Toronto council decisions June 26 through 29

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.

Increased funding to support road safety
Council agreed to spend substantial additional funds on top of $21.3 million that was already budgeted this year to improve and accelerate the implementation of road-safety measures identified in the City’s Vision Zero strategy. The road-safety measures to be pursued include traffic-calming projects, street-design work and potentially the expansion of Toronto’s red-light camera program.

Safety zones near schools
Council voted to amend certain City bylaws with the intention of making hundreds of Toronto schools eligible for automated speed enforcement under Ontario’s Safer School Zones Act. The amendments will also enable the City to double speeding fines in key walking and cycling routes to and from schools. The goal is to help reduce aggressive driving/speeding in areas that have a high concentration of schoolchildren.

Addressing gun violence in Toronto
Council agreed to call for an emergency meeting of City officials together with police and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation to address the increase in gun and gang violence. Council also supported making requests to the Ontario and federal governments, including on legislation to control firearms, a review of guidelines on granting bail in cases involving possession or use of illegal firearms, and changes to the Highway Traffic Act to strengthen the deterrent to having an unlawfully possessed firearm in a vehicle.

Planning for shelter infrastructure
Council approved a plan that addresses shelter infrastructure in Toronto, with various actions pertaining to respite services and refugee/asylum claimants in Toronto. Council agreed to advise the governments of Canada and Ontario that the City has exhausted its resources for meeting the housing needs of current refugee/asylum claimants who are using Toronto’s shelter system. Council also agreed to reiterate its request for a regional response on this issue.

New committee on housing and shelter
Council voted to establish a Housing Committee with the mandate to monitor and make recommendations on housing and shelter in Toronto. This new standing committee replaces the Affordable Housing Committee, which was a special committee of Council. Having a standing committee on housing will help direct more City resources to housing and increase the amount of affordable housing that Council approves for construction.

Appointment of City Manager
Council appointed Chris Murray to the position of City Manager, the most senior official in the City of Toronto’s administration. The City Manager is accountable to City Council for policies and programs delivered by the Toronto Public Service. Interim City Manager Giuliana Carbone will resume her position and duties as Deputy City Manager, Cluster A when Murray starts work at the City on August 13. The former City Manager, Peter Wallace, left the City earlier this year.

Security at Toronto City Hall
Council approved the implementation of physical checks of baggage as people enter Toronto City Hall and the use of metal detectors at entrances to the council chamber, among other measures for enhancing security. The goal is to maintain an accessible, safe and secure Toronto City Hall while providing a reasonable level of protection from foreseeable threats.

Community councils
Council voted to amend the City of Toronto Municipal Code by adopting community council boundaries that take effect on December 1. The amendment makes minor adjustments to capture the city’s new 47-ward structure (instead of the current 44 wards) and extends the western boundary of the Toronto and East York Community Council from Keele Street to the Humber River by moving the new Ward 17 from Etobicoke York Community Council to Toronto and East York Community Council. Map: https://bit.ly/2zdeEPa

Response to opioid overdose crisis
Council supported Board of Health recommendations for the opioid overdose crisis in the context of the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, including actions specified for the Toronto Community Housing Corporation. Toronto Public Health has worked with City divisions and community partners to implement the action plan over the past year. Council also approved the use of one-time provincial funding for additional staff and supplies to support the supervised injection service at 277 Victoria St.

Capital projects – greenhouse gas reduction
Council agreed to authorize receipt of about $52 million in provincial funding under the Municipal Greenhouse Gas Challenge program. The funds are to be distributed among 10 major City projects that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, undertaking these projects – such as retrofits to emergency vehicles in the City’s fleet – is expected to achieve long-term operating cost savings through efficiencies. These projects and others like them are tied to the City’s TransformTO climate action strategy.

Minimum wage
Council affirmed its support for the minimum wage increasing to $15 an hour starting January 1 and agreed to encourage the Ontario government to not rescind the law increasing the minimum wage. Last year, the previous Ontario government passed a bill raising the minimum wage to $14 an hour for 2018 and to $15 an hour effective January 1, 2019.

Improvements to bus and subway service
Council approved a Toronto Transit Commission plan to hire 84 additional staff to support implementing measures to improve transit service. Specifically, the measures aim to improve reliability on Line 1 (the Yonge subway line), relieve peak crowding on 20 bus routes and off-peak crowding on 14 bus routes, and implement seven new express services in peak periods on a trial basis.

Services in the east downtown area
Council adopted a 12-month action plan for the east downtown area. The plan is a response to Council’s earlier request for short-term and five-year action plans that address the community’s needs and related service co-ordination. Downtown East, as the area is known, faces complex challenges related to poverty, homelessness, housing affordability, community safety, mental health and opioid-related drug use and overdoses.

Student nutrition
Council agreed to increase funding of the City’s student nutrition program by about $2 million this year, bringing the total subsidy to about $14 million for 2018. The Medical Officer of Health received authorization to enter into agreements with two organizations that will administer the funding and distribute it among eligible student nutrition programs at schools across Toronto. The six-year municipal funding plan for the student nutrition program is now in its final year.

Trail naming to honour Ron Moeser
Council approved naming the waterfront trail that runs through Ward 44 Scarborough East “Ron Moeser Trail” in honour of former City Councillor Ron Moeser, who died last year while he was Ward 44’s representative on City Council. Consultation with the Moeser family and the community led to the trail-naming proposal. Ron Moeser worked for many years as a proponent for creating a waterfront park and trail system in the Lake Ontario shoreline area of east Scarborough.

Bloor Street West bike lanes
Council directed staff to immediately undertake improvements to “corridor safety” along the Bloor Street West bike lane route. A focus of work to be undertaken is improved separation of bike lanes from vehicle-traffic lanes and management of turns for better safety at intersections.

Sex education in schools
Council voted to affirm its support for comprehensive sex education as provided in Ontario’s current public education curriculum.

Safe Third Country agreement
Council agreed to ask the Canadian government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States “due to the actions taken by the United States government, in particular the policy of separating children from parents who are seeking refugee status.” The Safe Third Country Agreement requires refugee claimants to request protection in the first safe country they arrive in unless the claimant qualifies for an exception.

Planning framework for laneway suites
Council approved the establishment of a planning framework for laneway suites in neighbourhoods in the Toronto and East York district, making them a new as-of-right housing option, subject to certain criteria. The approval covers implementation measures and the introduction of a pilot program for affordable rental units as part of the Changing Lanes initiative. The City is preparing guidelines detailing application requirements and other practical information about laneway suites.

Support for Finch Avenue West businesses
A motion that Council supported will result in the City working with Metrolinx transit agency on ways to support Finch Avenue businesses and residents during the construction period of the Metrolinx Finch Avenue West LRT (light-rail transit) project. Construction work, now started, will continue until the scheduled opening of the transit line in 2023.

Galleria Mall lands project
Council authorized City staff to enter into a land exchange agreement that will facilitate the redevelopment of the Galleria Mall at Dufferin and Dupont Streets. The shopping-centre site will be demolished and replaced with a large-scale, mixed-use development that includes the provision of affordable housing. As part of the project for a complete community, the nearby Wallace Emerson Community Centre will be replaced and Wallace Emerson Park will be enlarged and redesigned.

Toronto City Council special meeting on June 26

Appointment of Councillor for Ward 41
At a special meeting of Council that was held before the regular business meeting on June 26, City Council heard candidates’ presentations and voted to appoint Miganoush Megardichian as the councillor for Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River. The appointment, which fills the vacancy resulting from Chin Lee’s resignation, will be in effect until the end of the current term of Council (November 30, 2018).

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