Thursday, October 23, 2014

20124 MAYORAL CANDIDATES ON "PARKS"

Parks People (Toronto Alliance for Better Parks) has just posted some information on the three main mayoral candidates' positions on parks in the city.  When they released their Parks Platform, Growing Parks From the Grassroots, mayoral candidates were called on to explore their ideas and include parks in their own platforms.

You can read the candidates positions here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

MICHAEL LAXER, COUNCILLOR CANDIDATE WARD 6 - ANSWERS TO FOSS QUESTIONNAIRE


What concrete steps would you take to ensure the preservation of Sam Smith Park?

I am a strong supporter of the preservation of Toronto and Etobicoke's green spaces and I would oppose any future development in or building within the park. 

Do you believe it is appropriate to allow a single group such as the Aussie Rules Football Club to have exclusive use of a portion of a tax-payer funded park? What are your views regarding further expansion of this club’s “footprint” in the park?

While I am not specifically aware of the terms of the agreement with this sport club, as a general rule I am opposed to the idea of exclusive use permits in parks like Sam Smith.

Would you support a comprehensive system of greenways and trails connecting parks, particularly those along the waterfront, as outlined in the city’s Official Plan? How would you accomplish this?   

Yes, I do support this plan and would help achieve it by advocating for it on council. On a related note I am also a supporter of the Toronto Environmental Alliance's Building a City that Moves plan. 

What do you envision as the future for public accessibility to the Power House at Sam Smith Park?

A fundamental part of my program and vision for an inclusive Toronto is the expansion of access to and the accessibility and affordability of recreation centres and city facilities for all members of the community and for community organizations. The Power House would, of course, be no exception to this.

How will you vote regarding any future attempt to expand commercial air service at Billy Bishop Airport? Will your decision take into consideration the preservation of Sam Smith Park as an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA)?

I am 100% opposed to the expansion of the Island airport. As I stated in my No Jets TO endorsement: "After many years of positive developments and steps forward in reintegrating Toronto with its waterfront, Porter’s plans to expand the Island Airport for jets will represent a terrible step back should they come to pass. Toronto’s Harbourfront  should be a place of arts and culture, festivals, parks, tourism and a vibrant community to visit, live and do business in, not the site of a constant stream of jet aircraft flying in for the benefit of Porter’s profits."

How would you deal with the “dogs off leash” problem in Sam Smith Park?
As a resident of Long Branch with three younger children who we take to Sam Smith all year round, I take the "dog-off-leash" issue very seriously. I believe that outside of the designated areas the by-laws around this need to be strictly enforced. "Dogs-off-leash" are both an environmental issue for park wildlife and a safety issue for other park visitors and children. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RUSS FORD, COUNCILLOR CANDIDATE WARD 6 - ANSWERS TO FOSS QUESTIONNAIRE




Answers from Russ Ford, Ward 6 Candidate:

What concrete steps would you take to ensure the preservation of Sam Smith Park?

Establish an Advisory Council with representation from all of the tenants and the community instead of the current informal Lakeshore Grounds Co-ordinating Committee.   Oppose any further new construction on the Grounds.    

Do you believe it is appropriate to allow a single group such as the Aussie Rules Football Club to have exclusive use of a portion of a tax-payer funded park? What are your views regarding further expansion of this club’s “footprint” in the park?

Permits for exclusive use are not unusual in City parks but are inappropriate for the Lakeshore Grounds/Sam Smith Park given its history as open space available to the entire community as well as the commitment of the various tenants to collaborative use of the Grounds.    The existing ugly storage box should be moved to the rear of the Power House if the football club is to remain.


Would you support a comprehensive system of greenways and trails connecting parks, particularly those along the waterfront, as outlined in the city’s Official Plan? How would you accomplish this?     

I support such a comprehensive system of greenways and would ensure that the Waterfront Trail remain as close to the actual waterfront as possible.     

What do you envision as the future for public accessibility to the Power House at Sam Smith Park?

(a)   the washrooms were designed to serve the Grounds as well as the Power House and should be open at all times

(b) Ideally the space would be available to community groups throughout the year - for example CCFEW’s school nature programmes should be able to use either the Power House or Ken Cox/Father Redmond for wet weather programmes.

How will you vote regarding any future attempt to expand commercial air service at Billy Bishop Airport? Will your decision take into consideration the preservation of Sam Smith Park as an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA)?

I will oppose any expansion of the Billy Bishop Airport.

How would you deal with the “dogs off leash” problem in Sam Smith Park?
There has to be constant enforcement of the by-law requiring dogs to be leashed and more education of dog owners. Sam Smith undergrowth and natural areas are habitat for a large variety of birds and creatures and off leash dogs do serious damage to both.  The existence of an off leash area encourages dog owners to the park but (a) they do not respect the by-law and (b) some of them say the off leash area is too dirty, especially for small dogs. Dog licence fees should be used to enforce the by-law and maintain the off-leash area in a sanitary condition.



