Toronto City Council Highlights: July 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 30

Council Highlights is an informal summary of some of the decisions Toronto City Council made at its recent business meetings. The City Clerk’s formal documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Response to proposed reduction of Council’s size   
Council voted to convey its opposition to the Ontario government’s stated intention to legislate a reduction in the size of Toronto City Council and supported various motions, including to ask the province to conduct a binding referendum on the number and boundaries of Toronto’s wards before proceeding with any such legislation. It was decided that if the provincial government does not conduct the referendum, Council will seek permission for the City to include a question about wards and councillors on Toronto’s 2018 election ballot. The City Solicitor was asked to prepare an options report and be ready provide advice to Council at a special meeting to be held August 20.

Actions addressing gun violence   
Council adopted a report with recommendations to address Toronto’s problem with gun violence, specifying actions by the City and requesting other orders of government to help address the problem of gun violence in Toronto. The report’s recommendations include expanding current City and Toronto Police Service initiatives for youth and undertaking other initiatives such as policing technology known as ShotSpotter. Increased funding for several specified programs received Council’s authorization.

Seizure of illegal guns   
A motion that Council adopted will result in a request for the Toronto Police Services Board, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Province of Ontario each to adopt and implement a seize-and-destroy procedure for disposing of illegal guns and ammunition seized and confiscated by law-enforcement agencies.

Safety inspections – City buildings   
Council approved a series of recommendations to ensure that City buildings are in compliance with fire code regulations and to ensure that inspections are carried out by qualified, reputable contractors. The action follows an investigation by the City’s Auditor General.

Construction of affordable housing     
Council approved City funding and financial incentives for 893 affordable rental homes across the city to support the provision of affordable housing through the Open Door Program. An additional 422 mid-range rental homes were approved through the provincial Development Charges Rebate Program. Council also agreed to review the definition of “affordability” under the Official Plan.

Construction staging   
Council adopted a motion calling for the City to consult with the development industry on eliminating its practice of occupying the public right-of-way for construction purposes. In addition, staff were asked to report on possibly requiring developers to provide construction plans with their rezoning applications to demonstrate they can build what they are proposing without negatively affecting the community. Use of traffic lanes to stage construction causes traffic bottlenecks and can create unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Disturbing images in public places   
Council agreed to ask staff to review and enforce current City bylaws designed to protect members of the public from harm, including provisions for keeping streets and sidewalks unobstructed. The motion that Council adopted came in response to public complaints about a group displaying large posters with “extremely graphic, disturbing” images that children and other captive audiences are confronted with when using the sidewalks where the posters are displayed.

Dust from residential construction     
Council supported establishing a bylaw aimed at minimizing dust from the construction of residential properties, with fines for non-compliance. The bylaw identifies various procedures and technologies that can be used to minimize dust. Residential properties for the purpose of this bylaw do not include multi-residential buildings.

Midtown in Focus report  
Council adopted the final Midtown in Focus report as a comprehensive new planning framework for the Yonge-Eglinton area in Midtown Toronto, with related amendments to the Official Plan and a new Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan. Midtown in Focus provides policy direction for ensuring that the area develops as a complete, diverse community. Council also endorsed a related plan for parks/public realm and a strategy for community services/facilities.

Changes to development incentive program   
Council approved a new city-wide Community Improvement Plan that implements changes to the Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology incentive program. The program, introduced in 2008, provides tax incentives to encourage the renovation or construction of buildings in targeted employment sectors and fosters brownfield remediation by way of development grants or property-tax cancellation.

Appointment of chief financial officer
Council approved the appointment of Heather Taylor as the City’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). She will assume the role on September 4, joining the three Deputy City Managers who work closely with the City Manager. The CFO is responsible for setting the City’s overall strategic and financial direction by establishing objectives aligned with Council’s priorities.

