Meeting Minutes: The December 2015 Council Watch Liveblog



Meeting Minutes: The December 2015 Council Watch Liveblog

We follow all the details at council's monthly meeting so you don't have to.

It’s the December 2015 council meeting! Today’s meeting will feature the passing of the rate-supported budget (separate from the operating and capital budgets, it covers water, waste, and parking), provisions for the soon-to-arrive Syrian refugees, and an update to the City’s policies on Healthy Neighbourhoods, Neighbourhoods and Apartment Neighborhoods (this includes the encouragement of community gardens, stricter criteria for development in apartment neighbourhoods and adjusting what planning staff take into account when deciding if a new development fits a neighbourhood’s character).

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City Hall Council Chambers (100 Queen Street West)

Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m.

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Sarah Niedoba December 9, 201511:37 am

And we’re off! Councillors are currently discussing the Affordable Housing Open Door Program. 

Sarah Niedoba December 9, 201511:46 am
As councillors question staff, now is a good time to read up on how Build Toronto has been failing to meet its affordable housing targets:

Sarah Niedoba December 9, 201512:08 pm

Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto-Centre Rosdale) asks how many times Council has asked the Province for inclusionary zoning powers with regards to mandatory affordable housing policy. Keesmaat says 14 times in the last 16 years.

Sarah Niedoba December 9, 20152:32 pm

As Council returns from lunch, chambers fill with cab drivers for half an hour, before they are escorted from the premises by security. One driver yells at Tory to resign, as he “can’t do his job.” Tory looks on in silence. 

Sarah Niedoba December 9, 20152:40 pm

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) announces that he is challenging the new Prime Minister and other “yappers” in the federal government to actually provide funding for affordable housing in Toronto. 

Sarah Niedoba December 9, 20152:41 pm

He says it is an emergency issue, especially “with the Syrians coming into town.” Presumably they’ll be getting a ride with Old Saint Nick. 

Sarah Niedoba December 9, 20153:15 pm

Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) discusses a fraud and waste hotline. She’s said the word hotline easily five times now, and you know @norm’s staff is frantically trying to think of the perfect Drake-related tweet to send out. 

Neville Park December 9, 20155:25 pm

Hello everyone! Council is talking about a subject very dear to my heart: the water budget!

Neville Park December 9, 20155:27 pm

Here I recap some key issues for the water budget: stormwater management and industrial waste surcharges.

Neville Park December 9, 20155:32 pm

Basically, Toronto Water charges industries for cleaning the polluted water they discharge. There are different rates for different pollutants. However, we don’t charge them for the full cost. We just charge them for the pollutant that they release the most of.

Neville Park December 9, 20155:33 pm

Toronto is like “we love you and don’t want you to take your business out of our city so we are willing to clean your polluted water on the cheap.” Some councillors, most notably Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), think this is wack.

Neville Park December 9, 20155:42 pm

Mark Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) asks what we’re doing to protect large water users like Campbell’s Soup and Cintas, to keep them from getting their water somewhere else.

Neville Park December 9, 20155:44 pm

Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, York Centre), who is TRCA chair, has a motion: to put capital funding towards a few “shovel ready” TRCA projects – “shoring up” parts of the waterfront in Etobicoke and Tommy Thompson Park. “They are just as important as the Scarborough Bluffs.”

Neville Park December 9, 20155:45 pm

For once, Scarberians aren’t second-class citizens!

Neville Park December 9, 20155:46 pm

“Look at the pristine nature of what could be accomplished,” pleads Augimeri, who has slides of the relevant shorelines (they are verdant and beautiful).

Neville Park December 9, 20155:48 pm

Gary Crawford (Ward 36, Scarborough Southwest), the budget chief, stands up to formally introduce the rate-supported budgets. I’m not sure why he’s doing this now instead of earlier. Anyway, he’s bragging about how they’re funding it without using the property tax base or debentures, except they’re not, which is why they are considering a separate stormwater charge.

Neville Park December 9, 20155:52 pm

And Layton is up with a bold but doomed motion to charge companies for the full cost of cleaning their water. He takes a cheap shot at James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre), who apparently instructed Christin Carmichael Greb (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) that this is a “no” vote, and Pasternak retorts that he shouldn’t eavesdrop.

Neville Park December 9, 20155:55 pm

Layton is miffed that Budget Committee went back on staff’s original recommendation to bill companies on a cost recovery basis, name-drops the Paris climate conference, Walkerton Inquiry, and the “green economy.”

