Councillor Shelley Carroll

Find out the latest news and upcoming events in your neighborhood. Politics, news, views, and links from Ward 33 Councillor Shelley Carroll.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Jan 31 - Martha's Birthday

Happy Birthday Martha! A shamelessly personal shout-out to my daughter who has a birthday today. I know it's 8:30 p.m. but Mom will be home as soon as she finishes this blog.

The North Community Council agenda is on the website with the item on the Parkway Forest Development application. The staff recommendations to refuse are included on the website at but not the details. Call Jenny at 416-392-4038 to get the document forwarded. It's 24 pages long.

Re: Budget Today - Hope everyone remembers I said I'd stand up for frequent mowing of city lawns and ramping up tree service after council approved the pesticade bylaw and the tree bylaw. The Budget is still incredibly tight but I voted yes to increasing lawn cutting by $1 million and Tree Services by $1 million. The net effect is 70 more seasonal lawn cutters out there April thru September and reducing the tree service request backlog BIGTIME.

Talks on the TTC Budget continue. I keep getting Deja Vu. It's a lot like my old job.
TTC = Great big organization forced to function within flawed Funding Formula. They wait every year for the financial tool kit to arrive from other levels of government. With year over year funding uncertainty they run the best darn system there is because they have no choice. If they don't, riders vote with their car keys.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Jan 28 - Newsworthy Cuts!

It's the Opening of Winterlicious and Winter in the City. I'm standing in Nathan Phillips Square watching France's Group F perform a fabulous pyrotechnics display over top of our pod-shaped council chambers. I'm awfully sleep deprived from a week of Budget Advisory committee pre-wrap-up deliberations and negotiations. The little fellows from France in flame-retardant suits climbing around on our roof lighting the display seem to be telling me something.

I smell the lighter fluid and gun powder from the Group F display. I know the flames and fire works are part of the show but as I watch the show with David Miller and Councillors Fletcher and Davis, I wonder if these non-Budget Advisory Committee colleagues know the whole thing really may go up in smoke at the end of the month.

We got our new government up at Queen's Park and no one was happier than me. They've got to reverse a lot of change or design something better. That will take time and I was prepared for that. As a Trustee of the School Board, I often told parents that badly done reform would take 20 years to undo. But here I am at City Hall and it seems like same old, same old. The Province owes Toronto a bill of $72 million in agreed upon social downloading costs but won't pay it. The Bill arrives short every year. As of 2005 the amount of social service download dollars that have failed to arrive from the Province has reached $255 million. The Bill has not been paid in other cities too. The fact that we are all hurting is offered up as an explanation.

Ironically, the Province continues to call and ask us to make a payment on our $200 million amalgamation loan which should have been a mitigation fund in the first place. Let's review: short changed every year on social services that were supposed to be funded at 80 % to a total of $255 million. Seems to me the loan is already paid up free and clear!!! Let's move on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Jan 25 - Wish We'd Done That!

Bravo to the Toronto Police Board for widening the search and engaging the community. Wish we had ignored some wrong advise and done that once in a former life.

An abridged version of the Police Board letter and meeting times follow:

The Toronto Police services has commenced a process to select its next chief of police. In December 2004, the Board retained the consulting firm of Ray & Berndtson/Lovas Stanley to assist in this process.

It is not until all community input has been received that the Board will begin the next phase of its work, taking applications for the next chief.

The board will be posting a draft competency model on its website on February 1st, 2005 and will then hold community consultations on the model. At the same time, your input on the following two questions is invited:
1. From your perspective, what are the issues and challenges facing the Toronto Police Service today and for the next 2-3 years?

2. What should the priorities be for the new chief?

The meeting dates are as follows:
February 9th, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
North York Civic Centre, Council Chambers

February 10th, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Scarborough Civic Centre, Committee Room 1

February 15th, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 1

February 17th, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Etobicoke Civic Centre, Council Chambers

The Toronto Police Board would very much appreciate your participation and your assistance in passing this word along to your neighbours. Call my Ward 33 office 416-392-4038. Collette and Jenny are here with any address, parking or TTC particulars.

