Author

Kaeleigh Phillips

Browsing

Ontario Municipal Board may be shutting its doors

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) may be shutting its doors to make way for the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which would replace one of the oldest tribunals in the country.

On Tuesday, Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro announced legislation that would replace the OMB with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. The OMB has been under fire for years as its practices are lengthy and costly. One of the main criticisms of the tribunal are the ‘de novo’ hearings, appeals that are considered ‘new’ issues and that are treated as though no previous decision had been made, despite a possible rejection by the municipality. This is incredibly frustrating to urban planners who are trying to implement intensification targets and specific planning in certain neighbourhoods, only to be thwarted by developers who appeal to the OMB.

The OMP is an independent adjudicative tribunal that conducts hearings and makes planning decisions on zoning bylaws, development proposals, subdivision plans, and ward boundaries. It has been around since 1906, and was originally known as the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board. In 2015 to 2016, 1460 matters were brought before the OMB across the province. The OMB process also makes it difficult for residents and resident groups to represent themselves against wealthy developers with large legal teams.

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal would instead give greater weight to local communities to be in charge of their planning and development plans. The Tribunal would only decide whether or not the municipalities are following their official land use plans and would return the concern to the municipality if developers failed to follow the land use plan. If the municipality failed twice to adequately follow their land use plan, then the Tribunal would hold a hearing and make the final decision instead. This process would place far less power in the hands of a powerful housing board such as the OMB. The province would also create a public interest centre that would help residents and resident groups for free to give them a better chance at success against developers.

There are concerns that removing the OMB has a third party officiate between developers and the municipality will give unprecedented power to political players in local communities. Without a separate tribunal to make planning decisions, the urban landscape will be in the hands of city officials and this will create an entirely new set of issues. On the other hand, the OMB is allowing developers to obtain approval through an appeal and build up in areas that are bereft of adequate resources, such as transit and grocery stores to support quick growth in popular areas such as Yonge and Eglinton.

It is a bold move for the province to replace one of the oldest institutions in Ontario with a newer and more updated Local Planning Appeal system. The OMB has been criticized for several years and bringing new legislation to the table to be discussed is a progressive move for development and urban planning in local communities. If the new Tribunal passes, it will be interesting to see if the new system is more efficient and responds to public interests in a new and fresh way, or if it simply a newer and shinier version of the OMB.

5 natural remedies for allergies

Allergy season is on its way, which means that a large part of the population will be consumed by sneezing and red eyes. Instead of reaching for the over-the-counter medications, why not try a more organic solution and opt for a natural remedy? There are several simple methods to try that may help lower the side effects of those pesky allergies, with the added benefit of being (often) less expensive than regular medications.

Neti Pot

A neti pot is a saline solution that you flush through one nostril and it comes out of the other. It will empty the sinuses of unwanted allergens and irritations and really helps to clear the system. It can be intimidating to try a neti pot the first time, but it feels fantastic once you are used to it. Sinuses contribute strongly to allergies and taking care to flush your sinuses will help any irritations that occur in allergy season.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been shown to help people with allergies. Specifically, acupuncture can help hay fever and curb inflammatory immune-system substances that are related to allergic reactions. It is a holistic alternative to allergy medication, and if you have never tried acupuncture, it doesn’t hurt at all.

Nettle Leaf

Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine and helps block the body’s ability to produce histamine. It can be used in a tea or in a pill and helps to soothe any allergy related symptoms. Use it in conjunction with raspberry leaf or peppermint tea for a delicious concoction. Allergy teas are soothing and nettle leaf will help suppress any painful symptoms.

Probiotics

Probiotics are integral to good health and provide important bacteria in the stomach to boost the immune system. Allergies are often the result of an imbalanced immune system and regulating the gut with essential bacteria can help alleviate allergy symptoms. Kombucha has probiotics and is a yummy way of consuming probiotics. It also comes in a pill form.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that can be used in curries, soups, stir-frys, and tofu dishes. The spice contains curcumin and is a decongestant. It helps reduce allergy symptoms and clears the system when it is blocked. Tumeric is a wonderful addition to many dishes and adds essential health benefits to the diet. One teaspoon can also be taken with water every morning to clear the system and is common practice for health-focused individuals.

Natural remedies for allergies will leave you feeling better and more clear-headed than medications. If you try each of these methods to see which works for you, one of them will surely help alleviate the irritating symptoms of having all-consuming allergies in springtime.

