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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Toronto Star Article by Joe Fiorito - Oriole Peanut Community Garden

In today's Toronto Star, Joe Fiorito wrote about the Oriole Peanut Community Garden!

A Garden Full of Tasty Victories

Aug 15, 2007
By: Joe Fiorito

"This is mine," said Salah Chaya. He was pointing at a patch of tomatoes in the community garden on the grounds of the Advent Lutheran Church, in the north end of town, on the edge of the Oriole Peanut.

Salah is not a professional gardener, although you'd never know it by looking at his crop.
He said, "I am a PhD engineer. I worked in a steam power plant in Lebanon. I came here seven years ago on the 28th September. I came to see a peaceful country. I have kids." As if there were another reason.

His tomatoes hung heavy on the vine. Did he have a garden back in Lebanon? He pursed his lips and shrugged into a memory. "I had 1,000 metres square, for vegetables and fruit." His patch here is 3 metres square, tops, in a garden shared by many others.

He parted the spiky leaves of one of his plants and picked a cherry tomato. It was a jewel in his hand. "Here, eat." I ate. The jewel exploded in my mouth. He sensed what had happened and picked me a handful, and he did not stop picking until I asked him to, and you will forgive me if I was not very quick to stop him; that is how good his tomatoes were, and if you were to warm them to bursting in some olive oil and use them, with fresh basil and salt, to dress a bowl of pasta, you would think you were in paradise; that is also how good they were.

Salah then pointed to some low bushes with thick, clean, deep green leaves. "This is molokya, a Lebanese herb; we boil, and put with meat or chicken, and after that we put rice. It is found in the Middle East." I tried one of the leaves, unboiled. It was pleasantly bitter. I tried another with one of the cherry tomatoes, and the whole of the taste was greater than the sum of the parts.

Salah had other varieties of tomato, bigger, fatter, just as red.
"These are without any chemical or genetic moderation." He picked another handful.
I feigned reluctance. He urged. "Here, take, it's good for the blood."
In that case ...

The Oriole Peanut community garden is now two years old. There have been several changes since I was here last year. The church has given more of its grounds to agriculture. If there were 50 gardeners then, there are at least 100 families involved now.
Marian Smith is the co-ordinator of the garden. She is one of those people who, when it comes to getting things done, is irresistible. She somehow managed to get a free garden makeover; there are new raised beds here, and handsome trees there, and a kind of circular garden for herbs. The work had just been completed. The beds will be planted soon. Marian said, "If you take into account the extended families, this garden helps feed somewhere around 700, maybe 900, people."

Salah said, "Here we have Lebanese white zucchini. This makes the garden international."
Better still, there were several international women and children who were busy weeding and watering.

And there was a time when you would have called this a victory garden. It is altogether another kind of victory.

Suppertime was almost upon us, and the men were beginning to arrive from work. Marian called everyone to come inside and clean up and have something to eat; pot luck.

She said, "We're having a meeting about the garden. I've learned not to call this a garden meeting. I call it a garden party. If everyone gets something to eat, attendance is usually good."
More on Friday.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cuts to the Cities Budget

Today's Star Editorial with my comment below:

Aug 11, 2007 04:30 AM

Torontonians are understandably upset by a spate of municipal service cuts announced yesterday – some bitterly so. But pain is to be expected when $83 million is hacked from a city's yearly operations. The trimming of at least $9 million more is likely from the Toronto Transit Commission and police. And the bad news may not end there; far more drastic cuts loom next year unless councillors approve two proposed new taxes and the province starts paying some of the bills it has unfairly imposed on municipalities.

One clear lesson stands out in all this: Public services are not free. Failure to pay for them eventually means losing them. In Toronto's case, it now means no access to community centres on Mondays, sloppier parks, fewer pothole repairs, longer waits for licences and inspections, reduced health promotion efforts and libraries closed on Sundays. Although the cuts hurt, they could be worse. City staff should be commended for coming close to reaching a $100 million savings target without triggering crushing disruptions.

The current crisis is the direct result of city council's failure to approve two important new taxes last month. A proposed land transfer tax would have raised $300 million while a new motor vehicle registration levy would have generated $56 million. Instead of swiftly approving those measures, council delayed a decision until Oct. 22. Now, even if the taxes are approved on that date, council's dithering will have cost more than three months of lost revenue, rendering some service cuts unavoidable. Obviously, the land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee should be approved as quickly as possible.

