The May 2016 City Council Liveblog: Uber, Bloor Bike Lanes, and Replacing Rob Ford




The May 2016 City Council Liveblog: Uber, Bloor Bike Lanes, and Replacing Rob Ford

Follow along as we fact-check and analyze the ongoing council debate.

If the City Clerk’s office charged surge pricing for sitting in council chambers, they would make so much money this meeting.

On this meeting’s Council agenda: a debate to settle Uber and taxis once and for all, a motion which could see a pilot project for Bloor bike lanes after 40 years of study and debate, and choosing how to fill the late Rob Ford’s Council seat.

Stay tuned and we’ll keep you informed and walk you through everything you need to know.

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City Hall Council Chambers (100 Queen Street West)

May 31, 9:30 a.m.

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Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:54 pm

The motion to introduce the bill PASSES unanimously.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:53 pm

The motion to adopt the item CARRIES 38-3.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:52 pm

Grimes’ motion to include a definition of “not-for-profit” in the City Manager’s report CARRIES 30-11.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:51 pm

Ainslie’s motion to strike not-for-profit organizations from the second recommendation of the item CARRIES 37-4.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:50 pm

Layton’s motion FAILS 16-25.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:50 pm

The motions are finally going to vote. Currently voting on Layton’s motion to strike recommendation #2 of the item.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:48 pm

Council members are still asking questions. Nunziata wants to hold this item until tomorrow. “Noooooo”‘s from the council.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:47 pm

Holyday seems to agree: “I don’t know why we’re afraid to ask the question; I don’t know why we’re afraid of what the answer could be.” Someone makes a groaning noise.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:46 pm

Robinson is chiming in to tell us she’s “shocked” about this debate: all council is voting on is a report, not definitive changes to bylaws. “I hope people in this room will not support Mike Layton’s motion,” she says. Layton, in case anyone missed it, moved to strike the motion to review lobbyist bylaws regarding not-for-profit organizations.

David Hains May 4, 20167:36 pm

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Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:35 pm

The example of a not-for-profit that should register as a lobbyist being tossed around is NoJetsTO, an organization dedicated to preventing the island airport expansion. Hence the slippery slope arguments.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:28 pm

“If the head of a Toronto housing corporation comes to meet with you — this is a public official paid by all of us — what is the risk that there are nefarious [activities] going on?” Perruzza asks Tory. “Is this really a concern?” John Tory basically replies, but in different words.

David Hains May 4, 20167:21 pm

In arguing that City staff should study whether labour unions should have to register as lobbyists when communication with councillors, John Tory thinks the answer is obvious. He uses as an example Mark Saunders visiting councillors to lobby them for a budget increase, and that the move drew outrage. “He could have peppersprayed people and they would have had less reaction to that.”

David Hains May 4, 20167:13 pm

There is Usenet-level trolling going on between councillors right now.

David Hains May 4, 20167:12 pm

While Mammoliti grandstands, you can read the Bellamy Inquiry, which led to the creation of the lobbyist registry.

It’s actually a thrilling civic document, with references to Leonard Cohen and everything.
Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:11 pm

Mammoliti is subbing-in for Karygiannis now: “Unions have become the most powerful organizations in our country.” Gord Perks scream-laughs.

David Hains May 4, 20167:08 pm

“If anyone can tell me who funds NoJetsTO, I’ll give you a free lunch.” –Giorgio Mammoliti

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:06 pm

Many lol’s. Perks’ motion to withdraw his fake-out motion CARRIES 24-15. What if.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:04 pm

Karygiannis might actually be considering supporting this motion. “This is a joke, just so you understand,” says Perks. “It’s still a motion!” yells Karygiannis. This is comedy gold.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:03 pm

Perks says we shouldn’t make it harder for people in the city to communicate with us. Karygiannis has something to say about this.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:02 pm

Now he’s yelling. “It’s just scandalous, frankly, how members of this council stir the pot.” Nunziata shh’s him. He’s getting pretty loud.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20167:01 pm

Perks, for the sake of hammering his point home, motions to have the Conservative Party of Ontario register as lobbyists. “You see how easy it is?” he asks, noting how simple it would be to register virtually everybody as lobbyists if the lobbyist bylaw is changed.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:32 pm

Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West) notes that council agreed to the Bloor bike lane pilot project so that council could collect data from the pilot rather than make decisions based on preconceived notions; asks Layton if he’s being a little hypocritical by motioning to strike the executive committee’s recommendations.

David Hains May 4, 20166:26 pm
Ward 1 school trustee Michael Ford has announced that he will run to fill his late uncle’s Ward 2 council seat.

