Council Highlights – July 7 – 10, 2015

Expanded gaming at Woodbine Racetrack
Council debated expanded gaming at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack and passed a resolution in support of the proposal, subject to conditions. The approval sets the stage for the development of an integrated entertainment complex including gaming and non-gaming development at the Woodbine site in the northwest part of the city. Council also agreed to explore the possibility of designating some of the revenues from expanded gaming to a community benefits fund and supported certain employment-related requirements tied to the expansion of gaming.

Confronting poverty in Toronto
Council adopted an interim report on a strategy to address poverty in Toronto. In addition to adopting the vision and objectives for TO Prosperity: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, Council directed staff to undertake further discussions with residents and to provide Council with a final poverty reduction strategy and detailed implementation plan. Council also supported taking action on subjects such as eye examinations for schoolchildren in specific neighbourhoods and pursuing partnerships with the private sector to support the City’s poverty-reduction efforts.

Traffic management
Council authorized Transportation Services’ expansion of the City’s traffic-monitoring-camera program as part of the implementation of the earlier-approved Congestion Management Plan and for monitoring work zones. The Congestion Management Plan focuses on strategies for managing traffic in Toronto, using methods/initiatives such as intelligent transportation systems, congestion and engineering studies, enhanced incident/event response, improved construction coordination and the provision of better information for travellers.

Construction projects and traffic
Council authorized the City’s introduction, on a pilot-project basis, of contractual measures to help address anticipated traffic disruptions associated with a delayed/prolonged construction project. Construction contract provisions that take into account the monetary worth of early or late completion projects are a proven way to support the reduction of traffic congestion related to construction projects. The City plans to test contract measures such as addressing “acceleration and delay” costs for pertinent contracts to be tendered this fall and in early 2016.

Social housing in Toronto
Council adopted a series of recommendations pertaining to the report Transforming Social Housing: Renewing the Partnership with the City’s Social Housing Providers. The goal is to make the social housing system more sustainable, effective and better integrated with the range of affordable housing options available to low- and moderate-income households in Toronto. The City administers and funds social housing that provides about 95,000 units, including about 70,000 rent-geared-to-income (RGI) units. The system includes City-owned Toronto Community Housing Corporation and more than 240 community-based, non-profit and co-operative housing providers.

Waterfront revitalization
Council adopted recommendations and provided direction to staff aimed at ensuring continued work on, and effective management of, Toronto’s waterfront revitalization. Council expressed support for a second phase of waterfront revitalization supported by tri-government funding and governance, and for Waterfront Toronto to continue as the primary delivery entity for the revitalization. Council supported the City’s initiation of an intergovernmental negotiation process on funding commitments.

Emergency preparedness
Council provided direction for further work by City staff and Toronto Hydro in light of the latest in a series of reports on the City’s response to the 2013 ice storm and on the City’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies in general. For example, Council is requesting that Toronto Hydro continue with efforts that will make Toronto’s electricity supply more resilient and will reduce power disruptions – in part by converting overhead power lines to underground lines.

Cycle tracks for east downtown area
Council approved extending the Richmond Street and Adelaide Street cycle tracks to Parliament Street in the east downtown area, with associated regulations for vehicles, on a pilot-project basis. The Richmond Street pilot will extend from Parliament Street to York Street for westbound cyclists. The Adelaide Street pilot will extend from Simcoe Street to Parliament Street for eastbound cyclists. Council also supported having staff look into the possibility of upgrading the bike lanes on Dundas Street East in the Don Valley area to become protected bike lanes.

Car-pooling app – UberPool
Council supported a motion to request a report on the anticipated effect of the public’s use of Uber’s new car-pooling app, known as UberPool, on Toronto Transit Commission/public transit ridership. UberPool, which was recently made available in Toronto, tracks similar ride requests and links them, enabling passengers to share a ride and split the cost with another person who requested a ride along a similar route.

Canada Post’s community mailbox program
Council agreed to ask Canada Post to provide detailed information in response to questions the City is asking about Canada Post’s plans for implementing the community mailbox program in Toronto. It is anticipated that Canada Post will begin its transition from door-to-door mail delivery to a community mailbox system in Toronto starting in 2017. The City’s questions address matters such the accessibility, financial and public realm implications for the City of Toronto.

Name changes for board and committee
Council approved new names for the City’s film board and disabilities committee. As a result, the former Disability Issues Committee is now called the Disability, Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee. The former Film, Television and Commercial Production Industry Committee is now called the Toronto Film, Television and Digital Media Board.

New fireboat – the William Thornton
Council approved the name William Thornton to identify a fireboat recently acquired by Toronto Fire Services. Originally a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, the William Thornton will serve as a backup vessel to the City’s William Lyon Mackenzie fireboat. The name William Thornton is historically significant for Toronto Fire Services and the City. The death of William Thornton in 1848 was recorded as the first fallen firefighter in Toronto, and the first in Ontario.

Bike racks
A motion to donate to Toronto’s school boards 150 bicycle racks that the City bought and installed at Pan Am Games venues this summer received Council’s approval. The bike racks, each of which provides parking for eight bikes, will be given to the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board after the Games as a legacy of the TO2015 Games. Council also supported authorizing the allocation of City funds to provide for more bicycle parking at parks and community centres across the city.