Council Highlights – June 10, 11, 12 and 13, 2014

Auditor General and Integrity Commissioner appointed
Council appointed a new Toronto Auditor General and Toronto Integrity Commissioner. Valerie Jepson was appointed Integrity Commissioner, effective September 6. Beverly Romeo-Beehler was appointed Auditor General, effective December 16. Council deferred making a decision on the appointment of a Toronto Ombudsman.

Filling of councillor vacancies 
Council declared the office of Councillor, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina, to be vacant and will fill the vacancy by appointment at a special meeting of Council to be held on July 7. Former councillor Adam Vaughan recently resigned from the office. Council also approved a plan to make an appointment on July 7 to fill the councillor vacancy in Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore that will be created as a result of the election of Councillor Peter Milczyn as an MPP-elect in the June 12 Ontario election.

Review of ward boundaries
Council approved a work plan for a third-party consultant retained to review Toronto’s municipal ward boundaries as earlier requested by Council. Toronto’s ward boundary review must follow an independent, unbiased process that includes substantial public consultation and complies with principles set out by the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Municipal Board. There are currently significant population discrepancies among Toronto’s ward boundaries.

Services for undocumented residents
Council maintained its commitment to ensuring that Toronto residents without full citizenship status or full status documents have access to City services, adopting a series of specific measures to improve undocumented Torontonians’ access to municipal services. City of Toronto divisions, agencies and corporations are to review their policies and procedures to ensure consistency with Council’s commitment to provide services to undocumented Torontonians.

Future of the Red Door Shelter
Council directed staff to explore all mechanisms, including financial options, to maintain the continuity of the services provided by the Red Door Shelter. The 106-bed emergency family shelter at 875 Queen St. East has a contract with the City to provide shelter services. The site is in the process of being sold for redevelopment. The purchaser has been talking with the City and the Red Door Shelter about options for including the shelter in the new building.

Drop-in service for women 
Council authorized staff to pursue establishing two 24-hour-a-day drop-in facilities for women, one in the east end and one in the west end of the city. Council directed that the City should aim to have one or both of the drop-ins in operation before the end of this year. The facilities’ services are to include the ability to provide trauma care as well as to meet the safety, counselling and practical needs of street-involved women.

Public service bylaw
Council unanimously approved the establishment of a Toronto Public Service Bylaw as part of the Toronto Municipal Code. The bylaw will strengthen the separation between the administrative and political components of Toronto’s government, and will advance Toronto’s public service as professional, impartial and ethical. The Toronto Public Service Bylaw takes effect at the end of next year.

Designation of backup for the Deputy Mayor 
Council designated Councillor Mike Del Grande to assume the role of the Deputy Mayor, with the powers and duties of Deputy Mayor, when Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is out of the city or absent due to illness.

Councillor office renovations  
Council approved a protocol for renovations to councillors’ constituency offices, including the use of a competitive process for any sites that are not City-owned properties. At present, 30 councillors have constituency offices, either as expanded office space at City Hall or at other locations.

Sony Centre
In response to a recent audit of the Sony Centre for the performing arts and its current redevelopment, Council decided to replace the centre’s board of directors with an interim board. The interim board is chaired by Councillor Gary Crawford and includes four other members of Council as well as three senior City staff members. Among Council’s directives is one calling for a comprehensive review of the centre’s operating agreement with the City.

Dangerous railway cargo  
Several steps addressing concerns about the movement of dangerous rail cargo through Toronto received Council’s support. For example, the City will ask railway companies that transport dangerous goods through Toronto to provide the Office of Emergency Management and Toronto Fire Services with documentation demonstrating the state of good repair of track, signals and related infrastructure. The City has its own all-hazards emergency response plan in place and wants the rail companies to have their own emergency response teams readily available for deployment in Toronto as well.

Affordable housing on waterfront
An innovative plan to develop 80 affordable rental homes in a mixed-use market condominium building in the emerging East Bayfront neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront received Council’s authorization. The development is to be built and operated through a partnership among the City, Waterfront Toronto, developer Hines/Tridel and Toronto Artscape. Artscape will operate the City-owned rental housing. The plan for the waterfront calls for 20 percent of residential units to be affordable.

Bike lanes and cycle track 
Council approved pilot projects that will see the installation of a westbound cycle track on the north side of Richmond Street West from York Street to Bathurst Street, an eastbound cycle track on the south side of Adelaide Street West from Bathurst Street to Simcoe Street, and cycle tracks on Simcoe Street from Front Street West to Queen Street West. Cycle tracks are physically separated bike lanes. Council also approved the installation of bike lanes in several locations, including in sections of Kingston Road, Harbord Street and Peter Street.

D-Day tribute campaign   
Council adopted a motion for the City to recognize the D-Day tribute campaign that is commemorating Canada’s fallen soldiers of the Second World War with markers on the grounds of Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France – one marker for every Canadian who died on D-Day (June 6, 1944). The City of Toronto is sponsoring and covering the cost of 22 tribute markers for fallen soldiers from Toronto and the Toronto area who had not yet been sponsored.

Toronto’s use of paid-duty officers 
Council voted to ask the Government of Ontario to give Toronto the flexibility under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act to use peace officers rather than being required to hire off-duty police officers to direct traffic. Council also decided to review the use of paid-duty officers for celebrations, festivals and other special events in Toronto, with the intention of reducing costs for event organizers.

Transitional housing initiative
Council approved funding for repairs to a Toronto Community Housing property to make it suitable as transitional housing for young women who are victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The housing, a first for Toronto, will be managed and operated by a service agency without any operating subsidy from the City.

Lead in drinking water    
Council supported a motion calling for comprehensive updates/reports from staff on the issue of lead in Toronto’s drinking water and including, for example, recommendations from the Medical Officer of Health on ways to improve the City’s Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy from a public health perspective. The reports are also to address what additional measures can be pursued to encourage the replacement of water pipes made of lead that remain in thousands of Toronto homes built before the 1950s.

Low water pressure
Council adopted a motion asking the General Manager of Toronto Water to review and report on the policy for emergency replacement of home water services that have low flow – and to assess the financial and operational impact of redefining low flow from taps as anything less than 15 litres per minute. The current minimum flow threshold is seven litres a minute to qualify for emergency water service replacement by the City. The motion notes that many residents are complaining about low water pressure and are unable to afford to pay for upgrades on their own.

Watercourse management plan 
Council confirmed a set of principles for Toronto’s watercourse management. The principles include direction on erosion control and erosion damage involving both public and private property. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is responsible for assessing erosion hazards affecting private property and for taking steps to protect public safety. City divisions with facilities or infrastructure affected by erosion are to collaborate where appropriate in providing and paying for the necessary erosion control.

Park renamed to honour Barbara Hall       
Council approved the renaming of the downtown Cawthra Square Park to Barbara Hall Park. A former Toronto mayor and councillor, Barbara Hall is currently chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. She has been a champion of human rights for almost 40 years and recently launched changes to the Ontario Human Rights Code prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity/expression.

Active transportation initiative 
Council showed its support for Toronto Public Health’s work on an initiative that is promoting active transportation by identifying certain Toronto communities’ needs and preferences for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Council adopted recommendations such as directing Transportation Services staff to look into ways to improve road safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians travelling to and from Black Creek Community Farm.

Promotion of City’s golf courses    
Council approved the introduction of a golf marketing incentive to encourage greater use of the City’s five public golf courses during underutilized periods, as well as to promote new and repeat participation. Parks, Forestry and Recreation, which runs the golf courses, will sell golf packages and coupons as incentives.