Toronto City Council Agenda Preview: January/February 2017

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Toronto City Council Agenda Preview: January/February 2017

We read all the staff reports so you don't have to.

Need a break from the dumpster fire of current affairs? How about a fiery debate about dumpster privatization? Here’s our overview of the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The Big Ticket

  • The Mayor is pushing hard to contract out garbage collection in Scarborough, but it’s a controversial issue. Environmentalists, the union, and Council’s left are fiercely opposed. One big reason: a 2015 report [PDF] from Beth Goodger, the head of Solid Waste Management Services, found that privatization wouldn’t save money. After she left the City, the new division head, Jim McKay, was asked to take another look. His report says that it’s now financially worthwhile. Check out the updated financial information and decide for yourse—Oh. Sorry. It’s confidential. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

City Building

  • A couple of years ago, at Council’s direction, KPMG were hired to carry out a lengthy review of how the TTC carries out capital projects and where it can improve. The final report has come before the TTC Board, Executive Committee, and now City Council. Here’s Steve Munro’s analysis of the report the first time around.

    One point that came up when criticizing project management at the TTC was that we don’t know how it compares to that of City capital projects as a whole; one of Executive Committee’s recommendations is for the City Manager to do a similar review across all divisions and agencies.

    This motion would also establish two new bodies: a Major Capital Project Task Force providing centralized project management, and a Major Capital Infrastructure Office staffed with “‘best in class’ public infrastructure experts” to “deliver major City infrastructure projects on time and on budget”.

    Munro:

    Any attempt to do this “on the cheap” with…inadequate resources…will be doomed.

    Executive Committee:

    Resources for [the Major Capital Project Task Force] should be found within existing budgets…

    Good luck with that!

  • Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) and Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) have a motion asking the Province to work with Toronto and other municipalities to protect arts and cultural spaces like the beleaguered 401 Richmond.

  • Toronto’s development boom means that the planners and lawyers who deal with development applications are increasingly overworked and behind project targets. Not only are there more applications, they’re also getting more complex, involving Section 37 agreements, OMB appeals, and City property. This motion from the Planning and Growth Management Committee would add $1.8 million to the 2017 budget to hire more planners, lawyers, and architects.

  • The Annex is growing up: there’s an application for a 42-storey condo at Bloor and Spadina, and “preliminary inquiries” for more tall buildings in the area. This Official Plan Amendment is City Planning’s attempt to balance densification with the need to protect heritage properties and scenic views. Read the full report [PDF] for details.

  • Do you happen to live in a condo on Queen’s Quay just on the other side of the Gardiner from Steam Whistle Brewery? If so, you might have to move.

Short Pants, Cap In Hand, Etc.

The Public Realm

Research

Food and Drink

Section 37 Benefits of the Month

  • $2 million for streetscaping John Street, which runs near many downtown destinations.

  • $1.6 million for Eva’s Phoenix, a supportive housing facility for homeless youth.

  • The City had a commercial space in a Junction condo reserved for community or cultural purposes as a Section 37 benefit, but it’s too expensive for community agencies to actually afford, so they’re selling it off and putting the profits into other Section 37 stuff.

Heritage Properties of the Month

Miscellaneous

  • Tree removal applications are where City Council reaches peak pettiness. These routine items come before the community councils and have to be approved by Council as a whole, and have long been used as an opportunity for outnumbered councillors to grandstand about why people should be able to cut down trees on their own property without all the red tape. Now the historically anti-tree Etobicoke York Community Council wants to find out if tree permits can be delegated to community councils. On one hand, existing geopolitical differences between councillors would mean that in practice the City’s tree-related policy goals would be implemented unevenly and less effectively. On the other, we’d waste so much less time.

  • In the wake of a young woman’s death at a nightclub, Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) wants to make private EDM events safer. Here’s our rundown.

  • TTC fare inspectors are getting a new “customer friendly uniform without batons or handcuffs.”

  • Is it appropriate for a city councillor to block anonymous Twitter trolls? The answer may surprise you! Read the Integrity Commissioner’s 2016 Annual Report to find out.


Did we miss anything interesting or important? Let us know in the comments, and tune in at 9:30 a. m. for the liveblog.

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