City Council Preview: November 2015

Originally published at Torontoist. Photo by edk7 from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Hello again, everyone! It’s so nice to be back. On this month’s agenda: the poverty reduction strategy, hookah lounges, Old City Hall, and probably the first use of “selfie” in council history.

Poverty

The “big” item this month is unquestionably the poverty reduction strategy. Toronto is the child poverty capital of Canada, and precarious employment—part-time, temporary, or contract work without job security or benefits—is the new norm in the GTA. Not only is the gap between rich and poor widening, particular demographics—people who are new immigrants, Aboriginal, racialized, single mothers, or disabled are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.

Some things the city can do about it, as identified in the report:

  • ask the province to let us implement inclusionary zoning (requiring that new housing developments include a certain percentage of affordable units)
  • create a rooming house policy and enforcement strategy
  • increase the number of subsidized child care spaces
  • look into a “fare-geared-to-income” model for the new PRESTO cards
  • make the TTC fully accessible
  • undo cuts to public transit service in the most poverty-affected areas
  • advocate for a living wage, and prefer to do business with companies that pay a living wage
  • improve the health benefits available for people moving from social assistance to employment
  • assess how city budget choices affect poverty

Do read the whole report, which includes much more detailed information—including what indicators and statistics the city will be monitoring to check if its strategies are working. The additional attachments provide a full breakdown of steps the city will take over the next few years.

Related: Community Voices Poverty Reduction Strategy Priorities

  • How much does healthy food cost in Toronto? According to the latest measures, $196 a week for a family of four. See how your household stacks up by calculating your Nutritious Food Basket cost.
  • We might be getting not one, but two much-needed 24-hour women’s drop-in shelters. This depends on how the 2016 budget goes, though, so don’t count your shelters before they’re hatched.
  • There’s a story here behind a rather dry report on how the initially reluctant Oakwood-Vaughan neighbourhood is adjusting to the relocated Cornerstone Place shelter.

Getting Around

  • Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) wants to know exactly how hard the city is cracking down on Uber. (See also.)
  • Related: Opinion: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Uber?

  • If you regularly find yourself stuck in downtown rush-hour gridlock, you may wonder what the city is doing to mitigate congestion. This report on the state of the Congestion Management Plan identifies several strategies the city has used to good effect, and more that are being rolled out. A sample: testing “courier zones” along King, improving signage and traffic reporting, and replacing the 25-year-old traffic management system. One interesting idea mentioned that has apparently been very effective elsewhere: expressway “service patrols” that find and clear away collided or broken-down cars before traffic jams build up. Staff also mention improving the bike network and increasing pedestrian crossing times—an oblique acknowledgement that ultimately, the only fix for congestion is getting out of your car.
  • Good news, everybody! A new transit plan to fuck up! In the wake of council’s Gardiner East decision, city staff are calling for a waterfront transit “reset”—a comprehensive review of the current projects that have been planned, studied, and costed, yet never implemented.
  • Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) continues his war on the traffic study.

Guaranteed Drama

  • Toronto Public Health recommends banning hookah lounges for health reasons. Based on the licensing & standards committee meeting a couple weeks ago, we can expect a lively debate.

Development & Urban Planning

The Internet

The Arts

  • Introducing our new poet laureate, Anne Michaels! She replaces George Elliott Clarke, whose term recently ended. I wish I could add some informed commentary about Michaels’ work, but I’m not one of those poetry types who can just drop, like, Gerard Manley Hopkins references like it’s no thing.
  • As part of a new partnership between the city and the Toronto Arts Council, the parks & environment committee recommends creating a new type of permit for art and music events in city parks.

Odds and Ends

The Great Outdoors


How to Follow Along
Watch the Livestream
Follow the Agenda



City Hall Council Chambers (100 Queen Street West)

Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m.