TTC Multi-Language Transit Guides Available

We now have copies of the latest TTC Multi-Language Transit Guides, which are available to customers at all subway station Collector booths, TTC Head Office, and various applicable venues across the City of Toronto. The Multi-Language Transit Guide Version 1 includes the following languages: Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Tamil and Vietnamese, while Version 2 includes: French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.

Each Multi-Language Transit Guide contains a TTC Subway Route Map, a complete Transit System Map of the entire GTA, and information on TTC routes, fares, transfers and safety features. Give our office a call at 416-392-4038 if you would like us to mail a copy out to you. For additional copies of the Multi-Language Transit Guide, please call 416-393-INFO or visit TTC's website

Monday, January 24, 2005

Jan 23 - Nobody Tells You How Your Life Will Change

One of the things that happens when you become a councillor is that you obsess a bit on the weather. You turn on your little pocket Blackberry and it lights up with email Snow Advisories telling you where the snow is headed, where the ploughs are in your ward and they keep coming every half hour until it stops!

The morning after a storm, the sun comes up and you can't help yourself. You leave your family behind digging out your own driveway and go touring around your ward to admire the snow ploughing and windrow clearing of your own Works Dept.

Long story short: It all looked pretty good to me. With no quick melt and refreeze as we had at Christmas, the guys were better able to plough roads right down close to the surface. If we missed a spot or you are having trouble, gives us a call at the Ward 33 office at 416-392-4038 and we will send somebody out.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Jan 20 - Ouch! Saying No to Public Health

The first of 6 intensive days of Budget finalizing has begun. My fellow Budget Advisory Committee members (abbreviation: BAC . You will see it most every day between now and when council approves the final budget a month from now.) and I will meet all day today and every day next week to prepare something semi-final for its next hurdle.

We eat breakfast together every morning at 8:30 and then convene in Committee Room #1 to deliver endless bad news. At press time: Our shortfall stands at $119 million and that's after our budget assumes about $118 million worth of uncertainties from the Province. There has been more line-by-line digging this year but we are still short. We vow at breakfast to spend the next six days whittling the shortfall down to $80 million.

Where's the real problem? We continue to wait for the Province to pay its bill on downloaded services. The legislation says the Province will pay for welfare and related costs in an 80/20 split with the City. However, the bill is calulated using a complicated maze of per diem rates on shelter beds and social supports and all are calculated using 1998 rates and not 2005 dollar rates. The difference is $72 million and you my friend will be paying the difference with your property tax dollars. Its all taxes, yes, but shouldn't municipal taxes be used for property related municipal services and shouldn't income tax be used for income related supports? Me thinks.

The rest of the shortfall is, as usual, the TTC. That one is massively complicated by other levels of Governmental confusion. I'll blab on it next week.

So today Public Health came to BAC with a good news budget. Min of Health, Smitherman, having created his own new revenue stream, has provided municipal Public Health with extra funds to enhance services and bring mandated programs to a greater level of compliance. Some this year and next year we are to be returned to pre-Harris gov't levels of cost-sharing at a ratio of 75/25. But with no promise of the aforementioned social downloading bill being paid on time this year, BAC supports the Shirley Hoy's proposal to scoop the new money and use it in badly needed community and neighborhood services that have something to do with citizens' health in the preventative sense.

Jan 19 - Housing, Yes / Skyscrapers, Not So Much

Our first meeting on the El Ad development proposal in Parkway Forest since the developers held their own open house at Eunice's Swim School and community Centre. City of Toronto Planning staff will not submit their preliminary report, informing my fellow councils of this application in process until February 8th Community Council but we hold a meeting to give tenants the facts and also to make sure they understood rights and responsibilities under the circumstances.

