What's on Council's Agenda: July 2012
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What’s on Council’s Agenda: July 2012

In which we highlight key items from the month’s city council meeting. You can also watch it live.

City council is meeting today (July 11) and tomorrow (July 12). Here are a few items from this month’s agenda that have been in the news, or should have been.

City council will decide whether or not to:

Set some new transit priorities.

The OneCity transit plan—a bid by councillors Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) and Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) to reorient Toronto’s transit plans around a property tax-funded expansion spree—appears to be stalled, but bits and pieces of it will be coming up for debate at this week’s council meeting. Stintz has said that she will ask staff to report on a “transit network” for Toronto—probably without specifically mentioning OneCity—during a debate on a related item, about including transit priorities as part of the City’s review of its Official Plan. She is also expected to ask council to support converting the Scarborough RT into a subway, rather than the provincially funded LRT it’s currently supposed to become. Also up for debate will be whether or not to declare the East Bayfront LRT—a planned transit project that was included in OneCity—a priority transit project.

Council will also decide whether to attempt to convene a working group of leaders from different GTA municipalities to help plan regional transit expansion.

Bring some new menu options to sidewalk food carts.

If council adopts this item, Toronto’s hot dog vendors will be able to start selling some types of non-hot-dog foods that are deemed “safe,” like packaged salads and bagels. They’ll also be able to sell more unusual types of food if they’re willing to go through an approvals process that may require them to make modifications to their carts.

Strike a fair deal with youth sports groups.

The 2012 budget came as a nasty shock to youth sports groups, who found themselves stuck with sudden hourly fees for use of outdoor fields that had previously been theirs to play on for free. After much outcry, council decided to waive the fees temporarily while they figured out a way to fairly deal with the youth groups. Now, councillors will decide whether or not to approve a compromise deal, in which the groups would still be charged for the fields, but at lower rates than originally proposed.

Start thinking about regulating the sale of ammunition.

After the Eaton Centre shooting, Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) started telling reporters that he wanted to ban not guns, but bullets. Now, his member motion to start finding ways to bring that about is on the agenda. It will need a two-thirds majority vote in order to make the floor.

Increase parking fees.

Toronto’s parking rates haven’t gone up since 2007, and now it’s time. Council will make the call.

Eliminate most speaking extensions during council meetings.

Before Rob Ford became mayor, speaking extensions weren’t a big deal. If a councillor wanted to talk for a couple minutes over his or her allotted five-minute time limit, council would vote on the matter with a show of hands, the extension would almost always be granted, and that would be that. But Ford, for reasons he has never really articulated (but which probably have to do with “keeping them honest”), insists on holding a recorded vote on every extension request. This ensures a written record of every vote for or against every speaking extension. It also adds an average of 17 minutes of dead time to each council meeting. Council will now decide whether to eliminate most speaking extensions—and whether to ban recorded votes on what speaking extensions remain.

Protect fishing along the central waterfront.

After a recent flap during which “no fishing” signs were briefly posted in City parks along the central waterfront, council will decide on this item, based on an earlier motion from Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth), that asks staff to convene a “fishing summit.” The summit would consist of different groups with interests in the waterfront, and its goal would be to figure out a way to encourage fishing.