Crossposted from Torontoist.
This is the last City Council meeting before its two-month summer break, and boy, is it a doozy. On the agenda: yet another Scarborough subway/light rail showdown, supervised injection sites, the Road Safety Plan, street hockey, the latest craft brewery, and more.
The Big Ticket
- SmartTrack, the Relief Line, the Scarborough subway, the Eglinton East LRT, and even more are all part of this mega-item on Toronto's transit network. Your regularly scheduled Scarborough transit showdown is shaping up: the mayor and allies like Scarborough Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) remain committed to the increasingly expensive subway option, but longtime light rail advocates like Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul's) and Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East) are now bolstered by critics (including former Scarborough mayor Paul Cosgrove) who agree LRT offers the most bang for the buck.
- Related: as development has bloomed on Toronto's waterfront, transit planning has been scattershot and largely neglected. Council must approve funding for the next stage of revamping the waterfront transit plan.
- Other transit items on the agenda include the "Davenport Diamond" overpass, the Dufferin Street corridor, and an OMB appeal regarding the Eglinton Crosstown.
For a thorough overview of the situation, see Steve Munro's latest story.
- Get ready for KPMG Core Services Review 2: Electric Boogaloo. City Manager Peter Wallace's latest report presents a grim view of Toronto's long-term financial future. We know you don't want to actually read it, so we did it for you.
- A week after the Board of Health voted for the proposal, Council is set to approve potentially life-saving supervised injection sites.
- Related: Barbara Yaffe will be taking over for Toronto's outgoing Medical Officer of Health, David McKeown, until his successor is chosen later this year.
- As pedestrian and cyclist fatalities mount, the spectacularly underwhelming 2017-2021 Road Safety Plan comes to Council. Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West) has expressed a wish for more funding, but what can she do? She is merely the chair of the Public Works Committee. We'll be liveblogging the debate, unless we get hit by a car on the way to City Hall. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Not actually related: Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) and Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) want to look into bicycle licensing. We've been over this.
Housing and Real Estate
- Sweeping changes are in the works for Toronto's troubled social housing provider. This item from the Executive Committee would see about 5,000 TCHC units transferred to a newly created non-profit, which would be able to get a new line of credit—a financial diuretic. Staff also recommend shuffling off another 5,000 units to existing non-profits. However, many key reforms that would help TCHC are in the Province's hands.
- Vaguely related: The City's strategy for addressing gun violence has less to do with ending poverty and more to do with surveilling residents—specifically, letting TCHC find out if tenants they might want to evict have been investigated by TPS, even if they didn't end up being charged. Yes, it's all legal.
- We're getting $150 million in federal and provincial funding to fix up social housing and creating more affordable housing. It's not quite the $1.7 billion the City asked for to deal with TCHC's $2.6-billion repair backlog, but it's a start.
- The previously announced Open Door program, which offers incentives to developers building affordable housing on public or private land, comes to Council for final approval. Three pilot projects are already under way; approvals for more are also on this month's agenda. The target is 1,000 affordable rental and 400 affordable ownership homes created annually. We'll see.
- What should be done with the Toronto District School Board's "surplus" schools? Many residents want the schools to continue serving some kind of community purpose. But there's only so much that Council can do—the City can't afford to buy every property. Staff have developed a framework for evaluating which properties are priorities for the City.
- The City owns a lot of real estate, divided up between many different agencies, corporations, and divisions. The Executive Committee recommends that Council give the go-ahead to consolidate City real estate management and operations, a move that some will view as a step toward selling off City assets.
- The Province is considering making changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. Some hail the reforms as necessary steps to help smaller landlords; others worry it will make it easier for tenants to get evicted. Here's the City's official response, which attempts to quell any fears.
- The City's plan to turn old Goodwill properties into shelters has largely fizzled out.
- Municipal Licensing and Standards enforcement officers will be empowered to crack down on illegal parking in City parks.
- A new park might be coming to King and Spadina.
The Artery Parky McParkfaceThe Bentway is a step closer to becoming reality.
- Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) and the Harbord Village Residents' Association want to target=”_blank”rename Brunswick College Parkette "The Doctors' Parkette", commemorating famous doctors from the neighbourhood like Dr. Norman Bethune and Dr. Henry Morgentaler.