Some councillors who unwisely voted for delay had urged the city to first cut its waste. There was an assumption that plenty of bureaucratic "fat" could be trimmed with little or no impact on the public. The result of city staff's effort to find $100 million in savings underlines the fallacy of that argument. Yes, in any organization with a $7.8 billion budget, and employing thousands of people, there are small perks and extravagances that should be trimmed. Planned renovations to Mayor David Miller's office and junkets to China and Los Angeles have been quite properly cancelled. But penny-pinching can't come close to generating $100 million, let alone cover the entire cost of Toronto's $575 million budget shortfall projected for next year.

In truth, to fully ease Toronto's budget crunch, it will take more than the overdue approval of two essential new taxes. Queen's Park will have to do its share by – finally – putting an end to years of unfair downloading. Ontario is the only province in Canada where social programs are funded through municipal property taxes.

In this year alone, Toronto's property taxpayers will have poured about $730 million of their local tax dollars into provincially mandated programs. A substantial share of that money must stay in the city's coffers if Toronto's budget is ever to be balanced without resorting to crushing new service cuts or overwhelming property tax increases.

Recently announced cuts are lamentably necessary due to council's failure to approve funding in a timely manner. But they must not become permanent losses. If Toronto is to thrive, it must build upon what it has, not shrink and retreat. Great cities demand new investment, not a draining away of services. New taxes are essential to win those gains, and so is the overdue easing of provincial downloading.

I only need to add:

I sat down to write you something after watching the real estate show on Citytv yesterday but this morning the Star editorial has covered it just about entirely. Set aside the childish behaviour of my "Male" colleagues yesterday. Boys will be boys. The Star's comments above reflect, quite accurately, what is going on.

The only thing left off their editorial piece is the fact that this failure to act on the powers bestowed on us by the City of Toronto Act, leaves us the laughing stock of every world Class City you can think of in North America.

Remember back to the sixties when news of imminent bankruptcy in New York City spread all over the World, without even the internet or satellites to help it along? Then, incredibly, it happened again in 1975. Remember when news that Chicago was falling apart at the seams, letting every child in poverty down and headed in the desperate direction of Detroit, or worse? Ask yourself why all talk of bankruptcy has ceased in those toddling towns for the last 20 years. Why are their real estate markets exploding and their businesses booming? In Chicago the economic strength spreads well out into Cook County, the equivalent of our GTA region.

The answer, whether you feel ready to accept it or not, is the very revenue tools being hotly debated in Toronto. These cities, and yes even the GTA-like Cook County, have stopped showing up in the headlines constantly at war with their State and Federal governments. They use revenue tools like land transfer, vehicle registration and sales tax to pay for services such as transit systems, police services, fire and ambulance services. They use income tax, arranged with their state governments to pay for income related services like welfare, housing, social programs and public health. Property tax now takes up only 20% or less of their operating budgets and funds property investment related features such as local roads, libraries, community recreation, local standards enforcement and planning. Cities over 2 million in population simply can't live thrive without such a formula. Scores of cities in this population bracket have followed the lead of Chicago and NYC. Observe the economic recovery of Miami, for a recent example.

The history of cities in North America, and indeed the world, has shown that Cities that achieve the mega city status that we have, but fail to make the leap to the necessary fiscal policies to support them, do not stay mega cities for long. Businesses leave in droves, residents follow them and those that stay on are left paying unreasonable property taxes to support a set of city services and infrastructure that quickly begins to crumble around them.

In the end, it is not about partisan politics. It can't be about bitterness between Mayor Miller and the various councillors who are still behaving like children four years after he won the Mayoralty away from the candidate they supported. John Tory has moved on. They would do well to do so as well. Get on with the business of reading your materials and researching essays on municipal fiscal policy. We are elected to create sound fiscal arrangements that protect our citizens from financial ruin.

Land Transfer tax taxes only those who can afford it, when they can afford it. Unless you have been very careless, virtually no one in Toronto who sells their home after 3 years or more, loses money. Land transfer tax is paid out of your capital gain when you sell your home on a one time basis. I don't know about you, but I know don't want to pay $2000 more every year in property taxes for the next 15 years when I have the choice of instead handing over $8000 once on the day when I just made a profit of $100,000.

Yesterday, on City TV, Real Estate salesmen were shown a tape of Adam Vaughn and Denzil Minnan-Wong duking it out over Land Tax. Ann Rohmer asked them, "So what about these taxes. Will the market in Toronto collapse?" Both agreed, the market is so strong in Toronto, and will remain strong due to intensification, that nothing can touch it for long. This is still, quite simply, the best real estate investment in Canada. The trick is to keep pace with the needs of the city so that it remains so.

