The Cheat Sheet: April 1 City Council

April’s agenda is one of the busiest yet: the Billy Bishop airport expansion, the Gardiner Expressway, Neighbourhood Improvement Areas, and food trucks, as well as annual audits and grants. Plus, you’ll never guess which councillor wants to look into recall legislation…

The Big Ticket

Boring Poor People Stuff

  • Old and busted: Priority Neighbourhoods. New hotness: Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. Thirty-one neighbourhoods, from Rexdale to Morningside, fall below the new Neighbourhood Equity Benchmark, based on factors like local jobs, residents’ health, and housing. The designation means the City will invest more funding in local organizations and services over the next several years.

    Does it help? The “priority neighbourhood” label has been criticized as stigmatizing—but on the other hand, Torontonians stigmatized communities like Regent Park or Jane and Finch long before the program was invented. The root problems are much deeper. The staff report confirms the findings of Hulchanski’s Three Cities: gentrification and systemic racism are major factors in the growing gap between Toronto’s haves and have-nots.

  • Back in June, the Ombudsman released a damning report about TCHC’s practices of evicting vulnerable seniors. Now she’s back with a distinctly lukewarm update. TCHC also reports on its side of the story.

  • Cllr Ana Bailão, who’s in charge of the affordable housing file, wants to look into shared ownership housing, which would allow multiple families or individuals to buy one property. Mildly interesting!

Urbanism

  • The Planning & Growth Management Committee is recommending several new guidelines for Section 37, the part of the Planning Act which allows developers to build taller or denser if they throw in some cash or “community benefits”. The most controversial, from an urbanist standpoint, is the proposal that turning previously industrial zones into residential areas should count as a Section 37 benefit.

  • A new by-law will allow food trucks onto city streets. Trucks! Selling food! That isn’t hot dogs! Is your mind blown yet, Toronto?

  • Our ubiquitous construction areas — those plywood walls and covered walkways around future condos — may be getting less shitty; new guidelines could increase accessibility and introduce more public art.

Ethics, Shmethics

  • The Audit Committee wonders whether something like Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission into construction industry corruption, which has already led to two mayors being arrested and one resigning, could perhaps be implemented in Toronto.

  • Totally by coincidence, they also have several recommendations for better oversight of privatized garbage collection, an industry which I am sure could never be rife with corruption!

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Did I miss anything big? Got corrections, background information, or high quality popcorn .gifs to offer? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “The Cheat Sheet: April 1 City Council”

  1. What about Community Development Committee’s proposal that Council develop and adopt a poverty reduction strategy? Half a million people in Toronto live in poverty – but the city currently has no coordinated plan to tackly poverty. The experience in other cities – and provinces – is that have a plan with regular reporting at least shines a light on a problem that doesn’t usually make news or election priorities.

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