All the revenue tools analysis, context, and fact-checks you could want.
All the revenue tools analysis, context, and fact-checks you could want.
Yesterday, Council took its first step towards implementing a suite of revenue tools. Today, they’re back with more money-related matters. No, this isn’t the budget that gets spoken about most of the time in the media, but it’s one of Council’s budgets. City Council has a separate budget for waste, water, and parking, ostensibly because these are rate-supported (hey, that’s the name of the show!).
While it’s not as high profile, there are important core principles here: how should the City pay for aging infrastructure in an equitable way? How much is too much or too little given the strain on the system? What are the right incentives to get Torontonians to avoid wasteful behaviour?
Yes, dear reader, we’re excited too.
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Good morning, everyone! Council is dealing with this item revamping the bylaws for dangerous dogs.
You may recall this story from 2012, among others.
The new bylaw includes regulations that dangerous dogs will not be permitted in off-leash parks and owners will have to show Municipal Licensing and Standards that the dogs have been taken to training. There are also new rules banning tethering a dog for more than three hours, with a choke collar, etc.—things that are thought to increase aggression in dogs.
Now Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) is asking staff about details about the new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund—specifically how the federal fund would be different from the Infrastructure Bank initiative.
Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s), who held down the item, has a motion to include smaller projects in the wishlist:
Wong-Tam has a motion asking for staff to report back to Council before making any agreements with the federal government.
Here you go:
There are at least two school classes in the gallery. Luckily, Council seems much more subdued than yesterday.
While Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) praises Wong-Tam’s motion on Twitter, John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre) is criticizing Wong-Tam for creating an unnecessary delay in the process.
Speaker Nunziata has to shush the room during Campbell’s questions, and observes, “Oh…it’s not the students. It’s the councillors.” TOpoli.txt
“This isn’t a very sexy report,” says Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East).
Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) is inveighing against private-public partnerships (which Wong-Tam earlier insisted weren’t “a bad word”) and says her motion is essential for due diligence.
Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) is also on Team Unconscionable Delay.
@norm has a motion to add the planned but unfunded Bridletowne Hub to the list. Cue everyone else jumping in with their own projects?
Campbell: “I’ve never heard of Bridletowne, where is Bridletowne?”
We had also never heard of it, not helped by Kelly mispelling Bridletowne as “Bridletown” in his motion.
Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) dryly asks for the motion to be postponed so the 43 other councillors have time to draw up their own lists. He mentions one in Liberty Village.
Nunziata: “I have a bridge I’ve been waiting 30 years…”
At least, I think he was only being facetious.
Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) says she has a solution to everyone with unfunded projects in their wards: support Mihevc’s motion (for staff to consult with councillors about ward-level projects).
They could also hypothetically raise property taxes, bring in the VRT, a parking lot tax, sales tax and so on, massively and permanently slash services, and cancel the most inefficient megaprojects, but…yeah never mind, let’s wait for the feds
Layton is probably now regretting his remark about all other councillors’ projects.
Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) warns that if the feds are given the chance, they’ll cherry-pick the little projects and not the big ones, “and if we don’t get in the lineup, we could miss that bus.”
Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) calls on everyone to just take a moment to marvel that the feds are actually willing to pay for stuff. Billions of years of evolution have all led up to this.
Tory criticizes Perks for casting doubt on the feds’ commitment to the Gardiner rehabilitation.
Did Tory just say we’re a champion at making priority lists when there’s no priority list for the iceberg
Sorry—”the iceberg” is the now $33 billion in unfunded capital projects that includes the TCHC state of good repair backlog, the Downtown Relief Line, Seaton House redevelopment, and more.)
Here’s an infographic from last year—as you can see, since then the list has grown. And it’s not in order. Source [PDF].
Mihevc’s, Wong-Tam’s, and @norm’s motions all fail. Davis’s (to include childcare) passes, Fletcher voted the wrong way. “My button’s not lit up.”
Some more people quickly changed their minds on the value of childcare on the re-vote.
The item as amended carries.
Probably a smart decision:
This report also advises that there have been insufficient advances in Internet security to accept the risks of implementing Internet voting for the 2018 general election. The challenges identified by both City staff and security experts in 2014 remain unresolved. Internet voting continues to be vulnerable to security threats and attacks while raising concerns about secrecy of the vote, verifiability and overall election integrity.
Staff are explaining to Michael Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) why they can’t wait six months and get totally new voting machines.
A couple of councillors so far have had questions about the third party advertising rules (page 2 of this PDF).
This seems to mean anyone could create a “Torontonians for $COUNCILLOR” group, put ads up, fundraise under similar rules as candidates, etc. Are these PACs? Halp.
The usually preternaturally calm clerks are starting to sound a bit snippy about councillors second-guessing their fast-moving election timeline and asking why they can’t get brand new machines.