Ethics and Accountability
- It sure looks like Mark Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) is a bit too buddy-buddy with developers. In one case, he agreed with a developer to reduce their Section 37 payment; in another, he appeared in a developer's promotional video for a new condo. But he said sorry, so, according to the Integrity Commissioner, it's all cool. Read the full report [PDF] and decide for yourself.
- At the last Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting, John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre), as a favour to local councillor Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West), moved to approve an electronic billboard in a Leaside arena parking lot. The billboard application was nixed by staff because it would be too big and too close to residential areas. Local activist Dave Meslin alleges that the billboard company and its lobbyists won over residents, the arena board, and Jon Burnside by promising hefty donations to the arena. Which, according to City policy, is no bueno. Will Council let it slide?
- We're getting a new Lobbyist Registrar and Ombudsman—but we won't find out who until Council votes to appoint them.
A Part of Our Heritage
- Meet your next Heritage Conservation District: Belmont-Hillsboro.
- Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) wants to help Heritage Toronto commemorate Muhammed Ali's 1966 visit to Toronto by installing a plaque at 109 Ossington Avenue, the site of the gym where Ali trained for his fight against George Chuvalo.
- What happens to artifacts found during archaeological assessments required for construction projects? Layton has another motion asking staff to figure out how much stuff is out there and where the City could keep it. Perhaps some sort of…Toronto museum?
The Circle of Life
- The Province is planning on banning childcare waitlist fees, and the City is all for it.
- Will Council lift Toronto's long-standing street hockey ban? On board: Ontario's Child and Youth Services Minister Michael Couteau and councillors Josh Matlow and Christin Carmichael Greb (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence).
Toronto might be running out of cemetery space. Justin Di Ciano has proposed
raising the deadcarrying out a needs analysis.
- Mobile-savvy @norm (Ward 40, Scarborough-Agincourt) wants Toronto residents to be able to text 911.
- Apparently the Toronto Public Library uses 2,000 megabytes per second of bandwidth. No word yet on how that compares to a streetcar full of memory cards chugging along King Street..
- The Integrity Commissioner's report on social media use, deferred at the previous meeting, is now up for debate again. We are too proud to re-use our joke from last month's preview, so will leave it at that.
Councillor Holland: stahp. The Scarborough councillor's (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest) fascination with the latest technology includes:
In a scenario that sounds straight out of a trashy urban fantasy novel, the Greek gods are being held hostage in one of Toronto's hottest—and most controversial—nightclubs. Luckily,
a bad-ass chick with tattoos and, like, a sword or somethingCouncil's Executive Committee comes to the rescue.
- The latest craft brewery opening a tap room: Scarborough's Craft Brewers Coalition.
- What's a "greenfinger"? Go on, guess.
- Justin Di Ciano and former cop Jon Burnside have a motion supporting police at Pride. Here's our take.
- Related: recipients of this year's Access, Equity, and Human Rights Awards, which honour Torontonians fighting inequality and discrimination, include Alex Abramovich and Black Lives Matter. The awards ceremony will be in December.
- Michelle Holland wants to see gender parity on City boards. This would be a step forward for the TTC, where (as Farah Mawani pointed out), "15 per cent of TTC employees are women, while roughly 57 per cent of its passengers are female [and] nine out of its 10 board members are men".
- Stephen Holyday has an…interesting motion regarding the health effects of LED lighting, which the City and Toronto Hydro are adopting as a more energy-efficient alternative. This could either be a legitimate discussion of light pollution or some "WiFi causes cancer"-type fear mongering.
- The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee's recommendations regarding the City's Long-Term Waste Management Strategy include "[endorsing] an aspirational goal to work towards a circular economy and zero waste future". "Aspirational"? Great. We'll just stick that on our mood board.
- Best Motion Title goes to Mike Layton for "Looking for a Place to Happen: Finding a City Facility to Broadcast the Final Tragically Hip Concert". Please see the Torontoist livebloggers during Council to collect your cat sticker.
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The post City Council Preview: July 2016 appeared first on Torontoist.