Council Highlights – July 16-18, 2019

Housing and Social Support

Transformation of Toronto Community Housing

Council voted unanimously to adopt Tenants First, a transformational plan to create better living conditions and experiences for tenants of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCH). The plan also establishes a separate City organization to manage and operate TCH’s seniors-designated buildings. Those 83 buildings are currently home to about 27,000 seniors. TCH will focus on operating its 43,000 units of mixed and family buildings. The housing corporation’s real estate development functions will be assumed by CreateTO, the City’s real estate agency.

Community Housing Revitalization Projects

Council adopted a new approvals framework to guide Toronto Community Housing Corporation revitalization projects. City staff are to report in October on how Toronto Community Housing will ensure that revitalization projects include consultations with affected tenants and include social development plans. Council directions were also adopted for two specific revitalizations that are now in the works.

Waiting List for Rent Geared to Income

Discussion about the City’s centralized waiting list for rent-geared-to-income housing concluded with Council agreeing to ask staff to provide quarterly progress reports on the implementation of a new choice-based model for access to the City’s social housing. Council also specified an October date for staff to provide a report to the Economic and Community Development Committee, including an update on service improvements made to the centralized waiting list.

Federal/Provincial Funding for Housing

Council authorized the City’s participation in two new federal/provincial housing and homelessness programs: the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative and the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative. Funding from the two programs will assist the City in maintaining and increasing housing options for some 9,000 low to moderate income Toronto households.

Preparations for Hosting Evacuees

Council gave City officials authority to negotiate with the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada, and potentially implement hosting arrangements in Toronto, in response to the northern forest fires affecting some northwestern Ontario communities. Arrangements are to include plans for services and facilities the City would provide. The City would also need to secure intergovernmental funding for recovery of the City’s host-related costs.

Interim Housing for Refugees

Council authorized the Mayor and the City Manager to enter into an agreement with the federal government for the City to receive and allocate funding to provide services to refugee and asylum claimants as part of a plan for increasing shelter and housing options for refugee/asylum claimants arriving in Toronto. The full amount of funding that will be available from the federal government for this initiative is still to be determined.

Road Safety and Cycling Infrastructure

Vision Zero 2.0 Road Safety Plan

Council endorsed the Vision Zero 2.0 plan for road safety in Toronto. As an update to the original 2016 safety plan, Vision Zero 2.0 initiatives include a range of additional efforts to reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities. One focus is lowering speed limits on designated streets. Another involves a plan for automated speed enforcement, with the aim of installing 50 speed-reduction cameras in school and community zones by the end of this year.

School-Zone Parking Violations

Council approved increases in penalties (fines) issued for stopping/parking violations that typically occur near schools, creating traffic congestion and safety concerns for parents and students. Effective September 3, the penalty will change from $60 to $100 for most violations of that kind.

Updated Plan for Cycling Network

Council approved an updated Cycling Network Plan and specific infrastructure investments as work continues for making cycling safety and more convenient. The plan identifies existing, planned and proposed city-wide cycling routes as the backbone of the overall cycling network. Council’s approval will result in the installation of about 15 lane kilometres of new or improved bike lanes/cycle tracks, mostly for cycling routes in parts of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. In addition, safety-related upgrades will be made to existing routes.

Expanded Bike Parking at Schools

Council agreed to authorize City staff to enter into agreements with the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board for the provision of bicycle parking infrastructure at school properties. The funding, most of it provided to the City by a provincial commuter-cycling program, will be applied to the installation of bicycle parking at up to 300 Toronto schools.

Standards, Safety, and Security

Licensing of Vehicles for Hire

Council adopted amendments to the City’s vehicles-for-hire bylaw to Council adopts new requirements to improve the safety and accessibility of taxicabs and limousines, and vehicles operated by private transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft. In addition to specifying a series of safety measures, the City is introducing an accessibility funding program to help offset the higher cost of providing wheelchair accessible service. The program will be funded through a regulatory charge on members of the industry who do not provide wheelchair accessible service.

Managing Emergencies in Apartment Buildings

Council supported amending the Toronto Municipal Code to require building owners/operators to develop and maintain a vital-service-disruption plan to better serve their residents during prolonged disruption of a building’s vital services. That steps was taken in the context of a report assessing the City’s emergency response to the incident at 260 Wellesley St. E. last year, and addressing emergency management interventions for highrise buildings in general.

Safety of Pedestrian Bridges

Council approved the implementation of recommendations on the safety of pedestrian bridges, which are the outcome of the City’s review of the partial collapse of a privately-owned, publicly-accessible pedestrian bridge in Toronto’s Crescent Town neighbourhood last year. No one was hurt in that bridge’s collapse but the incident has prompted City actions to address the issue of pedestrian bridge safety, including the recent identification and inspection of 172 pedestrian bridge structures throughout the city.

TTC Incident Involving Fare Inspectors

Council discussed a Toronto Ombudsman’s report that investigated an incident that led to allegations of misconduct and racial discrimination by transit fare inspectors in an interaction with a Black male transit rider. Council adopted the report and also decided to specifically advise TTC management to address anti-Black racism in the organization by taking steps that include providing ongoing learning and development initiatives for all TTC staff.