Neville Park December 9, 20155:56 pm

“In a world of rising carbon dioxide, of rising occurrences of severe weather, ONE MAN…”

Neville Park December 9, 20156:01 pm

We may be booted from the chambers, as Council normally discusses any confidential matters at 6 p.m.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:01 pm

Nunziata sounds as irritable as I feel.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:06 pm

Speaker Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York-South Weston) sounds as irritable as I feel.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:10 pm

Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) is laying out the water budget catch-22: as people and industries use water more efficiently, revenue drops. As a result, capital projects have had to be put on the back burner.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:11 pm

Davis has a truly beautiful graph up that shows the depletion of the capital reserve: $7.5 million by 2022.

Edit: well, if by “beautiful” you mean “devastating and terrifying”. Awe-inspiring, perhaps.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:13 pm

Davis has a truly beautiful graph up that shows the depletion of the capital reserve: $7.5 million by 2022.

Edit: well, if by “beautiful” you mean “devastating and terrifying.” Awe-inspiring, perhaps.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:14 pm

Pasternak wants everyone to know that, while he wishes to pay for basement flooding programs while not increasing water rates, he knows it is impossible. This actually comes as a great relief.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:15 pm

Council in general has great difficulty grasping the connection between Money and Things (namely, that Things Cost Money).

Neville Park December 9, 20156:18 pm

Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) is now waxing nostalgic about the environmental movement of the 80s and 90s, which disseminated the idea that you could profit from pollution to incentivize corporations to clean up their act.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:20 pm

Perks argues that failing to reward efficiency through regulation and pricing makes companies less resilient and thus makes jobs less secure.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:22 pm

Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) has a motion to take an extra $1 million from the capital reserve and put it in the tree canopy reserve fund.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:24 pm

John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre) questions whether De Baeremaeker’s motion will take money away from other projects funded through the water capital reserve. It seems De Baeremaeker may have been a bit shortsighted.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:27 pm

Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York), says water revenue is projected to go down 0.5 per cent cumulatively over the next 10 years, which means the reserve will continue to decline, and so we can’t afford to put more into the tree canopy reserve.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:31 pm

Ah, you can always rely on Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West) to ask whether the private sector could not fund things instead. De Baeremaeker does not budge, saying the City must make some contribution.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:33 pm

Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) asks facetiously if councillors are having problems hearing each other, because there are billions of dollars in unfunded environmental assessments and other projects and Council must practice discipline in order to maintain the reserve.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:35 pm

“We keep kneecapping [Lou Di Gironimo, Toronto Water head]’s ability” to hold things together.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:37 pm

Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) is also concerned about De Baeremaeker’s motion. “Just…just don’t vote for this.” He has consulted staff who agree that it is not the right thing to do.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:40 pm

Speaker Nunziata rules Augimeri’s motion out of order because it would be a fee, not a tax, and because TRCA projects can’t be funded from the water budget anyway. De Baeremaeker challenges her ruling, unsuccessfully. The vote is surprisingly close.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:41 pm

Layton’s amendment about the industrial waste surcharge fails.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:42 pm

De Baeremaeker’s tree canopy motion gets slapped down.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:47 pm

Augimeri is upset that the Speaker has ruled her motion regarding Etobicoke out of order. The Speaker calls in the City Solicitor, who says water rates can’t be used for anything Council wants, but only for water projects, and the projects in Etobicoke belong in the parks budget.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:48 pm

Etobians = second-class citizens, you heard it here first folks.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:51 pm

Grimes wants to re-open the vote to uphold the chair’s ruling, which is against the rules, and Nunziata tells him so. Other councillors jokingly request to re-open votes on subjects such as the Scarborough Subway and the lead pipe replacement loan program.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:52 pm

Well, that’s it for the water budget. On to solid waste! Layton is asking pointed questions about bin sizes.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:55 pm

I confess I am having trouble following Layton’s argument about waste diversion and bin sizes because I am very hungry but I have to stay here and blog.

Neville Park December 9, 20156:59 pm

(In the meanwhile, the mayor is attempting to mediate between the chief of police and the protesting taxi drivers. On one hand, I don’t think he has the skill set or experience to mediate. On the other, he does have a lot of authority so maybe people will just do what he says. It’s up in the air.)

Neville Park December 9, 20157:01 pm

Robinson asks staff what they think the best way is to get residents to reduce waste and recycle more. Staff reply: aggressive education and financial incentives. “Heavy-handed enforcement typically doesn’t work as well as getting people to buy into the reasons we’re doing it.”

