Council Highlights – November 13, 14, 15 and 18 2013

Investing in Toronto Community Housing     
Council adopted reports on steps to transform Toronto Community Housing (TCH) into a landlord of excellence. The City will provide $864 million in capital funding for TCH repairs over the next 10 years, and is asking the federal and provincial governments to contribute $864 million each toward TCH repair costs over that period. Council also endorsed a Federation of Canadian Municipalities resolution urging the federal government to take measures to address Canada’s affordable housing crunch.

Preparedness for emergency response    
As a followup to the July 8 storm and flooding in Toronto, Council approved several actions involving the City’s preparedness for emergency response. The actions include improved co-ordination among 311 Toronto, Toronto Hydro, Hydro One and Toronto Water that would assist 311 Toronto in responding to residents’ questions during major emergencies. Council also asked for a review of the City’s rescue capabilities.

Protection from second-hand smoke  
Council approved restrictions on smoking at sports fields, beaches, public squares and within nine metres of the entrances of public buildings in Toronto. About 60 Ontario municipalities have enacted bylaws that make outdoor areas such as workplace entrances, restaurant patios and public squares smoke-free.

Casa Loma   
Council voted to enter into a 20-year agreement with a company controlled by Liberty Entertainment Group for the improvement and operation of the main house and grounds of Casa Loma. Council directed that the net proceeds from the lease go into a fund for the restoration and state of good repair of the Casa Loma complex.

Continuing Toronto’s bike-share program    
Council authorized the termination of the current agreement between BIXI Toronto Inc. and the City, and authorized the transfer of BIXI Toronto assets to the Toronto Parking Authority for the purpose of continuing the bike-share program. The parking authority will take responsibility for operating the bike-share program on behalf of the City. In addition, Council approved motions that address bike-sharing stations as part of the City’s planning approval process and support the expansion of bicycle sharing across the city.

Study of a Bloor-Dupont bikeway  
Council directed Transportation Services to undertake a Bloor Street-Dupont Street bikeway environmental assessment study in 2014. Combining the two corridors for the environmental assessment was recommended because changes to one of the two parallel streets will affect the other. A Dupont Street assessment was already scheduled to begin in 2014.

Pilot project for affordable housing in Bayside 
Council gave its approval in principle for capital funding for the construction of an affordable rental pilot project consisting of about 70 affordable rental homes in a Bayside condominium development. Bayside is one of the first new neighbourhoods to be developed in the East Bayfront area. The secondary and precinct plans call for 20 per cent of the residential units to be affordable rental housing.

City services benefit card    
Council authorized the issuance of a Request for Proposals for the introduction of a drug benefit card as the next phase of the City Services Benefit Card that the Toronto Employment and Social Services division provides to its Ontario Works clients. A permanent, plastic drug benefit eligibility card will replace the paper card that is now issued monthly. Pharmacists will be able to check clients’ eligibility online. Council also wants staff to look into other possible uses of the benefit card for City services, including services provided by Shelter, Support and Housing Administration and Toronto Public Health.

After-school recreation care  
Council approved a 16-site expansion of the After-School Recreation and Care (ARC) program. The ARC model was established in 2005 to address the child care and recreational needs of children six to 12 years of age who live in vulnerable communities. Council’s decision was informed by a report from Parks, Forestry and Recreation and Children’s Services addressing options for a phased-in expansion of ARC beyond Toronto’s designated priority neighbourhoods.

Funding of water/wastewater infrastructure  
Council directed staff to study, consult and report on ways to generate additional revenue to pay for the City’s infrastructure requirements for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater. Among the options are water rate increases, a separate stormwater charge on the water bill, and debenture financing for major projects.

Managing biosolids – Highland Creek plant
Council approved the preparation of a Schedule B Class Environmental Assessment examining alternatives for managing biosolids generated at the Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, and provided direction on public consultation. Biosolids are a nutrient-rich organic product formed from stabilized municipal sludge in the wastewater treatment process.

Consolidation of parking meter bylaws   
Council approved the consolidation of parking meter bylaws and codes of the seven former (pre-amalgamation) municipalities as part of the continuing process of consolidating Toronto’s bylaws and municipal codes dealing with traffic and parking. Consolidation will streamline administration and enforcement, and help to clarify the regulations for the public.

Firefighter training and recruitment   
Council directed Toronto Fire Services management to update and finalize a Fire Master Plan that addresses firefighter training and recruitment issues. The issues are identified in a recent audit of the division’s administration of recruitment and training. Among Council’s specific directives, for example, is a review of the program for training recruits – with the goal of identifying operational efficiencies that can yield cost savings while supporting Fire Services’ diversity goals.

Gaming site at Woodbine Racetrack   
Council authorized City officials to enter into a municipal contribution agreement with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) for the City’s receipt of a share of the gaming revenue generated at the OLG gaming site at Woodbine Racetrack. Council’s approval of the new agreement was needed in order to preserve revenue sharing for the existing slots. It does not alter Council’s position against the expansion of the Woodbine gaming site, nor does it affect the ban on live table games at Woodbine.

Support for agriculture in Toronto  
Council approved a Toronto Agricultural Program consisting of a steering committee, a working group and a work plan in support of urban agriculture. In recent years, communities across Toronto have expressed interest in the production, sale and consumption of locally-grown food. A 2012 study showed that agricultural activity within Toronto could supply 10 per cent of the city’s commercial demand for fresh vegetables.

Response to devastation in the Philippines   
Council endorsed a motion to support the efforts of the federal and provincial governments in providing financial and other emergency and rebuilding support to the Philippines as it struggles to recover from Typhoon Haiyan on November 8. The motion adopted also calls on the City of Toronto to consider any formal request to provide technical assistance to the devastated city of Tacloban.

Arena board governance 
Council adopted the recommendations of the City Ombudsman’s report entitled Skating on Thin Ice: An Investigation into Governance at an Arena Board. Among the recommendations is a request that the City Manager examine governance models and service delivery mechanisms for arena boards and present the findings for Council’s consideration.

Protecting the Great Lakes   
Council supported a motion expressing opposition to an Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposal to dispose of radioactive waste in a deep geologic repository in Lake Huron. OPG wants to dispose of lower and intermediate level nuclear waste from its Bruce, Pickering and Darlington facilities in limestone rock below Lake Huron. The location is about a kilometre offshore from Kincardine. Many communities in Ontario, Michigan and Ohio have passed resolutions opposing the plan because of concerns about possible future contamination of the Great Lakes water supply.

Recent events at the City
Council adopted a motion requesting that Mayor Ford respond and apologize with respect to matters specified in the motion, that he co-operate with Toronto police in their related investigation, and that he take a temporary leave of absence to address his personal issues. Council also voted to ask the City’s Integrity Commissioner to report back to Council on these matters with regard to the Code of Conduct for Members of Council.

Special meetings of Council on November 15 and 18, 2013

Delegation of powers/responsibilities
Over the course of three special meetings held on November 15 and 18, Council made a number of decisions that affect the non-statutory powers of the Mayor and delegate some responsibilities to the Deputy Mayor. Council also re-assumed other non-statutory powers. Details are provided in a City of Toronto news release dated November 18, available at http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel.nsf.