The preliminary report from staff will be posted on this blog the minute I have it in my hot little hands! It will be a public document at that point. The proposal is aggressive (currently the largest development application in town) and we will need to get the whole Parkway Forest Community together to develop our own position on what is proposed. It will be a very busy year of community meetings before anything final is ever brought before council. Remember that this plan calling for 10 new buildings between 17 and 48 storeys and requiring the demolition of the George Henry apartment buildings and the Townhouses of Forest Manor is strictly a proposal. Check back to this blog for updates on meeting notices and be sure to drop us an email so we can put your name on the Parkway Forest email distribution list.

Later that same evening: Here is the most bizarre part of the day. I had to leave the meeting at 8:00 p.m. on the dot to race back downtown and appear on Our Town with Adam Vaughan on City-TV. I was there to defend the Mayor's homelessness proposal, coming before council on February 1st. In a curious twist, the homelessness advocates are opposed to the Mayor's plan to increase the funding to outreach and supports to the homeless in an effort to end the camping at Nathan Phillips Square.

The controversy arises from the last of 26 recommendations which allows the City to enact the bylaw that prohibits camping on the public square. The other 25 recommendations refer to the numerous initiatives designed to better support these people in finding permanent solutions rather than enabling long term residence in the square.

Tonight, Adam Vaughan doesn't want to talk about the fact that there is $600 million in housing money sitting in a Federal reserve account because the Feds won't send it to Ontario until the Province can agree to exactly how it will apply the money to the crisis in social housing supplies. Adam doesn't care that there are about 700 new affordable units coming available in Toronto by the end of 2005 and there are a few hundred rent supplements coming on line early this year to be used in some of the vacant apartments across town. Never mind that this plan is an $18 million attempt to see that some of these new units might actually make a difference to those still out in the cold. Tonight he wants to take pot shots at the Mayor because it makes good TV and I'm designated to take the shots for the team. Whatever! I'll support the plan because I have faith in the people that will be charged with executing it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

2005 Interim Property Tax Billing

Mailing of the City of Toronto's 2005 Interim Property Tax Bills will commence on January 11, 2005. In total, the City will mail over 600,000 property tax bills.

The 2005 Interim Property Taxes are based on 50% of the 2004 taxes, excluding tax rebates, deferrals, or cancellations processed in 2004.

As in previous years, customers with outstanding tax amounts for prior years, will receive a "Past Due" message printed on the inside, right flap of their bill.

For the first time, tax accounts with credit balances under $100.00 will have the credit deducted from their 2005 Interim tax bill which is consistent with a recommendation approved by City Council on June 22, 23 and 24, 2004.

Due Dates for Interim Taxes:
For taxpayers enrolled in the City's 11-month pre-authorized payment program, payments for the 2005 interim taxes will be withdrawn from their bank accounts on the following dates:

February 15, 2005
March 15, 2005
April 15, 2005
May 16, 2005
June 15, 2005

For all other taxpayers, the due dates for the payment of 2005 interim taxes are as follows:

March 1, 2005
April 1, 2005
May 2, 2005

Property Tax Assessment Appeals:
If a property owner wishes to have their assessment reviewed by MPAC, they may file a "Request for Reconsideration". Requests for Reconsideration for 2005 assessed values must be made to MPAC by December 31, 2005. Applications are available on the MPAC Web site at

If a property owner's Request for Reconsideration is successful, MPAC will forward the results directly to the City in order to expedite processing.

For information regarding a property's assessment, taxpayers should contact MPAC at 1-866-296-MPAC (6722).

Alternatively, taxpayers may wish to file a formal appeal with the Assessment Review Board (ARB). The deadline for this filing is March 31, 2005. Additional information on assessment appeals is available on the ARB Web stie at

Customer Service - Extended Hours:
To manage the increase in volume of customer calls, the Revenue Services Call Centre will have extended hours until Tuesday, March 1, 2005. During this time the hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Enquiry/Cashier Counters at Civic Centres and Toronto City Hall will operate on extended hours from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. between Friday, February 25, 2005 to Tuesday, March 1, 2005.

