With the Uber/taxi debate first up, council is overflowing with hundreds of cab drivers hanging on every word. Follow along as we fact-check, analyze, and explain what’s going on at this month’s council meeting.
Refresh as we update the liveblog, with the most recent entries at the top.
Follow the Agenda
City Hall Council Chambers (100 Queen Street West)
September 30, 9:30 a.m.
7:51 PM: The item as amended passes 39–4. And that’s it for the day. We will be back tomorrow where we will discuss the Gardiner. Fun!
7:49 PM: Council passes Perks’ motion to reaffirm that all person comply with Chapter 545 of Toronto’s licensing code (which governs taxis).
7:47 PM: Karygiannis’ bizarre motion to request Uber to stop operating in Toronto passes, 24-20. Toothless motions are easy to vote for!
7:42 PM: Shouts of “shame!” fill the chamber as taxi supporters realize they are in what they see is a losing effort. They spill out as council continues to vote on items, and their anger is palpable.
7:41 PM: De Baeremaeker’s second motion, which would effectively grant a monopoly on the next 100 taxi licenses to one car company, fails 8–36.
7:38 PM: Davis’ motion (LS6.1 3.1) to reduce the licensed cab fare by 10 per cent passes 38–6. The rest of her motion, which awas voted on separately, also passes.
7:37 PM: The main motion from John Tory, which asks for a report back on the issue in Spring 2016, passes 33–12.
7:36 PM: Kristyn Wong-Tam’s (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) motion (LS6.1 8) to add equity and accessibility language to the motion passes, 42-2.
7:34 PM: Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), another taxi licensing supporter, sees his motion LS6.1 7B fail 19–25.
7:31 PM: We are voting! Mammoliti’s first motion, LS6.1 2, fails 14–30.
7:12 PM: We’re taking a 10 recess to sort out procedural business.
7:10 PM: It is likely that the Jays will win the AL East before this item passes.
7:01 PM: We’re on our last speaker, Raymond Cho (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River). Then we will vote on a flurry of motions, get briefly confused, and sort out what actually passed. Stay tuned!
6:42 PM: Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) to Mammoliti: “I’m not going to sit here and do performance art,” she says, criticizing the fear mongering that she alleges Mammoliti has peddled.
6:27 PM: It’s Norm Kelly (Ward 40, Scarborough-Agincourt) bookclub time again! The dadcore Twitter celebrity recommends Tyler Cowen, the Chicago School economist who maintains the popular blog Marginal Revolution.
6:12 PM: Apropos of nothing, here is an old Perruzza speech, set to music.
6:10 PM: Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West), known for his long-winded and baffling speeches, begins. “I’m not a fan of Uber,” he says. Here we go.
6:00 PM: Perks, on how some of Uber’s loudest critics offer false hope: “You can’t just use little words and small ideas. You have to be smart about it.” Perks adds that no councillor today has proposed a motion that would ban Uber.
5:01 PM: “I never asked to be on the licensing and standards committee,” begins Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s), the one well-behaved member of the committee.
4:49 PM: Ford is up to speak. “I’m a pretty blunt speaker. I’m not a smooth-talking, fancy long-word-using guy.” After this, he uses an awkward sports analogy. Now Ford goes into full-on populism, saying he represents more taxi drivers than any councillor in the city.
“Technology, technology, technology my ass.”
This is basically a Rob Ford spoken word poem. It is amazing.
4:47 PM: Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) indicates she’ll vote for the mayor’s motion to regulate Uber. It’s a sign that the motion will likely pass handily, save for some members of the licensing and standards committee.
3:44 PM: Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12, York South-Weston) questions the mayor, but his mic only emits a reverberating buzz. “Stop thinking!” says Perks.
3:44 PM: An upset audience member interrupts the meeting, and implores council to put their foot down against Uber. Security escorts her out.
3:24 PM: Out of context Tory quote: “I have no idea why people were unhappy with what I said.” Unfairly or not, this could apply to a number of issues Tory has faced so far this term.
3:23 PM: Snap poll! Is the Mammoliti/Karygiannis tag team most like:
Cries of "shame!" after Tory's speech. "No disruptions!" tuts Nunziata. (Except technological ones)
— Imperator Pardosa (@neville_park) September 30, 2015
3:11 PM: Tory: “These disruptive technologies are not going to go away.” He argues enforcement costs would be too high, and would not change the existence of Uber. There’s a loud round of boos for the mayor from the yellow-shirted licensed taxi supporters in the chambers. They did not come here for compromise.
3:07 PM: Tory says that choice facing council is to either regulate Uber and service, or to ban it. “I believe the only practical course…is to regulate them.”
