If you live or work in downtown Toronto, Canada, between Parliament and Sherbourne, Carlton and Shuter Streets, then we are your neighbourhood residents' association. Join us. For info on the next meetings click the events section on the sideboard.
Mayor John Tory August 11, 2016
City of Toronto
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N2
cc. Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell, Community Police Response Team Staff Sgt Henry Dyck, Officer Scott Hodgson, Officer Julie Rice, The Honourable Bill Morneau, The Honourable Glen Murray, Chris Moise
Dear Mayor Tory,
We are the Board of Cabbagetown South Residents Association representing 750 family households in the area bounded by Parliament Street and Sherbourne Street, and Carlton Street to Shuter Street.
We are a neighbourhood that desperately needs your intervention.
Over the last year, our neighbourhood has gone from a 'reasonably' safe walkable neighbourhood to a community facing very serious issues:
· unprovoked assaults
· drug dealing·
· break and enters·
· malicious property damage
· rampant drug and alcohol use on school property, parks, streets, laneways
· sexual activity in our parks and playgrounds
· street prostitution
· violent confrontations
· illegal dumping
· individuals with severe mental health issues
· poorly managed and secured social housing and rooming houses..
The police from 51 Division have been very helpful in addressing these issues but it will take significant political will to fix this. We need your help Mayor Tory. Without the political assistance from the city the problems will continue to escalate.
We need your help in addressing the topic of what a healthy and balanced neighbourhood should look like. For example, the continuous stacking of all the social services in the downtown east neighbourhoods is problematic and places a huge amount of strain on the communities. Our community is now overwhelmed by the sheer number of homeless, under housed, mentally ill, drug addled, dispossessed, frightened, angry and volatile people, pushed here by City policies. The City needs to stop looking for synergies and look instead to the healthy integration of people, not isolating them and whole neighbourhoods.
We need your help to create a safe community. For example, July 6, 2016 a homeless couple doused the playground equipment at Ontario Park with an accelerant and tossed sparklers to ignite the flames. We have not heard if they were ever caught and the Parks and Rec department won’t say when it will be fixed. We worked hard to keep this park clean and safe and it was enjoyed by several young families. Now the park sits empty and abandoned during the day and a hot spot for unwanted activity at night. A summer without a playground is an eternity for a 3, 4 or 5 year old.
Violence is also plaguing our streets. A few weeks ago one of our community members was viciously attacked while sweeping his laneway and is now awaiting his second surgery to see if the sight in that eye can be saved. There was also an incident where a man walking his dogs in a laneway was assaulted because someone objected to dogs.
The laneways in our community are dangerous and have become a passageway for criminal behaviour.
We have tried to take ownership of the laneways by creating green spaces with gardens to discourage illegal dumping and unwanted activity. Yet, prostitutes go there to engage in sex with johns, street alcoholics drink and urinate, drug addicts use them as places to inject drugs and then dump the needles. The homeless sleep and defecate and the mentally ill behave erratically. The lanes are used as illegal dumping grounds. The surfaces are crumbling, unsafe to drive, bike or walk along. Area residents have been spat on, threatened and verbally abused and physically assaulted. What is also very upsetting is that several residents who planted gardens to try to take back their lanes, are now afraid to work in those same spaces. The lack of safety in the lanes is also very troubling because a number of the families in the area either use the laneways to access the back of their residences or to get to school. Children should be safe in our community and not subjected to having to witness acts of prostitution, violence or drug abuse.
We also have rooming houses operated by known problem landlords that continue to be a source of drug dealing, drug dens, disruptive behaviour and unsafe living conditions. No efforts from the City so far have worked. We also have buildings that house people who openly sell drugs in front of school children on their recess and the yet the city cannot go after landlords of these buildings?
Like Toronto Community Housing elsewhere in the city, area buildings (Dan Harrison Complex) need major repair and support staff for their tenants. Certain buildings are a dumping ground for mentally ill, dealers, drug dens and other criminal activity. This is not acceptable and has created unsafe and unhealthy living conditions for law-abiding neighbours and tenants.
