Spring 2018 Newsletter
On November 6, 2017 the WPRA hosted a successful AGM with newly-appointed Councillor Lucy Troisi as guest speaker. Councillor Troisi spoke about her role and took questions from the community members. Approximately 100 people attended the event to discuss the work of the WPRA in the community and to meet our board members.
Your current WPRA Board of Directors:
Krista Lamb (Fieldstone Co-operative Representative)
Marnie McCallum (Hugh Garner Co-operative Representative)
The WPRA presented its financial statement, an update on our social media strategy and the latest news on the rooming houses in the area.
We are grateful to our volunteer baker, Christina Robinson, who provided refreshments, and to our sponsors Kendall and Co. and Chartwell, who allowed us to provide door prizes.
Our next general meeting will be on May 16, 2018 at the Hugh Garner Co-op, located at 550 Ontario Street (where Ontario and Prospect Streets intersect), in the 8th floor Party Room from 7 - 9 p.m. We will be hosting the provincial candidates for Toronto Centre. Candidates from the NDP PC, Liberal and Green parties will be our guests. This should be a very interesting and lively evening, so please join us!
The WPRA board has been very busy over the last few months. We continue our work directly with the city on the Tenants First project and are keeping close tabs on the latest news on the TCHC rooming houses in our area. See below for a more in-depth look at this work.
We are also developing a new website, updating our Terms of Reference, planning the 2018 Strawberry Social and working on our next general meeting, which will be held on May 16.
TCHC Rooming House Update
The WPRA has updated you often about about the TCHC 's rooming houses in our community and the story is not finished. We are continuing to meet with the City on this issue. The City has decided the rooming houses will be transitioned to non-profits. Exactly how that will be done is still not clear. The non-profits that are interested in acquiring these houses do not have the funds necessary to renovate and restore the buildings to Heritage standards and the houses need to be brought to some standard of good repair. It is not clear how the houses will be sold to the non-profits given that there are mortgages on the properties, some of which are more substantial than others. Tenants First is looking for a way to make the transition cost equitable. The buildings will remain part of "rooming house" stock but under the ownership and management of non-profits. The City does not expect that transition to occur for two years. In the meantime, Dixon Hall has been engaged to provide on the ground social services to tenants starting in May.
Below, we have updates on some of the other recent developments in the rooming houses.
The WPRA has learned that drug users have been accessing the common kitchen space in some of the rooming houses and using the gas stoves to "cook" their drugs. On at least one occasion, tenants have reported finding the gas valves left open and the house filled with gas fumes. The WPRA has raised the alarm about this situation with TCHC and the City. Although we had asked that the gas stoves be replaced with electric stoves, we have learned that the cost of rewiring the buildings to accommodate electric stoves is prohibitive TCHC is in process of purchasing a type of gas stove which automatically closes the gas valve. This type of stove is costlier but will not require the rewiring of the entire house.
For the last two years we have been anticipating the transition of the Winchester TCHC rooming houses to Margaret's House. The funding is in place, but the work scheduled to start in November 2017 has been delayed. Small variances in the design required that plans go back to the City planning deptartment for review and approval and then to the Committee of Adjustment. At times, it feels like this project is never going to get off the ground. In the meantime, the 35 women who need supportive and transitional housing can not be "homed. At this time almost all tenants from the rooming houses have been moved to better accommodation where they enjoy private kitchen and bathroom facilities. The Winchester properties are expected to be vacant at the end of April. At that time, forensic engineering inspections will be done to determine structural work needed.
TCHC buildings on Rose Avenue, Wellesley Street and Carlton Street have been undergoing some exterior restoration work, which has been progressing very slowly. Though there have been great improvements to the Parliament Street rooming houses, these continue to be troubled by drug dealing and other anti-social activities that make life for tenants unsafe.
Hugh Garner Construction
You may have noticed construction activity around the exterior of the Hugh Garner Co-op. The membrane of their underground garage is 35 years old and has exceeded its life expectancy. The footprint of the garage reaches almost all of the backyards in the building. While the work on the replacement of the membrane is happening, the co-op is taking the opportunity to revamp the yards and courtyard space. Pending unforeseen circumstances, the work is expected to be completed in November. The work will be moving to the east of the building in July.
Development in St. Jamestown
Greatwise Developments recently hosted its second community consultation at the Wellesley Community Centre. Greatwise is proposing to develop a 51 story highrise in the footprint of the current parking lot beside the Food Basics on Wellesley Street, a 10 story mid-rise rental in the centre of their property, as well as townhouse construction on Parliament facing the cemetery, on Wellesley and in two other locations. Councillor Troisi and staff from the City were in attendance at this recent meeting. At this point, the proposal has not been submitted to the City. You can find detailed information about the proposed project on the Greatwise website. There is a plan to open an information centre in the Food Basics parking lot where residents can ask questions about the plans.
Strawberry Social - Save the Date!
The WPRA will once again host a Strawberry Social on Saturday July 7, 2018 at the Winchester Square Park beside the small church building on Ontario Street at Aberdeen near Carlton. We will be serving free strawberry shortcake to over 200 neighbours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will be fresh Ontario strawberries, sponge cake and cream!
Volunteer with the WPRA!
Interested in helping out in your community? The WPRA has several subcommittees helping us with our events and projects. If you would like to work with us on a sub-committee, please contact us at winchesterparkRA@gmail.com.