Council Highlights – December 17 & 18, 2019

Council Highlights

Toronto City Council meeting of December 17 and 18, 2019

Council Highlights is an informal summary of selected actions taken by Toronto City Council at its business meetings. The formal documentation for this latest meeting is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Funding for city-building efforts

Council approved an extension to the City Building Fund, agreeing to invest an additional $6.6 billion to improve Toronto’s transit system and build affordable housing. The funds will be raised by an increased levy dedicated to investments in major transit and housing initiatives. The City Building Fund was first approved by City Council as part of the 2016 budget. This updated levy will cost the average Toronto household about $45 a year as part of municipal property tax bills over the next six years.

Action plan to address housing needs

Council approved the HousingTO action plan created to address Toronto’s housing needs over the next 10 years. The plan will assist almost 350,000 Toronto households, covering the full range of housing, including support for homeless people, social housing, affordable rental housing and long-term care. Implementation of the full 10-year plan, estimated to cost $23.4 billion, relies on new investments from all three orders of government. The City is committed to funding $8.5 billion of that total.

Rate-supported budgets for 2020

The City’s rate-supported budgets for Solid Waste Management Services, Toronto Water and the Toronto Parking Authority received Council’s approval. The operating and capital budgets will maintain and improve current service levels and make investments for the future of those three operations.

Innovation in long-term care

Council approved a new approach for providing care to residents of City-operated long-term care homes, with the focus on an emotion-centred approach that still maintains clinical excellence. The overall intention is to improve outcomes for the residents and their families. The strategy to implement this new approach includes a 12-month pilot project at Lakeshore Lodge before implementation at all 10 City-run long-term care homes.

Ontario’s disability support program

Council supported a member motion to ask the Ontario government to reverse its announced cut to social support funding and to urge the government to maintain the current definition of disability for Ontario Disability Support Program. Council will also ask the province to continue to increase social assistance rates and engage with people living with disabilities, taking their lived experience into account when designing social assistance programs.

Public art strategy  

Council adopted a public art strategy for the City covering the next 10 years to promote new and innovative approaches to the creation of public art, connect artists and communities, and display public art in every Toronto neighbourhood. The strategy includes 21 actions to advance public art and heighten the impact of the City’s public art programs for the benefit of residents and visitors.

LGBTQ2S+ advisory body for City Council 

Council approved the establishment of, and terms of reference for, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) Council advisory body. The advisory body will provide a dedicated mechanism to represent LGBTQ2S+ residents’ interests and concerns, informing City Council’s decision-making during the current 2018-2022 term of Council. Since 2010, there has been no designated Council body speaking for Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ communities.

Formal remembrance of the Holocaust

A member motion supported by Council will result in the declaration of January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Toronto. The United Nations designated that date to honour the victims of the Holocaust. Toronto is home to many Holocaust survivors and/or their families. Marking the day in Toronto is also an opportunity to create greater public awareness of this terrible period in history, when more than six million innocent Jewish men, women and children were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators from 1933 to 1945.

Relocation of Etobicoke Civic Centre

Council authorized proceeding with phase three of a process to replace the outdated Etobicoke Civic Centre with a new complex on a site known as the Westwood Theatre Lands. Phase three of this capital project includes detailed design and tendering for construction. The project will result in new civic and community infrastructure in Etobicoke, including a recreation centre, library, childcare facility and public square.

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs

Council voted to ask the provincial government to review legislation enabling the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to revoke the liquor licences of problematic establishments serving alcohol in Toronto, including those with a history of repeated criminal activity in connection with the premises. Council’s action comes in the context of work that City divisions are undertaking, which aims to balance support for the growth of Toronto’s nighttime economy with the need to ensure public safety, address nuisance issues and respond to problematic establishments.

Construction in downtown Yonge Street area

Council adopted a member motion calling for the creation of a working group with broad representation to address efforts to co-ordinate development and infrastructure work in the area bounded by Bay, Mutual, College/Carlton and Queen streets. The area is experiencing an unprecedented amount of growth, with 26 projects now active or about to begin, many of them requiring the replacement of aging infrastructure. The motion says these projects require co-ordination to ensure the safety of pedestrians and minimize impacts on vehicle traffic.

Development pressures in midtown Toronto

A member motion concerning the Yonge and Eglinton area, adopted by Council, requests a report on the impact of new development pressures and intensification on subway capacity at Eglinton Station, pedestrian safety, road capacity and traffic congestion. The motion notes that the higher density now allowed in the area is largely the result of new provincial planning legislation and policies, and the Ontario government’s “rejection of most of the City’s Midtown in Focus plan.”

Revitalizing the Dundas-Sherbourne area

Council adopted a series of recommendations for creating a comprehensive neighbourhood revitalization plan for the Dundas Street East and Sherbourne Street area of east downtown Toronto. This undertaking includes addressing issues that require collaboration among social-service sectors and across governments, such as affordable and supportive housing, crisis intervention, services for community members who have very low incomes or are homeless, and actions to address public safety concerns in the area.

Live streaming of meetings at City Hall

A member motion supported by Council requests a report on the viability of making live streaming of board meetings held in Committee Rooms 1 and 2 at City Hall routine. At present, Council and committee meetings are live streamed (broadcast in real time via the internet) but many other meetings are not streamed. The motion says all important meetings in Committee Rooms 1 and 2 could be live streamed with little extra cost, as the equipment and process are already in place. Doing so would “enhance openness, accountability and transparency in the City’s governance process.”