Here’s a look at how Council has filled its vacancies since amalgamation.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:24 pm

Layton: “This [motion] has come up a couple times, and each time it’s been shut down.” This is true.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:23 pm

Questioning is now closed. Layton is motioning to strike and delete the executive committee’s recommendation to review lobbyist bylaws for labour unions and not-for-profits.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:18 pm

Oop. There’s another one. Ainslie’s laughing as hard as he was the first time the joke was made, roughly six hours ago.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:17 pm

Council members have been making “we should take a poll” jokes relentlessly ever since Holyday moved to take a poll for Bloor bike lanes. Literally non-stop.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:15 pm

This issue has been brought up before. In the David Miller years, @norm moved that not-for-profits and union organizations be registered as lobbyists. After the motion was referred to staff for consideration, staff dismissed the motion in a single sentence: “Any communication by any person can constitute lobbying, but it is inappropriate to require every person to register.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:09 pm

Interesting angle: Fletcher asking if Cycle Toronto would have to register as a lobbyist. We’ve come full circle.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:07 pm

Gehrke isn’t entirely sure how to answer this.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:07 pm

Holyday is now questioning lobbyist registrar Linda Gehrke: “Would a not-for-profit that was also a large dollar value carry the same types of risks, despite the fact that their not-for-profit?”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:05 pm

God knows there’s better ways to spend your time, but these are the current city bylaws regarding lobbying.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20166:04 pm

Currently, representatives of labour unions and not-for-profit organizations do not have to register as lobbyists. This changes if the motion, held by Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches East-York) is approved.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:58 pm

If the second motion — to review the requirements for not-for-profit organizations — is approved, the bylaw would change the current lobbying system to one that places controls on a wider range of political advocacy.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:53 pm

The next item regards a follow up report on amendments to the Toronto Municipal Code surrounding lobbying bylaws. The Executive Committee has recommended that council amend the bylaws so that consultant lobbyists are required to disclose their ultimate client and review the requirements for not-for-profit organizations and labour unions. Peep the agenda here.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:45 pm

“Following that exchange,” David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale) puts forth a motion.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:43 pm

“I’ll soon be asking Mammoliti questions in the forms of questions,” says Carroll rather cryptically. Mammoliti is still pissed about the bike lanes. “You got me!” he replies.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:31 pm

Tory sets forward a motion regarding the hosting of the 2017 World Police and Fire Games. BLM protestor’s figuratively swivel their heads.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:28 pm

The motion to approve the Social Procurement Program carries unanimously.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:27 pm

The withdrawal of Pasternak’s motion CARRIES unanimously.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:26 pm

Tory “regrets” that Pasternak has brought up the Israeli apartheid motion in light of the Social Procurement Program. Pasternak withdraws the motion; Tory thanks him.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:25 pm

This is not a particularly contentious matter, but there’s no doubt Pasternak’s Israel Apartheid motion will be.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:22 pm

Tory is now speaking in support of the recommendation for the Social Procurement Program. “It will help find a way to give people a chance,” he says.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:05 pm

On that note, Matlow leaves the chamber.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20165:02 pm

Pasternak’s motion requests the Exec Director of Social Development, Finance and Administration to consider the issue of precluding certain firms as part of the boycott against the state of Israel.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:59 pm

Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale): “[The Social Procurement Program] is an opportunity to give people the opportunity, training, and networks so we can give them lifetime jobs and opportunities to businesses once they get their foot in the door.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:56 pm

Marking the beginning of Mike Layton’s career in the film industry, here’s the Star Wars spoof he presented at council: A Bloor Hope.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:51 pm

Tory and Mammoliti are talking off-mic as council members question city staffers. Neither look happy. Neither are making eye contact.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:46 pm

Michael Thomspon (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre) is now questioning a city staffer regarding the social procurement program.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:36 pm

Tory’s motion to hold a by-election to fill the vacancy in Ward 2 CARRIES unanimously. And Carmichael Breg’s humidifier has shut off entirely.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:34 pm

Tory, a poster-boy for democracy, recommends we hold a by-election. Not much more to report, really.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:31 pm

In recap: the approval for a bike lane pilot project on Bloor street has succeeded.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:29 pm

Council now deciding on how to fill Rob Ford’s council seat. Options include: by-election or appointment.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:27 pm

Cressy’s motion that city council request metrics on various impacts — such as traffic flow along Bloor street and impacts on both on-street and off-street parking — CARRIES 40-1. Guess who’s the dissenting opinion? (hint)

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:23 pm

Minnan-Wong’s motion FAILS 16-25

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:22 pm

“We don’t want to know about air quality or unions,” says Mammoliti off-mic. Nunziata tells him to simmer.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:21 pm

