In which we highlight key items from the month’s city council meeting. You can also watch it live.
City council is meeting today (November 27) and tomorrow (November 28). 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:
It’s been about a year since city council decided to send the Toronto Zoo’s three elephants to an animal sanctuary called PAWS, in California. Animal rights people were happy, Bob Barker was happy. It seemed like a win-win. Except, as it turns out, Toronto Zoo staff don’t like PAWS. They say it’s kind of a tuberculosis-infested elephant flophouse. Council will decide whether to let zoo officials decide on a new destination for the pachyderms.
Last year, Rob Ford’s administration was really interested in “getting the City out of the theatre business,” which meant selling off City-owned theatres, both to get them off the books and to raise a little quick cash. The City looked for companies willing to buy, but didn’t find any takers for the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, or the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Council will decide whether to give up, essentially, on selling either of those theatres, and order an audit of the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, a City-owned venue whose sale prospects are slightly better.
Retail stores, with some exceptions [PDF], need to close on Victoria Day under City bylaws. Council could decide to change that.
Nathan Phillips Square has been under renovation for a while, and now the whole project is late and over budget. Council will decide whether to allocate an additional $750,000 toward repairing the reflecting pool (which in winter turns into an ice rink).
There’s a Mr. Christie plant in south Etobicoke that has been cranking out baked goods for more than 60 years, but now its owner, Mondeléz Canada (a division of Kraft), is saying that it wants to shut the place down and get its zoning and Official Plan designation changed, apparently so the company can bulldoze everything and build condo towers. Council will decide whether to launch a transportation study of the area. Presumably, the idea is to use the study as evidence when the time comes for council to oppose the redevelopment.
Council already approved a ban on plastic shopping bags during a surprise vote in June, and now, at last, they have the opportunity to vote on the bylaw the would make it a reality. If they approve the bylaw—and it will be surprising if they don’t—the ban will go into effect on January 1.
The City is in the process of building curb-separated bike lanes on Sherbourne Street. Next up for this treatment, in 2013 and 2014, will be Queen’s Park Crescent and Wellesley Street, assuming council gives the the thumbs up. Harbord Street and Hoskin Avenue may also be getting separated lanes in 2014, but right now all of that is still in the consultation phase.
The City’s ombudsman looked into complaints about Toronto’s parking ticket system and found it to be mostly okay. But, according to her report, there’s still room for improvement. Council will decide whether to make those improvements.
There is a GE-Hitachi plant on Lansdowne Avenue that makes uranium pellets for use in nuclear reactors. It’s been there for about 50 years without incident. Science types say it’s perfectly safe, but what do those smartasses know? The important thing is that a handful of nearby residents, who just found out about the plant like a month ago, are nervous about it. And so if this member motion by Cesar Palacio (Ward 17, Davenport) gets the two-thirds vote it needs to make the floor, council will have the opportunity to decide whether to ask GE-Hitachi to “establish a five-year plan to discontinue the production of uranium pellets.”
Sometimes when a developer wants to build something in Toronto, the City will get them to promise to set aside a patch of nearby land for the public’s use. Thing is, a lot of these places are underused. Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) thinks the reason for this is that people simply don’t know that these privately owned bits of land are for general use. He wants City staff to investigate the possibility of putting signs up, so that everybody knows where to unfurl their picnic blankets. If his member motion gets the two-thirds vote it needs in order to make the floor, council will decide whether to get City staff on the case.