Anyway, lunchtime! We’ll be back at 2.
And we’re back. Some people (I believe the members of ACORN) are here for the end of the election item, but Council is doing quick releases first.
“Siddown, Mike, siddown!” call councillors as Michael Ford, still a bit rusty on procedure, wanders away from his seat during a vote.
Mammoliti has held down a bunch of items either because they involve spending money (any money), or getting free money (“not the kind of money I would like”), or not spending money (but he believes it will cost money in the future). We’ll never get back these precious minutes we could have spent drinking coffee.
David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale) notes that “there are a number of tree-related items” and wants them all dealt with at one time, which councillors agree will be tomorrow.
Back to the elections item. Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) quickly sums it up for everyone: the City needs to get some new modems for their voting machines. Without them, the vote tabulators would all have to be collected so the smart cards can be read directly, a. k. a. sneakernet, and vote results would be delayed. Also, come on.
The Province is in a procurement process to get new voting machines, and some on Council want to get in on this even though it would take too long and we already have perfectly fine voting machines.
Holyday is also worried about the third-party advertising thing.
Mihevc calls it “the Americanization of civic elections” and asks how this got into the proposed reforms. Staff don’t know. It seems no one on Council was pushing for it, either. But “thanks to some eager readers and the media,” says Mihevc, “this has now come to our attention.”
Staff: “I appreciate that these amendments draw attention to it and seem to encourage it,” but before now third-party advertising was also permitted and completely unregulated (aside from the sign bylaw, which doesn’t distinguish between candidates’ signs and anyone else’s).
Doucette wants to make sure the City can still, if it wants, schedule advance polls for the 2018 election for Thanksgiving weekend (so students home for the holidays can vote).
“I’d never thought about this, but I thought I’d ask it anyways,” says Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West), asking about vote rigging.
We wish he’d thought about this first.
Staff explain that they have built a number of checks and balances into the process, they regularly test them, and they have close oversight of the equipment.
“We couldn’t dial into them like you could log into your email, could you?” Perruzza asks.
Staff: it’s over a VPN, the connection is encrypted, and it’s one-way.
“So the Russians or Koreans” (he’s lucky Cho’s gone) “or whoever couldn’t hack in, could they?”
I’m making exaggerated “THIS GUY!!!” gestures to everyone in the room.
I’m dyin’ here.
Via Shelley Carroll on Twitter, here’s a piece on mystery third-party advertising in the 2014 election.
Shiner asks jokingly if staff have checked with CSIS that the Russians can’t hack the modems.
Staff have a difficult time answering with a straight face, but pull it off. “No, we have not checked with CSIS.”
“Can we loan you out to the next election in the US?”
“I’d have to check with my staff on that.”
Ainslie is giving everyone a quick primer on the horrors of PACs.
He has a couple of motions, one strengthening third-party advertising regulations, another to bring back the ranked ballot panel.
Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore), a noted opponent of ranked ballots, is sparring with Ainslie.
Di Ciano is part of an astroturf anti-ranked ballots group called “Keep Voting Simple”, which also includes Nick Kouvalis, the disgraced former archangel who now reigns in He—oh, sorry, wrong Wikipedia page.
Now everyone is speechifying.
Mammoliti is talking, so we’re just going to watch this video of a mysterious spider egg hatching.
We’re filled with a renewed wonder for the innumerable mysteries that still wait in Earth’s beautiful, fragile rainforests, and the resilience and diversity of spiders. Anyway, now Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) is asking Ainslie how much a ranked ballot panel will cost.
Perks has a motion to ask the Province to either a) take the third-party advertising rules out of the Municipal Elections Act, or b) let the City impose extra regulations.
Perks describes a scenario where a councillor makes an enemy of “some moneyed interest” who can basically fundraise and advertise for their opponent without falling afoul of the law.
See, this isn’t a problem if you just align yourself with the moneyed interests!
3 – Motion to Defer Item moved by Councillor John Campbell (Final)
That City Council defer consideration of the Item until such time as the City Clerk has had an opportunity to speak to the Chief Elections Officer about the Province’s plans to purchase Equipment which could potentially be loaned to the City of Toronto.
Borrow the Province’s voting machines? A-are you…what
We are not some broke teenager trying to borrow our parents’ car for a date!
Anyway, the deferral fails.
Doucette has a motion to have advance polls during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Karygiannis says Doucette’s motion will keep candidates from being able to get people out to the advance polls. Doucette: “In my ward, we never shout at anyone at any time”—a reference to Karygiannis’s past behaviour.
Ward 13 is indeed a kind of genteel, prim, lawn-having kind of place.
Mammoliti has a motion to have a ranked ballot panel in 2019.