Holyday’s motion that an economic impact study be conducted CARRIES 36-5. Perks is one of the dissenting votes: “I also want all the receipts from all the bike shops.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:19 pm

Results! Robinson’s motion to adopt the recommendations contained in the report CARRIES 38-3. The dissenters are Holyday, Karygiannis, and Mammoliti.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:18 pm

The motion to received the item FAILS, 3 to 38

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:15 pm

Mammoliti’s vote to have the project “received for information” (AKA to kill it) is underway.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:13 pm

Cressy: “Polls are costly, sets a bad precedent, and may not get us the information we need.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:11 pm

Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina): “[The bike lanes] will reduce congestion in the city by removing people from cars and putting them into new forms of transportation.” Cressy’s ward falls within the area where the bike lane would run.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:08 pm

“I will be insistent on robust and objective consultation” says Tory in response to Holyday’s questioning on determining the bike lane’s impacts.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:07 pm

Carmichael Greb’s (alleged) humidifier is running low on steam. Do those things need to be recharged? Plugged in? Should someone tell her?

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:04 pm

That seemed to do the trick. Now Karygiannis is questioning Tory, in a refreshingly calm manner.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:03 pm

“THAT’S IT! THAT’S IT!” Yells Nunziata, sick and tired of all your shit.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:01 pm

Mammoliti to Tory: “You represent the city the way you want to, and I’ll represent the suburbs the way I want to.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20164:00 pm

Mamoliti v. Tory is getting heated. Mamoliti calls Tory’s opinion “inflammatory”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:58 pm

Drink every time he mentions the “war on cars”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:57 pm

And here comes Mamoliti for questioning.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:57 pm

Tory: “At the end of the day this is the right thing to do; this is the way to get facts instead of pre-conceived opinions”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:56 pm

Tory on the long-winded debate regarding Bloor bike lanes: “We have refried, denied, deferred, referred…” [it goes on like this]

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:55 pm

Tory says the sensible thing to do here is create a pilot, collect the facts, and assess the impacts of the project.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:54 pm

John Campbell’s (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre) support for the project is a big surprise. Previously, Campbell has been vehemently anti-bike lane, but had something of an awakening this morning.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:52 pm

“I am supporting this project,” says Mayor John Tory.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:51 pm

Campbell speaks, voicing support for the pilot project. “I hope you get a flat,” replies Mamoliti.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:48 pm

We’re hereby filing a freedom of information request for the rest of Bike Wars: Ward 19 Strikes Back. We know there’s a full-length version somewhere.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:46 pm

“I think my position is pretty clear” says Jedi Mike Layton.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:45 pm

Joe Cressy looks like he’s going to pee himself.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:45 pm

He even created his own spin-off on the Star Wars intro, narrating the pilot project plans over music.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:44 pm

Layton has begun his speech with the Star Wars soundtrack. This is really happening.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:39 pm

“We need to get rid of the ‘one ways’, the ‘do not enters’ [around Bloor street]” in order to solve traffic spikes off Bloor that may come with bike lanes, says Perruzza.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:37 pm

“Rarely could I find parking on Bloor street, but we would still frequent the street anyways.” says Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West). Perruzza supported the pilot project at the PW&I committee.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:34 pm

“Can we get that alligator off the screen?” asks Paula Fletcher.

Fact check: The alligator in question is actually a Tyrannasaurus-rex.
Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:33 pm

Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches East-York) says she’s “really disappointed” in this debate, citing support for the bike lane pilot. To emphasize her point, she’s displayed a massive picture of a dinosaur on the screen.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:28 pm

Holyday voices concerns for negative environmental impacts if bike lanes are put in place. According to this environmental lawyer, Holyday shouldn’t be too concerned.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:24 pm

Minnan-Wong says he’s willing to approve the pilot, however is skeptical of the project in the long-run.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:22 pm

“The thing that drives people CRAZY,” says Minnan-Wong emphatically. “Is people sitting in traffic, and then there’s this bike lane on their side that’s completely empty.” On that note, here are some safety tips for biking in the winter.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:18 pm

More “are you aware” questions. Nunziata is trying to put this to bed.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:18 pm

Fletcher executing a textbook cross-examination at Minnan-Wong: “would you agree that some people just don’t like cycling?”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:14 pm

Update: no, he didn’t.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:14 pm

Minnan-Wong not answering Cressy’s question regarding whether or not he consulted the General Manager, Transportation Services on conducting a poll.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:12 pm

Minnan-Wong says dissenters of the pilot project are afraid to speak up for fear of criticism. Perhaps true, but a highlight reel of Mamoliti yelling about the war on cars is running through my brain right now.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:10 pm

Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong motions that city council, following the completion of the pilot project, request the city clerk to poll tenants along Bloor street.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:07 pm

Mihevc finishes — jazz hands are up.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:06 pm

Mihevc: “I hope to God that the folks who are in the suburbs recognize that it’s different in the downtown area — it’s all about achieving mobility here.” Holyday is only sort of paying attention.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:05 pm

“It’s unbelievable how many people take these cycling routes,” says Mihevc. He’s comparing us to European cities — Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam — all of which have enviable cycling infrastructure.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:03 pm

Okay here we go; Mihevc begins the speaker session with “of course I’m going to support this pilot project.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:02 pm

“We cleaned up York,” says Nunziata, once again reminiscing of the good old days. Council’s been slow, needless to say.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20163:00 pm

We theorize the mysterious steam machine may in fact be a humidifier. But nothing’s been confirmed.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20162:57 pm

What is it? Where did it come from? Is she cooking something? Here at Torontoist, we have so many questions about this important matter.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20162:56 pm

Councillors are still releasing items, so in the meantime we’re investigating the little steam machine that councillor Christin Carmichael Greb has on her desk.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20162:40 pm

Council is still going through releases…

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20162:25 pm

@norm is here physically, but perhaps not mentally.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20162:14 pm

Here’s an example of the preferred design of the pilot project along Bloor:

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20162:11 pm

Members of council can (read: will) now release holds on agenda items prior to voting on the Bloor street bike lane’s proposed pilot project.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20162:10 pm

Aaaaand we’re back.

Shoutout to the one (of two) outlet(s) situated near audience seating for saving this live-blog from imminent peril.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 20161:32 pm

Council is in recess. Will resume at 2:00 pm. Stay tuned!

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:23 pm

Shelley Carrol says we should “join the revolution” of switching to enviro-friendly forms of transportation, triggering jazz hands galore.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:20 pm

It’s also Jane Jacobs’ would-be 100th birthday today! Here’s a very relevant photo of Jacobs with a bike.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:16 pm

“For those worrying about Yorkville…” begins Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale), definitely not referring to Mammoliti. Wong-Tam is voicing support for the pilot project and the PW&I committee chair’s recommendations.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:12 pm

Karygiannis interrupts the “kumbaya moment.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:12 pm

Councillors are taking a moment to reminisce. “I remember the milk trucks,” says Nunziata.

David Hains May 4, 201612:10 pm

Paula Fletcher says that she’s worked on bike lanes for a very long time. Maybe this is a bad time to bring up that moment where she accidentally killed the proposed University Avenue bike lanes?

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:06 pm

The deferral fails, with only six councillors in support of the motion.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:05 pm

Jim Karygiannis, unsurprisingly, expresses his support for deferral of the pilot project.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:03 pm

The proposed pilot project will cost $500,000, not including ongoing maintenance costs amounting to $95,000 annually.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201612:00 pm

Bike lanes in New York led to a 71% increase in retail, says Shelley Carrol (Ward 33, Don Valley East). “There’s nothing wrong in learning from other cities.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:56 am

Mary Fragedakis motions to have the bike lane vote after 2:00 pm. A couple “nooo”‘s from the crowd. It seems like that’s when the vote will take place, anyways.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:53 am

“Wouldn’t the time to consult be after we’ve gotten some data or results?” asks Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West), noting that, after all, we are approving a pilot project here.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:50 am

“I don’t believe we’ve discussed bike lanes on Bloor before,” says Holyday. Here’s a timeline of the city’s long-winded debate on Bloor street bike lanes.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:45 am

The bike-lane-supporter-in-a-neon-orange-shirt count is now at 6ix.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:42 am

I wonder if Holyday thinks the sidewalks on parallel streets are redundant, too.

David Hains May 4, 201611:40 am

Stephen Holyday is really angry about the bike lanes. He has a PowerPoint presentation and everything.

“This is extremely frustrating,” he says, bemoaning what he sees as a lack of underlying metrics.
Holyday adds that there are lots of other cycling options in the neighbourhood, like College, Davenport, Barton and Lowther. He mispronounces Lowther.
Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:37 am

Mamoliti is concerned about congestion in surrounding areas of Bloor street. This study hypothesizes that congestion will actually be reduced in surrounding areas.

David Hains May 4, 201611:37 am

Mammoliti argues that bike lanes are actually a way for downtowners to shut out the suburbs. “You’re trying to keep people out [of downtown] by doing this continually.”

David Hains May 4, 201611:34 am

Ever the heel, Mammoliti moves to receive the report, which means to do nothing with it.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:33 am

That was probably a worthy heads-up, his “war on cars” rhetoric is full-throttle.