Other basic questions can be answered by Collette and Jenny in my office at 416-392-4038 or they will direct you to the right City Finance staffer.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Jan 13 - We Are Going To Need a Bigger Boat!

We had our biggest meeting yet on the development application at 25 Buchan Court. This is the site of the Bloorview Childrens' Hospital that is relocating. As the tiny gym filled up with 200 people where there were 100 chairs, I felt like Richard Dreyfus in the movie 'Jaws' when he deadpans, "We are going to need a bigger boat."

The developers' representative and City Planning were there to hear the outcome of several neighborhood meetings held since October. The concerns are all very much on the table at this point. They were also able to answer many questions from some residents new to the process.

Look for more neighborhood meetings to begin in late February/early March re this site. Proposals for adjustments to the plan should be surfacing then. In the meantime, we will be working with staff on the Parkway Forest application which is due to come to North Community Council for its preliminary report February 9th. Dueling Projects!

Jan 12 - Crunching Numbers with Miller

Budget Advisory Committee met informally with David Miller, Shirley Hoy, the City CAO and Finance staff just to review where we stand after the Standing Committees finished detailing their budgets for us. While we had whittled the shortfall down to $91 million with some difficult choices and cuts offered up by staff, Standing Committee Councillors have added back a few necessities and the gap is back at $119 million.

It's very hard to argue with my colleagues. Add backs include such things as replacement of 24 year old fire trucks, youth outreach workers for at risk areas and some badly needed parks litter pick-up & lawn maintenance.

In the evening I went back to work with the Youth Working Group, charged with drafting a Toronto Civic Youth Strategy by the end of the year. Can I just say that the hardest thing in the world to do is to write a set of Guiding Principles for something as important as this! We are all feeling the weight of this task, BIGTIME!

My co-chair Kehinde Bah and I will present their work thus far to the Roundtable on Education, Children and Youth on January 25th at 6:30 at City Hall.

Jan 11 - Zoo Budget

More Budget Reviews today. I met to review the Toronto Zoo Budget today. As a member of the Zoo Board of Management I know the challenges. Last year was the first year in six that these folks received anything equal to the annual amount they used to receive as an attraction of the old Metro City Government. Still in all, they opened the new Kids Zoo and Splash Pad and had one of their best attended summers ever. What a fantastic comeback from the difficult SARS/Blackout year in 2003.

Attended the Henry Farm Ratepayers Association AGM tonight. Some very unique fundraising efforts as well as just plain neighborhood fun events planned for the year. Some very dedicated volunteers there. I gave an update on the development applications in the area. While no development application is proposed right inside the Henry Farm area, the HFRA are a very active group. They were glad to be informed and will be an active part of any organizing needed in the Ward on this issue.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Jan 7 - Theatre Budgets

The endless budget reviews:
This morning Councillor Rae and myself met with The Hummingbird Centre, the St. Lawrence Centre and, of course, our own North York venue, theToronto Centre for the Performing Arts.

All three theatres have made comebacks from their downturns in 2003. Funnily enough, the year of SARS and the blackout had the least impact on the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts. The theatre has continued to decrease its financial reliance on the City of Toronto every year since Livent first went bust and left the City holding the bag.

Later in the afternoon, the Budget talk was not so cheery. Met with a few of community group leaders to discuss where the bigger Budget challenges are for this year. We struggle with how we will jigg the dollars to be able to fund the most important community based initiatives, the things that give us healthy communities such as funding food and nutrition programs, equity and antiracism programs, aids and drug prevention programs, new community and settlement programs and the much needed expansion of the Youth Outreach Worker Program but we always come back to that one BIG PROBLEM.