We need your help in developing a strategy that deals with the concentration of homeless shelter beds in large warehouse like facilities. These facilities overwhelm staff and the surrounding neighbourhoods.
We need your help in creating mixed neighbourhoods with smaller evenly distributed hostels with supportive housing and support programs that give clients needed direction and assistance.
We would like to invite you to join our Community Police Team in a walk about/drive about through our neighbourhood to see first hand the sheer number of issues facing our neighbourhood.
The residents of our community need your help.
Jeff Lookkong, President Don Purvis, Vice President
Murray Bevin, Susan Dineen, Tanya English, Diana Flynn, Michael Laidlaw, Karen Marren, Michael Portnoy
Cabbagetown South Residents’ Association
The community meeting with Councillor McConnell and officers from 51 Division at the Central Neighbourhood House on Thursday July 7th, 6:30 pm was well attended and many issues were raised.
The discussion included Community Response Seargent Henry Dyck and Officer McCalister from 51 Division Community Response Team. There has been considerable communications back and forth between 51 Division and area residents about drug dealing and street prostitution. There have been several unprovoked assaults in the area and neighbours are very concerned.
Fire Chief Jim Jesop also attended in light of the recent arson attack on the playground equipment in Ontario Street Park. The Fire Department also plays a key part in the inspection of problematic properties.
Points raised by area residents.
Staff Sgt Henry Dyck
Heads Lane Drug Complaints
Police Plan for the next 2 months
Outside Police Help
Fire Chief Jim Jesop
Problematic Properties Group (area residents and city officials) will regroup in the near future.
Fire at Ontario St Parkette. Parks inspected on July 7. The damaged climbing apparatus can be repaired. The scorched rubber membrane playground surface will be replace by sand temporarily and then patched later in the season. One Week timeline to get playground up and running for the summer ASAP. Complete repair - 10 weeks.
To read an excellent recap of the meeting please read Eric Morse's story in the Bulletin.
We recently learned of a city initiative called SPIDER created to hep resolve safety and health risks with in neighbourhoods and communities in the city of Toronto. Area residents have recently met representatives from SPIDER and police in a walk about with a problematic laneway in our area. More details on thtat to follow. For details on this new response team please see below.
The Mission of the SPIDER program is to support participating City Divisions to develop coordinated, inter-divisional responses to complex and unresolved health and safety risks that involve vulnerable Torontonians, their homes or property, and their neighbours.
These risk situations may include, but not limited to, possession of animals, multiple property standards and fire code violations, dilapidated living conditions; accumulation of refuse, environmental and odour issues, bed bugs and other pest infestations.
Such situations are often extremely difficult to resolve and recurrence rates are high. Yet, if left unresolved, these situations can lead to catastrophic consequences for individuals and whole communities.
The probability of requiring targeted enforcement, eviction, and/or other emergency response is high.
Only a participating division at the SPIDER Situation table can nominate a Situation for review by the SPIDER Situation table. The Table is intended to act as an internal mechanism to further support Divisions to develop comprehensive and coordinated response to complex health and safety risk situations and does not supersede normal service standards for any participating Divisions.
Contact information for SPIDER.
Daniel Breault, Community Dev Officer SPIDER (City of Toronto) cell 647 468 4715 or 416 392 6141 / Dbreaul@toronto.caFor information about a recent walkabout and discussion about Windeyer Lane please click here.
As many area residents area aware an arsonist set fire to the children's playground equipment at Ontario Street Park in early July. Since then the playground equipment has been fenced off and park staff are working with the playground equipment manufacturer to secure replacement parts and get the playground up and running for area kids ASAP. We have been advised however that the equipment is actually manufactured in Germany, is on order and as of the middle of August still not shipped. It has been a long sad summer for area kids. The rubber surface below the climbing apparatus will be temporarily covered with sand and that too will be patched later in the season. We have had area residents helping to keep the playground and and park as clean as possible and inviting to young families in the area. It had been working well and many area families would gather in the park late afternoon and early evening. Everyone is perplexed by why anyone would chose to target a children's playground in this manner. Hopefully the perpetrators will be found and asked to answer in court for their actions. Will keep everyone advised when the repairs are done and will try to organize a little bit of decorating and a reopening party.
