon, before winter; otherwise the resulting ice will be very hazardous for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.”

Response from Toronto 311 (Oct 14): “The issue at Sherbourne & Shuter has been investigated by Toronto Water and is scheduled to have a “leak detection” to determine the problem. At this time we are unable to give you a specific date as to when the permanent repairs will be completed.”

The city ignored Jan 2011 requests from the Toronto Star; the problem was finally fixed March 7. A summary and photo appeared in the April 21 Toronto Star.
corner of Shuter + Sherbourne, March 4corner of Shuter + Sherbourne, March 7

(updated March 7, to include photos; April 21, to include Toronto Star link)

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2010 municipal election

The election date is Monday October 25; the city’s official website provides useful info, such as where to vote, advance polls, getting registered, etc. There was an all candidates meeting Oct 13 (and another one on Oct 14), but otherwise it has been very quiet in Ward 28. The candidates are:

At the Oct 13 meeting, Raj claimed to be endorsed by Rob Ford; the well-funded Pam says she is supporting George Smitherman.

(Updated Oct 16 to add link for Pam McConnell.)

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Shuter St. sidewalk

Well, we finally have real smooth cement sidewalks again on Shuter.  This is a big improvement over the uneven ashpalt patched walkway, which we had to endure for exactly 11 months. For some unknown reason, last fall a replacement watermain was placed underneath the sidewalk instead of the usual location – beneath the street. (We emailed Pam McConnell and inquired why; no response). Some private walkways were damaged by this construction; a resident emailed Pam in June 2010 asking when repairs to her property would be made (again, our city councillor and her 4 staff were too busy to answer). Who knows when Sumach St sidewalks, also torn up last year for watermain construction, will be restored to normal.

sidewalk-before.jpg sidewalk-after.jpg

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Parliament St reconstruction

Parliament Street construction has dragged for several months, as the city replaces streetcar tracks from King northward to Dundas. This reconstruction has caused considerable disruption for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. financial hardship for local businesses, whose customers and suppliers rely on Parliament St for access.

Yet Councillor McConnell’s publicly-funded Fall 2010 “newsletter” didn’t provide any news about this project; neither does her website. Not sure why it’s not worth a mention by Pam: it’s a $4.75-million project and impacts the busiest streetcar routes in the city: King (54,000 passengers daily) and Queen (43,000 passengers). It takes some digging to find some details on the city‘s and the TTC‘s websites.

(Updated to add these photos, taken Dec 10.)
Dec 10:  Parliament-Shuter interesectionParliament St. road reconstruction

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park cleanup

Another spring has come and with that, another Community Clean-Up at Stinky’s Park. Although not as many people participated this year as did in the past, the park looks great.  Thanks to those who did show up: to do some labour, donate some bags and/or refreshments, or just chat up the ‘cleaners’. Laughter (and tears) were shared by all. FYI: the tears were from allergies!

Not surprising that the city’s instructions were confusing, and supplies were insufficient (eg. garbage bags which were supposed to be available from locations they gave on their website).  But our park now looks great, thanks to the community.

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2006 campaign donations for city councillor

Councillor (and mayoral candidate) Rob Ford seems like a straight forward guy, and is not afraid to get into the details. For example, his website gives easy access to 2006 political contributions for each councillor. According to that information: Pam McConnell had 130 unique donors in 2006; the average donation amount was $306. She received a total of $39,825 in donations. A breakdown of donation amount and # of donors: $750 (7 donors), $600 (4), $500 (9), $450 (1), $400 (4), $350 (2), $300 (49), $250 (1), $200 (41), $150 (11), $125 (1).

We compared a map of Ward 28 boundaries to the Toronto postal code map; it seems that approximately 45% of her total donation amount came from outside of Ward 28. For fun, see how many influential Torontonians that you recognize on this list. We’ve added hyperlinks for the ones that we know. Email us if you recognize any of the others. This analysis is available in Excel or PDF formats.

Here are the election results from 2006.  Ward 28 candidates for 2010 so far:  Howard Bortenstein, Eric Brazau, Pam McConnell.  (Howard, Eric:  start saving!)