Neville Park December 9, 20157:09 pm

Ron Moeser (Ward 44, Scarborough East) asks whether the grey bin system is profitable. I didn’t know we had grey bins.

Update: Oh, those are the black garbage bins. Which are black in colour. What an illogical name.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:11 pm

Ron Moeser (Ward 44, Scarborough East) asks whether the grey bin system is profitable. I didn’t know we had grey bins.

Update: Oh, those are the black garbage bins. Which are black in colour. What an illogical name.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:15 pm

Layton praises staff’s infographic that shows one can go down several garbage bin sizes if one diverts enough waste to recycling or the green bin.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:17 pm

Layton reminds us that “every year we can squeeze out of this landfill” is another year before we have to find a new dump.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:18 pm

“You have to do a little source separation. It’s a little messy…it’s getting messier…” (Layton’s first child was born recently.)

Neville Park December 9, 20157:19 pm

Crawford points out that, at the current rate of waste diversion, the landfill the City uses will be full by 2029.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:22 pm

Holyday rises to say that he opposes the garbage rate, because it is higher than inflation. He believes they could achieve significant savings by contracting out instead. Minnan-Wong, speaking next, agrees.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:23 pm

Minnan-Wong says Council wouldn’t have had to raise garbage rates if they charged non-profits and places of worship. “Things cost money,” he says, echoing my official budget slogan.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:26 pm

De Baeremaeker hearkens back to the birth of the blue box program, when they were “the size of a large shoebox”.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:34 pm

I looked away for only a minute and now they’re talking about parking! Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches-East York) is very excited about Toronto Parking’s new initiatives, like Bike Share, which is finally coming to “the Danny”.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:35 pm

“I get the feeling that Toronto Parking Authority is the smaller cousin to the larger rate-based budgets we do,” laments Crawford. The budget is probably so small because Council only raises the rates like every seven years or so.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:40 pm

Aaaaand that’s it for the rate-supported budgets. Now Council is doing routine things like introducing urgent items, which are typically to do with OMB hearings.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:47 pm

“Nobody believed we’d be here today,” says Ana Bailao (Ward 18, Davenport), introducing an item regarding a new library in her ward replacing a cramped old one.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:54 pm

Holyday would like the record to reflect that he is not in favour of asking other levels of government to implement universal pharmacare.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:55 pm

There is a bit of a (metaphorical) scuffle as Holyday tries to release the item about skating on Grenadier Pond. It is in Sarah Doucette’s (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) ward, but it is Robinson who calls it.

Edit: I am really sad that I have to clarify the scuffle is not a physical fight.

Neville Park December 9, 20157:58 pm

And Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) introduces the confirming bill, which is the “let’s all go home” vote. Until tomorrow, friends!

Neville Park December 10, 20159:51 am

Day 2: December 10, 2015

As the meeting starts up again, Speaker Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York-South Weston) announces that 132 items have been dealt with (ooooh), leaving 82 on the agenda (oh).

Follow along with the Youtube livestream or the Meeting Monitor.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:06 am

The current item: Metrolinx wants to build a rail overpass near the “Davenport Diamond” as part of GHTA rail expansion, but the local community is opposed. They cite “visual impacts, noise and air
quality related to diesel trains, impacts on neighbourhood connectivity, property values, redevelopment opportunities, public realm impacts, construction pile driving methods, lack of opportunity for new stations, and other concerns” (from the staff report (PDF).

You can get an idea of residents’ concerns from this letter by former MP Andrew Cash. Here’s Metrolinx’s reasons for building it.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:07 am

The current item: Metrolinx wants to build a rail overpass near the “Davenport Diamond” as part of GHTA rail expansion, but the local community is opposed. They cite “visual impacts, noise and air quality related to diesel trains, impacts on neighbourhood connectivity, property values, redevelopment opportunities, public realm impacts, construction pile driving methods, lack of opportunity for new stations, and other concerns” (from the staff report (PDF).

You can get an idea of residents’ concerns from this letter by former MP Andrew Cash. Here’s Metrolinx’s reasons for building it.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:10 am

Interesting back-and-forth on Twitter right now between Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins and the Toronto Star‘s David Rider, who is livetweeting staff and councillors’ comments.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:12 am

Chief Planner Jen Keesmaat says that a tunnel (instead of an overpass) would have the least impact on the neighbourhood. I suspect that, as has been the case for a few other projects, tunnelling is not actually a feasible option.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:14 am

Ana Bailao (Ward 18, Davenport) is the local councillor. She’s on her leading-question A-game this morning. (You know it’s a leading question when it begins “Isn’t it true that…”, “Were you aware that…”, etc.)