Members of our board recently met with Options for Homes and Councillor McConnell regarding this proposal to build a 32 storey condo on church property south of the actual church. After reviewing the proposal Councillor McConnell indicated that the architect and developer need to greatly rethink and reduce the height of the proposed building. Pam McConnell indicated that St Lukes/Options need to have a discussion with city planing as to what would be acceptable on that site and come back with revised plans.
Will keep you advised of future developments. The developer could take the plan to the OMB but will hopefully continue to work with the city on a revised plan that is a better fit.
Word has it that the Gerrard and Seaton Beer Store has been sold to a developer planning to build a condo building with commercial/retail space on the Gerrard street frontage. The plan may include a new Beer Boutique Store and other commerical and retail outlets facing Gerrard. For an illustration of a similar project on Avenue Road please click here. The new Beer Boutique Stores generally do not have bottle return facilities.
This may be an opportunity to convince the Beer Store that a better location at a major intersection in conjunction with an LCBO outlet and grocery store would be a better fit for the downtown east neighbourhoods. Many area residents would welcome the opportunity to do one stop shopping for both food and drink rather than the current spacing of LCBO, Beer Stores and grocery chains randomly throughout neighbourhoods.
We will try to instigate a conversation with Daniels at Regent Park to see if they could work with the Beer Store/LCBO and a grocery chain to consolidate three retail outlets at one hub to best serve area residents. The present Beer Store location is not near any transit lines and as many new residents do not have a car a location better suited to transit users and pedestrians would be helpful.
The new residential building on the Beer Store lot could then contain smaller retail/commercial space on the ground floor level facing Gerrard. This would compliment the existiing commercial block between Berkekely and Ontario and an excellent opportunity to extend the commercial/retail block on the south side from Parliament through to Sherbourne Street. The condo could also extend townhouse like units along Seaton and Ontario to blend with the streetscape on the residential side streets. The large heritage hall on Ontario just south of the Beer Store could also be renovated and restored. Will keep you advised of any public meetings or new development of the lot. It is likely that the lot is zoned for up to 6 storeys and if the development is kept within that density would pass through Committee of Adjustment planning phase. The architectural firm Architecture Unfolded is apparently working on this plan and we will invite them to a meeting when they are ready to meet with us. Here is a link that outlines some of their past projects.
The City of Toronto is hosted a meeting on May 30th regarding a large proposal to redevelop a property at Ontario Street south of Queen.
The photograph is from the grounds of Moss Park Apartments looking south west.
The scope of the proposal is large and would have a big impact on the area. Several large warehouses on Richmond and Ontario would be demolished and replaced by three large condos with heights up to nearly 50 storeys.
We have been advised that many area residents voiced concerns about the height and mass of the proposed building. There were concerns about the size of the retail spaces which seemed geared towards big box type stores and the safety and function of the pedestrian mall. Some concerns were made about the number of rental units compared to owner occupied units proposed. The sense being that owner occupied units would create more of a stable neighbourhood with more residents setting down roots and staying in the neighbourhood. Many area residents welcomed new development and felt the increase in people living in the blocks south of Queen would make for a safer and more vibrant neighbourhood.
The area south of Queen between Parliament and Jarvis is under considerable pressure for redevelopment. With talk of a relief subway line along Queen and a subway stop near Queen and Sherbourne there will be even more building proposals brought forward. Hopefully a master plan for the area could help save more of the commercial storefronts and warehouses which presently dot the neighbourhood. For information on the proposal please click here.
City planners will continue to meet with the developer and it is hoped that a better proposal which addresses the concerns of area residents and planners will be forthcoming. To voice your concerns or if you have any questions or comments about the proposal please contact Henry Tang at email@example.com or call 416 392 7572.