Which natural remedy for allergies is your favourite? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Co-operative housing may be the way of the future in Toronto

Have you ever dreamed of buying a house, but didn’t have enough money?

It turns out with ‘C-Harmony: Creating Co-operative Connections’, it may be possible to still buy a home by joining with other prospective buyers. The concept comes from owner, Lesli Gaynor, who launched GoCo., an enterprise that helps facilitate co-ownership and runs the C-Harmony events. The first pilot event held last week brought together prospective buyers to meet in a speed-dating styled experience to see if they are compatible to purchase real estate together.

Gaynor came up with the idea when she co-purchased a home with a friend several years ago and shares her experience with others looking to do the same. GoCo facilitates events and support services to help with financing, the legalities of co-ownership, risk mitigation, finding partners and property, and establishing an agreement. Though the idea of co-owning seems unorthodox, the more you look into GoCo, and the steps to take to make it happen, it becomes a sensible way to buy in an expensive city such as Toronto.

Begin by calculating what your current rental payments are and average that amount to equal what you would pay in mortgage and expenses. This lays the groundwork for how much you can afford and what you could provide financially in a co-operative ownership. There are other issues to consider once you decide to proceed with co-owning such as discovering what your living needs are. Do you want two bedrooms? A backyard space? How many bathrooms? Once all this criteria is laid out, the idea is to find an owning partner who has the same needs, equitable finance and a compatible personality. Then you can set out on finding a property together.

Other key considerations include deciding how the property will be divided. There are many different ways according to GoCo. on how to proceed with co-sharing including living in the home together, or one party living in the house while the other invests money into it. Both parties would need to decide what works best for them and divide financial responsibilities and bills in advance to avoid any issues.

Though co-owning a home is a difficult decision to make, it is a progressive concept for community building in an expensive real estate market such as Toronto. GoCo. is giving a forum for people to join together and compete in the housing market, which will allow more families and individuals access to good homes. It will be interesting to see how this new speed-dating concept of co-owning proceeds in Toronto and if it grows in popularity.

Toronto to end commercial tax rebate, adopt rent control

Next week’s executive committee meeting is gearing up to discuss sweeping changes to housing in Toronto.

Mayor John Tory recently proposed phasing out the vacant commercial and industrial tax rebate program that gives businesses that are sitting empty a tax rebate. The tax rebate program, which has been in place since 2001 offers unoccupied commercial properties a 30 per cent tax rebate and industrial properties get 35 per cent. The program requires owners to try and rent the space, but does not provide a time limit on how long a business owner can receive the rebate. A city report revealed the program has given more than $367 million in subsidies to property owners, much-needed revenue that could be better spent elsewhere.

The proposal that will be discussed at next week’s meeting recommends the city lower the tax incentive to 15 per cent, beginning on July 1, 2017 to June 20, 2018, and then permanently shut down the rebate program on July 1, 2018. The report also recommended the rebate expenditures be reinvested in job growth programs and the poverty reduction strategy. This decision has been widely embraced by the city because poverty reduction is in dire need of funds in Toronto, and promoting businesses to stay empty is bad business after all. The rebate program has been criticized in the past because it allowed property owners to sit on their vacant stores while the value of the location increased. This has left several stores empty and little available business real estate in Toronto.

The executive committee also plans to focus on rental affordability in Toronto. Recently the province has put forward a bill on rental control, and has indicated that municipalities will be able to implement it at will. City council is moving forward with this initiative and will discuss how to implement rental control with a specific provision to have the rent control tied to the unit and not the tenant. There will also be an update on inclusionary zoning and laneway suites in Toronto.

The city is taking sweeping steps to respond to the high-pressure housing crisis in Toronto. By removing the tax rebate to empty businesses, it incentivizes business owners to fill their storefronts and reallocates much-needed funds to poverty reduction. Moving forward with rent control, inclusionary zoning and changing the regulations around laneway housing are all necessary to make Toronto a more liveable city. The outcome of the meeting will be interesting indeed, and will set up for a sure-to-be exciting May City Council.

Canada needs to invest in green bonds to support infrastructure goals

With the rising costs of climate change and environmental degradation, governments are vying for solutions by investing in green infrastructure.

