Council Highlights – City Council meeting of September 24 and 25, 2008

Council gives green light to Mayor’s Tower Renewal
The City is moving forward with the Mayor’s Tower Renewal initiative designed to make the city’s aging apartment towers greener (energy efficient) and to use this as a catalyst for development to help revitalize communities. The project provides incentives to building owners to make their buildings more energy efficient. For example, wrapping an apartment building with a layer of insulation (a bit like putting on a winter coat) could reduce energy use by 50 per cent or greater, ultimately reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Program participation could allow building owners to add to the buildings on their site, such as commercial or retail space and features that better serve community needs. Revenues generated by that additional space could provide the funds to support the energy efficiency measures. This program would also provide an opportunity for buildings to upgrade their green space and provide improved neighbourhood gathering spaces. Buildings/properties would be able to: live a greener existence by using energy-generating measures, like installing wind or solar power sources; develop green roofs and community gardens; and enact site water conservation measures and better on-site management of waste. Tower renewal would lead to the creation of local green jobs. Four pilot sites have been selected for the project. Additional details are available at www.towerrenewal.ca.

Joseph Pennachetti confirmed as the new City Manager
Council approved the Mayor’s recommendation and appointed Mr. Pennachetti as the new City Manager effective Oct. 6, 2008. The City’s Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager replaced Shirley Hoy, who served the City in this capacity for seven years. Mr. Pennachetti joined the City in 2002 and provides 32 years of experience in municipal government, including prior experience as the treasurer and commissioner of finance for Peel and York regions. He holds both a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business Administration and is a Certified General Accountant. The City’s current Treasurer, Cam Weldon, will assume the role of Acting Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager until an executive search for a full-time replacement is concluded.

City to celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2009
Plans to celebrate the city’s 175th anniversary, including a major event on Nathan Phillips Square, were approved by Council. The City of Toronto was incorporated on March 6, 1834 and the event on the square will be marked on that same day in 2009. The public celebration will enhance civic pride and raise awareness about city history. The activities will include the creation of a special Toronto song, a book published by the Toronto Archives on city history, and Toronto in Words and Images – an exhibit at the Market Gallery (in the St. Lawrence Market) that marries art with Toronto literature.

City to invest federal funds in youth gang prevention work
Council directed that $4,932,954 from the Government of Canada’s Youth Gang Prevention Fund be used to support a new pilot program for youth gang prevention. The funding is for a four-year period ending in 2012 to put in place an anti-gang strategy. Building on the City’s Community Safety Plan, the new strategy will enhance the City mandate to improve safety and will support work with parents, schools and the community, to provide intervention strategies for neighbourhood youth, increasing the ability of communities to decrease the risk factors that lead youth to join gangs.

Fort York to be revitalized for bicentennial celebration
Council approved plans for the City’s Bicentennial Commemoration of the War of 1812 and the transformation of Toronto as an urban centre. The celebrations will be spread throughout 2012 and 2013, and serve as a catalyst to revitalize this national historic site. Fort York is the only authentic fort from the war in Canada, and was the first site of a provincial parliament building. Some of the plans include work to secure funding support for the revitalization from the federal and provincial governments, as well as the private sector through fund-raising. Included in the plans are: a new visitor information centre, a new pedestrian/cycling bridge from Stanley Park over the rail lands to the fort and waterfront, full restoration of the fort buildings and the addition of new exhibits, a heritage trail established noting sites of significance in Toronto during the war, and nomination of the fort as a UNESCO heritage site. The site revitalization will increase the fort’s profile as a major tourist destination.

Fiona Crean appointed Toronto’s first Ombudsperson
Council unanimously approved Fiona Crean as the City’s Ombudsperson, a position required under the City of Toronto Act, 2006. The Toronto Ombudsperson will receive, resolve and investigate public complaints related to the delivery of City services and programs. The service will be accessible to all Torontonians. Ms. Crean starts her work for the City on November 17, 2008 and has extensive Ombudsman experience.  She served as the first Ombudsman and Director of Human Rights at York University. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office where she was responsible for investigating and resolving complaints regarding the administration of government. She also served as interim Ombudsman for Ontario. Ms. Crean developed the first employment equity program for the former City of Toronto and worked for a number of years at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The appointment of the Toronto Ombudsperson rounds out the City’s accountability framework and continues the City’s leadership in promoting accountability and open government. The City’s other accountability positions include the Auditor General, the Integrity Commissioner and the Lobbyist Registrar.  All of the accountability positions are independent of the City administration and report to City Council.