Council Highlights – City Council meeting of March 5 and 6, 2012

City Council meeting of March 5 and 6, 2012

Change to Toronto Transit Commission 
Council approved a new governance structure for the Toronto Transit Commission. A commission of seven Council members replaces the previous nine-member transit commission. Councillors Maria Augimeri, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Peter Milczyn, John Parker and Karen Stintz were chosen as the seven commissioners, with Councillor Stintz the TTC Chair. The composition of the transit commission will increase at the end of October with the addition of four citizen members, who will be appointed by Council at that time.

Sale of Toronto Community Housing properties 
Council approved the Toronto Community Housing Corporation's proposed sale of 56 of its vacant houses containing 64 housing units. The sale is part of TCHC's strategy to address state-of-good-repair needs in its portfolio. Proceeds from the sales will fund capital repairs to TCHC's stock of multi-residential buildings.

Permit fees for sports fields 
Council supported a motion calling for staff to report at Council's next meeting (April 10) on a way of offering relief to sports groups that are having financial difficulty paying the fees for sports field permits. The City will work with individual permit holders to set up flexible payment plans for this year's fees so they can continue their regular season play. Until this year, the fees were only charged to players 18 years and older. Sports field fees now also apply to players under 18.

Fund for community development projects 
Council authorized the creation of a Community Development Reserve Fund to receive cash contributions for joint ventures in support of community development projects. The first project is community development work in the Weston-Mount Dennis neighbourhood. The City has received two contributions – up to $500,000 from Toronto Community Foundation for the Mount Dennis project, and $1.1 million from Metrolinx.

Support for neighbourhoods 
Council adopted the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy 2020, designed to guide the City's neighbourhood-focused work. The strategy is intended to ensure that every Toronto neighbourhood has the public, private and community infrastructure required for equitable resident opportunities. In addition, the strategy emphasizes that a neighbourhood perspective should routinely inform municipal, regional, provincial and national policies, programs and funding priorities.

Pedestrian crossovers 
Council agreed to make the stopping prohibitions uniform at all pedestrian crossovers (crosswalks) on Toronto streets. The prohibition makes it illegal to stop a vehicle within 15 metres of a crossover on the approach side even if there are no signs stating the prohibition. Vehicles parked near a pedestrian crossover can create a safety hazard by reducing the sight lines of drivers approaching the crossover and of pedestrians preparing to use it to cross the street.

Request for exemption from trade agreement 
Council decided to ask the Province of Ontario to exempt Toronto from a comprehensive economic and trade agreement that is now under negotiation by Canada and the European Union. Toronto joins many other municipalities in seeking the exemption. Council also voted to ask the Canadian government to protect Toronto from any restrictions the trade agreement might otherwise impose on the City's ability to create local jobs, protect the environment and provide programs/services as it sees fit.

Toronto workforce strategy 
Council endorsed Working as One: A Workforce Development Strategy for Toronto. The strategy sets out a framework for planning and managing employment services, and for delivering them to employers and unemployed or underemployed residents. Working as One provides a basis for integrating employment services in Toronto. The strategy is designed to work closely with the City of Toronto's economic development strategy to support people, connect businesses and strengthen communities across the city.

Protection of groundwater purity 
Council agreed to direct staff to review existing mechanisms for testing soil that is leaving Toronto-area development sites, and to make recommendations for greater consistency in soil-quality testing, especially at brownfield (formerly industrial) sites. Some soil from Toronto development sites is reportedly being dumped onto Oak Ridges Moraine land – which is a major source of Toronto's water – without being remediated to remove chemical contaminants.

Canadian National Exhibition 
Council approved terms and conditions for making the Canadian National Exhibition Association independent from the board of governors of the City's Exhibition Place. Council's action will permit the Exhibition Place board to execute a master agreement with the CNE to make the CNE fully independent in 2013. The annual CNE is the largest exhibition in Canada and one of Torontos premier summer events.