Key community updates and events for December 2023

A blurry image of snowfall

Opening Notes

Dear Residents,  Happy Holidays! And many thanks to all those who have contributed to our neighbourhood through PARA over the past year.   Communications is one of the most important functions of PARA. We’ve tried to keep you updated on current issues and events vital to our neighbourhood through our e-blast, while our newsletter has taken a deeper dive into significant developments, people and neighbourhood history. We’ve evolved over the years, and now we are changing again. You can expect:  An expanded eNewsletter arriving in your inbox once a month. Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) for more time sensitive announcements. One issue of our print newsletter, delivered to every mailbox in the PARA neighbourhood in the spring, two weeks in advance of our Annual General Meeting (AGM). Elizabeth Lane is the new editor of our eNewsletter. She has just completed a Master’s thesis and exhibit at OCAD University exploring the intersection of digital technology and community. Here are some of her thoughts on PARA’s eNewsletter.  — Paul MacLean, Chair, PARA 
Hi folks, My name is Elizabeth Lane (she/her) and I am thrilled to be contributing to PARA as the eNewsletter editor. As a resident in the neighbourhood, I am invested in this community, and look forward to bringing news and stories to all of you. As Paul mentioned, in my studies I investigated digital technology’s impacts on community, and I do believe that leveraging digital technology can help facilitate the creation of community. That’s the hope for this eNewsletter – to connect us in the neighbourhood and build community. — Elizabeth Lane, eNewsletter Editor, PARA

Upcoming Community Events

  • On Sunday, December 17th at 4:30pm the Church of St Mary Magdalene (located at Manning and Ulster) invites the community to “Christmas by Candlelight” – a service of hymns and carols.
  • On Thursday, December 21st at 7pm Councillor Dianne Saxe is hosting an online townhall to learn about 311 services. Register here and submit a question here.

Community Updates

On Wednesday December 13th, City Council considered and adopted “Growing Space for Trees: Protecting and Enhancing the Tree Canopy While Supporting Infill Housing.” You can read more about the recommendations here

The revamp of College Street from Manning Avenue to Bay Street is nearly complete! As part of the City of Toronto’s Cycling Network Plan, the new protected cycle tracks keep bicycles and cars separate. Expanded sidewalk curbs give pedestrians more space and slow vehicles entering intersections, which is expected to improve safety for all road users. Accessibility improvements include tactile warning indicators at key sidewalk locations, including streetcar stops. The separation of parked cars and cycling space, besides directly reducing “dooring” and other incidents, will simplify snow removal, making active transportation an even better choice year-round.

Work continues on adding signage, signals, and paint to the cycle tracks and intersections, and to clarify the need for cyclists to yield to those boarding and disembarking streetcars. Street furniture, including benches and waste bins, is still some ways off: PARA has sought input into this process but has not yet received a response from City of Toronto staff.

Of course, no improvement will remove all risks, and intersections will always require careful crossings. Interactions between cyclists and pedestrians along the cycle track can also be more complicated, especially at streetcar stops. As everyone adapts to the new changed space, the goal is to have a safer environment for all, and encourage the use of cycling as a healthy, quick, and reliable alternative to driving. The City’s TransformTO initiative aims to have 75% of trips under 5 kms use active transportation by 2050, while Vision Zero is focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. These kinds of infrastructure improvements advance both plans together.

The new cycle track currently ends at Manning Avenue, however, in March 2023, Council approved a motion by Councillors Dianne Saxe and Alejandro Bravo to extend safer cycling infrastructure west. The planned work would continue along College Street from Manning as far as Lansdowne Avenue, where it would connect to the West Toronto Railpath and its planned extension. If all goes well this work should be part of the 2025-2027 Cycling Network Plan.

You can find more information on the College Street upgrades here.

College Street before upgrades, showing pedestrians, parked cars, cyclists, moving cars, and a streetcar
Before upgrades: cyclists move between parked and driving cars and trucks, vulnerable to opening doors and vehicles moving in and out of parking spaces. Photo credit: City of Toronto.
College Street after upgrades, with pedestrians, cyclists on raised cycle track, parked cars, and moving cars
After upgrades: a raised curb prevents parking in the bicycle area, and cyclists are protected from opening doors and moving motor vehicle traffic.

PARA Updates

The Planning Working Group represents the PARA community on a variety of issues related to planning and development, and we are also liaisons with the Little Italy Business Improvement Area and Councillor Dianne Saxe. Currently, our members are engaged with:

  • Toronto Western Hospital consultations on their proposed new patient tower, soon to be constructed at Bathurst and Nassau
  • Toronto Transportation Services on bike lane and green upgrades planned for Harbord Street

We rely on community members to bring issues to our attention and to work with us, which is how we got involved in extensive hearings this year before the Committee of Adjustment and the Toronto Local Appeal Body. Let us know the issues that matter to you, and more updates to come in future eNewsletters. 

— Allison Kirk-Montgomery, Convenor, Planning Working Group, PARA

New Businesses in the Community

Just opened a month ago, Contrada is an upscale addition to the abundance of Italian restaurants on College, at the south-west corner of Euclid. Well worth a visit for their friendly staff, creamy pastas, quality ingredients and overall attention to detail.

Thank you for reading our eNewsletter! You can keep in touch with PARA on social media. Want to see more or less of something on these eNewsletters? Let us know!