Last week, the Toronto Foundation and Environics released the Toronto Social Capital Study, a benchmarking report assessing the city’s social capital levels. The study employs social capital concepts (such as social trust and civic connections) to provide a useful lens on the quality of personal and community life in Toronto. The study is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding how social capital varies across the population in terms of socio-demographic and geographical strata.

As outlined in the study “Social capital” is the term used to describe the vibrancy of social networks and the extent to which there is trust and reciprocity within a community and among individuals. It is the essential “lubricant” that makes it possible for societies to function, and for people to get along peacefully even when they have little in common. There is ample empirical evidence showing that high levels of such reciprocity, trust and connection are not simply “feel good” notions, but key ingredients to making communities productive, healthy and safe. “

 

 

The Social Capital Study surveyed just over 3,200 residents and measured responses on four dimensions: 

  • Social Trust, the sense of trust Torontonians have in one another and city institutions; 
  • Social Networks, the strength of residents’ informal and formal relationships; 
  • Civic Connection, the extent to which people are civically engaged; and 
  • Neighbourhood Support, how citizens see their neighbourhoods as supporting the type of life and environment they want for themselves.

The study results provide insight into social capital as experienced by residents across 26 neighbourhood clusters.

How is Toronto doing on social capital?  

We might be richer than we think. Overall, the social capital level of people and communities in Toronto appears positive but this is not uniform: “Toronto, as a whole, shows relatively high levels of social capital in terms of social trust, social networks, civic connection and neighbourhood support.” The study shows that the majority of people surveyed trust other people (including those different from themselves), have a sense of belonging to their community, have family and friends they can rely on, give back to the community, and are interested in politics. An article by the Toronto Star’s social justice reporter, Laurie Monsebraaten, provides a good overview of the study and its main findings.

What are the social capital levels in our neighbourhood?

The study mapped the distribution of social capital levels across the city in 26 neighbourhood areas. Bloor West Village and several neighbourhoods east of the Humber River were grouped into one clustered neighbourhood area referred to as High Park-West-Junction-Parkdale. The High Park-West-Junction-Parkdale neighbourhood area showed social capital levels well above the city-wide average for the social capital dimensions of Civic Connection and Social Trust.  This area was near the average on social capital levels for Social Networks and Neighbourhood Support.

We’re guessing that most residents would agree with Toronto Life’s ranking of Bloor West Village as the best neighbourhood in the city! It’s well-deserved and we are fortunate to have a number of attributes that make it so attractive and livable including:

• A vibrant main street shopping area
• Mature, stable residential streets
• Top public schools
• Walkability to all the essentials of daily life
• Excellent access to public transit, and
• An abundance of parks and other public spaces

But being fortunate doesn’t mean being entitled. These advantages cannot be taken for granted and despite the Toronto Life score, they can be threatened by:

• Inappropriate out-of-scale urban intensification
• Inadequate planning tools to guide renewal and growth
• Lack of City resources to properly maintain our parks and tree canopy, and
• Market forces and property taxes that penalize main street retailers

The good news is that we have a lot of engaged residents who can take some credit for how great our village is today! You are showing up at public meetings by the hundreds to express your concerns about inappropriate development proposals. You are challenging monster home proposals all the way to TLAB, Toronto’s appeal tribunal, and sending a message that this type of renewal is not encouraged in Bloor West Village. You are supporting the work of the BWVRA as a member and a donor when called upon. You are supporting other vital organizations such as Green 13 to ensure our tree canopy and public open spaces are protected and enhanced. And, you are shopping locally to ensure our retail main street prospers and survives as the anchor of our village.

As one of the strongest collective voices in our area, let’s keep it up! The BWVRA is always looking for energetic, committed residents to contribute their ideas and talents as members of our Board.

Do you have some time to become involved? We’d love to hear from you about your interests and how you would like to help! Please click here to learn more.

Most if not all of you have walked passed Ling’s gift shop on Bloor Street. Mr. Alex Ling, an individual known to many as a champion of BIAs not only here in Toronto but nationally and internationally, passed away on September 24th.

