Council Highlights – August 25 – 28, 2014

Approval of basketball training centre
Council approved a proposal for the long-term lease of land at the west end of the City’s Exhibition Place grounds to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. for the construction and operation of a 6,300-square-metre/68,000 square-foot basketball training centre. The facility will include two indoor basketball courts. Much of the basketball court time will be available for community use, with the remaining court time to be used primarily by the Toronto Raptors team.

Managing traffic congestion
Council adopted a report from the Deputy Mayor’s Roundtable on Gridlock and Traffic Congestion, an event held earlier this year to generate recommendations for better managing Toronto’s traffic congestion. The recommendations address matters such as curbside stops that impede traffic, traffic signal technology, co-ordination of road work, management of traffic accidents and the promotion of public transit use by people attending special events.

E-cigarettes in Toronto
Council adopted Board of Health recommendations to prohibit electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use at City workplaces and to encourage City of Toronto agencies and corporations to apply the prohibition at their workplaces as well. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health is advocating that Ontario prohibit e-cigarette use wherever smoking is prohibited. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce vapour instead of smoke. City staff have been asked to look into environmentally sound ways to dispose of e-cigarettes and their batteries.

Relocation of Cornerstone Place Shelter
Council approved the permanent relocation of Cornerstone Place Shelter at 616 Vaughan Rd. in Ward 15’s Oakwood Vaughan neighbourhood. In addition, Council approved a series of initiatives to strengthen community support in the area, such as a process to create a Safe Growth strategy for Oakwood and Vaughan. Cornerstone Place, a 50-bed men’s shelter that was located at 833 St. Clair Ave. W. in Ward 21, suspended its operations this summer because its lease had ended and the site is about to be re-developed.

Lead in drinking water
Council adopted a Board of Health report on lead in drinking water and directed City staff to take specified steps that will improve the current strategy on mitigating lead in Toronto’s drinking water. Steps to be taken include expanding the distribution of free filters to vulnerable populations living in older homes and establishing a public database and/or map for communicating the status of lead water pipes across the city. In addition, Council directed Toronto Water to create a pilot project in support of the replacement of lead service pipes.

McNicoll bus garage
Council adopted an environmental report concerning a bus garage/maintenance facility that the Toronto Transit Commission plans to build at the intersection of McNicoll Avenue and Kennedy Road. A bus garage is a permitted use for the site under the City’s zoning guidelines.

Senior management transition
Council adopted a motion to appoint John Livey, currently the Deputy City Manager (DCM) of Cluster B, as the acting City Manager effective December 1. Current City Manager Joe Pennachetti’s retirement date is November 28. Tied to that change in the Toronto Public Service, an acting DCM for Cluster B – not yet named – is to be in place on December 1. In addition, with the retirement of Brenda Patterson, DCM for Cluster A, effective November 6, steps are to be taken to have an acting DCM for Cluster A in place on November 7. Council authorized an immediate start on recruitment for a new City Manager and Deputy City Manager.

Executive compensation at City boards
Council adopted a report that calls for boards of City agencies and corporations to approve a senior executive compensation policy by next April for Council’s consideration. The recommendations approved by Council require the boards to review their executive compensation policies every four years and disclose the results. The compensation of senior executives is to be made public.

Fares for Union Pearson transit  
Council voted to ask Metrolinx to set the fares for its Union Pearson Express train service at generally affordable rates, comparable to GO Transit fares. Council reiterated its preference for additional stops along the rail line rather than just two stops between Union Station and the airport – at Bloor and Weston stations – as announced by Metrolinx. The new rail line between Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport is scheduled to open next year.

Streetcar service
Council voted in favour of encouraging the Toronto Transit Commission to introduce rear-door loading with proof of payment on all streetcar routes as soon as possible to help reduce service delays. The action was taken as Council considered a report on improving the efficiency of streetcar service on King Street, which is the TTC’s busiest surface-transit route.

Economic development roundtables
Council adopted four reports and their recommendations for action on subjects that were addressed at four recent consultation events in Toronto: the Deputy Mayor’s Black Business Professionals’ Roundtable, the Deputy Mayor’s Manufacturing Roundtable, the Deputy Mayor’s Innovation and Technology Roundtable, and the Deputy Mayor’s Young Entrepreneurs Roundtable.

Pan Am Games community projects
Council approved a plan for the allocation of $1.76 million through three grant programs to support community projects tied to the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. One program will support local initiatives in neighbourhoods across the city; the second will fund projects that profile and provide longer-term economic and/or social infrastructure benefits for Toronto’s Latin American, South American and Caribbean communities; and the third program will support arts and cultural animation along Toronto’s Pan Am Path.