Neville Park December 10, 201510:19 am

Nunziata sheepishly admits that she had a few councillors’ names on the speakers’ list but “unfortunately…they were erased.” Everyone lets it slide.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:36 am

Raymond Cho (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River) asks whether the City can legally stop Metrolinx. “I’m not sure we have much we can rely on in this situation,” admits City Solicitor Anna Kinastowski, but adds “it’s a bit premature to consider legal action at this point.”

Neville Park December 10, 201510:37 am

Jen Keesmaat basically says Metrolinx can just build whatever they want, which is why Council should get their input in early.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:43 am

Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) is irked that the City may have to contribute to the costs of building something they emphatically don’t want. Staff diplomatically reply that no one ever said life was fair.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:46 am

Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale) points out that once upon a time Toronto had elected representatives on the Metrolinx board. Staff sheepishly admit getting representation in Metrolinx has not been part of their considerations regarding the CotA review.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:49 am

The Globe and Mail‘s transit reporter:

Neville Park December 10, 201510:51 am

“You’re looking at a Gardiner Expressway for trains going through this community!” says an outraged David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale). This is inexpressibly hilarious because Shiner protested in favour of the Spadina Expressway in his youth.

Neville Park December 10, 201510:55 am

Nunziata tries to cut off Shiner’s rant. “I have an extra minute as chair!” he says triumphantly, and gets to finish his speech.

(The speaking limit is five minutes, but the chair of the relevant committee [Planning & Growth, in this case] gets an extra minute.)

Neville Park December 10, 201510:58 am

(Once upon a time, the speaking limit was three minutes and Council could vote on whether to give the councillor extra time. However, Rob Ford’s [Ward 2, Etobicoke North] principle of always asking for a recorded vote made this such a lengthy process that eventually Council settled on giving everyone five minutes flat.)

Neville Park December 10, 201511:01 am

“We don’t want to be known as the ‘train-watching’ community!” cries Bailao. wat.jpg

Neville Park December 10, 201511:08 am

A wry comment from Transit Santa.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:14 am

Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) rises. A councillor renowned for being middle-of-the-road to a fault, it would not be a huge surprise if he supported an only slightly elevated rail line, but he simply offers his thanks to Bailao for her hard work on this issue.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:19 am

Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) takes the slightly contrarian stance of not supporting a tunnel, but agreeing that Metrolinx’s proposal isn’t right for the neighbourhood.

Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) says elevated railways “kill the potential” of up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:24 am

Perks has two motions. The first is to remind Metrolinx that Council wants elected representatives sitting on the Metrolinx board. “Someone appointed merely to get the trains to run on time” has no broad perspective, he argues, and doesn’t have to prioritize residents’ quality of life.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:25 am

John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre) is next. Nunziata accidentally calls him Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton Lawrence). “That’s okay, I mix them up too,” Perks says.

Campbell asks if we shouldn’t send a strongly worded letter to the Premier as well. Perks replies that so far, letters haven’t worked.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:27 am

“Speaker, I know I must sound like a broken record, but I agree with Councillor Perks,” his frequent opponent Josh Colle says dryly. (Other councillors accuse him of just looking for a good soundbite for tweets. “Tweet heartily,” he replies.)

Neville Park December 10, 201511:32 am

Carroll is Deputy Speaker, so she takes over as Nunziata puts forward some motions of her own: to forward Council’s decision to the local MPPs, and to ask Metrolinx to use a similar approach as they did in her area, Weston/Mount Dennis. There, the community organized to negotiate a community benefits agreement for Metrolinx’s development of the Kodak lands.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:43 am

Holyday’s amendment to also ask for the City and Metrolinx to look into non-tunnel options fails.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:45 am

Shiner’s motion to support staff recommendations and ask the premier to intervene and meet with the Mayor carries almost unanimously, as does Perks’ motion asking for a spot at the table.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:47 am

Ugh, I missed a motion somewhere in there, sorry. Anyway, Nunziata’s motions carry unanimously.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:49 am

Davis’s motion asking Metrolinx for cost-sharing information passes as well.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:51 am

Now the Medical Officer of Health is giving a presentation on Toronto Public Health’s action plan on intimate partner violence, held by Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale). I did a write-up of this in my Council preview.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:55 am

Toronto Public Health plans to help prevent IPV through education, both for parents and youth, and by addressing social norms that perpetuate gender violence.

