What's on Council's Agenda: October, 2013
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What’s on Council’s Agenda: October, 2013

Here's what city council will be debating at this month's meeting.

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

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City council is meeting on October 8, 9, and 10. Here are a few items from this month’s agenda that are in the news, or should be.

City council will weigh whether or not to:

Scuttle the Scarborough LRT in favour of a subway extension, again.
We are, once more, about to have a debate about the future of transit in Scarborough. There’s a signed agreement to build LRT, but several councillors and Mayor Rob Ford reopened the issue in the summer and called for a subway instead. That subway will be expensive though: council is now in possession of a report that explains that they will need to spend at least $910 million (in addition to $1.48 billion from the province and $660 million from the federal government) in order to make that subway dream a reality. It is not at all clear whether the subway fans are willing to endorse the 1.6 per cent property tax increase it would take to raise that extra money, which should lead to a lot of shouting at City Hall this week.

Study creating streetcar-only lanes on King Street during the morning rush hour.
The King streetcar line is the busiest in Toronto, and congestion along that route a perennial problem. Council will debate whether to conduct a study that would explore the possibility of implementing streetcar-only lanes on King Street during the morning rush hour. This is just a first step: if councillors approve this motion they would just be getting a report on the feasibility and merits of creating those lanes, not approving the lanes themselves. Still, cars are victimized and streetcars are evil in Rob Ford’s Toronto, so expect more shouting about this one.

Greatly increase Toronto’s development charges.
For all that real estate in Toronto is expensive, there’s one cost element that is actually low here: development charges. Those are fees levied by the City on new construction, to help offset the impact of adding new pressures on all the shared systems (parks, sewers, and so on) that the municipality needs to provide. Toronto’s development charges are substantially lower than in other GTA municipalities, and they don’t come close to covering all the costs the City must bear with new development. The City has reviewed its development charges (which are set to expire in the spring of 2014) and has drawn up proposed new rates, which are a substantial increase over what they are now, but lower than originally contemplated, due to a compromise that was struck with the development industry.

Let Ryerson University get away with not restoring the Sam the Record Man sign.
To stop the City from trying to scuttle its plans to build a new student centre on the former site of Sam the Record Man, Ryerson University signed an agreement promising to restore Sam’s iconic neon sign and hang it in one of a couple locations on campus. Long story short, Ryerson never followed through (guess that agreement wasn’t so agreeable after all), and now city council will decide whether to let them put in some other commemorative installations instead.

Enact a confidential plan for dealing with Captain John’s derelict restaurant boat.
The City cut off the water supply to Captain John’s floating restaurant in June, 2012. Ever since then, the captain (whose real name is John Letnik) has been struggling to sell the ship in an attempt to pay off his staggering debts, which, according to a letter he recently sent to the City, amount to about $1.65 million in combined rent, back taxes, and mortgage payments. The City’s lawyer has given city council some confidential advice about how to resolve the situation, and councillors will decide whether or not to heed it.

Figure out how to use what remains of the Maple Leaf Forever tree.
A silver maple at 62 Laing Street, in Leslieville, was knocked over by a storm on July 19. This wouldn’t be a big deal were it not for the fact this particular tree is believed to have been the inspiration for “Maple Leaf Forever,” the famous song by Alexander Muir, which he wrote in 1867. City staff have come up with a plan to use salvaged wood from the tree to make keepsakes for the whole city to enjoy (one idea is to use some of the wood to make a new gavel for the council speaker). Council will decide whether to give the go-ahead.

Appoint a new Ward 3 councillor to replace former Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday.
Former Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday got himself elected to Queen’s Park in August, which left council in a quandary: they had to figure out how to replace Holyday as councillor for Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre. After a lot of arguing, councillors ultimately decided to appoint a replacement rather than hold a byelection. At a special meeting on Thursday, council will devote its full attention to deciding exactly whom to appoint. Etobicoke councillors have already selected a favourite from the list of nominees: former Etobicoke MPP Chris Stockwell—but Doug Holyday himself would prefer another nominee, Peter Leon, which may give some councillors pause.