Council Highlights – May 6, 7 and 8, 2014

Eglinton Avenue plan
Council approved the 21 recommendations of the Eglinton Connects Planning Study, a comprehensive planning review of Eglinton Avenue that responds to the opportunity presented by the building of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit line. The plan envisages a vibrant community along the street, with residential living, employment, retail and public uses. In a separate decision, Council authorized steps to ensure that Metrolinx’s work on configuring the 11-kilometre underground segment of the Eglinton LRT takes into account the Eglinton Connects study.

Streets guidelines
Council adopted recommendations for drawing upon existing work and for pursuing an integrated approach in establishing Complete Streets guidelines for Toronto. Complete Streets refers to streets designed and operated to provide safe access and functionality for all uses – pedestrians, cyclists, public transit riders and motorists. The guidelines are expected to improve decision-making with respect to Toronto’s complex street system.

Dance events at Exhibition Place
Council decided to allow electronic dance music concerts and parties to be held at Exhibition Place. The decision reverses a policy that was adopted recently by the board of governors of Exhibition Place. The motion that Council adopted allows such events in leased facilities at Exhibition Place that provide safe environments with appropriate safety protocols in place.

Toronto Community Housing
Council adopted the Ombudsman’s recent report on the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s human resources policies and practices, and agreed to request that Toronto Community Housing (TCH) implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations. In addition, Council supported taking steps to provide assistance to the TCH board of directors and executive leadership team.

Metrolinx program for public realm
Council adopted recommendations that address the public realm component of Metrolinx’s work on the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit line. Streetscaping and buffered on-street bike lanes are two of the priorities that the City wants Metrolinx to consider when evaluating private-sector bids for work on the project. Other recommendations that were adopted address Metrolinx’s allocation of its funds available for public realm improvements as part of the Sheppard, Finch and Eglinton LRT projects.

Toronto’s street furniture
Council discussed amending the City’s street furniture agreement that provides street furniture across Toronto, and gave staff confidential instructions on the matter of electronic/digital advertising.

Paying for parking by cellphone
Council approved amending the municipal code to allow the City to implement payments by cellphone or other devices at on-street parking machine locations and municipal parking lots. This innovation undertaken by the Toronto Parking Authority and several City divisions will provide more flexibility and convenience to customers. The City anticipates that the cellphone payment option will be available soon at its parking lots, with implementation at on-street parking machine locations to follow.

Culinary tourism trail for Toronto
Given the growing popularity of culinary tourism, Council supported the establishment of a working group with broad representation to create a strategy for promoting a Toronto culinary tourism trail that highlights food attractions and events in Toronto. Many travel enthusiasts are interested in taking a trip to engage in food-related activities.

Women’s entrepreneurship
Council voted in support of taking steps to assist women-led businesses, such as convening a workshop on women’s entrepreneurship. The workshop will be held to facilitate networking and identify ways to support female-led businesses in Toronto. The City recently hosted a women’s entrepreneurship roundtable event to initiate direct dialogue with women entrepreneurs across Toronto.

Municipal rebate program
Council referred a motion about Toronto’s municipal rebate program to the Executive Committee. The City currently offers a rebate of up to 75 per cent of a donor’s contribution to a maximum of $750 for donations to councillor candidates and $2,500 for donations to mayoral candidates. The rebates provide an incentive for engagement in the democratic process and help level the playing field between incumbent members of Council and new candidates. At present, the rebates are offered regardless of whether or not the contributor lives in Toronto.

Administering councillor expenses
Council requested that staff include greater detail in future remuneration and expense reports for councillor expenses, and directed staff to report on new protocols for the renovation of constituency offices.

Air pollution in the city
Council adopted a series of Board of Health recommendations that address the challenge of air pollution and related health problems in Toronto. Steps to be taken include hosting a series of collaborative roundtable sessions to work on an air-monitoring strategy. A report from the Medical Officer of Health recommends that the City renew its focus on reducing traffic emissions to improve Toronto’s air quality.

Hot-drink cups
Council directed staff to report back on a strategy and suitable pilot project for the reduction, reuse and recycling of hot-drink cups. It is estimated that a million hot-drink cups are used in Toronto each day. Many of them end up in landfill because they are not compatible with the City’s recycling program.

Longer lasting roads
Council adopted a motion calling for a review of asphalt-testing procedures to make sure asphalt laid in Toronto meets strength and longevity requirements. Toronto repaired double the number of potholes this year compared with the same period a year ago, with a 50 per cent increase in repair expenditures – costing the City almost $3 million during the first four months of this year.

Photo laureate
Council supported a proposal to establish a Photo Laureate of Toronto position similar to the Poet Laureate. The Photo Laureate’s photographs documenting life in Toronto will be contributed to the Toronto Archives and made available to the public. The City will seek sponsorship to cover costs related to the Photo Laureate position.

Maple Leaf Forever tree
Council adopted a motion to use wood from the Maple Leaf Forever tree to build a new lectern for the Toronto City Hall council chamber in time for the inaugural meeting of the new City Council in December. The Toronto maple tree associated with the song The Maple Leaf Forever blew down in a storm last summer. Steps have been taken to use wood salvaged from the tree for heritage purposes.

Support for Ukraine
Council unanimously endorsed a motion in support of Ukraine, asking the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to consider inviting the City to participate in federation programs in Ukraine. Earlier this year, Council passed a motion of condolence in memory of those who lost their lives protecting the democratic rights of Ukrainians. Toronto has a long-standing relationship with the Ukrainian community and has a City Friendship Agreement with Kyiv, Ukraine.