Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk’s formal documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Funding for non-profit housing
Council approved the provision of $2 million in funding for two new non-profit housing developments through the City’s Home Ownership Assistance Program to support a total of 80 new homes. The two developments consist of townhomes in Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River and a condominium apartment building in Ward 11 York South-Weston. The funding will provide down-payment assistance loans to help eligible low to moderate income purchasers of the new homes.
Guidelines for townhouses and low-rise apartments
Council approved guidelines for the City’s use in evaluating current and new development applications for townhouses and low-rise apartment buildings. The new guidelines replace an earlier reference document. Council also voted in support of motions for staff to report on matters involving townhouse entrances and parking requirements for low-rise apartment buildings.
Emergency shelters and supports
Council adopted a series of recommendations and motions that pertain to meeting the immediate needs of Torontonians experiencing homelessness and using the City’s emergency shelter system, and also for helping them find secure, suitable, permanent housing. A further City priority addressed by the recommendations involves efforts to prevent low-income households from falling into homelessness.
Review of winter respite services
Council received a Toronto Ombudsman’s report on the City’s respite services this winter, focusing on the identified need for better communication of information and improved conditions at winter respite sites. The sites give people experiencing homelessness a temporary place to sleep, receive a meal and obtain referrals to support services. Staff have been asked to look into possibly using sensors that measure respite facility temperature and upload the data.
Traffic in school zones
Council supported a motion calling on staff to prepare a report for May on a streamlined process to receive and process councillor and community requests for the implementation of traffic calming measures in school zones and community safety zones.
Tax on third-party signs
Council approved bylaw amendments pertaining to the City’s tax on third-party signs and decided to consider introducing an annual surcharge on unauthorized signs. The City collects between $11 million and $12 million annually from the sign tax. Third-party signs are signs advertising a business or service not situated on, or available at, the property displaying the sign.
Information technology and eCity Strategy
Council adopted various recommendations generated by an audit of the City’s information technology infrastructure and assets. The steps to be taken support the Information and Technology division’s corporate leadership in modernizing City services through the eCity Strategy and its goals of ensuring that technology enhances Toronto’s municipal services and political processes.
Development of thermal energy networks
Council authorized entering into an agreement between the City and Enwave to jointly pursue opportunities for developing low-carbon thermal energy networks. Development of low-carbon thermal energy networks as part of the broader TransformTO strategy will help the City meet its climate-change targets, attract investments that benefit the local economy, generate revenue, ensure energy does not become a limiting factor for growth, and improve local energy resilience.
Council adopted recommendations aimed at ensuring that applicants provide full information about pertinent tree/forestry issues for the Committee of Adjustment’s and the Toronto Local Appeal Body’s review of minor variance/consent applications such as applications for front-yard parking. Plans submitted for review need to identify trees and tree-protection zones and include photographs. The City’s tree bylaws are enforced by Urban Forestry staff.
REimagining Yonge plan for Yonge Street
Council discussed the REimagining Yonge (Sheppard to Finch) Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Study agenda item at length and ultimately decided to defer a decision on the future design of Yonge Street in North York. The deferral will give the Toronto Transit Commission time to consider the long-term implications for buses in that section of Yonge Street.
Flag-raising for Vietnamese community
Council voted to allow the Vietnamese heritage and freedom flag to be raised at Toronto City Hall. Journey to Freedom Day, observed each April 30, is a national day commemorating the thousands of Vietnamese people who perished fleeing Vietnam for freedom. The day also recognizes the Vietnamese-Canadian community’s success today. Toronto is now home to about 50,000 Vietnamese-Canadians.
Work on utilities at night
Council supported a motion to re-affirm that non-emergency utility work should not take place overnight in the downtown area. When overnight work is necessary, advance consultation with the ward councillor and notification of local residents/stakeholders are required. The City is trying to balance addressing the needs of a busy downtown core and the needs of downtown communities.
Amendments to purchasing bylaw
Proposed amendments to the City of Toronto’s purchasing bylaw received Council’s approval. The amendments pertain primarily to the supplier code of conduct and to the responsibilities of City division heads and project leads in managing purchase contracts.
Interim City Manager appointed
Council appointed Giuliana Carbone the City’s Interim City Manager, effective April 4. Peter Wallace, the former City Manager, earlier announced his resignation effective April 3. In addition, with the retirement of Deputy City Manager John Livey, Council appointed Lou Di Gironimo the Interim Deputy City Manager for Cluster B effective April 5 and until City Council appoints a new Deputy City Manager for the City of Toronto’s Cluster B divisions.
Appointment to the Police Services Board
Council appointed Councillor Jim Hart (Ward 44 Scarborough East) to the Toronto Police Services Board for the term of office that ends November 30, 2018 and until a successor is appointed. The appointment was made as Councillor Shelley Carroll (Ward 33 Don Valley East) resigned from the board effective March 26.
Special City Council meeting
City’s budgets for 2018
At a meeting held on February 12 to consider the City’s budgets for this year, City Council approved a 2018 tax-supported operating budget of $11.12 billion and a 10-year capital budget and plan of $25.98 billion. The 2018 budgets maintain or improve all service levels and make major investments in social infrastructure and housing. Overall, the 2018 budget tax increase after assessment growth is 1.47 per cent, with a 2.1 per cent increase for residential properties, a 1.05 per cent increase for commercial properties and a 0.70 per cent increase for industrial properties.