Security at Street Festivals

Council asked for a report, informed by input from stakeholders, addressing issues associated with hosting and managing street festivals and other major events. The City, police and festival organizers face increasing costs tied to security issues, including the use of paid-duty police at festivals. Council’s action on this agenda item includes having staff obtain input from the Toronto Police Service, as well as from other Ontario cities, for the report.

Community Safety and Well-Being

Council authorized staff to proceed with establishing justice centres in the downtown east and the northwest areas of Toronto as part of a broader undertaking tied to Ontario’s new Community Safety and Policing Act. Under the act, the City will be required to adopt a plan for community safety and well-being, and to take a leadership role in assisting vulnerable populations in Toronto communities.

Child Care

Child-Care Capital Projects in Jeopardy

Council decided to ask the Ontario government to provide operating funding to support 51 child-care capital projects in Toronto that are at risk of not proceeding because of a recent provincial decision. Among motions adopted with this agenda item, one involves a City request to the federal government concerning its negotiation of a renewed Early Learning Childcare Agreement with the province.

Occupancy Agreements with School Boards

Council voted to direct the Children’s Services division to identify financial resources to continue funding occupancy agreements for early-years and child-care programs with the Toronto school boards from January 1, 2020 until the City’s 2020 budget approval. Bridge funding is needed for the City to avoid having to notify the four school boards of the City’s intention to terminate occupancy agreements in the schools effective January 1, when currently available funding expires. Council also directed staff to reiterate a request for the province to fully fund these programs.

Planning, Economy, and Environment

Laneway Suites

Council adopted a series of recommendations for Official Plan amendments that will extend the current policy and regulatory framework for laneway suites apply across the entire city. Laneway suites, which are self-contained residential units along public laneways, can contribute to the supply of rental housing while providing more opportunities for people to live close to where they work, shop and play. They also contribute to making laneways more green, livable and safe.

Expanding Housing Options Across Toronto

Council asked staff to consult with community associations and prepare a report on increasing housing options in areas of Toronto designated as Neighbourhoods in Toronto’s Official Plan. The report is to include addressing the possibility of undertaking a “missing middle” pilot project in Ward 19 Beaches-East York. The missing middle refers to housing forms such as duplexes and low-rise apartments that are found in some neighbourhoods but not in others.

Official Plan Amendments

Council adopted motions addressing extensive modifications the Ontario government made recently to the City’s Official Plan amendments for two areas of Toronto addressed by the Yonge Eglinton Secondary Plan and the Downtown Plan. Among the motions adopted, Council decided to request the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to revert back to the City Council-approved version of Official Plan amendments for those two plans.

Recreation Facility for Don Mills

Council approved plans to build a new community recreation centre at the park located at 844 Don Mills Rd. to serve the communities along Don Mills Road from York Mills Road to Flemingdon Park. As part of the approval, Council has asked staff to undertake a community engagement process for input on the centre’s design. The Don Mills corridor’s population is projected to grow by about 25,000 people over the next few years.

Support for Local Brewers

Council approved changes to Toronto’s zoning bylaw that will make it easier for brewers across the city to manufacture and sell their products at a single location. As a result, local brewers will have the option of operating a tap room in a restaurant or making a retail store part of a brewery, or as another example, can operate a restaurant and a brewery at the same space.

Toronto’s Night-Time Economy

Council adopted a recommendation for the Mayor to designate a member of Council as Toronto’s Night Ambassador, serving as the voice for Toronto’s entertainment-related activities. That recommendation is one of several adopted to support implementation of an action plan on Toronto nightlife. Council also wants to ensure ongoing engagement with music-industry stakeholders and is asking staff to report on matters that include better public transit service after 1 a.m. and more access to public washrooms at night.

Diversion Program for Textiles

Council supported a motion calling for the City to develop an implementation plan for a city-wide textile and clothing recycling program to divert textiles from the waste stream. Households tend to throw out large amounts of used clothing and other textiles each year, but textiles are not accepted as part of the City’s blue bin recycling program. They are considered a contaminant as they tangle sorting machines, damage equipment and can cause workplace injuries.

Municipal Facilities and Resources

Emergency Procedures for City Work Sites

A motion concerning emergency procedures for City staff and officials was adopted by Council. Staff, elected officials and members of the public in City Hall on July 3 experienced a sudden lock-down for security reasons tied to an incident involving a firearm outside the building. Council wants simplified instructions and annual drills to assist with lock-down and related procedures, and emergency preparedness in general, at municipal buildings.

Cyber Security

Council requested the creation of standard incident management procedures, including communication protocols, to address incidents involving cyber attacks/information breaches. The City already has a cyber-security foundation in place to protect the City’s information technology system, having launched its formal Cyber Security Program in 2017. Cyber-security training will now be mandatory for all City staff.

City Offices at Union Station

Council adopted a report on using much of Union Station’s east wing as office space as part of a strategy for reducing City office leases and associated costs. Using three east-wing floors at the municipally owned Union Station will enable the City to eliminate several leases for municipal office space.