This Page contains information on a variety of subjects for topics outside the specific Pages for Crime Prevention, Important Numbers , Local Stores and Services and Useful Links.

Index of topics:

Tax on Vacant Homes
Get to Know the Plan for Snow
Take Steps to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Toronto Hydro Maps
Green Bin Update
Changing Rules Around Your Yard
Green Bins for Dog Wast
Thinking of Going Skating?
Update – Gas Lawn Blowers
Garbage Bin Set Out Instructions
Do Not Feed the Wildlife
Dust from Residential Construction

Front yard/back yard landscaping requirements and driveways
Cutting Down of Trees
Do You Know Where Your Catch Basins Are?
Distracted Driving – what counts and penalties
Get Emergency Ready
Winter-wise tips
IT and Electronic Equipment Disposal
Lead in Drinking Water
If you are writing to a City official or organization
Toronto’s Tree Canopy


Tax on Vacant Homes

On December 15, 2021 City Council approved the framework for a tax on vacant homes in Toronto starting on Jan 1, 2022. The goal of the tax is to change the behaviours of vacant homeowners – encouraging them to sell or rent out the homes – thereby increasing housing supply. 

A home is considered vacant if unoccupied for more than six months during the previous calendar year. Exemptions would include death of the owner, homeowner is under medical care, or the home is undergoing renovation.

The initial tax rate will be one percent of the property’s current value assessment (CVA) for the year in which the home is vacant.  An estimate, based on assuming that 1% of Toronto’s housing stock is vacant, at a tax rate of 1% of the average Toronto home’s CVA, could equal $55 million to $66 million in tax revenue per year.  The revenues (after deduction of program operating expenditures) are to be allocated towards affordable housing initiatives. 

Get to Know the Plan for Snow

Did you receive in the mail the brochure from the City? It provides information on the City’s snow clearing plan – what they do, when they clear snow, how and when snow is cleared and links to including the PlowTO Map.

Take Steps to Prevent Frozen Pipes (City of Toronto)

The pipes in your home can freeze in cold weather. This can leave you with no water or cause pipes to burst, leading to expensive property damage. If your pipes are prone to freezing, you may wish to contact a plumber for advice.

Tips to help protect your pipes:

  • Wrap foam insulation around pipes near outside walls, crawl spaces, attics and garages.
  • Seal air leaks in your home and garage to stop cold air from getting in. Check around windows and doors, electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes.
  • Outdoor pipes are  the first to freeze, Unscrew hoses, turn off the outdoor water supply and allow the taps to drain.
  • Ensure you know where the main watere shut-off valve is in your home, and how it operates.

Toronto Hydro Maps

Toronto Hydro now offers a new, interactive Streetlight Map to easily locate and report streetlight issues online.  Use the map to find a streetlight, check its status and report an issue. Help keep our communities well-lit and safe by reporting a streetlight that is out online.
Their Construction Map has now been enhanced to include information about planned outages, in addition to construction projects.  As Toronto Hydro works to improve grid safety and reliability throughout the city, you can check the map to find details about work happening in your area.

Green Bin Update

An update from the City of Toronto on items now permitted in the green bin again (tissues, napkins, paper towels, feminine hygiene products).

Changing Rules Around Your Yard

Some new rules went to City Council which will impact you and your neighbours.

  • The City is going to delay the start of spring yard waste collections, starting in 2022, by eliminating March collections. The change is in support of the City’s policies on promoting bio-diversity and protecting pollinators. Native insect pollinators, including butterflies and bumblebees, use dead leaves and other ground cover for spring nesting. Encouraging residents to delay clearing these leaves until the beginning of April will provide some support to these populations which are in distress.
  • Starting in 2023, your yard waste will only be collected in kraft paper bags. Yard waste is currently accepted in rigid plastic contains that when heavily loaded, pose ergonomic and safety concerns for workers when they have to bend low to the ground.
  • Also changing will be what can be grown in a yard. The City controls height limits for grass, weeds or other types of vegetation. Residents wishing to create a natural garden, with other types of plants or native pollinators, have historically needed to go through a special application process. To promote bio-diversity, this process will now be removed. The City will amend the Grass and Weeds bylaw to specify that any kind of “turfgrass’, including any type of vegetation that when mowed creates a dense uniform turf, must be kept below 20 cm. Other types of plants will remain as prohibited species, including problematic plants like poison ivy, ragweed, dog strangling vine, etc.