Phasing out plastic straws   
Council supported calling for the establishment of a City policy restricting the use of plastic straws in Toronto as part of a broader effort addressing single-use products/packaging and blue-box contamination. The Solid Waste Management Services division was asked to accelerate its planning for the reduced use of single-use or “takeaway” packaging and products, and to undertake public/stakeholder consultation this fall for a report in early 2019.

Organic waste processing     
Council authorized staff to negotiate and enter into agreements necessary to operate, maintain or make capital improvements to the Disco Road organics processing facility so the City can continue using it to process source-separated organics in the years ahead. Council also supported taking steps at the appropriate time to assess potentially having City staff operate the facility rather than using external, contracted services. Solid Waste Management Services expects to collect about 170,600 tonnes of organic waste this year. 

Promotion of community ice skating   
Council agreed to direct staff, working with local councillors, to implement pilot skate-exchange events before the coming outdoor skating season. Priority will be given to holding such events in neighbourhood improvement areas. In addition, Council asked Parks, Forestry and Recreation to formalize a skate-lending program based on a program piloted last winter, with community groups across the city to provide skate-lending this winter using equipment provided by the City.

Honouring Pam McConnell     
Council approved naming the City’s aquatic centre in Regent Park in honour of the late Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell, making it the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre. July was the one-year anniversary of the passing of Deputy Mayor McConnell. As a downtown councillor, she championed the revitalization of Regent Park and led the process to build community supports, including construction of the aquatic facility.

Honouring Dudley Laws   
Council supporting consulting with the family of Dudley Laws and the Black Action Defense Committee to identify naming opportunities to officially recognize the late Dudley Laws for his important contributions to Toronto. Laws, a community activist and champion for social justice, founded the Black Action Defense Committee and was a central figure in changing the way Ontario investigates its police services. He died in 2011 at age 76.

Gender equity strategy   
Council adopted a motion calling for the City to work on a gender equity strategy and on establishing a gender equity office at the City. Staff have been directed to report to the Executive Committee on specifics in early 2019.  The overall goal is to ensure that the voices and experiences of women and girls are recognized in the City’s decision-making.

Toronto’s long-term care homes     
Council voted to ask the Long-Term Care Homes and Services division to provide better supports for seniors living with dementia in the City’s 10 long-term care homes by implementing measures inspired by care-based programs such as the Butterfly and Greenhouse Project models. Those models are emotion-centred service models of care for residents with dementia. The undertaking is to start with a pilot project at one site.

Toronto 311 review   
A motion calling for a review of response-time standards for Toronto 311 intake calls and emails from the public was adopted. The motion that Council supported specifies a series of actions to support improving service. Toronto 311 was established to help residents, businesses and visitors report issues and initiate necessary municipal work any time by phoning 311 or emailing 311@toronto.ca.

Appeals by dog owners           
Council decided to replace the City’s current tribunal that hears appeals from dog owners who have received a Dangerous Dog Order from the City. The current tribunal of five City staff will be replaced early next year with a Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal that consists of public members appointed by Council.

Preserving Kensington Market   
Council voted to enact a bylaw for the Kensington Market Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District Study Area for one year to prohibit the demolition or removal of any buildings or structures on identified commercial and mixed-use properties. Staff are working on a “made-in-Kensington” approach to a heritage conservation district plan for the neighbourhood, which is expected to take about a year to complete. 

Future of City’s Lancaster airplane     
Council approved the transfer of the City’s FM104 Lancaster bomber to the British Columbia Aviation Museum for the vintage military airplane’s continued restoration and public display there. The museum is to cover costs. The British-designed Avro Lancaster, one of the most famous bombers of the Second World War, has been in storage for many years.

Preserving heritage oak tree   
Council took steps to preserve a 250-year-old oak tree on private property in North York, authorizing staff to negotiate the acquisition of the property at 76 Coral Gable Dr. in North York, subject to a successful arboricultural assessment of the tree. At least 50 per cent of the cost will be funded from private donations.

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