Neville Park December 10, 201511:57 am

One of TPH’s recommendations is to increase access to housing, especially transitional and emergency housing.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:03 pm

Wong-Tam says legal supports for City employees who are survivors of domestic violence were removed during collective bargaining in 2012. Zahra Abdille had to get a second job to pay for legal costs, e.g. for a restraining order, as she didn’t qualify for legal aid. Welp.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:05 pm

Cho is out the gate with a little dog-whistle racism, referencing gun crime among “people who came to Canada as refugees.” Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) says he’s being inappropriate. Cho takes it back but then doubles down, saying cultural “learned behaviours” play a role.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:11 pm

Carroll has questions about how we get data about domestic violence, points out it’s often unreported. If 1 in 3 women have experienced intimate partner violence, and there are 14 women on Council, well… :|

Neville Park December 10, 201512:12 pm

Davis is irked that occupational health & safety people from the City’s HR division aren’t here for questions about City policy.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:15 pm

The item gets put on hold till staff are there to answer questions. On to the next item, the operating budget variance report. Now Perks is up, but there are no staff to answer his questions.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:16 pm

OH BOY GAPPING WE’RE TALKING ABOUT GAPPING! Um, more on this in a Torontoist explainer coming soon.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:17 pm

Basically, the City saves money by leaving positions vacant longer than they have to. (They don’t have to pay employees who aren’t there.) This can have a negative effect on City operations.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:23 pm

The City Manager says there’s no “generalized instruction” to deliberately slow down hiring in order to save money, just individual decisions. Oh-kay.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:29 pm

The current discussion about revenue, debentures, etc., is deeply interesting to me but probably very few other people.

Neville Park December 10, 201512:32 pm

Perks issues a dire warning about staff levels, which are far below where they should be. This means, he says, that either work isn’t getting done, or staff have to take overtime, which is expensive.

Council votes to approve the budget adjustments in the variance report, with only Perks, Davis, and Matlow against.
Aaaaand lunch break. We’ll be back at 2.

Neville Park December 10, 20152:21 pm

Aaaand we’re back! Tune into the livestream.

Neville Park December 10, 20152:26 pm

Council is now doing <a href=””>quick releases</a>.

Neville Park December 10, 20152:30 pm

Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West), using his best I Am a Serious Adult voice, expresses his displeasure that the Speaker ruled a motion of his (to let taxis drop rates sooner) not an “emergency”. (This means it can’t be discussed at the meeting.) Nunziata shuts him down coolly.

Neville Park December 10, 20152:31 pm

The most De Baeremaeker motion ever: creating a “dog meet and greet” in a local park.

Neville Park December 10, 20152:34 pm

Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East) announces that “in about three hours, when you get the munchies,” Augimeri has brought a cake she baked herself. Meanwhile, there is chatter about the cookies James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre) has brought. “Those look store-bought,” someone remarks. (They do look store-bought. Up your game, councillor.)

Neville Park December 10, 20152:44 pm

Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West) holds his and Wong-Tam’s member motion about fast food places making false claims about recycling. This earns some jibes from a few councillors across the chamber: “Oh, so now you care about the planet?” “You wouldn’t know from his voting record…” “I don’t miss sitting over here,” Burnside grumbles as he walks by.

Neville Park December 10, 20152:50 pm

Council votes to consider that Holyday/Ford councillor expenses motion at the meeting. They don’t vote on the motion itself, though, because Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) holds it for debate. Back to quick releases.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:03 pm

Council is whipping through typical member motions like objections to liquor licenses for hip new bars.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:09 pm

They’re just zipping along here; now there’s only 48 items left. We haven’t had a two-day Council meeting in ages!

Neville Park December 10, 20153:14 pm

Ooooh. <a href=”″>Wong-Tam’s member motion</a> asking the Province for the transit funding Brampton rejected (when it voted against an LRT) gets passed, but then Matlow notices and gets it re-opened. Matlow goes over and quibbles with Wong-Tam about it.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:17 pm

Wong-Tam now asks for a few votes on member motions to be re-opened. It is a common tactic for councillors to try to sneak things through in routine member motions like this.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:20 pm

“I don’t really know if I want to vote on a ‘dog meet-and-greet area’,” says Shiner, as everyone groans. (He agrees not to hold it for debate, and it passes.) Me, from the gallery: “They sniff each other’s butts!”