David Hains May 4, 201611:33 am

Robinson mentions the long history of the Bloor bike lanes. It’s true—they have been studied in detail for 40 years, as bike activist Albert Koehl details on his site.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:32 am

Robinson reminds us that left-turn lanes will “make a big difference” (in a good way). Mamoliti begins; apologizes for ruining this kumbaya moment.

David Hains May 4, 201611:30 am

With Robinson’s support—presumably with the backing of the mayor—the Bloor bike lanes pilot project should win the vote. If it does, the pilot project is scheduled to begin in August.

David Hains May 4, 201611:29 am

The move by Robinson is a bit of a surprise. While she says she’s a big supporter of bike lanes in this speech, that did not come across at committee.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:25 am

Robinson, chair of the PW&I committee, motions to adopt the staff recommendations in their entirety.

David Hains May 4, 201611:25 am

Stephen Buckley, the had of the Transportation division, responds to a line of questioning from Michelle Holland. “Sharrows would be no different from the existing conditions.”

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:17 am

“You recognize this pilot project is forcing the hand at the TPA” ask-argues Mammoliti. Specifically, the TPA will lose revenue anywhere between $800,000 – $1M. Staff replies that this is the most conservative estimate possible.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:15 am

Mammoliti is inquiring how the staff plans to meet with local businesses on Bloor street, including Yorkville. The bike lanes will not extend to Yorkville.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:13 am

Five pro-cyclists in electric orange shirts are seated along the left side of the chamber. One’s filming.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:10 am

Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Pauls) is asking questions. Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) is eating jujubes — a candy of which city council has consumed around 17,000 pounds over the course of Anna Kinastowski’s time as city solicitor (so says Kinastowski).

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:04 am

The proposal was supported by Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West) and Margaret-Mary McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches East-York) at the PW&I committee, yet rejected by Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Center) and Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley East).

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201611:00 am

Cllr. Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) says that “Cycling increases sales in a commercial area”; references Portland, Oregon as an example. More Portlandia references perhaps?

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201610:54 am

Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), whose ward oversees a stretch of Bloor where the bike lane would be situated, is questioning staff.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201610:51 am

The proposed item is to approve a pilot project on Bloor street that would temporarily place bike lanes between Shaw and Avenue road. Needless to say, there are a number of particularly pro-car advocates on city council, so this could take awhile. Read about the impossible task of convincing pro-car councillors of cycling benefits here.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201610:49 am

The proposal moved through the Public Works & Infrastructure committee without approval, as the vote ended in deadlock.

Jacob Lorinc May 4, 201610:47 am

Good morning! We are live from City Hall.

The proposed pilot project for Bloor street bike lanes is today’s big-ticket item. Here’s some background on the matter.

David Hains May 4, 20161:50 am

John Tory’s motions mostly pass. The changes support Uber’s entry into the market and undo many of the 2014 taxi reforms that council spent five years working on. Those reforms included increasing driver and customer protections, but as a way to appease plate owners (and restore some of the value of their licenses), those have been rolled back.

The mayor was able to build a coalition, but it was by embracing a race to the bottom.
David Hains May 3, 20167:46 pm

Davis adds that the impact of the motion will see Uber enter the marketplace and the taxi reforms undone, thus undoing years of work at council.

David Hains May 3, 20167:42 pm

Davis on the package of changes backed by the mayor:

“The owner-operated system is out the door. Gone.”
David Hains May 3, 20167:30 pm

Frank Di Giorgio’s (Ward 12, York South-Weston) criticism of Uber’s business model being predicated on flouting the law is accurate. And he’s also right when he predicts this issue will come back, because there will be unintended consequences from such an unwieldy package of changes.

But Di Giorgio also highlights one of the shortcomings of the pro-taxi group of councillors: even when they have strong arguments, they are particularly ineffectual.
This group includes Mammoliti, Kargiannis, and Palacio. They may be vocal (particularly the former two), but they don’t have a track record of building consensus and getting things done.
David Hains May 3, 20167:21 pm

“Stop disrupting this council,” Speaker Nunziata says to the pro-taxi crowd.

She likely does not appreciate the irony of using the word “disrupting”.
David Hains May 3, 20167:19 pm

Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West) invokes Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the U.S., saying that they decry bad deals and this taxi motion is a bad deal. The yellow shirts in the room raised their jazz hands.

David Hains May 3, 20167:14 pm

John Filion (Ward 23, Willowdale) is now up to speak, and moves a motion related to surge pricing.

Of note: he is the only city councillor who was once a taxi driver (that Torontoist knows of).