We are not sure that what confuses Di Ciano and Mammoliti should be a standard for what confuses the general population.
“I’d like to talk a little about dark money and dirty money,” says John Filion (Ward 23, Willowdale).
Filion says that in the last election some land speculators tried to get someone elected who had offered to let them build at twice the permitted density. They formed a group with a name almost identical to a residents’ association’s and funded a smear campaign against Filion. (He found this out because someone taped a meeting and got him the recording.) Unsuccessful, obviously.
He says the only thing the provincial regulations would change would be that the fake residents’ association would have to give its name, which would not help in this case.
I hope more people have stories! Story time is fun!
Perruzza is Perruzz-ing.
We kind of wish Di Ciano had some studies to back up his anecdotes about the perils of ranked ballots. Like, people study this, you know?
One of Di Ciano’s original arguments against ranked ballots was a lack of consultation and consideration. Now he opposes an independent panel that would review the idea. It’s almost as if his concern was never with consultation in the first place.
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh*glues down “H” key, leaves, goes for a coffee*
Coun. Di Ciano suggests council needs a “Truth & Reconciliation Panel” on ranked ballots. He opposes them.
— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) December 14, 2016
(Seriously, I’m going for a coffee.)
Layton mentions the smear campaign against Ausma Malik.
Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12, York South-Weston) calls the ranked ballot system “disingenuous.” He argues that with lots of candidates, of course no one will get over 50 per cent. Fun fact: in the last two elections Di Giorgio earned 29 per cent and 27 per cent of the vote.
John Tory expresses his “wholehearted support” for the motions moved by Gord Perks. It is opposite day! Oh my!
Perks’s amendment passes unanimously. It’s a seasonal miracle!
Ranked ballots are dealt another blow. The motion to covene an independent panel to study the idea for 2022 FAILS, 17–22.
Here’s the vote on ranked ballots.
We’re on member motions now, where hyper-local concerns and longshot ideas that will never happen get voted on. These items need two thirds support to pass, because they haven’t been through the regular committee process.
Council will debate asking the clerk to consider working with DemocracyKit, a new local initiative designed to make running for office more accessible. We’re partial to this initiative, both because it seems sensible, and because our friends at Civic Tech Toronto are working on it. Check it out, if that’s your jam!
Sadly, this liveblogger must head off to a meeting. I’ll be back later!
Just in time, this liveblogger is back. That was convenient and in fact totally coincidental. Council is now on landlord licensing. Well, staff do not recommend licensing. They suggest a new bylaw and six new staff to implement and enforce it.
Some of our coverage of this issue:
Members of low-income resident advocacy organization ACORN, which has been pushing for landlord licensing and other tenant-friendly legislation, are here watching the debate.
Council’s left is displeased with staff recommendations because they don’t go far enough—some would prefer to see something more like DineSafe. Council’s right is displeased because they think the recommendations go too far and incurs too much cost.
Most, regardless of politics, would probably agree that the proposed bylaw doesn’t do much that couldn’t be accomplished by beefing up the preexisting apartment property standards program, MRAB.
Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West) bungles the name of FMTA.
Context: check out Matt Elliott’s column on how renters are getting left behind by governments.
Quorum call. RELEASE THE QUORUM CALL BORDER COLLIES.
“I don’t know that I can do ‘lickety-split’, sir”—MLS head Tracey Cook, being realistic
“I don’t think this is an issue that divides many members of Council,” says Matlow.
(This liveblogger remembers the roll-out of DineSafe after a Toronto Star investigation. One of my favourite dim sum places…rats…sigh…)
“And if someone pees in the hallway, they will get it cleaned up very quickly”—Glenn de Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) nocontext
Campbell thinks it’s unfair that a landlord who is perfectly fine still has to pay De Baeremaeker’s proposed fees. Surprise surprise, people who have perfectly clean restaurants still have to get inspections too.
De Baeremaeker thinks tenants wouldn’t mind paying an extra $10 a year if it helped keep their home in good condition.
This liveblogger might be experiencing coffee rage
Holyday has a motion:
3 – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Stephen Holyday (Final)
That City Council delete Licensing and Standards Committee Recommendation 4.a.:
Recommendation to be deleted
4. City Council request the Province of Ontario to:
a. Introduce regulations that would exempt the registration fee from eligibility for an Above Guideline Increase (AGI); and
Translation: landlords should be able to use the registration fee to hike rent.
Things Stephen Holyday Hates:
Things Stephen Holyday Hates:
Perruzza is Perruzz-ing. “It has been LITERALLY! PAINFUL!”
We do all we can not to heckle.
Cllr Perruzza does not give speeches; he give fine operettas to press his point!