It's that same old TTC CHESTNUT. Councillors Mihevc, Milczyn and myself have been scrutinizing the TTC budget line by line for weeks. TTC senior staff have patiently answered roughly a thousand questions a week since mid-November. In the end, while we will find some small efficiencies, it's clear that Uber-Consultant David Gunn made most of the reductions long ago and most of those are still in place a decade later.

If we went back to sharing funding of the TTC Operating Budget with the Province, as we did in those Halcyon days before Mike Harris, all of the Healthy Community needs listed above would be easily taken care of. And no, I am not bitter!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Upcoming Events & Ward Meetings

FMTA Tenant Meeting for Residents of Parkway Forest
Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Place: Forest Manor Public School (Gymnasium) - 25 Forest Manor Road

Pleasantview Open House
Date: Sunday, February 20, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Place: Pleasantview Community Centre - 545 Van Horne Avenue

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Jan 6 - Administration Committee Today

Some of my colleague will no doubt make plenty of press about the fact that some of us voted against Councillor Nunziata's motion to reduce our councillor expenses for meeting logistics and coffee services to donate to the Tsunami Relief efforts. I voted against the motions because I believe we should stick with the strategy of looking at the overall plan in a special Policy and Finance Meeting on January 13th.

In the end, this may well be where our City donation comes from but there was not sufficient support to refer this motion to Policy and Finance and so I voted against it. I hope that by January 13th, when Mayor and staff can report on everything already being done, councillors can come together and move the appropriate motion to fill in all of the gaps.

In the meantime, I continue to devote my staff's energy helping organize the remembrance ceremony in Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday at 4:30. We invite you all to join us. The event has been organized by the Canadian Tamil Congress. With logistical help from my office and especially from staff in the Mayor's office they have endeavoured to reach out to as many other communities feeling this loss and working on Relief efforts. In other words we hope to open the Square that afternoon to the Global Community mourning this tragedy.

Meanwhile, members of the community active in Aids Prevention Services were invited to gather to hear latest reports on Toronto statistics on increase in infections of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. While there are some concerns regarding STDs, the numbers definitely show that with the investment in Aids Prevention Grants to community groups, we have begun to close the gap between the rate of incidence in Toronto vs. the rest of Canada.

Toronto's Contribution to Tsunami Relief Efforts

I would like to commend all Torontonians for their inspiring generosity in response to last week's earthquake and tsunami disaster. I encourage all Torontonians to continue to donate money to international relief organizations that have operations in the affected countries. A list of agencies can be found on the City of Toronto Web Site at Since the disaster, the City has been working with the Red Cross and other emergency service organizations to raise awareness and money in Toronto.

The City of Toronto recognizes that our contribution to the relief effort will need to be responsive to the immediate crisis, and also be sustainable over the long term. The City has donated supplies that will provide temporary drinking water for up to 100,000 victims in Sri Lanka. Supplies will follow to make this an ongoing source of clean water. Emergency Medical Services Paramedic Rahul Singh has left for Sri Lanka to oversee the implementation of this initiative.

The City is working with the provincial and federal governments, to determine how best to provide expertise in areas such as water treatment, emergency medical services and public health.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Shelley's New Responsibilities in 2005

Toronto Film Board

I have been named to Mayor Miller's Toronto Film Board. This group will work with the film industry to strengthen its competitiveness and preserve Toronto as a major employer in the film industry. The group will meet in January.

Youth Working Group

I have also been asked to chair the Youth Working Group as part of Mayor Miller's Roundtable on Education, Children and Youth. The dominant force on the Working Group is the youth membership. Together with key adults in the youth services community, they will build a proposal for a Toronto Civic Youth Strategy.

Hospitability Task Force

Our hotel, restaurant and food services industry is the largest city employer. This year, I have chaired council's task force on the Hospitability Workers' Resource Centre. I am very encouraged by the co-operative work by both employers and employees as they try to make Toronto's food industry more competitive and customer friendly.