David Hains May 3, 20165:37 pm

Thanks to John-Filip Faienza for helping make our city hall coverage possible! Your Patreon contribution makes a big difference.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:30 pm

Tory just said something about how PTCs “create new jobs”. I will be taking a brief break to go out in the hall and scream.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:30 pm

Oh, wow. Perruzza is going in full Perruzza right away, lambasting low-paid, precarious, temporary jobs.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:27 pm

An interesting angle: John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre) is critical because the by-law is not friendly enough to Uber. He does not see why Tory wants to meddle with Uber’s pricing scheme by setting a floor price.

David Hains May 3, 20165:23 pm

Whenever John Tory begins a sentence with “As a businessman…” he sounds a lot like The Lego Movie‘s Lord Business.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:22 pm

Oh, dear. Tory is inspired to wax eloquent about the value of surge pricing (and of not surge pricing).

Neville Park May 3, 20165:20 pm

Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1, Etobicoke North) can be safely ignored.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:18 pm

Cressy says 1) no cap on how many plates someone can own and 2) no requirement for plate owners to drive means that plates are a commodity again.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:14 pm

Cressy calls Tory out on an inconsistency—limousine drivers don’t have to have CPR training, so why should taxi drivers?

David Hains May 3, 20165:14 pm

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Neville Park May 3, 20165:13 pm

“This may seem like a good deal for the businesses, but it’s not a good deal for the drivers,” protests Layton.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:12 pm

“I’d like us to put ourselves in the drivers’ shoes for a moment,” says Mike Layton, regarding first aid training. He says Tory’s proposed changes imply that taxi drivers would have to complete training every time they start for a new brokerage, instead of just once with the City.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:07 pm

Tory says surge pricing is okay because taxi companies can use “we don’t surge price” to market themselves.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:05 pm

Karygiannis asks how by-law officers are supposed to tell whether a car is UberX or not. Tory says a rule to display a plate would be too hard to enforce.

Neville Park May 3, 20165:02 pm

Now up is Jim “Jimmy ‘The Wildcard’ K.” Karygiannis. This will be interesting…

Neville Park May 3, 20164:57 pm

Perks asks Tory to clarify the clause that “all vehicle for hire drivers can be registered to work for one brokerage or communication platform at a time.” This would, for example, forbid taxi drivers from also booking through Uber, as some do.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:52 pm

Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) is up. She wants to know why Tory lowered the age requirement from 21 to 18. Tory stammers: “I think it’s just consistent with the reality of, uh…” Disapproving murmurs from the gallery.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:44 pm

Many tête-à-têtes going on around the chamber. Left-wing councillors Wong-Tam, Cressy, Davis, and Layton are in a huddle.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:37 pm

There are fully kitted-out cops here as well as City Hall security. It is probably a good decision.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:33 pm

Jon Burnside (Ward 29, Don Valley West) says it’s fine that licensed taxi drivers aren’t compensated for discounting rates because they get to benefit from surge pricing, too.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:29 pm

Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth) questions why Tory removed the requirement for taxi drivers to be trained in CPR. Tory says it’s what the public wants.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:28 pm

“You’re getting stabbed in the back, you guys,” calls Janet Davis to watching taxi drivers.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:21 pm

Laughter throughout the gallery as Tory completely fumbles in response to Augimeri’s questions. He is not coming off very well.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:17 pm

Tory holds out the requirement for PTCs to have $2,000,000 in liability as an example of compromise. He says PTCs that don’t meet the requirement can get their licence yanked by Municipal Licensing & Standards.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:15 pm

A good point from transit writer Glyn Bowerman. If Uber was fine with disregarding City regulations before, what compels them to follow (less restrictive) rules?

Neville Park May 3, 20164:13 pm

De Baeremaeker tosses Tory a softball: doesn’t this make the playing field slightly less unequal, even if it isn’t exactly equal?

Neville Park May 3, 20164:12 pm

Davis asks Tory if he is willing to allow surge and discount pricing on both sides, PTC and taxis. Tory is only willing to let taxis do surge pricing—not discounts. Taxi drivers can discount the rate, but the broker does not have to reimburse them.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:10 pm

The more nervous Tory gets, the faster he talks.

David Hains May 3, 20164:10 pm

In the committee room overflow room, Spiderman watches on next to a pro-taxi supporter who doesn’t want a two-tiered system.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:09 pm

(When a member of Council starts off an answer without “yes” or “no”, you know you’re about to hear some bullshit.)