There remain a number of properties where yards are not properly maintained. At the moment, the City will enforce the Grass and Weeds bylaw only on a complaints driven basis. If you are concerned about a property where grass and weeds exceed 20 cm, you can call 311 or send an email to [email protected].

Barking News!

There are two new initiatives to deal with dog waste.

Green bins in parks
Green Bins are being expanced to all Dog Off-Leash areas in Toronto parks and some additional locations.  Toronto residents, especially dog owners and walks are asked to put dog poop in Green Bins in any plastic bag or paper bag. Dog poop must not be placed loose in bins. Bags do not have to be compostable or biodegradable. All organic waste can go in the Green Bins. In parks that do not have a Green Bin, residents should dispose of dog poop and other organic waste in garbage bins or take it home and place it in their Green Bin. Organic waste should not be put in recycling (Blue Bins).  As of 2020, the City is accepting requests for green bins city wide.  The City is evaluating rrequests and will be addings bins at a small number of existing waste stations. New locations will be closely monitored to determine their continued feasibility.

Street Litter bins to capture dog waste
The City has initiated a pilot to test the collection of dog waste in street litter bins. The first phase of the pilot will last three months and includes 10 bins adjacent to parks and in area with a high concentration of dogs (none of the pilot sites are within our area). One compartment on each of the pilot bins has been converted to accept dog waste. These compartments are labelled with stickers and are only to be used to dispose of dog waste. If the first phase of the pilot is successful, the initiative will expand to 30 bins for an additional three months and then to 100 bins for another six months. 


Thinking of Going Skating?

So, you want to go skating at a city facility this winter. Here are a few things you need to know.

  • No indoor arena is open due to COVID.
  • Most city artificial outdoor ice rinks are open, weather dependant, including Otter Creek and Ledbury Park, the two closest to the SAHRA neighbourhood. A full list can be found on the website linked below, under “Participating Locations”.
  • Shinny is not available, only pleasure skating.
  • Of course, participants must maintain a physical distance of six feet (two metres) from people not from their household.
  • Pleasure skating is available in 45 minute time slots, starting on the hour.
  • Only 25 people are allowed on the ice at a time.
  • Fifteen of the 25 hourly spots are available by previous reservation; the remaining ten spots are for walk-ons. If you choose to just “show up” in hopes of a walk-on spot, arrive early!
  • Skaters are asked to arrive about ten minutes before their time slot starts, to check in with facility staff and get skates on.
  • Indoor change rooms are not open.  At Otter Creek (maybe elsewhere), outdoor benches are provided for getting your skates on and off.
  • The city recommends that you wear a mask while skating. 
  • If you wish to access indoor washroom facilities you must wear a mask. 
  • In order to use the online reservations system, you need a household “family number” and an individual “client number” for every member of your household who plans to skate.  These numbers are available from Toronto Recreation. If you already have these, even from 30 years ago (!), you are all set to register. If not, or if you do not remember these numbers, you must call 416-396-7378, Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.

These details and much more are available on the Toronto Recreation Reservations website. It is important to closely follow the “Step-by-Step Guide to Reserving Online” as you navigate the reservation system. Keep in mind that as COVID case counts evolve, so too might the process to go skating.



BetterHomesTO is a City of Toronto program that features a one-stop website with information on how you can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient – and save money on your energy bills.

BetterHomesTO provides information on key energy efficiency upgrades as well as guidance on planning a renovation with a focus on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Visit the BetterHomesTO website to access information on available supporting programs and rebates, including the City’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), Enbridge’s Home Winterproofing
Program and the Home Efficiency Rebate Program.

The BetterHomesTO team is also available to help you access home energy evaluations and to give presentations to community groups on climate-friendly home renovations.