Neville Park December 10, 20153:27 pm

Okay, now we’re back to the TPH intimate partner violence item. Davis had questions about how the City’s HR handles the safety of employees who are victims of domestic violence.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:30 pm

Wong-Tam has a motion: she would like to put IPV plan implementation in the hands of the City Manager, not just Toronto Public Health.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:31 pm

“[Zahra Abdille’s] death was entirely preventable,” Wong-Tam says. “It’s very important to take note of when our systems fail.”

Neville Park December 10, 20153:34 pm

Wong-Tam asks how we can be certain that we’re getting vital services to residents when the City couldn’t even protect one of their own employees.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:38 pm

Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) says we must root out the causes of intimate partner violence – inequality, power imbalance between men and women. He adds that men have a responsibility to speak out against gender violence, not just stand by.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:41 pm

Augimeri: “Those six words that were removed from our labour relations protocol could have saved a woman’s life.” She talks about protocol changes she helped implement. Emergency services were instructed to ignore “that second 911 call” that women typically make, saying “never mind, it was a misunderstanding”; and the practice of asking children, who had just witnessed domestic violence, to translate for their parents ended. Augimeri concludes with “I wish more than six people here were listening.”

Neville Park December 10, 20153:43 pm

Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) points out the problem of mandatory charging, or dual charging, that is mentioned in Dr. McKeown’s report: although this is not supposed to be done, police sometimes still arrest the victim as well as the perpetrator because she fought back. This is just one thing the City has to work with the police service on.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:46 pm

Next up is Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina). Shout-out to <a href=””>the White Ribbon pledge</a> campaign: “never to commit, condone, or remain silent on violence against women”.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:47 pm

Davis: Far too often, we leave policy implementation up to the divisions. “We have an obligation as an employer to make sure that every manager and every employee knows it is their responsibility to take action if they should find out…that one of our employees is struggling to protect themselves, their family…and we have an obligation to help.”

Neville Park December 10, 20153:53 pm

Wong-Tam’s amendments carry unanimously. The item as a whole passes unanimously as well. Congratulations on not screwing this up, Council.

Neville Park December 10, 20153:56 pm

Now back to the item Perks held, <a href=”″>the Interim Estimates</a> (the funding that the City runs on until the budget is approved). Staff describe it as “housekeeping”, but Perks wants more transparency.

Neville Park December 10, 20154:13 pm

Now up: the <a href=”″>Toronto Seniors Strategy</a>, introduced by Pasternak.

Neville Park December 10, 20154:19 pm

Now Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) is grilling staff about the No One Is Illegal report that revealed <a href=”″>fully a third of inquiries to Canadian Border Services were from Toronto Police Services</a>. The Access T. O. initiative was meant to establish a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy so undocumented residents wouldn’t be afraid to access City services — including police.

Neville Park December 10, 20154:37 pm

Mihevc has a motion up. It would replace “policing services” with “emergency services” in the list of services available to undocumented residents regardless of status; it would also ask Toronto Police to <em>consider</em> “don’t ask, don’t tell” (which, legally, they can do).

Neville Park December 10, 20154:40 pm

Karygiannis asks Mihevc to explain the TDSB policy on citizenship status. “No children are ineligible [to attend school]. All children are eligible,” he says, and I experience a sudden flashback to philosophy class.

Neville Park December 10, 20154:49 pm

Onward! Holyday has a motion asking any unused Investment Funding Program money to be put into the City’s Syrian refugee resettlement fund, instead of to other applicants as usual.

Neville Park December 10, 20154:50 pm

McConnell asks if Holyday talked with policy people to see what this money would otherwise be going to. “Were you aware that…” it goes, for example, to youth programs? she asks.

Neville Park December 10, 20154:56 pm

Mihevc stands up to speak against Holyday’s motion. The money would go to priority youth programs that didn’t get funding in the first wave earlier this year.

Neville Park December 10, 20154:57 pm

Cressy is also opposed, saying that this funding is earmarked for vulnerable youth. (He is the Youth Equity Advocate on Council.)

