Council Highlights – City Council meeting of City Council meeting of August 5 and 6, 2009

Union Station revitalization
Council endorsed an agreement with a private sector company that, as head lessee, will lease and operate all retail space in Union Station, including in a new lower retail concourse. With federal, provincial and municipal funding, the City will proceed with its plan to revitalize Union Station as a state-of-the-art transportation facility. The name of the successful proponent for head lessee will remain confidential until a lease agreement is signed, likely in the next four to six weeks. Construction work for the revitalization is scheduled to begin next year and be completed in 2015 at a total cost of $640 million.

Appointment of Integrity Commissioner

Council appointed Janet Leiper the City’s Integrity Commissioner, effective September 8. The Integrity Commissioner provides advice, complaint resolution and education to Council members (and appointees of most of the City’s agencies, boards and commissions) on ethics issues. The role entails advising on the application of the Code of Conduct and various City of Toronto policies and legislation governing ethical behaviour.

Social housing action plan 

Council endorsed the Housing Opportunities Toronto (HOT) Action Plan 2010-2020. HOT proposes new investment over the next 10 years to help people struggling with high housing costs or inadequate accommodation. The Toronto Housing Charter, a component of HOT, states that all residents have the right to equal treatment in housing without discrimination, consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Future of east Gardiner Expressway

City Council authorized City officials to submit terms of reference to the Ontario government for an anticipated environmental assessment of options for the future of the eastern Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard in that area (east from Jarvis Street). Council directed that a cost-benefit study should be conducted as part of the environmental study. Council also specified that the environmental assessment should address the issue of the railway lands as a barrier to waterfront access.

Vision for Toronto’s western waterfront
Council approved a 2009 Western Waterfront Master Plan, which will guide decisions related to improvements to the public realm in the area over the next 20 years. The master plan provides a vision to improve parkland, beaches, trails, roads, bridges and recreational facilities in the western waterfront area between the Humber River and Exhibition Place, including Sunnyside Beach and Marilyn Bell Park. The area’s beaches are to be expanded and enhanced, consistent with a vision that sees the lake and beach as the major recreational attractions of the western waterfront.

City-wide recreation service plan

Council approved a set of principles to guide the creation of a city-wide, multi-year Recreation Service Plan. The principles are equitable access, high quality programs and services, inclusion to recognize diversity and encourage participation by all, and capacity building to provide programs and services that benefit all participants and help create a sense of community, belonging and vitality. Development of the plan will help the City take stock of its current services/programs and use the four guiding principles in planning to meet existing and emerging recreational demands.

Incentive for energy efficiency retrofits
Council agreed to establish a Home Energy Efficiency Incentive Program, giving the owners of low-rise residential properties in Toronto financial grants of as much as $1,000 for a selected set of energy efficiency retrofits. The City will take steps to integrate delivery of its program with the ecoENERGY program offered by Natural Resources Canada.

New life for the Guild Inn site
Council approved an initiative that will create a vibrant new future for the Guild Inn site in Scarborough. An agreement in principle between the City of Toronto, Centennial College and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority allows the college to construct a new home for a Cultural and Heritage Institute. This multi-use development is to include a new hotel and a conference centre as well as restorations to the historic Bickford Residence. The college will seek a private hotel developer/operator to invest in the project.

Proposal to make Rouge Valley a national park

Council agreed to encourage the federal and Ontario governments to establish a 40,000-acre (16,187-hectare) Rouge Valley National Park, on the basis that the Rouge Valley watershed is of national significance. The current Rouge Park consists of about 12,000 acres (4,856 hectares) of publicly-owned lands stretching from the shore of Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine in parts of Toronto as well as Durham and York regions. The park has a wealth of rare species and is facing challenges such as urban sprawl and illegal hunting.