Learn more about BetterHomesTO at

Update – Gas Lawn Blowers

The Infrastructure and Environment Committee adopted the following motion on September 17, 2020: 

“City Council request the City Manager, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, to report back in the first quarter of 2021 on the environmental and associated health impacts of gasoline-powered two-stroke engine leaf blowers and other similarly operated garden equipment, including the feasibility of a year-round ban or a ban from May to September.”

SAHRA submitted a letter City Council IE15.8 Request to Study the Environmental Impact of Two-Stroke Engine Garden Equipment asking City Council to Adopt the motion so that the Study will be commissioned.  A number of our Members also submitted letters.

It was presented at the September 30th meeting of City Council and approved along with an additional Motion by Councillor Josh Matlow, specifying that the noise impact also be studied. 

“That City Council request the City Manager, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, to report in the first quarter of 2021 on the impact of noise generated from gas-powered and electric leaf blowers and other similar garden equipment, including the feasibility of a year-round ban or a ban from May to September.”


Garbage Bin Set Out Instructions

Are you putting your garbage bins out correctly?  Information from the City of Toronto states that bins should be placed closed to the curb, not on your lawn.


Do Not Feed the Wildlife

There has been an increase in wildlife sightings in our communities. Toronto’s Animal Services states that residents should not feed wild animals. Feeding wildlife can increase the population of wild animals in a community and cause the animal to lose its natural fear of people. If you see injured, sick or very young wildlife, call 311.

An assortment of articles on the issue for your review:


Dust from Residential Construction

A reminder of the By-law 1088 that was implemented in 2018 to control dust from residential construction.  This dust is a health hazard.  The homeowner/ company must use one or a combination of dust control measures:

  • Wetting the construction material
  • Using a wet saw
  • Using dustless saw technology
  • Tarping or otherwise containing the source of dusty
  • Installing wind fencing or a fence filer, or
  • Using a vacuum attachment when cutting

If dust control measures are not followed,  a 311 service request can be submitted asking for by-law enforcement.  


Front yard/back yard landscaping requirements and driveways

Planning on some driveway/front yard landscaping work this year?  Here is info about Toronto’s permit policies/procedures for driveways

The City of Toronto has harmonized the requirements for the widths of driveways and the amount of landscaping in the front yards of small residential buildings in the City.  See ‘Driveway Widening Soft Landscaping’ for explanations of the Landscaping and Soft Landscaping definitions as well as the General Rules for driveways and landscaping.


Cutting Down of Trees

SAHRA has been advised by Forestry that unless there is a witness and proof to the actual cutting down of a tree that they cannot pursue the issue.  Fines under the tree by-laws can only be applied by a judge if charges are pursued and the individual is found guilty of an offence.  A high level of evidence is required in order to have a strong case with a high likelihood of conviction.  So, if you see a tree being cut down for which a permit has not been obtained, please call 311 and take pictures to forward to [email protected].


Do You Know Where Your Catch Basins Are?

A catch basin, also called a storm drain, is built along the curb in the gutter on the edge of the road, allowing water runoff.  It is part of the sewer system.  The catch basin does just what its name implies:  it catches waste and stops it from entering drainpipes.  It has a grate at street level catching debris before the water enters the catch basin.  Clogged catch basins may cause water to pool on streets.  It is imperative that catch basins be occasionally cleaned to maintain their ability to ensnare residue and subsequently their ability to prevent flooding.  In the fall, the grates are often covered by loose leafs. In the winter, it is very important that the catch basins be ‘opened up’ from snow accumulations to allow proper draining of the street.

Each block in our area will have one or more catch basins, usually positioned opposite each other on each side of the street.  The residents in a block need to take on responsibility to ensure that their catch basins are clear of debris and ice so that they can properly deal with water flows to prevent flooding.

Now is the time of year to look at where the catch basins are positioned on your block.  Do they need cleaning of fall debris?  Involve your block neighbours in catch basin monitoring/cleaning/snow removal.

You are doing a great thing for your block/neighbours when you act as a catch basin guardian.

You can find your catch basins, even if covered with leaves, snow or ice using Google Street View.

  • Go to
  • Enter your address in the search engine.
  • Drag the yellow male icon to the street on the map.
  • Look for the square grates on the road in the image.

