City Council Preview: February 2016
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City Council Preview: February 2016

Torontoist's Council Watch provides your cheat sheet for the February 2016 agenda.

Photo by kotsy from the Torontoist Flickr pool

Photo by kotsy from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Friends, we can all agree that the municipal budget is the most exciting part of the year. But don’t get distracted—there’s a regular City Council meeting this month, too. On the agenda: Uber, fireworks, Toronto Hydro, subways, animal control, and even some good old-fashioned Rob Ford drama.

Let’s check it out, and understand the agenda better than those 15 councillors who never raise their hand in class.


  • We’ve got a twofer! Integrity Commissioner Valerie Jepson has decided that Mayor John Tory didn’t cross any ethical lines when he tabled a motion in support of Uber. (A couple of Uber lobbyists previously worked on his campaign team.)

  • Meanwhile, Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) fell afoul of the Code of Conduct twice last May: first, by advertising a campaign fundraiser in his constituency newsletter, and second, by not reporting that he paid for it out of his own pocket. The Integrity Commissioner suggests suspending three days’ worth of his pay (about $900), and three more if he doesn’t report the expenses by the end of the month.

    (Related: Paula Fletcher [Ward 30, Toronto Danforth] wants a bigger newsletter budget.)

The Environment

  • Should the City license wildlife control operators? The Licensing and Standards Committee thinks so. Animal rights activists, the Toronto Wildlife Centre, and numerous pest and animal control companies are on board. However, the staff report from Municipal Licensing and Standards says the Province should take care of it.

  • Water safety is currently a hot-button issue (look no further than Michigan), but industries and environmental activists have been at loggerheads in Toronto for a long time. Now the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee wants to tighten up the sewer and water by-laws to crack down on pollution.

  • Why do Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) and Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East) care where the small city of Waukesha, Wisconsin gets its drinking water?

Sic Transit Gloria…

Planning and Development


Via Twitter

Via Twitter.

  • You know what happens when you ignore too many software updates? This happens.

  • Demand for e-books is booming at the Toronto Public Library—patrons borrowed over two million of them last year. For libraries, however, e-books are vastly more expensive than paper books and come with draconian copyright restrictions. TPL’s chief librarian has been advocating for industry reform; will City Council back her up?

  • Even though the Province is in charge of social assistance, it’s Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) that has to actually administer it—working with clients, mailing out cheques, and so on. Last fall the Province rolled out a new computer system and it was apparently a huge clusterfuck. (Reading the report, one is reminded of Mitt Romney’s ill-fated get-out-the-vote app.) Now Government Management Committee wants the province to reimburse TESS for the extra cost the project has incurred (about $7.25 million).

  • Layton and Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East) want cheaper Internet.

Photo by b m a n  from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Grab Bag

  • City Manager Peter Wallace says that City staff hasn’t had any communications or meetings with the province about privatizing Toronto Hydro. Wallace’s response to an administrative inquiry from Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) doesn’t mean no discussion of Toronto Hydro has taken place, though—his answer is specific to staff meeting with the province, and, as it’s not his purview, he does not speak to the possibility of the mayor’s staff having their own discussions.

  • The City moves a step closer to legalizing Labour Day fireworks.

  • Will reefer madness get referred?

  • Should public health fall under the purview of the provincial healthcare system? The Board of Health has its doubts.

  • James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre) is just so very Pasternak; he wants to redefine Toronto’s “waterfront”. Coincidentally, this change would mean his North York ward would receive the distinction. (Really.)

  • Thanks to good old grassroots rabble-rousing, Executive Committee wants Council to give the go-ahead to community group-created road murals.

  • Allan Gardens: not just for hothouse flowers any more! The park is getting a new community garden run by Food Forward.

Did we miss anything important? Leave your feedback in the comments!

How to Follow Along
Watch the Livestream
Follow the Agenda

City Hall Council Chambers (100 Queen Street West)

Feb. 3, 9:30 a.m.

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CORRECTION: FEBRUARY 8, 9:46 AM We have clarified the item about privatizing Toronto Hydro to indicate that the response from the City Manager is specific to discussions between City staff and the province.