PEGGY MOULDER, COUNCILLOR CANDIDATE WARD 6 - ANSWERS TO FOSS QUESTIONNAIRE



FRIENDS OF COLONEL SAM SMITH PARK (FOSS) QUESTIONNAIRE
Completed by:
Peggy Moulder
Candidate for Ward 6 

What concrete steps would you take to ensure the preservation and protection of the naturalized areas of Sam Smith Park? 

It is noted the City is proposing that a large portion of Colonel Sam Smith Park be designated an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) under Section 3.4 – The Natural Environment – Policy 13, and that four public meetings will be held on this proposed amendment to the Official Plan – Map 12 – in November 2014. Notice will be published in newspapers, and most of the Toronto population will be unaware of this important issue or the meetings.
A major component of my platform is the formation of Community Districts and Community Boards, to be the major information hubs for neighbourhoods within each District, and to hold the public meetings on all issues, which are then voted on by the Community Boards, minutes prepared and distributed to the relevant City departments, staff and Community/City Councils to form part of the public record. Instead of four meetings, the matter would be reviewed by approximately 23 Community Districts, with boundaries to coincide with the Provincial Riding boundaries.
This Official Plan ESA designation for Colonel Sam Smith Park is an important step; but it is only by creating an opportunity for all residents to be engaged, informed and in turn provide knowledge and input, can we be vigilant and take the best possible care going forward of our natural environment and features like Colonel Sam Smith Park. 

Do you believe it is appropriate to allow a single group such as the Aussie Rules Football Club to have exclusive use of a portion of a tax-payer funded park? What are your views regarding further expansion of this club’s “footprint” in the park? 

Unfortunately, I am not informed on the Etobicoke RFC or its exclusive use contract. It is my understanding that they practice on grounds at Ken Cox Community Centre (as part of City Parks, Forestry & Recreation) at Colonel Sam Smith Park. Until I learn more (the devil is always in the details), I could not provide an informed opinion. However, if the community is in agreement about the designated boundaries of the environmentally significant area (ESA) of the Park, then no sports club should be allowed to impact this area of the Park. 

Would you support a comprehensive system of greenways and trails connecting parks, particularly those along the waterfront, as outlined in the city’s Official Plan? How would you accomplish this? 

Yes. For instance, in Mimico the City could purchase approximately 4 acres of Open Space at a cost of $4 million or less, to acquire additional waterfront parkland and connect Superior Park with Amos Waites Park. This is the last available open space on the Mimico waterfront; however, the City prefers to sell-off Superior Park, and build more high-rise condos on this parkland and on the available open space instead. Creating narrow waterfront trails is not sufficient for our neighbourhood and City populations. Waterfront trails have to be wide enough for people walking and running, cycling; for rollerblades, wheelchairs, baby prams, dogs on leashes; benches, trees and plants; all at the same time, but on different paths and areas on the waterfront trail.
Paul Bedford recommended the creation of New York style Community Districts and Community Boards to Break the city down into bite sized pieces that people can relate to, and unleashing the potential of all Torontonians, citizens and non-citizens alike, bringing them into the city hall governance tent.” The ideas as to how to connect our system of greenways throughout the City exist within the minds of residents and in reviewing what has been done in other jurisdictions. There simply needs to be a public forum where these ideas can be suggested, discussed, reviewed with City Staff, voted on and then passed on to City Council for implementation. This forum would be the Community Boards within Community Districts created by legislation under the Toronto Municipal Code. Draft legislation is found on my website: www.peggymouldercampaign2014.com

What do you envision as the future for public accessibility to the Power House at Sam Smith Park?
The Power House Recreation Centre has been developed to provide an outdoor recreational facility. It is also described as being in a “secluded natural sanctuary of wooded areas, meadows, long grasses and trails near the mouth of the Humber River along Toronto’s western lakefront.” Presumably, it is located outside of the proposed ESA. So, it should continue to provide recreational activities for the public; however, these activities should not negatively impact on the nearby ESA.

How will you vote regarding any future attempt to expand commercial air service at Billy Bishop Airport? Will your decision take into consideration the preservation of Sam Smith Park as an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA)?

I do not support any expansion of the Billy Bishop Airport for jet services, and would include all the points raised by FOSS about the negative impacts on the natural environment at Colonel Sam Smith Park, and points raised by other entities, including NoJetsTo, who have provided reasonable objections to the expansion of the airport.

How would you deal with the “dogs off leash” problem in Sam Smith Park?

I believe that FOSS has dealt very competently with the “dogs off leash” problem in Sam Smith Park, with “smart” signs for the public and dog owners, which the City will likely replicate for other parks, and suggestions to make the fenced off-leash area more amenable for dog owners to use. It is noted that there is even a Colonel Sam Smith Dog Owner’s Association – “A group of dog lovers and dog owners who want to make South Etobicoke and especially Colonel Sam Smith a better place for all, including our canine friends.” It’s great to see neighbours working together to find practical solutions to problems!