Born on November 29, 1933, Mr. Ling was a key part in the group of local business owners who created and established the Bloor West Village BIA, the first BIA in the world. The success of the first BIA, Bloor West Village, inspired other retail districts to follow and become BIAs themselves. Today, there are 83 BIAs in the City of Toronto, and over 400 across the Province of Ontario. The BIA concept has been emulated throughout Canada, the United States and across the globe.

About Alex

Alex Ling (Alexander Edward Ling) and his wife Helen moved to the Bloor West Village in Toronto in 1971. They thought they wouldn’t be so busy; however that was not the case. Alex became involved in the BIA right away. He was first elected as Chairperson in 1979 and worked very hard for the Bloor West Village BIA and the neighbourhood.

In the early 1980’s, with the help of City Hall, he started the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) to give support to all BIAs in the City of Toronto. Alex ate and slept the BIA philosophy. He loved the work and the challenge of the job. He was TABIA’s President for 19 years and in 2001 he finally engineered himself to Past President. In 2004 Alex became Chairman of the Bloor West Village BIA by promising to continue to help out, staying on as a Board Member.

He was also the pioneer and the driving force behind the Solar Powered Conversion of the Tree Lighting and Gas Lanterns in Bloor West Village. They have since retired 45 hydro meters from the Tree Lighting Program – no more hydro bills, and no more burning of fossil fuel from the Gas Lanterns! They will soon have a total of 60 Solar Powered Gas-style Lanterns in the Village.

Alex was constantly championing and working for the cause of small business. He was instrumental in acquiring a lower discount rate for Merchant VISA and MasterCard for his members. He has worked with a number of insurance companies on group insurance for small business, as well as natural gas rebates for business and residents.

 

In our August update, the community was informed that both the City and BWVRA had no further objections to Developer’s most recent revised proposal and that the Developer was unwilling to engage in Mediation with the remaining three Parties to the proceedings at LPAT (Local Planning Appeals Tribunal).    Under the circumstances, these Parties were given until mid-August to either provide a list of their remaining issues or withdraw. A fourth Pre-Hearing Conference was then scheduled, which took place on September 5th, by which time SARA (Swansea Area Ratepayer’s Association) had withdrawn, leaving two Parties, Arbor Memorial and Dennis Maslo (an adjacent owner on Humbercrest Trail) with unresolved objections to the proposal. Their issues relate largely to private property rights and are not of any concern to BWVRA.

In any event, on September 5th it became clear that the only remaining path to a conclusion of the Appeal would be a Contested Hearing which has been scheduled for April 23rd to 26th, 2019.  This Hearing will deal specifically with the objections of the two remaining Parties. However, there is considerable uncertainty and debate about whether or not those matters are even admissible for adjudication at a Hearing. It is also entirely possible that the Developer may reach a settlement with these two Parties prior to the Hearing , in which case the first Hearing date on April 23rd would likely be converted to a Settlement Hearing.

Will Participants from the community still have an opportunity to express their personal opinions?

Regardless of whatever the situation is by April 23rd, those Participants that initially registered to speak at the time of the very first Pre-Hearing Conference back in September 2017 may also attend and present their personal views on the proposal. Other members of the public may also register to speak by contacting the LPAT Case Coordinator. However, in order to speak at the Hearing, ALL Participants are required to submit their written Participant Statements by February 1, 2019 to:

Tamara Zwarycz, Case Coordinator LPAT Case PL170556

Tamara.Zwarycz@Ontario.ca

416 326-6790

Leading up to the Hearing in April 2019, what will BWVRA need to do?

As our Association has already agreed to the current revised proposal and the remaining issues are not of any direct concern to the community, our lawyer will only be monitoring and periodically reporting to us on the proceedings.

In the meantime our new Councilor, after the upcoming election, will be briefed at the earliest opportunity on our remaining concerns related to traffic and the re-design of the corner at Bloor Street and Riverview Gardens.  We will then be relying on our Councilor’s Office to keep our community informed on how City Staff and the Developer are resolving the numerous anticipated traffic impacts from this proposed development.  In addition, we will be expecting Staff to follow through on Council’s direction to consult with the community on an appropriate re-design of the afore-mentioned street corner.

That’s a picture of the Lawrence Avenue West bridge above, which was washed away… 81 people died in the greater Toronto area on October 16, 1954 and almost 4,000 were left homeless. Eerily, Hurricane Hazel actually followed a path very similar to the recent Hurricane Florence that hit the US last week.

