Council Highlights – December 16, 17 and 18, 2013

Plan for managing traffic congestion       

Council endorsed a comprehensive congestion management plan with numerous initiatives such as upgrading software for traffic signal management to help improve traffic movement on Toronto streets. The congestion management plan is intended give the City the ability to better respond to changes in traffic conditions, improve traffic efficiency along key corridors and provide motorists with timely information.

Downtown transportation operations study      

Council approved an implementation plan for the recommendations of a recent downtown transportation operations study and approved amendments to Toronto’s traffic and parking regulations. The projects will improve traffic operations and better manage congestion in the downtown area – an area loosely defined by Lake Shore Boulevard to the south, Queen Street to the north, Jarvis Street to the east and Bathurst Street to the west.

Water and wastewater rates for 2014    

Council approved a nine per cent rate increase in the municipal water rate for 2014, resulting in an increase of about $73 next year for the average Toronto household. Council also approved staff’s use of eight per cent as the recommended annual increase for 2015-17, amending the 10-year Capital Plan in order to address capital funding pressures that include basement flooding relief projects, wet weather flow projects and standby power for the water supply system. The forecast water rate increase drops to three per cent a year for the remainder of the 10-year plan.

Solid waste rates for 2014           
Council adopted the 2014 solid waste rates and capital budget, as well as various related recommendations. One adopted recommendation will result in the harmonization of solid waste rates for City agencies, boards, corporations, divisions and school boards to the commercial rate, with the increase to be phased in from 2014 to 2017. In addition, Council supported taking steps to remove conditions that currently make some charities, institutions, not for profits and religious organizations ineligible to receive all of the City’s waste collection services. Expanding eligibility will ultimately result in greater diversion of waste from landfill.

Addressing tenant issues      

Council took steps to address Toronto residential rents and the quality of private rental housing. Council will ask the Government of Ontario to discontinue the exemption from rent control that applies to rental housing built after 1991 and to institute an automatic rent freeze when a rental building is not in compliance with a City work order. Council also agreed to ask the province to give the City of Toronto powers to pursue new measures to improve the quality of rental housing in Toronto. Almost half of Toronto residents rent their homes.

Support for manufacturing in Toronto      

Council adopted several directives to staff for supporting Toronto’s manufacturing sector. Among the actions requested is the convening of a Toronto manufacturing business roundtable early in 2014, intended to help identify opportunities for enhancing Toronto manufacturers’ competitiveness. Toronto’s manufacturing firms currently employ about 120,000 people, representing nine per cent of Toronto’s total employment.

Toronto’s music sector      

Council endorsed the creation of a new advisory group to enhance the competitiveness and visibility of Toronto’s music industry. Council also endorsed terms of reference for the Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance agreement and approved the recommended membership of the Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council. The advisory council is made up of designated City councillors, music industry representatives and other stakeholders.

Official Plan amendments – employment lands      

Council’s discussed recommendations and motions for the amendment of Official Plan policies and land use designations involving Toronto’s employment lands reserved for business/economic activity. Discussion of the topic concluded with Council’s approval of certain site-specific amendments.

Development proposal for King Street West 

Council decided to establish a working group with broad representation to address issues pertaining to a major development proposal for King Street West’s theatre district. The working group will address issues pertaining to development of the site and community impact. Council decided to keep the designated heritage status in place at this time for four buildings that the developer wants to demolish to build three towers, each of them more than 80 storeys tall.

Work to improve Humber treatment plant      

Council authorized the awarding of a contract for major work for odour control and upgrades at the Humber Wastewater Treatment Plant. WCC Construction Canada received the contract as the bidder with the lower bid meeting all the specifications.

Future of the Mr. Christie’s site  

Council endorsed a vision statement and principles to guide future uses for the lands at 2150 Lake Shore Blvd. W. and 23 Park Lawn Rd., the site of the recently closed Mr. Christie’s Bakery operation. A series of meetings involving City staff and a working group with broad representation contributed to the vision statement and principles for future employment opportunities.

Future of Ontario Place and Exhibition Place lands  

Council agreed to ask the Province of Ontario to enter into a formal co-operative venture with the City to jointly plan and revitalize the Ontario Place and Exhibition Place lands. This formal co-operative venture is considered the best way to plan for the area, and will address key issues such as infrastructure, transportation and heritage. The motion says the process should be modeled on best practices for waterfront planning, with community consultation.

Extension of Yonge Street cultural corridor    

Council directed that the Yonge Street Cultural Corridor be extended from Dundas Street north to Davenport Road. That portion of Yonge Street has recently seen significant construction and the renovation of cultural facilities, some of them heritage buildings. The Yonge Street Cultural Corridor is one of seven cultural corridors identified in plans for a revitalized waterfront.

Toronto’s sports fields         

Council endorsed a five per cent discount for non-profit resident permit holders booking seasonal permits for 16 or more consecutive weeks – subject to the approval of permit fees under consideration as part of the City’s 2014 budget. In addition, Council approved permit fees for youth use of sports fields.

Procurement policies and practices  

Council adopted a motion requesting the preparation of a report on procurement practices for consideration by the Government Management Committee at its February meeting. The staff report is to address matters such as procurement issues related to construction contracts.

Green standard for buildings in Toronto        

Council adopted recommendations to enhance the City’s green standards for tall buildings in Toronto with regard to bird-friendly lighting and glass. Among steps to be taken is a commitment that, starting in 2014, all new buildings constructed or undergoing major renovations by the City of Toronto and its agencies/corporations are to meet the bird-friendly standard for window glazing.

Pipeline safety in Toronto   

Council supported a motion addressing the issue of pipeline safety and response to a potential pipeline emergency. Enbridge Inc.’s Line 9 oil pipeline runs through the northern part of Toronto. City representatives participated in the National Energy Board’s recent Toronto hearing on Enbridge’s Line 9B proposal and raised concerns about emergency preparedness/response in the eventuality of a major pipeline rupture in Toronto.

519 sport and recreation project    

A plan by the 519 Church Street Community Centre (the 519) to build the first ever LGBTQ-focused sports and recreation centre in Toronto received Council’s approval. Staff will establish a working group to work with the 519 and Council advised City divisions to help move the 519 Athletic Centre project forward. The centre, to be located in the West Don Lands, will meet the new community’s recreation services needs. A private capital contribution will cover a significant portion of the capital costs and the donor will work with the 519 on a campaign for the rest of the capital funding.

Parking at Toronto Community Housing    

Council supported a motion to ask Toronto Community Housing to waive its parking fees for community organizations that provide programming in Toronto Community Housing buildings.

The cost of parking has deterred some community groups that provide programming for children at Toronto Community Housing dwellings from enhancing and increasing their programming.

Integrated approach to address chronic hoarding     

The establishment of a specialized staff unit for a more integrated approach to handling complex property and community standards issues such as the chronic hoarding of animals received Council’s support. The new interdivisional unit will co-ordinate interactions with health, social and community service professionals.

Commemorating war anniversaries   

Council adopted a motion calling on the City of Toronto to recognize the importance of the year 2014 for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. The commemorative events in Toronto will offer tribute to the many Torontonians who were killed while serving in the two wars.

Policies for museum collections   

New policies covering the City’s historical collections received Council’s approval. The collections consist of artifacts and archeological specimens used for education and programming at City museums. The new and revised policies will improve the stewardship provided by Museum Services.