Update from July 7, 2017

Dear Friends and Neighbours,

I’m writing to provide you with an update on the development at 18-30 Erskine. As you know, I’ve been consistently engaged with the parent and local community on this development.

Today, at City Council I moved to adopt the recommendations from North York Community Council (NYCC), including new amendments to improve the health and safety measures related to construction management.

As I have said time and again, I fundamentally oppose this development. Like all of you, I believe that this 35-storey tower is – in the words of Toronto’s most senior planning official – a travesty to community and neighbourhood.

From the very first day I was notified of this application, I have consistently fought this development because of the height of the building, the postage stamp-sized lot and its location mere metres away from John Fisher Public School. Simply put, this development does not represent good planning and does not serve the best interests of the community, including the school. Unfortunately, under the current provincial land use planning system, when an application is appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), as was the case for 18-30 Erskine, the OMB has the final say.

As you know, over the past several months, I exhausted every single option to stop this development from going forward, including:

  • Requesting both in person and in writing that the developer work with the city and province to turn the property into a green space for the community;
  • Multiple meetings with MPP Wynne and Mayor Tory encouraging them to consider alternative solutions to the development, such as land swap or requesting the developer sell the land back to the city and/or province;
  • Multiple meetings with the City’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, and the City Solicitor, Wendy Walberg to request they consider any and all options within the city’s jurisdiction to stop this development from moving forward; and,
  • Meeting with Bruce Krushelnicki, Executive Chair of Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario to share my concerns about the OMB decision for 18-30 Erskine and indicating to him, in writing, that I supported the John Fisher parents’ request for a review of that decision.

My motions at City Council today aimed to further strengthen the health and safety measures already in place by:

  • Requiring two trained and certified traffic control operators on site during construction;
  • Requesting that additional measures be taken to address outstanding safety concerns regarding the balconies;
  • Extending the traffic time restrictions passed at NYCC, including the timed prohibition of trucks in front of the school, to include the drop-off and pick-up times of the French Connection Day Care Centre;
  • Including the French Connection Day Care Centre in all communications and committees regarding this development; and,
  • Requesting that a School Safety Zone be established in the vicinity of John Fisher Public School as part of the Road Safety Plan.

My motions also request that the developer take all steps possible to preserve trees adjacent to this property.

Although the developer had concerns with a number of the above motions, I pushed forward and placed these motions before Council to ensure the safety of the John Fisher students and local community. City Council supported these amendments, which you can read in full here.

You can also find a useful summary of the original motions I moved at NYCC here.

These motions are the result of an unprecedented level of engagement and numerous meetings with the school community, the local neighbourhood and city staff over the past five months.

As you may know, one of my motions requires the developer to participate in a monthly construction oversight committee at John Fisher Public School, which will include city staff, the TDSB, the Parent Council, the school administration, the French Connection Day Care Centre and the neighbourhood association, to keep the lines of communication open and address construction issues as they arise.

Further to that, I also moved a motion requiring the developer to implement a communications strategy, including the provision of regular updates on their website. I’m confident that the school administration and the Parent Council will also provide updates, particularly as we approach the new school year.

I would like to close by thanking each and every student, parent and neighbour for their engagement, dedication and hard work over the past year.

In my six years as a City Councillor, I have never seen this level of community engagement on an issue.

While I wish that our efforts to stop this tower had been successful, I remain inspired by your passion and commitment to ensuring the well-being of this community.

All the best,