Toronto Field Naturalists, in partnership with Heritage York, is organizing a local walk down memory lane, literally. Join Madeleine McDowell on this historical walk along the Humber River between Old Mill Station and Lambton House (4066 Old Dundas Street). The walk has steep stairs down to the path and a 2.6 km walk along the river banks where Hurricane Hazel flooded the bridge and shores. The walk also includes historical pictures and a cup of tea at Lambton House.

  • Date: Saturday, October 13, 2018
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
  • Place: Old Mill TTC Station
  • Leader: Madeleine McDowell

Dear friends and neighbours in Ward 13,

For the past eight years I have had the tremendous honour of representing you as your City Councillor. It has been a joy to work with you, the residents of the Junction, High Park, Bloor West Village, Baby Point, Warren Park, and my own neighbourhood of Swansea.

As a team we have worked together to protect what is important to our community, and bring in new tools and features to improve our ward. From our first fights to save the High Park Zoo and rebuild the Jamie Bell Castle Playground, to our recent work creating safe school zones across the ward, implementing the Bloor West Avenue Study, High Park Character Study, and the upcoming Bloor West and Junction Heritage Conservation Districts we have been at our greatest when we work together to achieve what’s best for our community.

When I decided to run for office over eight years ago, it was because I wanted to make a difference in the day-to-day lives of our community. I have always been a Councillor that prefers to help solve the problems on the street, rather than sit in committee rooms discussing policy. As we move towards the 25 ward system, I am sad to think that the hands-on community activity must be replaced, as Councillors’ roles will have to focus primarily on city wide issues, with the day-to-day operations being left to staff. With the role of Councillor changing I had to decide where my heart lies.

I knew I could not leave our community without the representation it deserves. It is clear to me that having my friend and colleague Gord Perks at City Council is essential to help the City to move forward in the right direction. Gord as an experienced and progressive City Councillor, will be able to finish the important projects we have started, help grow our inclusive and exciting vision of our community, all the while standing up for the residents of our City in this time of great change.

For that reason, upon much reflection, I have made the difficult decision not to run for re-election under the 25 Ward system. I want to thank all those that have reached out to me over the past year to show their support, offering a donation, to take a lawn sign, or to help knock on doors. I want to thank the brilliant residents I have had the honour of working beside over the past eight years as we build our community. Finally, I want to thank Ward 13 as a whole for being the best place to represent in the City of Toronto.

With love,
Sarah

As Canada’s busiest airport, Toronto Pearson understands its operations and the growing demand for air travel have an impact on surrounding communities, which is why they’ve been working toward reducing noise impacts for neighbourhoods like Bloor West Village. One recent example is the three-year collaboration with NAV CANADA of The Six Ideas: A Quieter Operations Roadmap. In Spring 2018, the GTAA and NAV Canada consulted communities across the region on the six noise mitigation ideas. A final report outlining the results from the Six Ideas public consultations will be available later in Summer 2018.

One of the Six Ideas consulted on is a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program. Many international airports use this kind of program to provide residents with relief from aircraft noise by rotating runway usage during periods when fewer aircraft are arriving and departing. These rotations are scheduled in advance so that residents know when to expect relief from aircraft noise. Toronto Pearson’s summer weekend runway alternation program is Idea 5 of the Six Ideas. Based on community feedback received from the Six Ideas consultation, 68% of the airport’s neighbours impacted by east/west operations expressed interest testing a summer weekend runway alternation program to better understand the respite it may offer. So, Toronto Pearson is moving forward with a test of a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program, for eight weekends beginning on July 28, 2018.

Test Details

  • Dates: Weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) from July 28 to September 16, 2018
  • Time: 6:30 a.m. to midnight
  • Scope: East/west runways only

The Summer Weekend Runway Alternation test should provide residents who live along (or in the case of Bloor West Village, just south of) final approach and initial departure paths of the east/west runways with periods of predictable respite from aircraft traffic overhead. The north/south runways are not included in the program but, like always, will be used if the weather conditions or safety dictates a change in operations.

To learn more, visit www.torontopearson.com/conversations/.  You can also contact the Noise Management Office with questions at 416-247-7682 or community.engagement@gtaa.com.