City Council Preview: May 2016
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City Council Preview: May 2016

This month: the highly anticipated Uber vs. taxi debate, much-needed child care, and filling Rob Ford's shoes.

Photo by Neville Park.

Photo by Neville Park.

This City Council meeting will be a busy one, with taxis, bike lanes, Rob Ford’s replacement, the TORONTO sign, and more on the agenda.

The Big Ticket

  • Oh boy, the taxi item. This is a complicated mess that we haven’t entirely wrapped our heads around. To be brief: the long process of making the highly regulated (some would say over-regulated) taxi system fairer for drivers and more accessible for customers has been spectacularly derailed by Uber, who gives any old schmo the means to ferry people around. (They’re not especially picky about how well-insured their drivers are, either.) This undercuts the taxi industry—and, not to mention, raises important questions about worker rights and the rise of precarious labour.

    It’s going to be a brawl. While Council’s small-government types are easily enamoured by shiny technology and think less regulation is better, other sometime allies owe their Council seats to donations from the taxi industry and are being heavily pressured to give taxis an edge—or at least a level playing field. For a good overview of what’s at stake, see Jennifer Pagliaro in the Star.

  • Vaguely related: you know what would make taxi debates a lot more entertaining? Public deputations at the Licensing Tribunal.

  • Also vaguely related: Michelle Holland (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest) would like to see Toronto emulate Santander, Spain‘s use of smart technology. We would like everyone speaking on this item to describe, in their own words, what they think “smart technology” is.

  • This humble Bloor bike lane pilot is the culmination of decades of cycling activism. The local councillors, Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) and Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), are in favour, but suburban councillors worry that taking any space away from cars will increase congestion. Fact check: it won’t.


  • Proposed amendments to the Lobbying Bylaw would give the Lobbyist Registrar more power to discipline lobbyists—and require non-profits and unions to register as lobbyists. Thank Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) for that last one.

  • Lobbyist Registrar Linda Gehrke is retiring; her temporary replacement will be revealed soon.

They mad.

They mad.

  • Integrity Commissioner Valerie Jepson has released social media guidelines for councillors (full report here [PDF]). Sadly, it contains no substantial drama or IRL subtweeting (or, as it was once called, passive-aggressive remarks). Our main takeaway is that we should be on Snapchat.



  • Nathan Phillips Square’s much-loved 3D “Toronto” sign could be here to stay. If this item passes, the City will look into creating a permanent installation, as well as a mobile sign that would tour the city.

  • Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth) thinks the City can do more to prevent suicides from bridges. Perhaps we can expect more Luminous Veils.

New vs. old Astral bins. Source: City of Toronto [PDF].

New vs. old Astral bins. Source: City of Toronto [PDF].

  • The latest in street furniture: those terrible foot-pedal Astral bins are being phased out in favour of the slimmer, no-nonsense bins with holes in. (You’ve probably already seen the new models here and there in the downtown core.) There was also something in there about those newspaper box kiosks, but print media is dying anyway so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Child Care

Ten new child care spaces, mapped. Source: City of Toronto [PDF].

Ten new child care spaces, mapped. Source: City of Toronto [PDF].


The Bayview/DVP interchange: a pedestrian's and cyclist's nightmare…for now.

The Bayview/DVP interchange: a pedestrian’s and cyclist’s nightmare…for now.

  • The next Gardiner debate—the Bayview Avenue/Don Valley Parkway interchange? The cloverleaf bridges are nearing the end of their useful life. Mary Fragedakis hopes an environmental assessment will look into a pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly solution.

  • You could have asked this earlier, Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth)…

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