So if these two specialists in the Real Estate field were so calm, how do we justify the fact that the Toronto Real Estate Board and other paid lobbyist groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses and Councillors Minnan-Wong and Stintz spent three months in a lawyer's office executing a campaign of manipulation and misinformation to whip you into a frenzy? In the case of the lobbyist groups, the answer is simple. They know a good deal when they see one, for them that is. These lobbyist groups are all world travellers and they know how other Mega Cities are financed. Sticking to a formula of small town proportions that puts the burden squarely on the shoulders of the residential ratepayer and the property tax paying tenants of this city suits them just fine and lines their pockets.

In the case of Councillors Minnan-Wong and Councillor Stintz, who helped the lobbyists sway a coalition of 23 councillors, the answer is not clear. They put forth a public persona of defender of the property tax payer, they vote against every budget that includes a property tax increase. But this year they have demonstrated a work ethic that I've never before seen from either of them, to fight the revenue tools that are designed, over a reasonable amount of time, to reduce the City's reliance on your property tax bill.

The answer to this riddle is not my concern. You are, dear citizen of Toronto.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Delays on Glentworth Ravine

We got some bad news about Glentworth Ravine flood damage repair. It seems the approvals needed from the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority and/or the ministry of the Environment have been delayed. I've inserted below, the detailed briefing from the staff member overseeing the private contractors' process.


Project Status Report
Glentworth Road Storm Outfall Culvert Rehabilitation and Slope Stabilization (Contract No. 07NY-15WP)
Prepared by: Manzur Rahman, P.Eng.
Date: August 09, 2007

The Project is located within the jurisdiction of TRCA and therefore, TRCA approval is required in addition to MOE approval for the construction of this project.

Earth Tech is the City’s consulting engineering firm and responsible for the design, obtaining all necessary approval from the authorities and the preparation of the tender package on this project.

In order to obtain TRCA and MOE approvals, Earth Tech has submitted formal application with required back ups to TRCA on April 16, 2007 and to MOE on May 22, 2007. In order to expedite TRCA approval, a meeting was held with TRCA on July 12, 2007. Additional geotechnical and hydro-geological investigations were required by TRCA in order to consider approval for this project.

Earth Tech proceeded with the additional geotechnical and hydro-geological investigations which are to be completed on August 17, 2007. Reports on the findings are expected to be finalized and submitted to TRCA before the end of August, 2007.

The followings are the two possible outcomes of the investigations:

Scenario 1:

Required dewatering quantities for the construction are below 50000 litres per day. TRCA approval may be granted in September, 2007 and construction may proceed in November, 2007. All under ground works including works within water course under this scenario are planned to be done before March 31, 2007. Road works are to be completed in spring of 2008.

Scenario 2:

Required dewatering quantities for the construction are above 50000 litres per day. PTTW (permission to take water) will be required from MOE. The process of obtaining PTTW is very time consuming. As no in water construction is allowed between March 31 and July 01, therefore, the construction has to be stared after July 01, 2008 and will be completed by fall 2008.

We are also investigating alternative construction method and will be discussing it with TRCA to obtain their approval in the case of scenario 2, so that the in water construction can be completed before March 31, 2008 and road works by spring 2008. We will keep you updated on the outcome.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Residents invited to serve on Toronto Pedestrian Committee

Residents invited to serve on Toronto Pedestrian Committee

The City of Toronto is looking for volunteers interested in serving on the Toronto Pedestrian Committee (TPC).

The TPC is a special committee of Toronto City Council. Its mandate is to promote improved pedestrian safety, pedestrian access and initiate programs that enhance walking in Toronto.
Citizen members are appointed for a four-year term or until their successors are appointed or City Council terminates an appointment. Membership on the committee is limited to a maximum of two terms. Reappointment to the committee requires a minimum of one year off after two consecutive terms.

Anyone interested in a position on the committee must complete an application form in order to be considered. Forms can be filled out online at or picked up from Access Toronto locations at City Hall or the Civic Centres.

Forms must be completely filled out and returned by Wednesday, August 22 before 4 p.m. to Natalie Bogues, Transportation Services,
City of Toronto, City Hall,
100 Queen St. W., East Tower, 22nd Floor,
Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2
or by fax: 416-392-4808.

