Toronto City Council Highlights, May 14 and 15

Council Highlights is a summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk’s full, official documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Impact of the provincial budget 
Council supported a motion to request the Province of Ontario to reverse its announced retroactive cuts that result in the loss of about $178 million that was included in the City of Toronto’s balanced budget for 2019 as adopted in March. Council will also convey the willingness of City officials to meet with the province to discuss both governments’ budgets and the impact the province’s retroactive 2019 funding cuts will have on the residents of Toronto. A series of actions approved with this item includes a public information and education campaign.

Funding of Toronto Public Health 
Council voted to express its strong opposition to funding cuts to Toronto Public Health for this year as communicated by the Ontario government, and to urge the province against making the proposed cuts. In addition, Council agreed on using advertising locations to inform Torontonians about the health impacts if the funding cuts to Toronto Public Health proceed.

Ontario government’s Bill 108   
Council adopted a series of recommendations and motions addressing the Ontario government’s Housing Supply Action Plan and proposed Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice Act). Council is asking the province to extend the June 1 timeline for comments from municipalities and other stakeholders. An initial assessment indicates that changes associated with Bill 108 would significantly affect the City’s finances, its ability to secure parkland and its capacity to provide community facilities, as well as significantly affecting the evaluation process for development applications.

Affordable housing opportunities   
Council asked staff for a report on whether more affordable housing units should be required in future Toronto Community Housing revitalizations, based on a site-by-site evaluation. That is one of several recommendations adopted as part of an agenda item involving an audit that produced recommendations to help achieve broader city-building objectives and improve accountability in Toronto Community Housing’s revitalization projects. 

Adequate housing as a right   
Council agreed to ask the City’s Affordable Housing Office, as part of current public consultation on Toronto’s housing plan, to include a rights-based approach to housing (as advocated by the United Nations) in policy areas that fall within the City’s jurisdiction. Staff are to report on possibly making “adequate housing” a basic right in the Toronto Housing Plan that is now in the works.

Apartment building maintenance 
Council approved amending the Toronto Municipal Code to require building owners/operators, under the RentSafeTO program, to develop an electrical maintenance plan with a licensed, certified electrical contractor and to maintain records showing compliance with that plan. Among several other requirements, building owners/operators will now need to maintain a list of volunteered contact information identifying tenants who may need assistance during building evacuations or temporary shutdowns of vital services.

Ontario Place and Exhibition Place    
Council directed staff to work with the Ontario government on a strategy for the future of Ontario Place and Exhibition Place. The undertaking is to involve consultation with all stakeholders and focus on the original goal for the two sites – that is, providing attractive settings for festivals and other events for all Ontarians. A series of guiding principles that Council adopted for Ontario Place’s revitalization presents the principles in the context of the City’s Central Waterfront Secondary Plan. Work already taking place on a master plan for Exhibition Place continues in line with guidelines and a study framework that Council approved.

Rallies promoting hate  
Council voted to reaffirm its unwavering opposition to hate speech, and directed staff to inform organizers of events that occur in Toronto regularly without a permit of the City’s policies on hate speech and hate activities. In addition, where possible, the City is to issue trespass or trespass warning letters to identifiable participants engaged in hate activities at rallies taking place on City property. The response to such activities also involves the police.

Security at places of worship       
Council voted to ask the Toronto Police Services Board to consider and report back on the feasibility of creating a task force to examine security and public safety in Toronto’s places of worship. The report is to include terms of reference for working with City divisions and agencies as well as with the federal government and the Ontario government on this matter.

Tree planting and maintenance   
Council adopted recommendations aimed at improving contract management, customer service and operational efficiency in the City’s tree planting and tree maintenance programs. A recent audit indicates there is room for improvement, notably in overseeing work carried out by contracted tree service companies. 

Bike lanes on Richmond Street   
Council directed staff to investigate all options to ensure the safety of cyclists along Richmond Street from John Street to Bathurst Street for the duration of watermain reconstruction work along Richmond. Transportation Services was also asked to investigate safe detour routes and improve alternative cycling routes that parallel Richmond Street.

St. Lawrence Market project    
Council approved the awarding of a contract for the construction of the new St. Lawrence Market North building at 92 Front St. The City is redeveloping the property with a new, multi-story building that will include a ground-floor market space, Court Services offices and court rooms, and an underground parking garage. The former one-storey market building at the site has been demolished and an archeological assessment conducted. 

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