One of the most effective ways to invest in these types of infrastructure and energy projects is through green bonds — and it’s high time Canada gets the ball rolling. Green bonds are fixed-income securities that are created to fund projects that have environmental and climate benefits.When a project needs to be funded, it is possible to reach out to investors or creditors to support a project through bonds as opposed to obtaining a loan from the bank. Typically, federal governments will issue green bonds from public entities and will also provide targeted tax incentives. The involvement of the government in green bonds lowers risk and improves return  and makes the investment more desirable. This pushes large stock-holders to invest in green projects, and helps further build a green economy.

Canada has seen a total of $4.5 billion in total green bonds issued so far, with Ontario leading in investments in 2014 and 2017 consecutively. The Quebec government has also issued a bond, but the federal government has yet to release green bonds according to a report by RBC Capital Markets. The federal government and private market issuers have the capacity to support $56.3 billion worth of green bonds for green infrastructure in public transit, renewable energy, and electric vehicles.  The support of the federal government is needed to make green bonds competitive in Canada.

Across the world, green bonds are growing as a viable way to build green infrastructure. In London, England, the Climate Bonds Initiative contributes $694 billion that are being used to support low-carbon infrastructure. China has invested $36 billion in green bonds. This type of investment makes it easier to gain government approval on green projects rather than regular development initiatives. Even in India, developers are turning to the rising international trend in green bonds to support building projects as their weakened banks shy away from the non-green alternatives.

Canada has the opportunity to become a global leader by moving away from a purely resource-driven economy. Alongside the $180 billion over 12 years the federal government has committed to spend on infrastructure, green bonds could help support that lofty goal. If the federal government invested heavily in green bonds for environmental infrastructure projects, it could also give the currently depressed resource economies in Western Canada a much needed push towards a green economy.

It shouldn’t only be the responsibility of the provinces to invest in green bonds. The green economy is the way of the future, and green bonds are yet another way to make that a reality. It is time for Canada to take a stand on the international stage and become an environmental leader worldwide.

How to dress with confidence?!

Do you ever have the desire to put on a pair of classy heels, a great pantsuit and strut down the street feeling great?

How often do you actually do it?

Probably not as much as you would like. It’s hard to dress confidently — people tend to go for either one of two options. The first is to dress for comfort. If your job allows it, jeans and a t-shirt with running shoes may be your style. The second option is to dress for others. Does your boss expect you to wear a skirt or a white blouse?

But, confidence dressing is all about making yourself feel good. Here are some tips for rocking that special look:

  1. A Great Pair of Heels

Many women stray from heels because they can be uncomfortable. That is why when purchasing your new set of pumps, be sure to test them out thoroughly before purchasing. Jump up and down, do a few dance moves, and run on the spot to make sure they will be comfortable. If not, abandon them. You cannot strut if you aren’t at ease. There is also nothing wrong with a short heel. It will still make the satisfying clunk sound women love, but may reduce the number of injuries.

2. Embrace your colour palette

Deciding whether cooler or warmer tones are the best choice for your daily outfit will help set the mood for wherever you are headed. Cooler tones are perfect for more low-key meditative events, such as a blue or silver blouse attending a meeting where you want everything to go smoothly. Alternatively, if you want to grab attention or heat up a room, such as when you are speaking at a presentation, a bold red top is the way to go. Also, pay attention to colours that are fit for your skin tone and hair colour. Blondes really pop in blues and reds, brunettes in purples and burgundies, and reds in greens and browns.

3. Find your flair

Your own unique style is imperative to feeling confident because no matter what, it is important to embrace “you”. Even with a typical business outfit, you should make sure to have a little piece of flair, a colourful pin or bedazzled earrings. It will make you stand out and increases confidence because it will make your wardrobe more personal, rather than looking like one of many.

4. Only wear a style that feels comfortable

If you feel like your pants are too tight, or your top is too low-cut, it will be difficult to feel fully comfortable and proud of how you look. Make sure to feel relaxed in your clothes. Going with free-flowing slacks rather than skin-tight jeans will almost always do the trick. Whether you prefer to dress business casual, sporty, in high-couture, or in vintage styled finesse, make sure you can stretch and break a few dance moves. Your confidence will increase tenfold as a result.

5. Blazers on hand when in doubt

Have a blazer on hand when you want to feel empowered and put together. A blazer is a quick way to make any outfit look smart and sexy at the same time. I recommend having a black and white one as it will go with any outfit and will absolutely give you the confidence boost when you want to look like a kick-ass and powerful woman.