For more information, call or e-mail Natalie Bogues at 416-392-5341, or visit

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Council Highlights - July 16, 17, 18, 19 2007

Council Highlights

Council defers vote on two new taxes

Council voted 23-22 to defer a decision on implementation of two new taxes until the October 22 Council meeting. The City is facing a $575 million funding shortfall for 2008, having exhausted its reserves and one-time fixes to meet a balanced budget as required by provincial law. The ability for the City to raise new revenue was granted through the City of Toronto Act, and two new taxes were introduced for consideration at this meeting: a land transfer tax, and vehicle registration fee.

Climate Change plan passes unanimously

The climate change and sustainability plan was passed by a unanimous vote of Council. Under the plan the City commits to meeting Kyoto emissions target reductions of 6% by 2012, stepping that up to 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Council endorsed the creation of the $42 million Toronto Energy Conservation Fund, which will promote energy savings initiatives in city buildings, as well as schools and hospitals. The City will obtain 25% of its electricity from green energy sources starting in 2008, and establish the Live Green Toronto program that will help community and residents groups green their neighbourhoods through a series of initiatives, including green roof projects, community gardens, and water conservation programs.

City to expand dog off-leash areas, and increase enforcement of dog bylaws

Implementation of the People, Dogs and Parks -- Off-leash Policy will begin this fall, and will expand the number of off-leash areas in City parks. To establish new off-leash areas, dog owner groups will submit a proposal to the City to establish an off-leash area in a particular park. Off-leash areas near playgrounds, splash pads, wading pools, sports fields, and horticulture displays will require fencing to prevent dogs from entering those areas. Increased enforcement of the leash laws will also be enacted under the plan, with an additional 10 parks bylaw enforcement officers hired as part of the 2008 budget submission. Officers will obtain the elevated special constable status to improve their ability to enforce the bylaws and levy fines for non-compliance. Starting in the fall, commercial dog walkers will be required to pay a fee as part of the Commercial Dog Walker Permit Policy, which was also adopted by Council. Commercial dog walkers will be required to display their Dog Walker Permit when walking dogs in City parks, green spaces and waterfront areas, and will be allowed to walk a maximum of six dogs at a time, all with a valid pet licence.

City to discuss new lease for Casa Loma operations with Kiwanis

The City will proceed with negotiations with the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma so they may continue to operate the historic facility through a lease to a maximum of 20 years. Improved heritage programming and new visitor amenities are expected in the new deal. The final lease agreement will come back to Council for approval. As part of that agreement, Council is looking for a business model that will allow for Casa Loma revenues to make the facility self-sustaining and help pay for structural repairs to the building, which was erected in 1914. Currently, the City has undertaken the cost of necessary repairs to the buildings exterior, which will cost $4.1 million in 2007 capital funds. Councillors also directed City staff to explore the governance model of the Kiwanis Board of Trustees in an effort to add more Councillors and increase the transparency of its operations and expenditures.

York University Busway pursues roadway through hydro corridor lands

The City will continue to pursue use of hydro corridor lands to create an express lane for TTC buses to travel to York University, but Council instructed staff not to accept the current, negotiated offer for use of the land, and to continue negotiations. The land is owned by the provincial utility Hydro One, which would charge the City $3.9 million over 10 years for its use. Council has asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to intervene and provide this publicly owned land at a more favourable cost to support public transit.

2007 Best Start Update to Toronto Child Care Services Plan approved

In approving the 2007 Best Start Update to the Toronto Child Care Services Plan, Council will continue to advocate that the province provide increased, flexible multi-year funding for child care in the city. The City needs both increased funding and subsidy spaces to meet its child care needs. For 2008 this would include pursuing $15 million for income testing (required by the province by changes in the funding formula), $20 million to the base budget for child care in the City, and an additional $28 million to address the waiting list for families awaiting subsidies for 2008 and 2009. The province changed the funding formula for child care spaces this year to an income testing model, and the City will cover the subsequent increased costs through the Childcare Expansion Reserve Fund, which is expected to be exhausted in 2008.

City to develop Green sector economic opportunities

Council directed City divisions, led by Economic Development, Culture and Tourism, to develop a co-ordinated strategy to attract green, environmental businesses to the City. A Green Manufacturing Action Team will be assembled, and include representation from green manufacturing, environment, labour and academia. The team will match emerging needs from the booming green products market to manufacturing opportunities here in Toronto. The team will also identify tools to help existing manufacturers in the city reduce pollution.