Council Highlights City Council meeting of May 25, 26 and 27, 2009

Green roofs in Toronto
Council decided to make “green roof” rooftop vegetation mandatory on new, large buildings constructed in Toronto. Green roofs will be required on most new, large buildings effective next February. The bylaw’s effective date for new industrial buildings is one year later (February 2011). Green roofs reduce the urban heat island effect, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality and stormwater management, and create opportunities for biodiversity and city beautification.

Real estate strategy
Council endorsed the principles of a City real estate strategy and agreed to transfer 22 more surplus properties to the new City agency Build Toronto, creating a total starting portfolio of 30 properties to be considered for development under Build Toronto’s direction. The real estate strategy is based on the recognition that the City’s real estate (including properties of City agencies, boards, commissions and divisions) is an important corporate asset that must be strategically managed at the corporate level. Council created Build Toronto in late 2008.

Funding for construction of affordable housing
Council approved the construction of 362 new affordable rental homes, including two new projects in the West Don Lands and the Railway Lands areas – projects that are proposed for funding under a federal-provincial program supporting new affordable housing. Council also approved additional funding for two previously approved affordable housing projects at 1355 King St. W. and 270 Donlands Ave. The new housing is part of the City’s contribution to the local economic recovery effort.

Jarvis Street plan
Council supported a proposal for the redesign of Jarvis Street in a lane configuration that includes bike lanes. The project – to be undertaken at an unspecified time – will reduce the current five lanes to four lanes by removing the centre reversible lane and widening the remaining four lanes and the east sidewalk. These changes are part of a general plan that aims to improve the public realm along Jarvis Street and to make this north-south artery a safer route for cyclists without seriously impeding traffic flow.

Two-stroke engines – greening strategy 

Council approved a strategy to speed up phasing out the City’s use of high-emission small engine equipment (such as lawnmowers and chainsaws), introducing new equipment that meets or exceeds emission standards set by Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As part of the strategy, Council directed staff to refine park design and landscaping practices to reduce the use of small engine equipment for parks maintenance. The strategy also includes public education and an incentive program promoting the replacement of older, high-pollution two-stroke small engines used by the Toronto public, businesses and institutions. 

Support for walkers
Council approved a walking strategy for Toronto, with the goal of making it easier and safer for pedestrians to get around the city. 

Noise issue – railway work

Council approved a motion to express Council’s support for residents affected by “excessive” vibration and noise caused by work on a railway grade separation project near Dupont Street and Dundas Street West. Council asked the City Solicitor to report back at Council’s next meeting (July 6), and invited written comments from Metrolinx. Residents in the area say the constant pile-driving is undermining the neighbourhood’s livability, and point out that there are alternative, quieter technologies for work of this kind.

Funding for student nutrition programs 
Council entered into agreements with two groups that are to administer funding for eligible programs delivering student nutrition across Toronto. The programs, with shared City and provincial funding, provide meals to students, including morning meals in hundreds of designated Toronto neighbourhoods. Municipal and provincial funds make up part of the total program funding – much of it is raised at the local level. 

Washrooms in stores
Large retail businesses in Toronto will need to provide washrooms that their customers can use, following Council’s approval of the requirement for retail businesses larger than 300 square metres (3,230 square feet).

Roncesvalles Avenue streetscape
Council took action to proceed to the next step in undertaking a streetscape improvement strategy for Roncesvalles Avenue between Dundas Street West and Queen Street West. The project will include changes to the travel lane and street parking configuration, the provision of transit platforms as an extension of the sidewalk to allow level boarding to new TTC transit vehicles, and the widening of the boulevard along parts of Roncesvalles.

Toronto to bid for World Police and Fire Games 
Council authorized proceeding with a bid for Toronto to host the 2015 World Police and Fire Games. Staff will pursue financial commitments from the provincial and federal governments in the event that Toronto is chosen to host the games. 

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