Council Highlights – May 24-26, 2017

Next steps for transit projects 
Council voted to proceed with planning work needed to advance design of a relief subway line in the east downtown area, with the section between Queen Street East and Gerrard Street East to be aligned under Carlaw Avenue. Council also supported preparing a business case for extending the relief line farther north. In addition, planning work was authorized for extending the Yonge Street subway line north from Finch Station to Richmond Hill. Several related motions were adopted concerning Toronto’s transit network, including on financial matters.

Guidelines for City’s 2018 budget process             
Council approved a schedule and guidelines for preparation of the City’s 2018 operating and capital budgets. The guidelines specify that all City programs and agencies must keep their operating budgets at the 2017 level of spending through cost containment, service efficiency, modernization, service level strategies and revenue strategies. The schedule calls for completion/adoption of the 2018 budget in February.

Funding of stormwater management  
Council voted to receive as information a staff report about options the City could pursue to establish a new way of funding stormwater management. As a result of Council’s decision, the existing method will remain in effect, with stormwater management funded from the water rate – the City’s charge for municipal water consumption. Stormwater is runoff that occurs when rain or melting snow flows off hard surfaces instead of soaking into the ground.

City-wide real estate transformation  
Council approved a new service delivery model to centralize all real estate and facilities management activities across the City. The model consists of the Real Estate Services and Facilities Management divisions under the Chief Corporate Officer with an expanded, City-wide scope to co-ordinate day-to-day real estate transactions and facilities management, and a new realty agency with a nine-member board of directors to manage the City’s real estate portfolio, develop City buildings and lands for municipal purposes, and deliver client-focused real estate solutions to City divisions, agencies and corporations.

Ward 44 councillor vacancy
Council declared a vacancy in the office of Toronto City Councillor, Ward 44 Scarborough East, and decided to fill the vacancy by appointment for the duration of the current City Council term (to November 2018). The vacancy resulted from the recent passing of Councillor Ron Moeser. Details about the appointment process:

Overdose action plan 
Funding was approved for three temporary staff needed to implement Toronto Public Health actions in Toronto’s Overdose Action Plan this year. Council asked the City’s Medical Officer of Health to continue discussions with the Ontario government about funding to continue the work in 2018 and beyond.

Rental affordability in Toronto 
Council adopted recommendations that address the issue of affordable rental accommodation in Toronto by calling for steps to increase private-sector investment in rental housing, protect existing single-room occupancy units and increase the stock of accessible units in the City’s affordable housing programs. Council also asked staff to assess and report on the local implications of Ontario’s recently announced Fair Housing Plan.

City funding of cultural organizations
After extensive discussion and debate about the City’s funding of Pride Toronto, Council approved 2017 funding to support 10 major not-for-profit cultural organizations, including Pride Toronto and nine others. Most of the $7.9 million in total funding for the 10 organizations will go to the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet of Canada, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Review of accessible parking permits 
Council agreed to ask the Ontario government to review all aspects of the issuance, renewal and use of accessible parking permits with the intention of improving the provincial program. At the same time, a City working group will address the subject in the Toronto context. A Toronto Police Services Board report indicates use of a permit by someone other than the permit holder is the main way accessible parking permits are misused.

City employee health benefits    
Council adopted a series of recommendations that resulted from an audit of the City’s employee benefits plan. The aim is to improve controls and design of the plan, prevent and detect misuse, and reduce costs while providing a reasonable level of benefits coverage. The City provides health benefits coverage to its employees and retirees, as well as to their spouses and eligible dependants, in accordance with collective agreements and City policies.

New policy on multilingual information  
Council adopted a new policy called the Multilingual Information Provisions Policy that will replace the City’s current policy on August 2. The new policy establishes clear principles and criteria for the translation and interpretation of information about City services, programs and engagement activities in languages other than English. In addition, responsibilities for compliance with the policy are clarified.

Temporary suspension of contractor  
Council voted to declare contractor Four Seasons Site Development Ltd. ineligible to bid on or be awarded any City of Toronto tender calls as a general contractor or sub-contractor from now until February 2020. The suspension decision is based on the company’s unsatisfactory performance on two recent Toronto contracts for utility-related road work.

New bike lanes 
Council authorized the installation of bicycle lanes this year at several locations, among them Renforth Drive between Eglinton Avenue West and Rathburn Road, and Davenport Road eastbound between Spadina and Madison Avenues.

Rock walk on Spadina Avenue       
Council adopted a motion that will result in City staff working with the owner of the El Mocambo tavern to prepare a plan for a “Spadina Rock Walk” similar to King Street’s Walk of Fame. The Spadina walk is envisioned as a public art installation honouring Canadian musicians who have contributed to the Toronto music scene and performed in venues on or near Spadina Avenue, such as Grossman’s Tavern, the Silver Dollar Room, the Horseshoe Tavern and the El Mocambo.

Note: The item headed “City-wide real estate transformation” is a revised, more detailed version of the summary item that was in Council Highlights as distributed on June 2.