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Nov 30, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

Parks and rec, housing and retail: it’s happening in York

Two years still to grow in Toronto Council’s term

York Guardian

In a few short days, residents of St. Paul’s will be able to lace up skates and glide onto the ice of an outdoor skating rink for the first time in the ward.

“We have indoor rinks but this is the first of its kind,” said St. Paul’s Councillor Joe Mihevc.

The outdoor skating rink at Cedarvale Park will have its official opening Sunday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m., complete with a free skate.

“The community has been wanting this for a while and it’s now happening,” he said.

The outdoor rink is one highlight of what’s been accomplished in the ward during the first two years into the council term, with Dec. 7 marking the halfway point.

Equipment at Suydan Park is being restored, and Arlington Parkette and Wells Hill Park will soon boast upgrades, Mihevc said.

St. Paul’s will soon look significantly different as condominium applications have been submitted for major arterial roads such as Eglinton Avenue, St. Clair Avenue and Bathurst Street, he said.

“We have a lot of development applications,” Mihevc said. “We will be welcoming a lot of new people. These are significant developments in the ward. Our community has always been changing and will continue to change.”

Mihevc credits development interest in his ward to construction of the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT which, while technically not a ward-specific project, was approved during the first half of the council term and will play a significant role for Mihevc’s constituents, he said.

“The biggest thing we accomplished during the last two years, on a city level, is reintroducing the LRT,” Mihevc said. “Construction is basically starting now, tunnels are being dug, it’s going to be under and above ground. The mayor did not support that project and it’s to the credit of council that the project is proceeding. It’s a major piece of infrastructure being done despite the mayor’s opposition.”

The councillor credits the LRT to development interest in his ward, noting an easily accessible public transit system is a draw.

“One of the biggest frustrations in Toronto is mobility,” he said. “If people have the opportunity to move quickly because of a dedicated LRT or streetcar, they want to live there.”

Mihevc’s ward isn’t the only one in York undergoing significant change.

While York-South Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata is pleased with the infrastructure investment in her ward over the past few years, she acknowledged the area could always use more.

“We are very much in need of revitalization,” she said.

The Weston GO station at Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue has moved south of Lawrence Avenue, a condominium is set for Wilby Crescent, the Mount Dennis library is undergoing redevelopment and is set for opening in 2013, a ground-breaking for a much needed community centre at Eglinton Avenue and Black Creek Drive is set for the coming months and, notably, the first Target store to be built in Canada will be located in the Stockyards, a new development under construction at St. Clair Avenue and Weston Road, Nunziata said.

The Weston Lions Park is home to an artificial soccer field, which has been taken advantage of by many sports fans, she said.

As for the future, Nunziata said she’s working to bring a YMCA to Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue and noted condominiums are set to be built on the Cruickshank Motors site in the same area.

She’s also pushing for the portion of the Eglinton LRT between Black Creek Drive and Jane Street to be underground, a decision that hasn’t been declared by Metrolinx yet.

Eglinton-Lawrence Councillor Josh Colle has had a busy two years.

The rookie politician said the two biggest issues in his ward over the first half of the council term are undertaking the Lawrence Heights redevelopment and fighting for an Oakwood stop along the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT line, which has been approved.

“It’s a very tough file to handle,” he said of the Lawrence Heights project. “There were significant changes to the plan because of the local input I gathered.”

The 20-year redevelopment plan calls for replacing the 1,208 city-owned housing units at Allen Road and Lawrence Avenue and adding 6,300 new market-value ones. The project will bring an estimated 16,000 new residents to the area bounded by Hwy. 401, Bathurst Street, Lawrence Avenue and Dufferin Street.

Plans for the mixed-income neighbourhood include trail networks, parks and open space, a community centre and, perhaps most importantly, a connection to other neighbourhoods, which is currently lacking due to the Allen Expressway corridor.

Colle said he’s made a point over the past two years to connect with constituents who haven’t felt engaged, visiting highrises and talking about local issues.

Transit is always a hot topic and Colle said he plans to focus on improved quality of service.

“I will continue to try to see investments made in parks and roads,” he said. “There hasn’t been a lot of investment in my ward. We have limited green space but I hope to see money flow into Yorkdale Park, Caledonia Park and Fairbank (Memorial) Park.”

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