— Joe Mihevc (@joemihevc) December 14, 2016
This Davis speech about cockroaches and pest control problems and such is making me feel all itchy.
> “This is not a real and substantive solution to the problem”
> Refuses to fund any other solutions
> “This is not a real and substantive solution to the problem”
> Refuses to fund any other solutions
De Baeremaeker’s motion raising the registration fee passes by a hair—20-19.
Holyday’s motion fails 9-30. Augimeri voted for it, which everyone assumes was a horrible mistake.
DineSafe RentSafe motion carries 31-8.
The item as amended carries 35-4. Ford, Holyday, Mammoliti, Minnan-Wong against.
Caveat: This does not mean the new scheme is a go. Council must still vote to fund it. Still, a very positive sign! Josh Matlow does some victory glad-handing.
Oh dear. Notice without motion from Mike Layton regarding the Palace Arms, one of downtown’s last cheap long-term hotels. These are one of the few places people on Ontario Works or disability can afford to live.
Now up: creating a Chief Resiliency Officer position tasked to develop a resiliency strategy over the next two years, funded by a grant from the organization 100 Resilient Cities. City Manager Peter Wallace says that, while he is not in favour of growing government, winning the grant is an honour and reflects well on on our reputation.
Mammoliti wants to object to it because (as before) he thinks it may eventually cost money.
Layton, Tory, and @norm all speak in favour. @norm alludes to Trump, Brexit, and “the electronic revolution”.
After all that fuss, the item passes unanimously.
FYI, here are the other cities selected in this year’s round (source):
Next: Poverty Reduction Strategy update.
The big thing in here: a low-income transit pass, called Fair Pass.
We have reservations about this, because there is so little room in the City and TTC budgets that any fare discounts must be offset by service cuts or user fee hikes in other areas—which will inevitably impact low-income and marginalized people hardest.
When city councillors are being incredibly insulting and ignorant and stingy and patronizing about services that would dramatically improve life for low-income Torontonians but you have to be professional and stay and liveblog
Council normally ends at 8. Dissension as people debate whether to finish this item tonight. The budget briefings start on Friday, so there’s not much time left. They decide to stick it out.
Nunziata: “Well, the trees are only going to be five minutes.” Famous last words.
Davis asks if the City has taken a very clear position on raising the OW and ODSP rates.
Staff: “We could certainly lay out the Toronto position, especially in regard to basic income.”
Update: Surprising literally no one who has been following the revenue tools issue, the Ontario finance minister says they won’t give Toronto any of the sales tax revenue because Toronto could raise/implement its own taxes first.
Pam McConnell says the labour movement has “stepped up to the plate” and is “breathing life” into addressing precarious work.
“When we hear of people walking literally miles”, skipping appointments, etc., to save fare, you realize poverty and mobility are intertwined, says Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s). Fending off criticisms that the discount isn’t big enough, he says other cities have much lower ridership and Toronto’s proposed program is costing a lot—$48 million.
Lol. Mihevc made a speech and totally forgot to move his motion.
Holyday is incredulous that Council is so quick to drop $48 million (“a 2 per cent tax hike increase across the city!”) on people who “venture out on occasion—on occasion!—less than 16 times a month! Who benefits?” (The people taking transit?) “The provincial government! Where are they on this?”
Jesus take the wheel
“This is a handout! It’s about doling out a little bit of money here and there.”
I have to keep typing or else I’m going to throw this laptop across the room
Thanks, Advice Dog! Took the words right out of my mouth.
— 5 Billion Yrs To Go (@neville_park) August 9, 2010
Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) says he hopes that Council actually funds the program, rather than taking it out of the TTC subsidy—a real possibility.
Everyone is cranky. Karygiannis and McMahon snap at each other.
Davis says that the change the City can make on poverty, childcare, and so on is hampered because these programs are largely cost-shared with the province, and ought to be funded through income tax.
“People are poor because they don’t have enough money. And they live in poor housing because they don’t have enough income…We do not pay livable benefits under social assistance.” Note to self: transcribe this whole Davis speech.
“We need a social plan that matches our infrastructure plan.”
“Ring the bells,” sings Nunziata to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” councilcarols
All these amendments passed:
The part of the item dealing with Fair Pass is being voted on separately. It carries with only 4 against—Burnside, Campbell, Holyday, Robinson.
The rest of the item also carries with only Burnside, Campbell, Holyday against.
Now some quick releases before the end of the day. This liveblogger will not be available to cover the meeting tomorrow, unfortunately.
Fragedakis: “I’m standing on a point of personal privilege because yesterday Councillor Karygiannis said Highway 5 was the Danforth when in fact it’s Dundas Street.”
And we’re done for the day. Thanks, everyone, for staying on this emotional and procedural rollercoaster.