Sidewalk snow removal program
The DPRG has taken the initiative in getting the City to remove ice and snow from sidewalks in our district. The City plows the sidewalks on all streets in the old suburbs (Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough) and even in certain parts of the old City of Toronto such as Forest Hill. However, most of central Toronto, including the vast majority of Deer Park, does not receive city snow plowing. Homeowners and businesses are required to plow their own sidewalks by the City by-law, subject to a $125 fine, but this is not vigorously enforced. Otherwise, our sidewalks can be difficult to navigate, after even a small snowfall when owners do not clear or make safe their sidewalks.
The DPRG has been encouraging Councillor Matlow to bring this issue to City Council. We believe that our sidewalks are used far more often by pedestrians than other neighbourhoods which receive ice and snow removal. Also, Deer Park has one of the highest concentrations of seniors in the entire city, a population who often find it difficult to walk over ice and snow. We do not expect our initiative to achieve instant results but we intend to persevere until we solve this problem.
Note that seniors can apply for a special service to have the City plow the sidewalks in front of their houses (but not apartments or condominiums).
67/72 Heath St West:
Despite the objections of neighbours, the DPRG and Councillor Matlow, a developer received approval from the Committee of Adjustment last August to replace two original Deer Park houses in good condition with 3 modern-looking townhouses. Neighbours submitted an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. With the assistance of Councillor Matlow, the city agreed to support the appeal by providing a lawyer and paying for an outside planner, creating the unusual scenario in which the city was appealing a decision of its own committee, the C of A. Two DPRG board members took the lead in the appeal and the DPRG agreed to become the principal appellant providing that it would not be responsible for any costs of the action.
The OMB hearing was on Jan 21 and seemed to go well from our perspective. However, we recently learned that the OMB Chair ruled against our appeal, despite a strong presentation by our planner and the intervention of Councillor Matlow on our behalf. We were very disappointed in the decision and consider these events as one more reason why the current system for approving proposals which contravene the city’s by-laws.
40 Heath St West:
In this instance we were more successful. Discussions between the owner of this property and neighbours with involvement of the DPRG Board resulted in a change of plans. Instead of 2 townhouses which contravened the city’s by-laws, the owner decided to replace and existing detached dwelling with a similar structure in keeping with the character of the neighbouring houses.
40 Oriole Gardens:
A new single family dwelling with a rear located garage design is currently in planning for review. We anticipate that variance will be truly minor in nature.
1427 Yonge St:
The DPRG was recently invited to a meeting with Councillor Matlow and a developer who wishes to construct a 41 storey combination condo-office building on the east side of Yonge St just south of St Clair. The discussions are in a preliminary stage and plans are now being submitted to the city’s Planning Dept for their review. The initial response is that the building is too high.
Signs which exceed the permitted size
The DPRG was approached by a businessman who wanted us to support his plans to put a large sign on the wall of an existing office building on St Clair. The sign greatly exceeded the size permitted by the City’s Sign By-law and was thought by the board to be obtrusive and an eyesore for those living in neighbouring condos. We turned down the request and decided that from now on we would not endorse any sign which does not conform to the by-law.
Parking on Yonge St below Woodlawn Ave
Councillor Tam (Ward 27) whose ward is to the south of our ward 22 which stops at Woodlawn, submitted a proposal to Council to allow for parking in the evenings and on weekends on both sides of Yonge St south of Woodlawn. The DPRG strongly opposed this proposal on the grounds that nearby city parking lots were under-utilized and that the changes had not taken the impact on traffic into account. As of now, we understand that the proposal is to receive further study before being implemented. The DPRG has requested representation on the committee examining the proposal.
Changes to the traffic signals at Heath and Yonge
Some time ago, the DPRG together with the city’s traffic engineers worked out a plan to revise the traffic signals at this intersection to improve pedestrian safety. However, the plans needed to be changed because of an underground ‘vault’ containing various services lying underneath where a post was needed. We have been told that the city will now proceed with reprograming the existing traffic lights at the intersection to a 3 sequence protocol, similar to the ones on Yonge St at Soudan and at Blythwood.
Improvements to Yonge St
Councillor Matlow has acquired some funds to improve the appearance in the Yonge St. and St. Clair area. The DPRG was part of this initiative. Improvements to the Lawton Avenue Parkette at Yonge St. are under study and a public meeting is planned to obtain neighborhood input.
Business Improvement Area (BIA) Yonge/St.Clair
Councillor Matlow has contacted the retailers and there is very little interest in establishing a BIA due to the short term tenancies of the retailers. The area is in transition.
Reductions in speed limits in Deer Park
The DPRG Board has been discussing ways to make our residential streets safer. One idea, recommended by the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Toronto and supported by Councillor Josh Matlow, is to lower the speed limits on residential streets to 30 km/hour. There is evidence that reducing the speed by 10 km will have a significant impact in lowering the risk of accidents, especially those involving pedestrians. This proposal is not without some controversy and a survey of DPRG members to obtain their input is pending. Meanwhile, City Council has concurrently initiated consideration of this change on all local streets in the Toronto-East York district. In a separate move not involving the DPRG, the speed limit on Oriole Parkway beside Upper Canada College is to be reduced to 40 km/hour.
We need your help
The DPRG Board welcomes suggestions from members for possible ways to improve our neighbourhood. We would also like to reach out to more residents and have attached an application form for membership in the DPRG with the hope that you will approach your neighbours to join.