New limits on smoking in public spaces, a $2.6-billion plan for community housing, and other votes from City Hall.
It’s tempting to think of City Hall as the Rob Ford show, and look at it in cinematic terms. Today’s installment featured cut scenes of the mayoral circus, set against the backdrop of mundane council business—but it’s the latter that provides more substance. While the mayor holed up in his office as journalists pored over the latest unsealed court documents, council went on debating public policy. Here are some items they discussed:
If you hate second-hand smoke, then it’s your lucky day. Council voted to expand the list of smoke-free areas in the city by including certain public spaces like public beaches, parks, and squares. The decision followed the advice of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, who recently studied the issue and reported that Toronto was on the high end of second-hand smoke exposure rates, compared to other Canadian cities.
Council also debated whether to conduct some consultation on how to better integrate City services when they deal with an instance like the July rainstorm. Everything passed unanimously, except one vote that saw an angry Rob Ford rush back to his chair and vote against consulting the fire department. To be fair, he missed the debate and probably didn’t know what he was voting on.
Council also passes items unanimously if no one chooses to hold them down for debate, and that was the case with the 10-year TCHC capital plan—the first one in its history. The beleaguered social housing agency faces $2.6 billion in additional capital needs, as many of its buildings are now over 40 years old. Councillors were presented with a motion to fund some of those repairs by re-mortgaging properties and allocating existing capital funds, as well as calling on the provincial and federal government to contribute $850 million each. Maybe it would have been wise to discuss a $2.6-billion plan regardless of the unanimity, but it will be a while before that plan materializes anyway.
City council’s meeting will continue on Thursday to deal with regularly scheduled items. On Friday, they will convene a separate meeting to debate whether to temporarily strip the mayor’s office of some of its key powers.