Neville Park December 10, 20154:58 pm

Pasternak: “I’ll be even more brief…it is a policy on the fly, it is decisions on the fly…” Dang, man, tell us how you really feel.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:01 pm

Holyday’s amendment gets decisively defeated. Colle is the only councillor who votes in favour who isn’t a first-term councillor.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:03 pm

*David Attenborough voice* A rare sighting of the elusive Councillor Carmichael-Greb!…She releases a motion, then disappears back into the rainforest.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:05 pm

An awed murmur as a motion to deny a tree removal permit passes 18-17. This is gripping stuff, people.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:19 pm

I just heard some joking around about De Baeremaeker’s shark.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:27 pm

Karygiannis is deeply concerned that some agency that gets City money for Syrian refugee resettlement might end up being, like, Al-Qaeda or something. Really.
Staff explain to him very slowly, as if he’s five, that the agencies getting funding are all funded by the City, except Lifeline Syria, which is funded by the province.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:28 pm

Karygiannis is concerned because Lifeline Syria cannot issue tax receipts. Staff reply that this is a very rare scenario and normally an organization that had only been incorporated for two months wouldn’t get City funding, but these are extraordinary circumstances and it has very reputable people on its board.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:30 pm

Burnside is worried about money going to non-profits headed by exorbitantly paid fat cats. Staff somehow keep a straight face as they reply that most organizations actually underpay their senior employees, but that they do look at salaries in the process.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:43 pm

Mihevc has a lovely speech about Toronto’s charitable spirit, the City’s history of investment in access and equity work, and why our response to Syrian refugees is unique.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:45 pm

Pasternak has a motion to designate Cressy and Mihevc as “Newcomer Advocates who will promote integration and inclusion of refugees to the civic, economic, and cultural life of the city” for the next year. Aww.

Neville Park December 10, 20155:48 pm

Aaaaand nobody is listening to Pasternak any more. De Baeremaeker is taking a selfie at his desk.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:10 pm

It’s the tree by-law reform item. Holyday, noted hater of trees, has a motion to look into Mississauga’s by-laws, which allow any homeowner to remove 1 or 2 trees a year. Nooooooooooooooo

Neville Park December 10, 20156:11 pm

McMahon: “Do you feel trees are beneficial to our city?” Nunziata rules it out of order as it’s not a clarification of the motion.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:17 pm

McMahon rises on a point of privilege to introduce her teenage son, and everyone applauds. He last appeared in Council to fight the street ball hockey ban.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:27 pm

De Baeremaeker gives a shout-out to everyone who has “stood up for trees”, is grateful that this term we have a mayor who has actually promised to increase the tree-planting budget, not cut it. He says he supports staff recommendations, which strengthen tree protections.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:28 pm

Di Giorgio is the first councillor to stand in support of Holyday’s motion. It’s just an utterly Di Giorgio thing to do.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:30 pm

Cressy jokes about a chainsaw subsidy program and, of course, an associated training course. “It’s a human rights issue!”

Neville Park December 10, 20156:33 pm

“This is a Twitter vote,” councillors joke as they re-vote on Holyday’s motion (Wong-Tam pressed the wrong button). Certified tree-haters: Carmichael Greb, Crisanti, Di Giorgio, Karygiannis, Holyday, Minnan-Wong, Nunziata.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:34 pm

The city’s trees are safe, and anyone who doesn’t like it can go move to Mississauga.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:39 pm

We’re on to the Grenadier Pond skating item, which has a confidential attachment that cannot be released publicly, according to the City Solicitor.

Neville Park December 10, 20156:39 pm

And Jaye Robinson wins “leading question of the day” with “Should common sense prevail in all this?”

Neville Park December 10, 20156:49 pm

Campbell is dismayed at the cost of bringing in an expert from Ottawa or Quebec to train City staff to measure ice thickness correctly. “Couldn’t we go up to Lake Simcoe and get some ice fishers?” Grimes: “I’ll do it!” Perks: “Just walk him out to the middle!”

Doucette (the local councillor) stands up and warns the jokesters that they might scoff at the cost, but otherwise “soon we may be skating on thin ice.” Groans all round.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:02 pm

Robinson has a motion to not ask for more money to fund an ice monitoring program on Grenadier Pond and instead use “existing resources” in the Parks, Forestry & Recreation budget.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:03 pm

Doucette disagrees that the status quo is working, as Robinson says. She says Municipal Licensing & Standards officers regularly come out to Grenadier Pond, and people don’t want to be fined. Robinson brushes this off.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:06 pm

Doucette presents a motion that would only ask for $25,000 (rather than the $50,000 suggested by staff), with a goal of getting more funds later. (She points out that you can’t skate on Grenadier Pond now, and probably won’t be able to for the rest of this winter.)