We had a very good turn out with area residents interested to hear from and voice concerns and questions to 51 Division Police Officers. Concerns about safety and security, the rise in break ins and theft from cars and back yards were raised with community police. We also had a presentation from representatives from 519 Church Community Center and Moss Park/John Innis Redevelopment Team (see below).
The discussion included police officers from 51 Division Community Response Team as well as a representative from Toronto Community Housing Safety Unit. Warm weather usually brings more house and car break ins and other unwanted activity in our area and it was stressed that residents keeping an eye out for neighbours is a very good strategy. For contact information for both community officers and Toronto Community Housing Safety Unit please click here. Information also posted at the bottom of this page under Crimes to Report.
We cannot emphasis enough to get to know your neighbours on your street and the laneway behind, and note names and contact information so should you see something amiss you can contact them. Letting neighbours know when you are going to be away on vacation etc. is highly recommended. It is also important to call 911 if you witness individuals acting suspiciously, trespassing, attempted break ins, altercations etc.. Police dispatch will assign officers to respond as manpower permits.
Obviously assaults or violent activity get priority responses but police need to know about suspicious activity or if something seems out of place. If you sense something is wrong or something is about to happen, let the police know about your concerns. To report nuisance behaviour, such as public drug and alcohol consumption or intoxication, drug dealing and street prostitution or sexual activity in public spaces call 416 808 2222 and report it. A follow up call (or email) to our community police reporting the incident and location is also helpful. Talking to the police and especially the community team is what gets officers patrolling our neighbourhood.
Speakers from Moss Park Redevelopment Team/Jonh Innis Community Center also gave a brief presentation. The John Innis Center and Moss Park playing field are expected to be redeveloped as a community center sports venue for the surrounding neighbourhoods as well as LGBT sports leagues and recreational clubs. Major announcements and a larger community consultation is coming soon. Major funding is already in place and we will keep area residents abreast of further announcements and details as they become available. To learn more please click here.
President Jeff Lookong, and Vice President Don Purvis welcome Karen Marrin, Susan Dineen, Tanya English, Murray Bevin, Diana Flynn, Mike Laidlaw and Michael Portnoy to our 2016 Board.
We were also pleased that several area residents have volunteered to help with Community Police Liaison Committee, marketing and social events for the coming year. Thanks to everyone who turned out for our AGM on a cold and rainy April night. Our plan to delay our first meeting of the year until the spring in hopes of better weather did not work out so well. We need a few weeks to meet as a board and come up with our spring schedule and some interesting guest speakers. Watch for our emails and e newsletter update in the weeks to come.
For the latest updates, click here.
In any community, there are always many worthy things competing for time and attention. The Board of Directors of the Cabbagetown South Residents' Association chooses some among the many for special attention.
Update as of April 2016
In the spring of 2015 our organization with the help of Kate Hoffman Executive Associate with Councillor Pam McConnell reconvened a series of meetings with city by-law staff, health department staff, representatives from police and fire departments and interested neighbours to tackle the ongoing issue of problematic properties in Cabbagetown South. It was our hope that meeting with a large contingent of city staff from various departments that a consolidated effort to address ongoing problems around housing conditions, safety, and in some cases criminal activity could leverage a positive outcome to improve the conditions of poorly maintained/managed properties.
The process has been very slow and there is a lack of real consequences on landlords and property owners that fail to address complaints. The city is apparently working on updating by laws and rooming house regulations but that process is again very slow and we find that the bureaucracy at city hall is reluctant to communicate with city residents.
Two vacant properties that we were working on were recently repaired by the city (who then add the bill to the owners property tax bill). Of course the repairs are very basic and both properties continue to be eyesores and concerns to the adjoining neighbours.
Kate Hoffman has left the post with Pam McConnell and we are struggling to get follow up meeetings back in place. One meeting in January was poorly attended by city staff. Staff that were present had little to report.
