In which we highlight key items from the month’s city council meeting. You can also watch it live.
City council is meeting today (April 9) and tomorrow (April 10). 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:
Council approved a big package of miscellaneous cost-saving measures this year, but, oops—lost somewhere in the fine print was a directive to City staff to create new permit fees for playing fields. Now, lots of sporting organizations are complaining that the new fees were implemented too swiftly for them to adjust accordingly. This is one issue Mayor Rob Ford isn’t willing to pinch pennies on at all costs, because he’s an outspoken advocate for youth sports, and even has his own football foundation. This proposal to forgive, this year only, some of the new fees for groups that can’t pay is expected to sail through council, with Ford’s support.
Status: Approved, unanimously, after several hours of debate (Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.).
Tornoto’s waterfront has been altered many times in the past using landfill of various kinds. (The street we still call “Front” once actually fronted on the water, whereas today it’s hard even to see the lake from there.) Now, there’s a chance we’ll get more manmade landforms. Staff are asking council to greenlight a study that would look at the possibility of creating a little archipelago of islands in Humber Bay, using excavated dirt from the planned Eglinton-Crosstown LRT, and other sources. The study would also investigate the possibility of creating a new landform by the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Status: Adopted without debate (Tuesday, 6:50 p.m.).
The province provides funding to the City to support bed bug inspections, but thanks to this year’s extraordinarily frugal budget, it’s looking like that money will stop flowing soon. Council will decide whether to ask the province to continue $5 million in annual funding for bed bug programs.
Status: Approved unanimously and without debate (Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.).
Part-time recreation workers were—along with part-time long-term care workers—holdouts in the City’s long negotiations with CUPE Local 79, the union that represents the City’s indoor workers. The recreation workers finally voted to approve a new contract on April 3, and now council will decide whether or not to ratify that deal. There is no reason to expect that they won’t.
Status: Approved unanimously after a thank-you speech from the mayor (Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.).
Metrolinx is pushing ahead with a rail line that will connect Union Station to Pearson International Airport, with just two stops planned along the way—one at Dundas West Station, and one in Weston. If this member motion from Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York-South Weston) gets the two-thirds vote it needs in order to make the floor, council will decide whether to ask the province to make Metrolinx add a minimum of eight more stops to the route, in order to improve local service. But the wisdom of a move like this isn’t totally clear cut: the rail link was conceived as a premium, express service. Adding lots of stops would make it slower than intended.
Status: Adopted by a vote of 40–2, without debate (Wednesday, 2:50 p.m.).
Harbourfront Centre made headlines for kicking anglers off its property not long ago. If this member motion gets the two-thirds vote it needs in order to make the floor, council will decide whether to ask all public bodies that control land along the lakeshore to permit fishing where possible. It’s unclear what kind of legal force this request would have, and so council will also decide whether to ask the City’s legal counsel to investigate the legitimacy of anti-lakeshore-fishing rules.
Status: Punted to the Executive Committee where it will be debated at their next meeting. Should Executive pass the proposal it will then return to council for ratification. (Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.)
Try to create some obstacles to building a casino in Toronto.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation wants to open up a casino in Toronto, and the mayor has so far been supportive. But there are two member motions on the agenda this week that are aimed at preempting the idea.
One motion, from Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) would have council declare opposition to a casino in Toronto unless the City were to hold a referendum on the matter. Another motion, by Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), would have council tell the province that the soon-to-be-redeveloped Ontario Place is off-limits as a casino site, which, since Ontario Place is a provincial property and OLG is a provincial agency, would likely not be enough to prevent a casino from being built there.
Status: Both motions required a two-thirds majority in order to make it onto the floor of council (this is because they were introduced directly by councillors rather than going through the usual committee process). Both motions failed to meet that two-thirds threshold and have been sent to Executive Committee for consideration. Should Executive pass the motions they will then return to council for ratification. (Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.)
If this member motion by Adam Vaughan gets the two-thirds vote it needs to make the floor, council will decide whether to open up a brand new revenue stream for the city: street sign sales. The idea is for old street signs to be sold to the public for $20 each, on a first-come, first-served basis. One obvious problem is that at that price everyone’s going to want three.
Status: Failing to reach the two-thirds majority required to open this subject for debate, this proposal will go to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee for debate; if it passes there it will come before council again.