Distracted Driving – what counts and penalties

(Notes from a Community Police Liaison Committee meeting)

  • While you are driving, including when you are stopped in traffic or at a red light, it is illegal to:
    • Use a phone or other hand-held wireless communication device to text or dial – you can only touch a device to call 911 in an emergency
    • Use a hand-held electronic entertainment device, such as a tablet or portable gaming console
    • View display screens unrelated to driving, such as watching a video
    • Program a GPS device, except by voice commands

Penalties for distracted driving:

  • First conviction:
    • A fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • A fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • Three demerit points
    • 3-day suspension
  • Second conviction
    • A fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • A fine of up to $2,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • Six demerit points
    • 7-day suspension
  • Third and any further conviction(s)
    • A fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • A fine of up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • Six demerit points
    • 30-day suspension


Preventing Water Pipes from Freezing During Extremely Cold Weather

(Compliments of Councillor Josh Matlow’s Feb 1 2019 Update)

With extreme cold temperatures forecast over the coming few weeks, the City of Toronto is reminding residents how to prevent drinking water pipes in their home from freezing. There are also steps that residents can take if they have no water and suspect their pipes are already frozen. Frozen water pipes can lead to significant property damage should they burst. We urge residents to follow these tips, especially if the pipes inside the home are prone to freezing.

Tips to avoid frozen water pipes in the home:

  • Consider leaving a tap open enough for a pencil-thin stream of flowing water, so there is some movement of water in pipes that might be vulnerable to freezing. Leave a pencil-thin stream flowing 24 hours a day until daytime and nighttime temperatures have returned to normal seasonal averages.
  • Open kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around plumbing.
  • Outdoor faucets are the first to freeze. Unscrew any hoses, turn off the outdoor water supply and let those taps drain.
  • Insulate pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls and in crawl spaces, attic and garage.
  • If your pipes are prone to freezing, consider contacting a plumber for advice on how best to protect your home.

Steps to thaw frozen pipes:

  • Turn on a tap in the basement, preferably the cold water faucet in the laundry room.
  • Use a blow dryer to warm the suspected frozen pipe for one to two hours. Check the blow dryer regularly to ensure it does not overheat.
  • Place a warm towel or rag around the suspected frozen pipe.
  • Depending on the outside temperature and the extent of freezing within the pipe, the thawing process could take between one and six hours.

Learn more about frozen pipes by visiting this link. If the steps above do not resolve the issue, call 311 or submit a service request online here and someone from the City will investigate.


Get Emergency Ready

With the recent floods and ice storms, we need to think about Emergency Planning for the future….what we should do in advance, what we should do at the time and what we should not do. Being emergency ready means that you have a plan so that you and your family know what to do in an emergency.  You may need to look after your own needs and those of your family for up to 72 hours after an emergency occurs.

You should have an emergency kit – at home, work and in your vehicle – with food, water and supplies to last at least 72 hours. The City of Toronto Office of Emergency Management has prepared a pamphlet  ‘Get Emergency Ready’  with helpful information, instructions, tips, checklists and forms. You can download this pamphlet from:

Winter-wise tips

The pipes in your home can freeze in cold weather. This can leave you with no water or cause pipes to burst, leading to expensive property damage. If your pipes are prone to freezing, you may wish to contact a plumber for advice. Here are some other tips to help protect your home:

  • Wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes most susceptible to freezing temperatures (e.g. near outside walls, crawl spaces, attic, garage).
  • Seal air leaks in your home and garage to stop cold air from getting in. Check around windows and doors, electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes.
  • Outdoor pipes are the first to freeze. Unscrew hoses, turn off the outdoor water supply and allow the taps to drain.
  • Ensure you know where the main water shut-off valve is in your home and how it operates.