 

Confidence comes in many forms, but dressing to impress yourself is a way to be proud of you who you are and show the world. There is no better feeling than strutting down the sidewalk in a favourite pair of shoes and a put-together outfit. It makes you feel beautiful and strong — and what better way to embrace your inner-self while demonstrating your outer beauty.

What confidence building fashion tips do you use? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below!

RECIPE: warm Spring salad

Spring is on its way (supposedly) and nothing says it’s time to spend time in the outdoors like a bowl of fresh greens. Unfortunately, the rainy weather is keeping everyone from eating cold foods and during these weird rain/snow storms, sometimes it’s necessary to have a delicious warm meal instead of a chill-inducing salad. Luckily, there is a solution: warm salads! This mouth-watering mealtime option brings together fresh vegetables and fruits with a heart-warming grain option. It is the perfect thing to eat as the seasons change. Feel free to play around with this recipe and add your own preferences.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup diced strawberries (optional)
  • 3/4 cup fresh peas
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt & lots of pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa (1/2:1 ratio with boiling water) and allow to cool slightly while prepping the rest of the salad.
  2. Combine strawberries, peas, spinach, and parsley in a bowl and toss.
  3. Mix olive oil, garlic cloves, lemon juice, maple syrup, sea salt and pepper in a separate bowl to make the dressing. Taste and spice until satisfied.
  4. Add to the plant mix to the warm quinoa and add dressing.
  5. Enjoy while warm!

A warm salad will make you feel cozy while at the same time completely refreshed. It is easy to make and will fulfill your nutrient requirements, especially with a protein packed quinoa. Enjoy while the weather is rainy and cold!

Pairs wonderfully with a light beer or glass of white wine!

How to wake up in the morning if you are a night owl

Do you absolutely dread mornings and wish they didn’t exist?

DO NOT be alarmed! You are not alone! Mornings are the absolute worst, especially if you are a dedicated night owl. Unfortunately though, if you want to function in the real world, then you must learn to tolerate, and one day even enjoy mornings.

The best way to do this rather than wake up and throw pillows at your alarm clock, and show up to work looking like you’ve been at the rodeo is to develop a morning routine. Sound like a snooze? It is indeed the complete opposite, and will help you to wake up instead of rush out of the house in a mad frenzy every morning.

The absolute first thing you must do when you wake up is drink a tall glass of cold water with lemon if possible. It will immediately revive your dehydrated, tired body and give you that first kick to waking up. Once this task is complete, stretch from head to toe. And when I say that, I don’t mean simply raise your arms above your head. I’m talking a full-on cat stretch that engages every part of your spine.

Now you are ready to put your feet to the ground. Do it quickly before you lose motivation and fall asleep again. Once your feet are out of the bed, the day has started. Celebrate! Rejoice! You have achieved the first hurdle of your day. Next up, yoga.

Try doing 10 minutes of yoga, beginning with morning sun salutations. It gets the blood moving in your body and will help work out any kinks that developed through the REM cycle. If you prefer to self-lead, do so and if you need support, there are many 10 minute yoga videos to try out. Finding your preferred method of getting your body moving in the morning is essential, and if yoga doesn’t do it for you, try push-ups, Pilates, or jogging on the spot! Whatever works, simply remember to get your body moving.

After working up a (little) sweat, it is time for the shower. There is nothing better than feeling warm water on your skin and a meditation to go along with cleaning off the soap suds will surely set your day on track. When you are in the shower, close your eyes and visualize the warm water washing away all of your stress and anxieties. Imagine all of these fears washing down the drain and open your eyes renewed and refreshed physically and mentally. Listening to music in the shower is also a pleasant add-on.

Another essential, though it will come as no surprise since everyone is told to do this from age three onwards, is breakfast! Even if breakfast isn’t “your thing”, try to have at least something small and healthy to eat in the morning. If you are like me, and aren’t much of a morning muncher, try a smoothie instead. Make sure it is full of delicious and healthy ingredients including flax seed, berries (full of antioxidants), and protein powder for an extra kick. At this point, remember to take your daily vitamins too to keep your body vital and strong.

If you make this routine a regular thing and incorporate rehydration, exercise, a shower, meditation, and healthy eating into your morning, you will find that waking up becomes a pleasant experience rather than a complete and total drag. It is inevitable that people must wake up in the morning whether for work or school — so why not make it a happy part of the day?

