In which we highlight key items from the month’s city council meeting—which you can also watch live.
Photo by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.
City council is meeting today (May 17) and tomorrow (May 18). 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:
Privatize some garbage services
The item that is expected to take an especially large portion of this month’s debate, council will consider what is expected to be the first of many privatization initiatives. The item up for discussion today is to issue a Request for Quotations, essentially seeking bids from the private sector on trash pick-up for the area of Toronto west of Yonge, as well as several garbage services (such as servicing parks). Of particular concern to some is that the proposal as currently written delegates the authority to decide amongst those bids to a small committee—ordinarily contracts of this size would be debated and decided upon by council as a whole.
Reconsider building the Fort York Pedestrian-Cyclist Bridge
If this member motion by Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) gets the two-thirds vote it needs in order to make the floor, council will debate whether to reverse a recent decision by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to put the brakes on the long-planned double helix bridge, meant to easily connect the Fort York site to surrounding city streets, and instead proceed with the building plans as originally intended. Council has received approximately 300 letters from concerned citizens who want to maintain the bridge-building plan, and Layton is expected to present a petition with several hundred more signatures at the meeting.
Try to figure out a way of legalizing street hockey
In another member motion, this one by by Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St Paul’s), council will debate whether or not not to ask City staff to report on ways of exempting residents from street hockey prohibitions if they live on quiet streets. Yup, street hockey is prohibited. Enforcement, though, has traditionally been complaint-driven.
Make it easier to park overnight
If you’re reading Torontoist you’re probably some kind of fixie-riding, mustachioed hipster (just like everyone who works for us allegedly is!), but on the off chance that you own a car, you might be interested in knowing that council will be deciding whether or not to institute 24- and 48-hour on-street parking permits.
Support the recommendations in the new Culture Plan
After a blue-ribbon panel examined the future of the arts and culture sectors in Toronto and held public consultations to discuss what the City’s role in supporting those sectors should be, a new Culture Plan for the City, charting out a proposed new course of action in these areas, was issued. In included reiterated support for increased per-capita funding for the arts to $25 (from the current $18)—always a tough sell in the current penny-pinching climate. The report’s authors are hoping that evidence demonstrating that each dollar invested in the arts has a multiplier effect, creating much more economic activity—generating jobs, tourism, and tax revenue—for Toronto, sways councillors.
Repeal the zoning bylaw
Toronto’s harmonized zoning bylaw took disparate zoning bylaws from the pre-amalgamation municipalities and united them like Voltron. But like Voltron, the new mega-law was riddled with translation errors: within months, hundreds of people had filed complaints with the OMB about technical faults both major and minor. Council will decide whether or not to repeal the whole thing so they can fix it up without pissing even more people off.
Find some new uses for Old City Hall
In 2016, the City wants to pull all the municipal courts out of Old City Hall and get some new tenants in there. Maybe some private businesses. Maybe some government agencies. They might even carve out some space in the courtyard for a City museum. It’s all very up in the air at the moment. Council will decide whether or not to direct staff to start vetting some of those potential new tenants. It will also weigh whether or not to extend the leases of the provincial courts currently located in the building.
Get rid of some citizen-led advisory bodies
The City manager’s office has recommended that most of the citizen-led advisory bodies that report to council not be established during this term of council, including the much-beloved Pedestrian and Cycling Advisory committees. “Not being established” basically amounts to being eliminated. The members of Mayor Ford’s executive committee are big fans of this proposal, and it will probably sail through despite stiff opposition from the left.
Ditch the City’s crappy nouveau-street-food program
Toronto A La Cart, the City’s puzzling attempt to bring diversity to street food by trapping vendors in so much red tape that they literally couldn’t move (the City-mandated carts were so heavy that it reportedly took three people just to set them up), was by all accounts a failure. Council will decide whether or not to put the program to bed after two miserable years, and cut the vendors involved some financial breaks in compensation.
Items compiled by Steve Kupferman and Hamutal Dotan.