Council Highlights – February 19 and 20 2014

Appointment of TTC chair
Councillor Maria Augimeri was appointed Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Councillor Augimeri will be the TTC Chair until November 30, 2014 and until her successor is appointed. The appointment for the remainder of the current term of Council follows Councillor Karen Stintz’s resignation as TTC Chair effective February 22. Councillor Stintz remains a member of the TTC board.

Changes to Toronto’s taxicab industry
Council debated matters addressed in a comprehensive review of Toronto’s taxi industry and voted to create a new taxicab licence called the Toronto Taxicab Licence to replace the current three types of taxicab licence. As a result, it is expected that all cabs will become owner operated and wheelchair accessible over the next 10 years. Council authorized the issuance of up to 290 new Toronto taxicab licences this year to ensure that the city has wheelchair accessible taxicabs in time for next year’s Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

Social media policy for Council members
Council adopted a policy on Council members’ use of social media during Toronto’s 2014 municipal election campaign period. Social media accounts used for campaign purposes must not be created or supported by City resources and must not use the City of Toronto logo. In addition, Council members using social media accounts for campaign communications are required to include a statement on the home page clearly indicating that the account is for campaign purposes.

Aboriginal employment strategy
Council adopted an aboriginal employment strategy designed to increase the representation of Aboriginal people in the Toronto Public Service so it reflects the proportion of Aboriginal people in Toronto’s overall population. Also, among other steps to be taken, Council wants staff to look into options for encouraging or requiring Aboriginal hiring for City contracts.

Electric bikes
Council decided the City of Toronto will permit the use of power-assisted bicycles also known as electric bikes or e-bikes in conventional, painted bike lanes on Toronto streets. The use of e-scooters, which are one of the two basic types of ebike, will be monitored for any safety issues that need to be addressed. The other type of ebike, known as a pedelec, looks like a conventional bicycle and requires pedalling for propulsion, assisted by a small electric motor. Unlike e-scooters, pedalecs are permitted anywhere regular bicycles are allowed, including in separated bike lanes/cycle tracks and on multi-use paths in parks.

City of Toronto Day
Council agreed to declare March 6 the date for an annual City of Toronto Day to commence this year. The Town of York, which became Toronto, was incorporated on March 6, 1834. Council directed staff to propose ways for the City to celebrate City of Toronto Day.

Marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation
Council directed staff to engage with local residents and neighbouring municipalities on creating a regional strategy for marking the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017. The British North America Act now called the Constitution Act, 1867 that made Canada a nation took effect on July 1, 1867. Council also expressed support for making Toronto the location of a major Sesquicentennial event in 2017.

Honouring Sir John A. Macdonald
Council agreed to ask staff to prepare a report on the feasibility of renaming a significant Toronto street Sir John A. Macdonald Avenue to honour Canada’s first Prime Minister. The proposal anticipates that a street renaming ceremony will be held on January 11, 2015 to mark the 200th anniversary of Macdonald’s birth.

Tenant rent protection
Council adopted a member motion to ask the Province of Ontario to eliminate landlords’ ability to levy above-the-guideline rent increases to help them recover the cost of capital repairs such as replacing elevators or balconies. The motion says repairs should be included as part of a landlord’s overall expenses and paid for from the rent they already receive. Council also supported requiring landlords to save 10 per cent of their rental income to meet maintenance costs, similar to a requirement already in place for condominiums.

Fire safety retrofits in seniors’ homes
Council supported a member motion to direct the City Manager to write to the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing requesting that the provincial government speed up the timelines to require automatic sprinkler systems in multi-unit seniors’ homes/residences. The City will also ask the province to consider a low-interest loan program to encourage faster progress on building retrofits that include automatic sprinklers to enhance residents’ safety.

World Expo 2025
Council requested more information and analysis to help it decide whether to support the preparation of an official Toronto bid to host 2025 World Expo. The input is to include advice on how much support the City can count on from the federal and provincial governments as well as from the private sector.

Senior officials’ employment contracts
Council directed the City Solicitor and the City Manager to report to the Executive Committee on legal and policy issues concerning public disclosure of the employment contracts of senior officials of the City’s agencies and corporations. The member motion adopted by Council said public disclosure would assist in increasing accountability and transparency.

Support for native services agency
Council directed staff to work with federal and provincial officials to assist Native Child and Family Services of Toronto in creating a deficit reduction plan for the agency. The agency’s services include the operation of a childcare centre. Council approved the inclusion of criteria for Aboriginal childcare subsidies as part of Toronto’s new child care service plan.

Symbolic recognition of loss of life in Kyiv
Council supported lowering the Canadian flag in Nathan Phillips Square to half mast in memory of the demonstrators who lost their lives in the City of Kyiv, Ukraine during demonstrators’ struggle to uphold democratic principles valued and promoted in Toronto. Kyiv is a Sister City of Toronto.

Fort York pedestrian bridge
Council authorized Build Toronto to proceed on behalf of the City with a design-and-build process for the Fort York pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The bridge is part of the master plan for the Ordnance Triangle lands. City staff will continue to work with Build Toronto to establish the management, financing, public consultation and procurement details for the project.

Extended bar hours for conclusion of Olympic Games
Council authorized the extension of alcohol sales and service hours in Toronto on February 22 and 23 apart from in Wards 9, 11 and 24, which were not included in the extension. Also, the extension did not cover nightclubs. As a result of the extension, most of Toronto’s cafes and restaurants were able to sell alcoholic drinks starting at 7 a.m. on those two dates to take advantage of the economic opportunities offered by Torontonians’ interest in gathering to watch broadcasts covering the final weekend of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Special Council meeting on budget, January 29 and 30

City of Toronto’s 2014 budget
At a meeting in January, Council approved a 2014 operating budget and a 2014-23 capital budget for the City of Toronto. The tax-supported operating budget is $9.6 billion and the 10-year capital budget and plan for investment in the City’s future capital needs/priorities totals $18.6 billion. The operating budget includes a 2.23 per cent property tax increase for residential properties.