What are parts of your morning routine? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Simple Mother’s Day ideas in Toronto 2017

Use this Mother’s Day to celebrate with your loved ones, whether it be your own mom, your children, or other friends and family. It doesn’t have to be a big affair — the most important thing is to make time for that special person in your life, that person that gave you hope and encouragement. If you happen to live in Toronto, there is a plethora of events you can choose from if you are looking for something to do that’s a bit outside the box. Whether your mother loves art or nature, history or salsa dancing, there is a little something for everyone to enjoy. Here are a few of our favourites at Women’s Post!

Georgia O’Keefe at the AGO:

What better way to celebrate the power of motherhood and women then to look at the stunning art of Georgia O’Keefe? She is a phenomenal artist and the AGO is hosting their largest ever exhibition with over 80 works on display. There is also a floral Georgia O’Keefe cocktail that will be offered at the Mother’s Day brunch at the FRANK restaurant on May 13th and 14th. (327 Dundas St. W.) The brunch itself is pretty expensive (and reservations only), but if you are just looking for an after-exhibit beverage and a cozy atmosphere, you should absolutely check it out.

Spadina Museum:

The historic Spadina Museum is beautiful and elegant, perfect for a classy mom date out on the town. The museum is putting on a special exhibit called “The Language of Flowers”. A portion of the event includes designing a floral ‘talking’ bouquet where each flower has a message hidden inside. This event requires registration, but is a simple way to enjoy the prettier things in life while learning about the history of Toronto. (285 Spadina Rd.)

Check out the cherry blossoms:

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Trinity Bellwoods and High Park, and everyone is flocking to see how beautiful they are. It is also the perfect location for family photos. The cherry blossoms only come out for a limited time and they are breathtaking to witness in full bloom. If you go to Trinity Bellwoods, there are a host of delicious brunch spots. Maybe check out Trinity Bellwoods Brews if your mother fancies a pint on her special day. There is also delicious vegan ice cream at Olenka’s, which never disappoints.

Mother’s Day Chocolate Tour: 

Almost every mom I know loves chocolate — it is a fact. Luckily, there is a chocolate tour that will lead you and your mother through a sweet and delectable experience. There is a chocolate demonstration and many samples will be provided on route. It’s also one of the more reasonably priced chocolate-themed events this May. This tour promises to be a delight, just make sure you don’t eat too much sugar! (443 King St. W.)

Mother’s Day Roncesvalles Food Tour:  

Keeping in the food theme, maybe try something a bit less sugar-laden. This Rocensvalle tour pairs delicious foods and neighbourhood history all into one fantastic afternoon. Roncesvalles is a hip and trendy part of Toronto, full of delectable eateries. At $30 a person, it’s a great opportunity to do something different with your mom, while still enjoying the food nooks in the area.

 

Happy Mother’s Day from Women’s Post!

Rail deck park is still on the table, but how to fund it?

Rail Deck Park is still on the table for Toronto, as the city debates whether the one billion dollar price tag on the 21-acre park is plausible.

Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat moderated an urban planning symposium, held by the Urban Land Institute Toronto (ULI) Tuesday, that discussed the implementation strategy for the controversial park project. In the fall of 2016, the city announced they would prepare a strategy to build a park between Bathurst St. to Blue Jays Way. The Rail Deck would use airspace above the railyard in downtown Toronto and close up a gap that divides the downtown area and makes it less walkable.

The park is controversial because it is incredibly expensive to build, estimated at one billion dollars as a starting point. That price tag doesn’t include the cost of purchasing the air rights over the rail deck, which is a necessity. A developer has already signed an agreement for air rights over the space and isn’t willing to go down without a fight. The city will have to work hard to obtain the space to create a park in downtown Toronto. It is a worthwhile venture though. It would be one of the city’s last chances to create a large green space downtown as open space becomes increasingly rare.

According to a November Forum Research Poll of Toronto residents, 51 per cent of respondents supported the proposed park and 38 per cent opposed it. Not surprisingly, 46 per cent of respondents felt that the space should not be paid for with public dollars. Though there are several issues remaining on how to budget the rail deck park, Keesmaat has confirmed there is already $350 million invested from developers that is earmarked for public space.

The Rail Deck Park is an ambitious, but worthwhile project. Green space in the downtown area promotes healthy tourism and is relatively simple to upkeep. It also provides Torontonians with more outdoor space, and a carbon sink in the middle of an area full of pollution. Hopefully, the rail deck park can become Mayor Tory’s legacy, and it will be enjoyed for generations to come. Until then, it will be interesting see if the funding can be found.