Council Highlights – Toronto City Council meeting of February 23 and 24, 2009

Freeze on development charges
Council adopted a structure for development charges, freezing the fee at current levels for the next two years (until January 31, 2011). The intention is to give the development industry some predictability and to help protect Toronto’s prosperity. A new development charge bylaw will come into effect on May 1, 2009. It will replace the existing bylaw and will allow the City to continue to collect development charges to pay for a portion of municipal growth-related capital costs for municipal services. The new bylaw provides for a multi-year phase-in of updated charges on housing construction starting in February 2011 if construction activity reaches certain pre-determined levels – with exemptions such as affordable rental housing and industrial development. (More details in a news release dated February 25: http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel.nsf)

Toronto beaches plan
Council endorsed a plan to improve and enhance the City of Toronto’s 11 swimming beaches as a key feature of the waterfront. The action plan identifies steps to improve water quality at the three City beaches (Sunnyside, Marie Curtis East and Rouge) that tend to have the poorest water quality. At Sunnyside, the City will undertake a three-year pilot project to enclose part of the swimming area at the beach in order to provide acceptable recreational water quality. The long-term vision is to have all Toronto swimming beaches rated at the international Blue Flag standard or better. The Municipal Code does not permit dogs on Blue Flag designated beaches. Council asked staff to look at ways to address concerns that dog owners/walkers have voiced about access to Kew-Balmy Beach. (News release dated February 25: http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel.nsf)

Legacy projects for Pan Am Games bid   
Council approved the investment of $49.5 million to create an infrastructure of new and revitalized athletic facilities that will benefit priority neighbourhoods and leave a legacy for Toronto. The City’s $49.5 million investment, tied to the Toronto area’s bid to host the 2015 Pan American/ParaPan Games, is expected to leverage about $198 million from the provincial and federal governments to complete the necessary work at six City-owned athletic sites. The Toronto region’s bid is competing with bids by Lima, Peru and Bogota, Colombia to host the 2015 games. (News release dated February 23: http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel.nsf)

Appointees to Build Toronto and Invest Toronto
Council confirmed the appointment of boards of directors for Build Toronto and Invest Toronto. The two new boards of talented citizen appointees are at the centre of the City’s strategy to enhance Toronto’s economic competitiveness. Invest Toronto has a mandate to engage with the private sector to promote Toronto as an investment opportunity. Build Toronto’s mandate is to work with private and public sector partners to unlock the value of underused City real estate, stimulating the creation of desirable jobs and regenerating neighbourhoods. (News release dated February 24: http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel.nsf)

New top financial official for the City

Council appointed Cam Weldon as Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer for the City of Toronto. (News release dated February 25: http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel.nsf)
 
More outdoor rinks to open early next season
Council approved the early opening of 13 outdoor ice rinks across the city next fall to start the 2010 skating season. The City will schedule those rinks to open at the same time as the rink at Nathan Phillips Square in November. The rinks are Rennie Park Rink, Sir Adam Beck Rink, Sunnydale Rink, Dufferin Grove, Hodgson Rink, Kew Gardens Rink, Regent Park South Rink, Mel Lastman Square, Broadlands Community Centre, Glen Long Community Centre, Irving Chapley Community Centre, Albert Campbell Square and West Mall Rink.

Yonge-Eglinton Centre

Council took steps to establish the planning and zoning framework needed to proceed with the revitalization of the Yonge Street-Eglinton Avenue area, specifically the southwest quadrant of the intersection. The revitalization is to include investment in public transit infrastructure, the provision of major office space and employment, promotion of sustainable green development on the Eglinton TTC bus terminal lands, and improvement of the public realm and local amenities.