Neville Park May 3, 20164:08 pm

Davis is trying to get Tory to admit “there will be no training required for anyone in the taxi industry”. Tory is still trying to pass it off to Tracey Cook. He says it will be enough to make a training manual available to companies.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:06 pm

Tory is attempting to pass the buck to Tracey Cook, saying all his recommendations are on her advice. (Yet somehow they weren’t in the staff recommendations?)

Neville Park May 3, 20164:05 pm

“Essentially what you’re creating is, some people are getting a bonus,” says Mihevc, criticizing another of Tory’s recommendations. He would let Ambassador licence holders to convert their licences into Standard licences, which would let them become brokers in their own right.

Neville Park May 3, 20164:01 pm

Carroll is also disturbed that now there are no requirements for anyone to follow a training course. Tory says that the Invisible Hand will compel companies to train their drivers.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:59 pm

Carroll says she understood that “up till a few hours ago” Tory’s office was fine with the taxi broker having to absorb the costs of discounted fares, but in Tory’s motion this would require the taxi driver to swallow the cost of discounted fares.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:56 pm

Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West) complains they didn’t have enough time to read Tory’s motion. “Start reading, Anthony,” barks Nunziata as councillors sign up to ask questions of the Mayor.

David Hains May 3, 20163:53 pm

With a pro-taxi yellow t-shirt draped over his shoulders, Doug Ford has made an appearance at city hall. He just can’t give it up.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:49 pm

Perks has asked for a five-minute recess to give us all time to read the motion. Please, God, let this pass.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:49 pm

He intends to add more regulations for PTCs while loosening regulations for licensed taxis. Whether the motion actually accomplishes this will require closer reading.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:46 pm

Tory has a very lengthy motion, which one hopes is the result of a lot of compromise and discussion with Council. It is posted towards the bottom of the page here.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:41 pm

Perks is ask-arguing that, thanks to the laws of supply and demand, introducing more vehicles for hire will further decrease taxi drivers’ already low incomes.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:38 pm

Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) asks why cameras in cabs were introduced. Cook replies that, according to the police, they reduced “driver safety incidents” by 50 per cent.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:30 pm

Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) is also hammering on how the City is proposing rolling back the reforms made only two years ago. It does make one want to tear one’s hair out, just a little.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:23 pm

Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) brings up the introduction of food trucks, which is an interesting comparison. Council, swayed by the objections of the well-established restaurant industry, implemented stricter regulations than Municipal Licensing & Standards had suggested. Couldn’t we do that again? asks Fletcher.

“I leave it to your learned discussions and debates and decisions,” Cook says, somehow managing to keep a straight face.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:18 pm

Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) gets Cook to give everyone a rundown on why the 2014 Toronto Taxi Licence model, aimed at replacing Standard and Ambassador Licences, was introduced in the first place. “Is that going forward, or is that going backwards?” Cook now has the unenviable task of defending the flip-flop.

Neville Park May 3, 20163:15 pm

“Through you, Madam Speaker, do you need a vacation?” Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches-East York) asks Tracey Cook.

“Hopefully not a permanent one,” Cook quips. Lols all round.

Neville Park May 3, 20162:57 pm

Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) asks how the flood of new, non-accessible vehicles is helping Toronto meet its accessibility requirements. Tracey Cook: “Uber Wave so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

Neville Park May 3, 20162:50 pm

Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre) name-drops Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, who recently aired his views on Uber.

Neville Park May 3, 20162:48 pm

Frank Di Giorgio asks whether Uber’s business model can work without surge pricing. Tracey Cook replies it’s not within her scope. “Well, it’s within my scope,” says Di Giorgio, incorrectly, and says surge pricing is essential to Uber’s model. This is debatable.

Neville Park May 3, 20162:42 pm

We are now back to the business at hand. Tracey Cook says that the “pre-booked” nature of Uber rides means the driver and customer know who each other are, like airport limousines, and so they didn’t recommend cameras in PTCs. Karygiannis murmurs darkly something about “what if an accident were to happen”.

Neville Park May 3, 20162:37 pm

Mayor John Tory introduces an item that is a surprise to me: City Solicitor Anna Kinastowski is retiring, and so they need to appoint an interim City Solicitor.

Neville Park May 3, 20162:29 pm

Mammoliti stands up to “make a point” that routine Ward 2 items, like the tree removal permit currently being voted on, should be deferred several months until a new councillor is elected or appointed. He requests to change his vote. De Baeremaeker points out that this means Mammoliti is voting to save a tree. They bicker off mic.

Neville Park May 3, 20162:17 pm

Former councillor Doug Ford and current TDSB trustee Michael Ford (Ward 1, Etobicoke North) are in attendance, although the motion regarding a new Ward 2 councillor might not be up today.