3:01 PM: Torontoist has once again snuck into the council chambers, the rebels that we are. It’s still colder than Elsa’s fortress, though, but at least we have our contraband snacks. Don’t tell on us.
2:48 PM: Vocal taxi supporter Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) is questioning the mayor about whether he has met with the Chief of Police about Uber. Tory says they have discussed it at a Police Board meeting. regardless, you should really read this interview with Karygiannis, which includes a watermelon salesman, an unusual marriage, racially loaded undertones, and crying.
2:30 PM: The Torontoist returns to its glacial perch, ready for a new dose of council shenanigans.
12:30 PM: We break for lunch. Thank God for lunch.
GIF via James Wattie
My favourite part of "OK Blue Jays" is the lack of ambition. What do we WANT? A bat. A ball. Nine men. Bleachers for part of the year.
— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) September 30, 2015
12:20 PM: Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) has brought the Jays mascot to come lead the council in rousing song. Also Tory gets a jersey.
12:09 PM: It is absurdly cold in the council chambers. This might be because Torontoist is sitting over the air conditioning vents, which are piping in cold air because there are so many people in chambers. The indignities we suffer to serve you, dear reader.
12:01 PM: The Speaker tells the crowd that if disruptions continue, they’ll be asked to leave. The crowd assumes the sulky silence of a chastened, hand-in-the-cookie-jar child.
12:00 PM: Ford asks the Mayor, “Let me simplify for you, do you agree that Uber and taxi drivers pick people up and drop people off?” To which Tory sassily responds, “I do agree that Uber and taxi drivers pick people up and drop people off, under different circumstances.” The Maury crowd eats it up.
11:57 AM: Asked about the training period of a licensed taxi driver compared to an UberX driver, Cook clarifies that taxi drivers are required to take a 17-day-long course, with a 5-day-long course for limousine drivers. As for Uber? “I think they have their people watch a video,” she says dryly. “It’s 10 minutes!” shouts someone in the crowd, criticizing Uber’s standards.
11:51 AM: Cook clarifies that she would not like to use the word “illegally” when referring to Uber. The crowd reacts like this is an episode of Maury.
11:44 AM: Cook says that in consultation with Chicago and NYC, both cities saw a decrease of 20 per cent in their licensed taxi industry due to the presence of Uber.
11:42 AM: Cook is asked the rate of Uber use in the city. During 2012-2013, 65,000 rides per day with 13,000 active drivers. It’s likely increased since then.
11:49 AM: Cook: “For all the work that we do, there’s always the fundamental principle of fairness…I see this opportunity as a refresh for how we’re looking at the taxi-cab industry.”
11:20 AM: Cook: “Uber is not captured in our taxi-cab regime…we are addressing that today.”
11:18 AM: Tory: “I don’t accept the fact that the present situation is equitable and represents a level playing field,” says that Cook should go back “with her team” and return with a proposal that council further debate at a future date.
11:08 AM: Questions to City staff begin, where councillors can clarify items in the staff report, or just try to score rhetorical points. Tracey Cook, head of Licensing and Standards takes questions from Mammoliti to start us off.
11:02 AM: The Uber debate is underway! The Mayor has held the matter as one of his two key items, and it could be debated all day.
10:59 AM: Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St.Paul’s) takes the time to acknowledge the all-important fact that the Jays are in the playoffs, and will be playing tonight. Hey, you can also read the Torontoist bandwagon guide to the Jays. Go local sports team!
10:43 AM: Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) reminds everyone “you can’t vote on your phones”—raising the idea that some councillors may be getting emails from different lobby groups encouraging them to vote in one direction or another.
10:39 AM: Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park), otherwise known as Council’s Lorax, makes clear that she would not like certain trees removed. But Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) holds the item—he has a record of being against trees, frivolous gravy-train items that they are.
10:28 AM: Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) causes Speaker Nunziata to let out an exasperated sigh—the first of the day, but likely not the last. The motion to privatize garbage fails 8–34.
10:28 AM: Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) is told to take off his “I choose David not Goliath” t-shirt, a reference to his outspoken support for the city’s licensed taxi drivers. Mammoliti jokes that this is the second time he’s taken off his shirt in council—the first having been in 1999 to protest the Hanlan’s Point nude beach. (Warning: link cannot be unseen.)
9:30 AM: Supporters of both licensed taxi cabs and Uber, clad in yellow and blue respectively, pack the council chambers and fill the atrium, waving t-shirts and cheering and jeering intermittently. The vibe is not unlike a wrestling arena, with cheers rising up from both sides when the issue is brought to the floor.