Newsletter #6

What's next for 175 Cummer? Action needed! 
Hello Neighbours, 
I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful signs of Spring. Walking by 175 Cummer this morning, it was so lovely to see the trees in full bloom, the grass turning green and the birds chirping. The pictures above are a stark reminder of the need to put a 'face'  to the lot at 175 Cummer to remind our city officials that they are not just paving over another parking lot or infill site (like the other modular housing sites)...they're destroying a park-like setting with dozens of mature trees which happen to the be front-lawn for the seniors at Willowdale Manor and the gateway to the entire Newtwonbrook East community. The hypocrisy is incomprehensible as in the same breath, the City preaches and advocates for all to protect our parks, trees and environment.  
We had a great response from our newsletter last week. Many people wrote to VoW asking to clarify next steps. A recap here: 
1. The community 'engagement' process facilitated by LURA consulting is closed and there are no more broad community meetings planned. It appears the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) is currently being set up. We've uncovered that Bruce Davis' LURA consulting contract was sole-sourced and his firm is being paid a whopping $263,676 of tax payer dollars to bully and chastise the community :) See here for the proof.
2. It looks like the City has released some of the site planning documents here (click on the Supporting Documentation tab and you should see an expanded list of 48 documents). We have reached out to Katherine.Bailey@ to learn more about the May 20th meeting. She's indicated the instructions on how to register to comment, agenda, etc will be posted at this link in the next couple of days. 
3. May 20th - City's Planning and Housing Committee will consider the matter. Members of the public will have opportunity to comment at the virtual meeting. It is expected that Voices of Willowdale, Bayview Cummer Neighbourhood Association (BCNA), Silverview Community Association (SCA), and the residents of Willowdale Manor will submit something or request to speak along with individual members of the public. We encourage and need as many members of this community who oppose the development  to submit a statement (by writing in advance) OR a request to speak (for 2-3 minutes). Both of these methods are an important step to documenting the community's overwhelming opposition. Please mark the May 20th meeting in your calendar and START crafting your statement now!
4. June 8th – the City Council will consider the matter.  Based on the city's autocratic actions, we don’t expect there to be genuine consideration of the facts, but let’s pray that our elected councillors at least pretend to care about local community opinion.
5. In order to meet the very aggressive timelines imposed by the Federal Govt funding, the city will need to request an MZO of the province and in particular from Minister Steve Clark, Municipal Affairs & Housing. It is our hope that this will be rejected based on the fact that the vast majority of the local community is NOT in support of this and that the community has not been properly consulted. Note our MPP Stan Cho has awareness of this issue and has already sent a letter to Minister Clark.
6. If the MZO is successfully denied, then this will allow the matter to be considered per the necessary and usual land planning process, which takes into consideration local community context.  The city would have to follow proper procedure and consideration and it would allow the community to appeal any decision to the Land Planning Appeal Tribunal - LPAT (formerly OMB). The LPAT is quasi judicial body, non-political, relying on the technical and expert opinions per proper land planning process. (Read below to learn more about the important OMB decision on this very same parcel of land more than 20+ years ago). 

Actions in this next one week period are critical so be sure to read VoW e-updates thoroughly and share with whomever you think can help. Also we will most likely be planning a Community Update meeting via Zoom. It will be open to all and will re-iterate what has been stated in our newsletters as well as support for next steps. Stay tuned - this will likely be held Monday May 17th or Tuesday May 18th!
Mafia-like tactics are being used to silence the voices of neighbours who care about their community. Lawn signs are disappearing off private property and ethnic seniors at Willowdale Manor are being bullied, intimidated and told to act like "real Canadians". We're not sure who's behind all of these tactics, but we can make some educated guesses. Click here to see home security video.

Now this is important. It's come to our attention, that more than 20 years ago, there was a proposal to put up 21 three-story townhouses on this exact same plot of land at 175 Cummer.  Oddly enough...guess who voted against it at the city's Planning Commitee meeting....Councillor Filion (see the minutes here). He was firmly against it. In fact, the matter was appealed before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB...since renamed Local Planning Appeal Tribunal or LPAT). This quasi-judicial body (non-politically motivated) held a 6-day hearing on the matter in 1998 and after hearing from technical experts and residents, the OMB ruled against the rezoning and development at this site. The OMB indicated it was not in the public interest, the land was not suitable to be subdivided and further more not good planning for the community. See the final OMB decision here. Why is this important? Because this powerful decision is essentially precedent; in fact the City paid for their lawyers to take this appeal before OMB on behalf of the city division who operates the Willowdale Manor. The same matters cited (traffic, accidents, density, zoning of the land for seniors, loss of green space, etc) are still relevant. In fact, not much has changed within a 500 metre radius of this site, even in 20+ years. So does it make sense that we have to go through this extended process again to consider a building of similar significance (3-storeys), that is still not for seniors on this exact same parcel of land. Is it not likely the same decision would apply based on testimonials from technical experts? Our experts seem to think so. 


"Trust us, everything will be fine...BUT we are not answering any questions...and by the way, if you do ask a question, or point out credible facts or data, you are horrible people who don't care about the homeless ". Welcome to the new way of government! 

The city keeps trying to bully community members that everything will be fine, yet they are being very secretive and vague about what the not-for-provider will provide or more importantly, what they will NOT provide on-site. When we ask them to elaborate about staffing and mental health and addiction supports based on the two other modular housing sites that are already operating, they purposely dance around the question. They claim that there will be no negative impact to the community. However the Community Mid-Town Safety group (see link here) with 4,500 members on Facebook shares concrete examples of crime and safety issues when temporary hotel shelters were thrust upon them. For months, despite very organized groups and daily calls by numerous concerned community members, the City continued to say the community was fearmongering, NIMBY, over-reacting. However the Toronto Sun clearly reports the increased crime and impact on safety resulting from the Roehampton Hotel Shelter at Mount Pleasant and Eglinton. To this day, more than one year later, the City continues to deny and and do essentially nothing about it despite regular and almost daily community safety issues. It's downright neglect for the homeless AND the neighbouring community. 

We also know that the experts in housing, homelessness and health who ran the Housing First study say that in order to achieve successful outcomes for this chronically homeless population (with complex needs), we need to ensure that we provide much more than simply housing. It is just as critical to make sure the right mental health and addiction supports are offered, and with concentrated housing (ie individuals who are warehoused together in high numbers) those moderate to intense mental health and addiction services should be offered ON-SITE.

The city and Bruce Davis make a big point of ensuring people do not compare the modular housing with shelters, even though the residents will be moving in directly from shelters and living on the streets. So in order to compare apples to apples, we have managed to get a copy of the Community Liaison Committee meeting minutes from the Macey Street site - the city's first modular housing site in Scarborough. It opened in December and is now almost at full occupancy. See here. You will read in Item 5 that the Police are there daily (we hear sometimes 2x/day) settling disputes, mental health and substance abuse issues, etc; there are needles and feces in the surrounding park areas. There is no security and the 'lighter' supports are focused on eviction management, employment search assistance and goal setting, and connections to mental health  services offered in the community (rather than on-site treatment). And yet the city still says not to worry. It boggles us... if the city is confident truly believes this will be a success and there will be no negative or safety impact to the community, or more specifically the nearly 700 seniors who live metres away, then why is everyone involved with modular housing being so hush hush. Why won't they answer our questions? And here's the latest article in the Toronto Sun, which highlights what's happening in East York. 
Community Safety Mid-Town Toronto Facebook Group
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Voices of Willowdale · willowdale · Toronto, ON L5B 4M1 · Canada

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