All contribution details are for information purposes only. As explained on Rob Ford’s website, “the descriptions and amounts have been prepared on a ‘best-effort’ basis using records obtained from the City of Toronto Elections website.”

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developments – April 2010

A quick stroll around the “neighbourhood” to check on the current status of local developments (compare to Nov 2006, Nov 2007, Feb 2008, Jan 2009).  The 3 “Streetcar Development Phase 1″ buildings are nearing completion: 569 King E, 549 King E and 52 Sumach.
569 King E 549 King E 52 Sumach 52 Sumach (new townhomes on Bright St)

Demolition has started at 530 King E (Streetcar Phase 2), and new townhomes might happen on the east side of River (just south of Shuter).  For now, just sexy jazz music on the Corktown Mews website.
530 King 2010-river.jpg

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community centre update

floor planKudos to the city for its extensive public consultations during the design process for the new Regent Park community centre. Flyers for Feb, March and April meetings were delivered door-to-door to the surrounding neighbourhood (presumably to Regent Park residents as well). Detailed plans don’t always appear on the city’s website on a timely basis, but when asked, the city has provided us with details, which we have shared on trefann.org.

The preferred design was presented on April 7:  the new Regent Park community centre will be “L-shaped”, and attached to the Nelson Mandela Park Public (“Park Public”) School, so that the school and community can both share the combined “hub” space. The school will be closed in June 2010 for an extensive, two year renovation “to accommodate 660 pupil places, a full day kindergarten, and child care centre”. The plans also show a “multi-faith” room, which seems peculiar for a public school.
In Feb 2010 we asked an obvious question:   why not put the pool, gym and other athletic facilities planned for Regent Park, in a single building?  Seems reasonable and cost effective – should reduce overall construction costs and reduce ongoing staffing/operational costs). Combined “pool+gym” facilities work well in the nearby St. Lawrence and Jimmie Simpson Rec Centres. Putting the pool in this new community centre location would mean easy access for “Park Public” schoolkids, for school swim lessons. “No, we’ve already decided to build a separate aquatic complex” was the answer (no other explanation was given).
The recently built Wellesley Community Centre (at the corner of Wellesley + Sherbourne) is a successful, popular place, partly because it includes a busy Toronto public library (TPL) branch.  Attendees at the Feb 2010 meeting suggested that a TPL branch also be incorporated into the Regent Park Community Centre – seems reasonable; the existing local TPL branch (at Parliament + Gerrard) is cramped, and would benefit from being relocated more centrally within Regent Park. Putting a library in a community centre seems ideal: offer visitors opportunities for intellectual, as well as physical, workouts. But our suggestion was casually discarded by planners: “the TPL wasn’t interested”, we were told. Instead, a large portion of the new building will be a 2 story employment centre.  (See above floor plan, or pages 26-29 of the revised plan.)

At the April 7 meeting, city staff was vague as to what employment services would be provided. Numerous local social agencies already offer employment services (Dixon Hall, Serve Canada, Salvation Army, Fred Victor, Council Fire, Toronto Youth Development and others), but the city claims their new centre “won’t duplicate existing services”. TCHC (which is wholly owned by the city) is constructing several condo buildings in the redeveloped Regent Park; the ground floor of one of these condos would seem to be a better location for an adult employment centre (instead of being part of the same “hub” building as an elementary public school), but the city is adamant that this is the “best place”. Councillor Pam McConnell listened to concerns from several parents on April 7, but we’re not hopeful of any changes.

2010-park-public-bin.jpgHopefully these improvements will be realized:

  • Trefann residents know that Shuter St. gets a lot of heavy truck traffic. The north side of Shuter St. is zoned “no stopping”, and yet large delivery trucks and school buses stop in front of the school several times each day for loading/unloading passengers and cargo. As the Regent Park revelopment progresses, TDSB will be able to use quieter streets (Sackville, Sumach or St. David’s) to give the kids from “Park Public” School safer access to school buses. (See March 20, 2012 response from TDSB.)
  • The unsightly dumpster should eventually disappear from the school’s front yard. “TDSB is intending to provide service loading space for the school from the north parking lot. Any TDSB dumpsters will be located in the north parking lot, close to the school. The community centre may either use these dumpsters or use totes that would be temporarily set out at the curb of Sackville street (community centres generate relatively little garbage).”

