Monthly Archives: October 2009

Dogs banned at Sunnyside Beach in warm weather

Dogs will be allowed on-leash only in winter
Summer, spring, fall access will be off limits
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Oct. 28 for Town Crier.)

A policy approved by city council will see all dogs barred from Sunnyside Beach in the spring, summer and part of the fall. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Pooches will soon be forbidden for part of the year at Sunnyside Beach — even if they’re on a leash.
Currently, residents can walk their dogs on-leash all year at the west end beachfront.
City council, acting on a staff recommendation that on-leash access at this local beach be restricted to winter months only, approved the new policy on Oct. 27.
Dogs will be banned from Sunnyside Beach in the spring, summer and part of the fall, effective April 1. Under the proposed policy, dogs would be allowed on-leash only between Nov. 1 and March 31.
Parkdale-High Park councillor Bill Saundercook vowed to contest any further changes limiting access for dogs at Sunnyside Beach. Continue reading

Garbage fee hike cancelled

Solid waste budget gets additional cash to avoid trash rate hike
Millions saved during summer strike diverted to garbage department
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Oct. 28 for Town Crier.)

Call it the garbage fee hike that never was.
Toronto city council couldn’t stomach implementing a proposed two percent increase for trash fees so soon after a strike that saw garbage collection suspended for 39 days.
The fee would generate an additional $4.8 million for the solid waste management department to implement additional waste diversion programs such as additional reuse centres for old mattresses and furniture to be recycled or sold rather than tossed in landfill. The proposed fee hike would have meant an additional $4-8 per bin depending on the size.
But instead of raising garbage rates, the city approved using $4.8 million out of the $36.1 million “saved” during this summer’s strike for the garbage department’s 2010 budget to hold the line on fees. Continue reading

Strike savings used to avoid garbage hike

City to add millions to garbage budget to avoid fee hike
Proposal was to raise rates by two percent in 2010
By Kris Scheuer
(Oct. 29 update here.)

City council voted today to apply $4.8 million from money saved during this summer’s strike towards the garbage department’s budget.
While the city saved money in some departments during the 39-day labour dispute, in other areas it cost them more in overtime pay and legal costs.
Overall, the city came out $36.1 million ahead. Today city politicians debated what to do with that money: issue rebates, put it into general revenue or use part of it to off set proposed garbage fee hikes.
In the end, council voted 22-19 to apply nearly $5 million to Toronto’s garbage department budget to avoid a proposed two percent hike in rates for 2010.
The motion put forth by Councillor Karen Stintz passed after hours of debate.
For more on this story, please click here for update.

So what do you think? Was this the right use of $4.8 million?

Toronto a day in the life 8

What I learned, saw, heard about the city in the last 24 hours
By Kris Scheuer

Missionaries, zombies and mentally ill
Toronto is a diverse and quirky city.
Want proof?
In the course of 15 minutes last night around 8:15 pm I met and saw the following people:
While waiting for the Bathurst 511 streetcar, I was approached by two missionaries one visiting from Vancouver and another originally from Utah. They were nice enough lads and we spoke about Toronto and other cities on the ride up towards Bloor.
At Yonge and Bloor I saw a group of teens standing on the northwest corner dressed as zombies for the seventh annual Toronto Zombie Walk.
As I walked  towards Bathurst subway I saw a man standing in a boxer’s pose with his arms bent and fists by his face taking punches at a mailbox. I wanted to approach the man, who must have been in distress as he repeatedly punched the red Canada Post mailbox with his bare hands, but I have to assume he was mentally ill. And thus perhaps picturing an imaginary enemy that he was doing battle with.

Strike saved city 33 million

How should city use the savings?
What’s your wish list: rebates or spend on services?

(Written Oct. 6 for Town Crier. Oct. 26 UPDATE.)