Other important tips:

  • Clear eavestroughs and downspouts of debris.
  • Seal window wells and fix cracks in basement walls that could cause leaks.
  • Keep rain and snow away from the foundation walls.
  • If it is safe to do so, clear roadside leaves and other debris from catch basins (the square grates on the road) to help water enter the storm sewer.
  • Clear snow from around fire hydrants to keep them visible and accessible to Fire Services and Toronto Water staff

Compliments of Toronto Water

 IT and Electronic Equipment Disposal

The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) is a not for profit organization dedicated to reducing electronic waste through the reuse and recycling of unwanted electronic/IT equipment. They collect all kinds of equipment (computers, laptops, printers, telephones, etc) to refurbish and donate to various charities and non-profit organizations.  They will:

  • Pick up all of your old IT & electronic equipment you don`t need any more at your site
  • Remove all of your data from computers according to NAID standards (free hard-drive wiping services plus data removal certificate)
  • Refurbish your donated items and donate them to local charities in need on your behalf
  • Recycle locally all of the equipment that cannot be reused

Contact information: 416-477-0664 Ext. 1025;

The November page in the 2018 City of Toronto Waste Pickup Calendar states that electronic waste can be put out every Garbage day.  It should be placed 0.5 metres from the garbage bin in plain view.  Smaller items should be in a clear plastic bag or an open cardboard box.

For information:

 Lead in Drinking Water

There was a story published by the Toronto Star regarding lead in drinking water. The Toronto Water staff say that lead does not exist in Toronto’s source water, Lake Ontario or in the City’s drinking water distribution system. Rather, lead is a concern for homes built before the mid-1950s when residential water service pipes were commonly made of lead. As these pipes corrode or break down, lead can enter drinking water.

If you live in a home built before the mid-1950s, the City offers free lead testing. You can call 311 to pre-register for a water testing kit. For more information, please visit

If you are writing to a City official or organization…

If you are writing your Councillor or other members of the City government about an issue be aware that the correspondence is considered to be a ‘private discussion’ between a member of the public and the City official.  It will not be considered as ‘on public record’ unless you submit a copy to the Secretariat of the appropriate Committee/Council.  Many times it is important that all emails/letters be part of the public record so that all members of the City government are aware of concerns on a particular issue.

For example, if you send an email to your Councillor about an issue going forward to the North York Community Council (i.e. a re-zoning, fence, speed limit, encroachment requests) to be on public record it also has to be sent to the Secretariat for the North York Community Council.

Listed below are five key Councils/Committee along with Secretariat information:

City Council:
Secretariat Contact: Marilyn Toft
12th floor, West Tower, City Hall,  100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
email: [email protected]     phone: 416-392-7032  fax: 416-392-2980

North York Community Council
Secretariat Contact: Francine Adamo
North York Civic Centre  Main floor, 5100 Yonge St.,  Toronto, ON M2N 5V7
email: [email protected]     phone: 416-395-0480  fax: 416-395-7337

General Government and Licensing Committee
Secretariat Contact: Julie Lavertu
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
email: [email protected]     phone: 416-397-4592

Planning and Housing Committee
Secretariat Contact: Nancy Martins
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
email: [email protected]     phone: 416-397-4579

Executive Committee
Secretariat Contact: Julie Amoroso
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall  100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
email: [email protected]     phone: 416-392-4666  fax: 416-392-1879

Infrastructure and Environment Committee
Secretariat Contact: Nancy Martins
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
email: [email protected]     phone: 416-397-4579

Toronto’s Tree Canopy

Tree For Me: Offering free, native trees to Toronto Residents
It is estimated that Toronto’s current tree coverage sits somewhere between 26% and 28%. A study conducted by the USDA suggests that a sustainable, healthy urban forest for Toronto would require us to increase our canopy coverage to 40%.  Tree For Me working to increase plantings on private land where 60% of the current and potential canopy rests by matching residents with a free native tree.

How it works:

  • Residents can register online at (link is provided below).
  • They are asked a few questions about their property and are matched with a tree that is suitable for their growing conditions.
  • Participants choose their nearest community Tree For Me tree pick-up event. Or, if they are unable to plant a tree due to limited physical mobility, they can apply for the free TreeMobile service.
  • At the tree pick-up events, tree recipients take part in a short but mandatory planting and care workshop prior to receiving their tree.
  • To measure success, participants are asked to map their trees with CityTrees
  • TPTF assists residents with tree planting and tree care by providing electronic resources.

To learn more visit: or Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation
For the USDA report, please visit “Every Tree Counts: A Portrait of Toronto’s Urban Forest”