We have asked to be informed when the review and studies on bylaws and rooming house licensing are completed. Will updated this file when we receive further information.
The plan for a 13 story market rate apartment building at Sherbourne and Gerrard was the topic for discussion at a recent community planning meeting in January. Oben Flats development team gave a brief outline of the proposal to interested neighbours. To see the plan please click here. The city planner, heritage planner and Councillor McConnell then gave area residents an opportunity to voice their concerns, support and offer up suggestions about the proposal. City planner Jennifer Renaud advised that the plan is in its early stages and has not been approved. We were advised however that the site has been previously identified as a high building site by city planners. For information about tall building sites and the rationale in identifying such sites please click here. Heritage planner Paul Maka advised that the proposed building is subject to some heritage planning regulations due to its location across for Heritage Designated Allan Gardens and the heritage designated building on the south west corner adjacent to the vacant lot.
Immediate neighbours voiced concerns about the size and the architectural style of the building. The concern about potential shading of Gerrard Street and Allan Gardens was also raised. The developer provided a shading study which did seem to indicate the shading of Allan Gardens is not an issue.
Some neighbours indicated they liked the idea of market rate apartments,and liked the architectural design of the building and the need to redevelop the long vacant lot.
Concerns were raised about the height and the look of the building and how the proposed building would impact on the heritage character of the neighbourhood. Area architects suggested that the podium height is inappropriate and needs to be reduced to a three storey podium to better connect with the surrounding buildings. Many area residents voiced the need for some commercial/retail space on the ground floor to help anchor retail mix along Gerrard Strreet. Other neighbours felt that although our area has not yet designated, the neighbourhood is slated under study as a Heritage Conservation District and any new development should be subject to height and design in keeping with the surrounding streetscape.
There were also concerns about the lack of street parking in the area and that tenants and guests will further tax the availability of street parking in the area. Oben Flats representatives countered that parking reviews in the area indicated that most area buildings have an excess of parking spots and that most tenants will opt not to own a vehicle due to the walkabilty of the neighbourhood and proximity to the downtown core employment areas.
Some area residents felt the increased density with new tenants able to pay market rent would help increase the economic development of retail and commercial buildings on Gerrard Street. Others felt the height of the building is in keeping with Sherbourne Streetscape and were relieved that a much taller building was not being proposed.
The next steps will be for the City Planner to review the comments of the community and responding to the applicant. ObenFlats can either then revise their plans, or go to the OMB with the plans now on file. We will keep you abreast with any new developments regarding this proposal.
Further reading that might be of interest is a paper published by the Confederaton of Resident and Ratepayer Associations in Toronto (CORRA). They are reviewing a proposed Development Permit System which would be a fundamental shift in Toronto's planning process to a "vision based neighbourhood scale" planning process. For more information please click here.
Cabbagetown South is not currently a proposed location for supervised injection sites. The closest proposed site is at Victoria and Dundas Street East just north of Dundas Square a near Ryerson University with another site proposed for Queen East near Leslie Street. There is a public meeting hosted by Toronto Health Department on April 20th 6:30 to 8:00 pm at The Church of the Holy Trinity at 19 Trinity Square.
Whenever a crime or a suspicious incident occurs, report it. If it is an emergency call 911 if ongoing issues such as noise complaints, street level prostitution or drug dealing call non emergency response at 416 808 2222. And get the incident number. Follow up with Community Police Officers.
Police Constable Julie Rice phone 647 921 6395 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Police Constable Scott Hodgson phone 647 921 6395 email email@example.com
For issues at Toronto Community Housing properties such as noise, drug dealing, etc.follow up with
Community Safety Advisor Michael Bezoff phone 416 899 8454 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Officers from 51 Division point out that the more calls they receive from a particular neighbourhood, the more patrols that neighbourhood receives. If problems are persistent it is also recommended you contact
Staff Sergeant Henry Dyck directly at 416 808 5152 to follow up. His email is email@example.com
Emailing a general complaint form is also a great idea as it helps determine the number of officers assigned to particular divisions. Click here.