You remember the 39-day strike this summer? At the time I wrote this, city figures stated the government saved $33.1 million during the labour unrest.
So what should be done with this money?
The main three options for the city are to issue rebate cheques to residents, use it for specific programs or fold the windfall into general revenues. My preference is to use some of the money to bring down a planned garbage rate hike and if that’s not possible then instead put the millions towards balancing the 2010 budget. But I’d want to know how the money was specifically spent. Continue reading

City going green with organic bins

Foul odours turn off some
Toronto implements green bins for residents
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 18/2004 for Town Crier.)
This is a look back at to an article I wrote five years ago as the city now grapples with how to roll out organic waste collection for apartment dwellers…

Councillor Jane Pitfield and Geoff Rathbone, the director of policy and planning for Toronto’s works department, introduce the green bin.

You couldn’t have helped noticing a big, 45-litre green bin delivered to your door recently, in preparation for the city’s new organic garbage collection program starting in the former Toronto, York and East York the week of Oct. 18/04.
Inside the bin are two things: an info sheet telling you what can and can’t go into the green bin and a small beige indoor container for kitchen scraps, which can then be dumped into the outdoor bin. Continue reading

Reducing waste in office work place

Health centre cuts almost all garbage
Strict recycling program a model for all businesses
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written March 15/07 for Town Crier.)

Janitor Nihal Munaweera looks over the community centre’s garbage room, which was filled with waste but is now dominated by recycling.

The amount of garbage being thrown out at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre has plummeted from 50 bags a week to five.
This considerable shift did not happen on its own, but at the same time is a feat that any other business could achieve with some planning, says the centre’s health promoter, Paul Young. Continue reading

Green bins roll out for apartments delayed

All apartments were to receive organic waste collection by end of 2010
Could now be phased in by 2011 to reduce budget costs
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Nov.13.08 with update Oct. 20/09 for Town Crier.)

A plan to roll out green bin service in apartments is key to decreasing how much waste ends up in landfill.
When I first reported on this almost a year ago, the city planned to roll out organic waste collection in 300 buildings each month until all 4,500 multi-unit residential complexes were on board.
This was expected to divert an additional 30,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill, according to city stats.
And it was meant to double the waste diversion rate in multi residential apartments from 13 percent to 26 percent. In other words, more organic collection means less food ending up in landfill.
This Monday Oct. 19, I was at the city’s budget committee and I will be back there tomorrow listening to the solid waste management’s capital and operating plan for 2010. Continue reading

Josh Matlow running for council seat

School trustee first to declare he’ll run in St. Paul’s ward 22
Matlow dives in, but current Councillor Walker may retire in 2010
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 7 for Town Crier.)

School board trustee Josh Matlow, left, has already announced that he’ll be running in Ward 22 even if councillor Michael Walker runs again in 2010.

The council race in St. Paul’s has unofficially started.
Councillor Michael Walker is contemplating retirement and while the 27-year political veteran decides his future others are lining up at the gate.
Public school trustee Josh Matlow has declared he will run in Walker’s ward in 2010.
Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy has not ruled out running nor has community activist Michael Visser. Walker’s executive assistant Chris Sellors would consider running if his boss is out of the race.
Matlow sat down with the Town Crier to discuss his candidacy on Oct. 6 the afternoon he declared he will seek the council seat and his main message was on building consensus with the public and at city hall. Continue reading

Councillor Michael Walker considers retiring

Veteran politician unsure about running again
Other candidates declare intentions for 2010 election
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 7 for Town Crier.)

Councillor Michael Walker is still deciding if he’ll run in next year’s election. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Rumours are swirling that St. Paul’s councillor Michael Walker will retire next year.
The veteran councillor sat down for an interview in the Town Crier’s city hall office to discuss his political plans on Oct. 6, the same day as Josh Matlow announced that he would run in Walker’s ward.
Walker admitted he’s contemplating retirement rather than running for another four-year term.
“My heart says I should run, but again is it my time to go?” says Walker, who is now in his 27th year in political office. “Is it time to pass the torch?
“I have given it a lot of thought in the past few years because it’s been disillusioning here,” adds Walker, a vocal critic of the mayor. “If you weren’t with (Miller) you were trampled on.
But he admits time is catching up with him.

Continue reading