She shows a photo of people skating on the pond in front of a “Ice Unsafe, Keep Off” sign–people ignore it, with no idea of the actual risk.

David Hains December 10, 20157:07 pm

From John Barber’s January Torontoist article on Grenadier Pond

“Bylaws are by definition communal, not authoritarian, and they can be enforced only by consent, not coercion. More often than not, blowing the whistle means just that. Just as likely, it means it’s time to change the bylaw.”

Photo by Michael Monastyrskyj, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:07 pm

“People have been skating here for a hundred years! We’re not going to stop them!” says Doucette.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:14 pm

Karygiannis and Grimes have brought up areas in their wards that could use a similar program. Doucette says she’s been approached by some other councillors as well. She says Grenadier Pond would be a pilot project that could be expanded if successful.

David Hains December 10, 20157:14 pm

Does the existing Parks & Recreation budget have the money to fund this, without giving politicians the pain of another budget pressure? 

Well, keep in mind that Council unanimously passed a five-year parks plan in 2013, but has consistently refused to provide the funding for it. In fact, this came up at October’s meeting, where once again they denied the funding. 

This is today’s edition of Things Cost Money. 

Neville Park December 10, 20157:17 pm

Carroll asks if a flag system like the one Doucette wants has been tested in court. (She doesn’t know.)

Neville Park December 10, 20157:21 pm

Holyday has a motion that would prevent the confidential attachment from being released after Council’s decision, as is custom. (Can they even do that?) Is it like the Necronomicon or something? Will it drive residents mad? We don’t know, and they can’t say.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:31 pm

Cho says that he can’t support Doucette’s motion because global warming and also children.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:34 pm

At this point, the speaker’s list is full, there’s half an hour left in the meeting, and it’s clear Council will go on for a third day.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:35 pm

“I listen to the radio, so I know I’m probably disappointing Matt Galloway as well,” Carroll says, as she stands up to explain why she’s not supporting Doucette’s motion.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:37 pm

“You may hear ‘joy joy, happy joy joy’ on Metro Morning tomorrow, but [once the budget comes out] you’ll be eating your words,” warns Carroll.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:41 pm

“This isn’t a budget issue,” says Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West). “The City Manager has that much left over in his paper budget!” I will need some time to fact-check this.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:44 pm

Perruzza says the real solution is to build more low-cost outdoor rinks. (High Park actually does have outdoor rinks as well.)

Neville Park December 10, 20157:50 pm

Aaand we’re voting.

-Robinson’s motion (to fund program out of existing PFR budget) FAILS narrowly.

-Doucette’s motion to request only $25,000 in funding PASSES easily.

-Holyday’s motion to keep the confidential attachment confidential PASSES easily.

-The item as amended PASSES 28-9.

Neville Park December 10, 20157:51 pm

Council votes to extend the meeting until 9 p.m.

Neville Park December 10, 20158:00 pm

This meeting possibly has a record number of votes being re-opened.

Neville Park December 10, 20158:01 pm

Perks protests that the rules don’t allow re-opening items once Council has moved on. 

Di Ciano: “This is Council, we can do whatever we want!” 

Layton: “You’re wrong, Justin!” (He’s wrong.)
Perks: “Maybe 9:00 wasn’t such a good idea.”

Neville Park December 10, 20158:08 pm

Procedural confusion over whether or not it is appropriate to redo a vote if it would change the result. The clerks say that Council re-opened the entire item, considered it anew, and that’s within the rules. Perks says he has in camera questions, which means the item in question isn’t a quick release. Council may be here for a while longer.

Neville Park December 10, 20158:11 pm

Perks protests that the rules don’t allow re-opening items once Council has moved on. 

Di Ciano: “This is Council, we can do whatever we want!” 

Layton: “You’re wrong, Justin!” (He’s wrong.)

Perks: “Maybe 9:00 wasn’t such a good idea.”

Neville Park December 10, 20158:18 pm

Council is going in camera (into a private session to discuss confidential information). Time for me to go home. Thanks for following along, everyone!

David Hains December 11, 20158:29 am

And that’s it for council’s December session! Stay tuned on December 15 when the municipal budget is launched at city hall, and councillors grapple with finding real solutions to Toronto’s structural deficit. Fun!