Toronto City Council Preview: December 2016
From road tolls to water rates, we read Council's agenda so you don't have to.
The rate-supported budget—water, waste, and parking—will be passed this meeting. But it’s a regular Council meeting, too! Try to contain your excitement!
The Big Ticket
- The water, waste, and Parking Authority budgets get passed today. (These are separate from the tax-supported budget, which comes to Council in mid-February.) Read our discussion of the rate-supported budget.
- Urban Forestry needs extra tree inspectors to crack down on bylaw infractions. The surge in permit applications and complaints may reflect bylaw and process improvements made last year.
- Related: John Filion (Ward 23, Willowdale) is concerned that Urban Forestry isn’t acting to protect City trees in his ward.
- The Planning and Growth Management Committee wants to make it easier and more profitable for people to build green roofs.
- A pair of environmental reports are out: one on short-term low carbon strategies, the other on resilience in the face of climate change.
- Related: Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth), a bit of a foodie, is raising the possibility of an urban farm in the Lower Don south of the Brickworks.
- Tree Removal Permit of the Month: a Siberian elm in Downsview. While this tree, according to staff, is healthy and there is no reason to remove it, Siberian elm in general is a prolific invasive species described as “one of, if not the, world’s worst trees.” We will be very disappointed if noted tree-hater Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) doesn’t quote that line if it comes to a debate.
Ethics and Governance
- It’s time for the mid-term committee shuffle. The new lineups are…underwhelming, especially if you’re Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s). Insert sports metaphor here.
- Executive Committee spiked a proposed ranked ballot panel when they debated this item. Could this be the last hurrah?
- The Lobbyist Registrar kindly requests lobbyists not to lie about stuff. You can read the full report [PDF], which deals with a case of two lobbyists providing some helpful suggestions on amending the sign bylaw.
- Deferred from last meeting are Gord Perks’s (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) and Janet Davis’s (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) questions about Toronto Hydro privatization lobbyists. Toronto Hydro’s response [PDF] is…not particularly illuminating.
- Related: However, word on the street is that privatizing hydro and/or parking is off the table for the moment.
- Long after the bombastic Etobicoke councillor left office, the Integrity Commissioner reports that Doug Ford violated the Code of Conduct in his dealings with two clients of Deco Labels, the family business. There are honestly too many incidents to link, but they’ve been substantively covered in the press (here, here, and here for starters). Anyway, the commish is like “well, he’s not a councillor any more, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯!”
- When it comes to City finances, Council’s approach has been “kick the can down the road.” The Long-Term Financial Plan is intended to change all that. This includes looking at new revenue tools, and you know what that means: hours of petty arguments about road tolls.
- Our newest giant money sinkhole is the Gardiner.
- Yay, money! The City is getting federal funding for public infrastructure. Here’s what it’s going to be spent on [PDF]. The list includes fixing the Yorkdale station skylight; sidewalk, tunnel, and track repair; upgrading the bus washing system; making bus stops accessible; the Railpath extension; and more.
- Ahh, the OMB. The widely loathed planning tribunal is under review by the province, and the City is putting in its two cents.
- Related: the new Toronto Local Appeal Body, which will decide on some planning appeals that previously went to the OMB, is coming together.
- As Toronto continues to grow and develop, City Planning is having a hard time keeping up.
- A new funeral home in an industrial zone? Sure, why not.
- Community Benefit of the Month: $45,750 in Section 45 benefits from this development is going to capital improvements for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives building.
- Good news: the Housing Stabilization Fund, an emergency housing benefit for people on social assistance, is getting easier to access. Proposed changes include reducing paperwork and eligibility criteria. People dealing with bed bug infestations will be able to get money to replace “soft furniture,” as well as beds.
- Tenant associations and some on Council have been pushing for a landlord licensing system. Landlords, unsurprisingly, opposed any reform. In a move sure to disappoint everyone, staff’s final recommendations fall in the middle: a stricter bylaw and more user fees, but no licensing. For more background, read Tannara Yelland’s article.
- Toronto Public Health cements its position as the wokest City division with its update on the Intimate Partner Violence Action Plan. Their report focuses on the unique vulnerabilities of LGBTQ2S and Indigenous communities.
- A low-income transit pass is in the works for 2018. As Steve Munro writes,
Whether Council will simply add this on to the mounting TTC operating deficit, or actually come up with “new money” remains to be seen. City staff intend that it be at no net cost to the TTC, but nothing prevents Council from juggling the books simply by giving the TTC less subsidy than it might otherwise have received. The hard decisions will not come until the next term of Council for 2019 and beyond.
- What counts as a “dangerous dog”? How many dogs should you be able to walk without a dog walker permit? These questions and more are tackled in proposed updates to dog bylaws.
- The east end neighbourhood known as “the Pocket” is officially getting an off-leash dog park.
- The City plunks down the cash for the PATH Wayfinding Project.
- The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee is recommending letting vehicles with accessible parking permits stop in the Sherbourne bike lane. This contentious item threatens to pit cyclists against people with impaired mobility. Normally bike lane-friendly councillors may opt for accessibility this time around.
- Trendy but transportation-strapped Liberty Village is getting a new street, running along the railway corridor from Dufferin to Strachan.
- Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) wants to look into “peer-to-peer” parking solutions. This is all we have to say:
Your Moment of Zen
- “The behaviour of many night-time visitors is different to those who visit in the daytime, with the most noticeable difference being increased levels of intoxication.”
Did we miss anything interesting or important? Let us know in the comments, and tune in on Tuesday for the liveblog.
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