In which we highlight key items from the month’s city council meeting. You can also watch it live.
City council is meeting today (February 6) and tomorrow (February 7). Here are a few items from this month’s agenda that have been in the news, or should have been.
City council will weigh whether or not to:
Two summers ago, the City’s integrity commissioner found that Rob Ford (still a councillor) had violated council’s code of conduct by using his City letterhead to solicit donations from lobbyists for his private charity, The Rob Ford Football Foundation, which donates money for equipment to high-school football teams. Council ordered Ford to pay back the money, but the integrity commissioner says Ford has never proven that he did that. Council will decide whether or not to tell staff to investigate.
During a council meeting, Doug Ford said some unkind things to Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, the man who brought a campaign compliance audit against Rob Ford, and who tried to bring one against Doug. The integrity commissioner says Doug Ford’s harsh words were “intimidating language,” and that in uttering them he violated council’s code of conduct. Council will decide whether or not they agree with that assessment. If they do, they’ll decide on a punishment—most likely a written apology.
Result: Doug Ford apologized, of his own volition and prior to a vote, on the floor of council. The apology was accepted by Chaleff-Freudenthaler, who was in the council chamber, and unanimously by council.
Willcocks and Gould streets, which run through U of T and Ryerson, respectively, have been closed to auto traffic since 2010, as part of a temporary pilot project. The pilot went well, and now council has the opportunity to make the street closures permanent.
Result: Adopted without amendment or debate.
The City’s harmonized streets bylaw is a mostly boring piece of legislation intended to make it easier for bureaucrats to figure out what is and isn’t allowed on Toronto’s streets and sidewalks, but it contains language that some are worried would effectively outlaw homelessness in Toronto. City council will decide whether to tweak that language—and a bunch of other small things about the bylaw—before adopting it.
This proposal has been bouncing around for months, but endless referrals and deferrals have kept it from coming under discussion. It calls for city council to collectively ask provincial authorities to remove Toronto from the jurisdiction of the OMB, the provincial tribunal that mediates development disputes. The councillors who support this measure think city planning would be better if the City did it all by itself. For good or ill, the decision is out of their hands. Regardless of the outcome of any voting on this item, the province would have to consent to changing the system before anything could happen.
Result: Adopted, with an amendment that requests the province ensure that “Ontario Municipal Board be structured with a panel comprised of residents of Toronto which would have exclusive jurisdiction over appeals arising from Toronto” until they consider fully removing Toronto from the OMB’s jurisdiction.
An internal audit of 311 Toronto found that the one-stop municipal info hotline isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Council will decide whether to ask 311’s director to take steps to remedy the situation.
The City owns a lot of real estate, and this item is council’s opportunity to decide whether or not to try putting up billboards on some of it. City staff evidently don’t think it’s a great idea, though. They estimate that after expenses, the whole venture would net the City a grand total of $0. (Yes, nothing at all.) The right-leaning Government Management Committee—which Doug Ford sits on—went for it anyway, but it might be a tough sell at council.
Result: Adopted without amendment or debate.
The City’s bed bug control programs are dependent on some provincial funding that’s due to run out in March. Council will decide whether to ask the province for more money.
Astral Media’s InfoToGo pillars claim sidewalk space for advertising, which has a few people upset. Council will decide whether or not to hold off on installing more of the pillars until ways of preventing them from bothering the public can be found.
Council will decide whether to create a $150 fine for either of the above-mentioned offenses. Currently, stopping in a no-stopping zone carries a fine of $60.
Motions Introduced During the Meeting
Council will decide whether to defer implementation of their standard cost of living salary increase until after negotiations with all of the City’s unions is complete.
Result: Approved without amendment or debate.
Council will decide whether to ask City staff to put together on a report on what options might be available to close loopholes in the demolition permit process, such as the one which allowed for the destruction of 81 Wellesley last month. In that case paperwork on a heritage application was pending but not finalized, and a demolition permit was approved in the meantime.
Result: Approved without amendment or debate; report to be finished in the second quarter of 2012.