Expected construction start for the community centre is “summer 2011, expected opening: late 2012″.

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Regent Park: What’s Happening?

The redevelopment of Regent Park was first announced in Oct 2004. Here is the original plan (5.5 mb). To summarize:

  • demolish almost all existing housing; retain the existing community centre, health centre, ice rink, and 3 churches [237 Sackville, 509 Dundas East, 17 Regent]. The Christian Resource Centre at 40 Oak Street would be rebuilt (worship, community space, supportive housing)
  • re-introduce a network of public streets, and public parks
  • increase the density by 2.4 times (from 2,083 to a maximum of 5,100 units),
  • encourage private developers to construct housing for a mixture of income levels on the Regent Park site, and
  • construct an additional public housing site somewhere in East Downtown.

In 2004, we were told the project would be built in 6 phases, each one to take approximately 2 years, starting Dec 2005.  Hopefully there will be money for ongoing maintenance of these new buildings (since lack of maintenance was one of the main problems with the “original” Regent Park, and is the issue for almost all TCHC owned properties.)

Numerous changes since then:

2005-regent-park-height.jpg 2009-regent-park-heights.jpg

  • different sequencing of phases
  • ever increasing building heights:  the carefully planned 2004 rezoning was revised in 2009; “block 21″ doubled (from 22 to 40m), “block 22″ doubled (15 to 30m), “block 23″ increased (from 15 to 22m), “block 38″ doubled (from 10 to 20m).
  • instead of reusing the community centre, it is to be torn down and rebuilt elsewhere
  • the new pool is to occupy part of the “big park” (instead of locating the pool beside Lord Dufferin School, as originally planned)
  • new arts centre

At one time, there was a dedicated, comprehensive website – www.regentparkplan.ca, and frequent newsletters – to keep everyone informed; not the case any more.  This is the one link we’ve found that summarizes what information is officially available.

Posted in development, Regent Park | 3 Comments

murky waters

Regent Park Aquatic Centre In 2004, our city leaders invested in a Toronto Indoor Pool Provision Strategy; the consultant’s final report offers 3 different options (scenarios); no indication on the city’s website which scenario was ultimately adopted. Also no indication whether the new Regent Park Aquatics Complex (or facilities planned for 2014 Pam Am Games) fit into this strategy (or is the strategy now “forgotten” ?)The city has been promising us a grand “Aquatics Complex” for several years; its original planned location was to be next to Lord Dufferin School.

When the city used “world-class aquatic centre” in its Dec 2009 announcement, most of us assumed that the Regent Park pool would be “olympic” size, i.e. 50m pool. The latest plans for Regent Park show a well designed, half-sized pool – only 25m in length – for swim training/lessons, and other aquatics areas for recreation (eg. waterslide), all wheelchair accessible. But does this warrant a separate building? Elsewhere in the city, pools are efficiently and economically incorporated into a multi-purpose community / recreation centre, so preplexing why not in Regent Park?

The latest plans say “expected construction start:  summer 2010; expected opening: late 2011″.
See above diagram: This pool has been under design for a few years at least, but in this March 2010 version, the placement of pool building entrance seems weird. It’s very “grand” to have an expansive sidewalk leading from Dundas St, and handy to walk from the park to the pool doors, but if the building entrance was instead located off Sumach (ie. in the middle of building):

  • no need for long interior hallway to access change rooms
  • putting the entrance on a quieter street means cars can more safely stop to let off passengers
  • front doors would be closer to service entrance (most delivery persons will have to check in at main entrance first, before making deliveries at loading dock)

We sent this suggestion to the city recently; we’ll post their response as soon as it is received.

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