Edit: As Oliver Moore reports, Doug Ford is here to show support for taxi drivers.
Neville Park May 3, 20162:10 pm

Best outcome: socialist revolution

Likely outcome: see above

Comedy outcome: Council accidentally bans cars, with big implications for the Bloor bike lane debate.

Neville Park May 3, 20161:49 pm

Clerks and councillors begin to trickle in. Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) enters to loud applause. This is the most popular he’s ever been. We will let him bask in this moment.

Some taxi drivers start singing “Happy Birthday”—it was his birthday yesterday. He has just turned 61.
Neville Park May 3, 20161:44 pm

City Hall security have gotten better at handling big crowds like this. Only a few minutes after the elevators open, the public gallery is packed—a sea of taxi yellow with two or three in Uber blue.

Neville Park May 3, 201612:32 pm

And now, it’s lunchtime. Back at 2!

Neville Park May 3, 201612:31 pm

Doucette notes that UberX drivers don’t have to have a light on their car showing if they have a paying customer in the vehicle. One imagines someone reaching out the window and clapping one of these on top.

Neville Park May 3, 201612:27 pm

Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) asks about low emissions standards for vehicles for hire. The City is taking a hands-off approach, Cook replies, and notes that vehicles are getting more fuel-efficient nowadays.

David Hains May 3, 201612:27 pm

Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale–High Park) says the word “aeroplane.” That is all.

Neville Park May 3, 201612:25 pm

Apparently I have an Uber lobby doppelganger. This has caused some momentary confusion with my rotunda neighbours.

David Hains May 3, 201612:13 pm

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Neville Park May 3, 201612:11 pm

“We all know people who do not have smartphones,” says Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre). “Members of my immediate family do not have smartphones.” (His father, former councillor Doug Holyday, was notoriously technically illiterate.)

Neville Park May 3, 201612:05 pm

Tracey Cook estimates some 17,000 licensed individuals in the taxi industry, including drivers, license owners, fleet operators, and so on.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:59 am

Now, on the floor, a chant shaming Tracey Cook. (To be fair, she has to do what Council directs, and is not directly answerable to the public.)

Neville Park May 3, 201611:57 am

Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) complains about the City’s 103 recommendations. “It’s too many damn pages for any man to understand!” No, wait, maybe that was from Hamilton.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:54 am

Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) points out that the direction the City was previously moving in—owner-operated cabs, which would take power away from taxi brokers—is effectively reversed by the new proposed regulations. Cook says that it’s different now that the taxi industry is facing competition.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:53 am

Acronym watch: “PTC” means “private transportation company”, which is the City’s name for companies like Uber and Lyft.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:50 am

Lots of cheers and whoops from assembled taxi crowd as Cho points out another point of disparity: UberX’s discount rates and surge pricing, are not permitted for taxi drivers. (Or for UberX, really, but they do it anyway.)

“Remember, my brothers,” a taxi guy calls, “you are here because you are legal!”

Neville Park May 3, 201611:47 am

Raymond Cho (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River) says it’s unfair that taxi drivers have to pay more than UberX drivers for insurance. Cook explains that the City doesn’t control how much insurance costs; it’s calculated based on several different factors. The City believes taxi drivers should have at least $2,000,000 in liability.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:45 am


David Hains May 3, 201611:44 am

For more context on the Uber debate, Mammoliti and Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) are the staunchest supporters of the taxi industry. Ironically, they are also the most disruptive.

David Hains May 3, 201611:43 am

It’s not all taxis and bikes at city hall. There’s also the Raptor, who is the best.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:42 am

Aaaaaand now the cops are here. And, of course, a news guy with a camera to capture it all. They can smell drama like a shark smells blood.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:41 am

Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West), a very pro-taxi councillor, is pushing the “level playing field” talking point. “The level of the playing field depends on the viewpoint you’re standing from,” says Tracey Cook.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:39 am

As Mammoliti is asking questions, a scuffle breaks out in the rotunda when a taxi guy lunges at an Uber guy. Security descends on the scene.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:36 am

Some stats Municipal Licensing & Standards head Tracey Cook has tossed out so far: taxi traffic makes up three per cent of travel in Toronto; the City estimates there are 45,000 unlicensed rides every day.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:36 am

“I wasn’t going to ask questions but thanks to Councillor Burnside I’m going to ask questions,” says Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East). Contrary to Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West), she thinks taxis should have to put on winter tires.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:33 am

For an introduction to the issues at stake, see Mariana Valverde’s op-ed.

Neville Park May 3, 201611:31 am

Good morning, everyone! Neville Park here, reporting from…the City Hall rotunda, because Council chambers are crammed full of taxi drivers. Council has just begun a big, contentious debate over Uber and taxi licensing.