Street dedication for Nelson Mandela
Council approved the ceremonial dedication of University Avenue from Front Street West to College Street in honour of Nelson Mandela. Signs will identify University Avenue as well as the ceremonial name Nelson Mandela Boulevard. Mandela, who died last year, was President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and is revered for his human rights activism and political efforts to challenge and dismantle the legacy of apartheid. He visited Toronto three times and was made an honorary citizen during a visit in 1990.

Transportation policies
Council supported making an Official Plan amendment for selected transportation policies as informed by a review process that was part of this year’s “Feeling Congested?” initiative. The Official Plan amendment is intended to strengthen the integration of the City’s land use and transportation policies, and to advance the Official Plan’s city-building vision of sustainable, complete communities.

Fostering innovation in transit planning
Council decided to look into establishing an ongoing forum with broad participation for the discussion of transit planning and related urban issues. The focus would be on fostering innovation to help improve inter-agency co-ordination, transit service and the transit user’s overall experience.

Review of traffic signals
A motion concerning a planned review of traffic signal re-timing received Council’s support. Transportation Services is to report on the financial implications of including an additional 500 traffic signal re-timing reviews in addition to the current plan for 1,000 signal reviews as part of the City’s efforts to alleviate congestion.

Noisy motorcycles
Council supported a motion calling for a report on options for addressing excessive motorcycle noise in Toronto. The motion said noisy motorcycles are preventing people from enjoying their homes peacefully. According to the motion, Toronto should emulate municipalities such as Calgary and Saskatoon, which actively regulate motorcycle noise.

Consolidation of Fire/EMS dispatch centres
Council agreed to pursue establishing a consolidated communications centre for the City’s fire services and emergency medical services instead of having two separate operations for dispatch services. The intention is to reduce overall costs without compromising service levels. The change will require an amendment of provincial legislation and the Toronto firefighter association’s collective agreement, as well as the assurance of continued provincial funding.

Union Station revitalization
Council authorized an increase in the funding of legal services provided to the City to address any legal claims resulting from delays experienced with the revitalization of Union Station. A related report characterizes the complex work underway to revitalize Union Station as a technical marvel.

Tree canopy
Council approved a series of recommendations that arose from a recent Tree Canopy Roundtable event. Among steps to be taken are a public outreach campaign such as New York’s Million Trees campaign and efforts to promote private tree planting.

Topiary signs along Gardiner Expressway
Council approved an updated agreement between the City and Hillside Media Communications Limited for the continued display of topiary signs along the Gardiner Expressway. Topiary signs are displays made of shrubs, grass, flowers/plants and landscaping. Hillside Media Communications has been responsible for the maintenance of the topiary signs since 1987.

Midtown parks and streetscape
Council adopted the Midtown in Focus master plan for moving ahead to achieve the vision of more appealing public spaces, including parks, open spaces and streetscape, in the Yonge and Eglinton area. The plan responds to the community’s immediate needs as well as to growth and other changes occurring in the Yonge-Eglinton midtown neighbourhood.

Election signs
Council considered an agenda item about proposed amendments to the rules governing election signs under the Toronto Municipal Code, including enforcement, and referred the item back to staff for more work.

Handguns in vehicles
Council agreed to endorse a recent Private Member’s Bill that proposes making it illegal in Ontario to drive a motor vehicle in which there is an unlawfully possessed handgun, and proposes penalties for committing the offence. The bill is intended to give police another tool to use in trying to keep guns off the streets.

Call for national inquiry
Council supported a motion to urge the Prime Minister to call a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Advocates of a national inquiry say it is needed to provide justice for the victims, put an end to the violence and address apparent systemic failures of the justice system.

Enbridge pipeline plan
Council approved taking several steps to address safety and environmental issues involving Enbridge Pipelines’ plans for changes to its 9B oil pipeline that crosses through a section of Toronto. The steps approved include asking Enbridge not to transport any diluted bitumen through Toronto.

Property insurance fees
Council supported a motion for the City to ask the Province of Ontario to review the business practice of considering place of residence when assessing premiums for property insurance. Council is also encouraging the province to consider placing limits on premium increases. According to the motion, many Toronto homeowners have raised concerns about increases to their property insurance premiums and/or changes to their insurance policies this year.

Community street dedications
Council approved the name Salvador Allende Court to identify a proposed street in a townhouse development at 1145 Ossington Ave. in honour of Salvador Allende, who was president of Chile when he was assassinated in 1973. Toronto’s Chilean community requested the dedication. In addition, Council approved a ceremonial street dedication in Scarborough to honour the late Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker, a Canadian Armed Forces member who was killed on duty in Afghanistan in 2010 at the age of 24. Baker grew up on Canlish Road – which will remain the street’s official name while the street sign also identifies Corporal Baker’s name.

Shop the Neighbourhood Day
Council agreed to declare November 29 Toronto’s second annual “Shop the Neighbourhood Day” to celebrate neighbourhood and small business retailers and to promote Toronto’s Business Improvement Areas across the city.