The Cheat Sheet: May 2017 City Council

I’m back, bitches! On a site where I can say “bitches”! I’ll try not to go overboard. Here’s everything worth caring about on this month’s City Council agenda. Watch the livestream or follow my tweets.

The Big Ticket

  • Council is set to approve the next steps for the Downtown Relief Line and the Yonge subway extension. There’s a lot in here, including where the lines are going to go (see pictures), how much they might cost ($6-7 billion each), and what might be in the works next (extending the Relief Line from Bloor north to Sheppard). Note: I cribbed this from Matt Elliott’s tweets.

    There’s been much debate over whether the Yonge extension or the Relief Line should get priority, but it’s important to note that there is currently no funding for either line. At Executive Committee, Mayor Tory and the mayors of Markham and Richmond Hill unanimously agreed that someone else should definitely pay for it. This strategy has not worked out well in the past.

Jesus Fucking Christ

  • Tired: trying to defund Pride because of QUAIA. Wired: trying to defund Pride because of Black Lives Matter. Why? Pride has agreed to BLMTO’s demand that police not participate in the parade officially, and so a bunch of privileged old straight white men are throwing a fit.

    Let’s break this down for people:

    • The police have a history of violently oppressing Toronto’s black people.
    • The police have a history of violently oppressing Toronto’s gay people.
    • Gay black people have particularly good reason to feel unsafe around police.
    • It is entirely appropriate to request that police attend as individuals and not an official contingent.

    Personally, I agree with Rinaldo Walcott that Pride should just fucking refuse City involvement from now on, because $260K isn’t worth putting up with this degrading, historically ignorant, All Lives Matter-ass bullshit from racist, homophobic local politicians who should just fuck off to small-town Southwestern Ontario already.

    This will get ugly and I will probably swear a lot.

Environment

  • The comprehensive TransformTO plan lays out what Toronto has to do to meet its greenhouse gas emission goals by 2050, because “business as usual” won’t get us there. The proposed goals are dramatic, but environmentalists are skeptical that Council will actually fund it.

  • After years of study and consultation and escalating extreme weather events, Council is likely to nix a proposed stormwater charge. Basically, “impermeable surface” (paved-over land) doesn’t soak up rainwater or melted snow, resulting in runoff being diverted to aging City sewers and contributing to flooding. This is going to be increasingly expensive to deal with. However, Toronto Water revenue is steadily decreasing as water use gets more efficient.

    A stormwater charge, which many cities have implemented, is a fee added on to the water bill based on how much of the property is impermeable surface. This would mostly hit big industrial users, a group that local politicians have been loth to restrain.

    Anyway, scrapping this whole thing will certainly backfire in the long term.

Election Stuff

  • The City’s election sign bylaw is due for a revamp, especially in light of the Municipal Elections Act reforms regulating “third party advertisers” (“Citizens for $CANDIDATE”-type groups, as well as random residents putting election signs in their apartment windows). The lengthy amendments here are, believe it or not, a move to simplify the process.

  • Since Cllr Ron Moeser passed away recently, Council needs to go about getting a replacement. This late in the term, they will undoubtedly vote to appoint someone rather than hold a by-election.

Equity Stuff

Budget Stuff, Which Is My Favourite Stuff

  • Gotta love those quarterly operating budget variance reports.
    Because this is only three months into the year, don’t put too much stock into the surplus projections or anything like that. It’s more about the little things. For example:

    • Municipal Licensing & Standards is a staggering 40% under budget, and most of that is because of gapping.
    • This is a mysterious years-long trend: the police are writing fewer traffic tickets—about 32,000 less. (Related: how do you know people are misusing accessible parking permits if you’re not writing tickets?!)
    • Unless the City hires more planners, they may miss upcoming deadlines for major transit projects.
  • The first 2018 budget report is out! If Council doesn’t want to raise property taxes above inflation, they’ll have to freeze the budget—which actually means a 2% cut in real terms. And no, they can’t do it without cutting services. I have a lot more to say about this, so stay tuned for a more in-depth post expanding on this thread.

Well-Intentioned But Totally Non-Binding Requests to Other Orders of Government

  • The Planning and Growth Management Committee wants the OMB to move cases regarding Toronto planning laws and policies to the head of the line.

  • Runway Rehabilitation Project: not a fashion design reality series, sadly.

  • Things the City wants other orders of government to fund: student nutrition programs,

  • This affordable rental motion is pretty lengthy, but it’s mostly requests for the Province, which controls key factors like rent control laws and social assistance shelter amounts. If passed, expect reports on protecting rooming houses and adding more accessible housing units.

  • We’d assume good faith from literally any other councillor but Cllr Giorgo Mammoliti, who put forward this motion calling for a campaign to pressure the Province into funding housing and transit. Mammoliti has previously proposed giving the TTC to Metrolinx, getting out of childcare services entirely, etc., and there is no underlying political motive except satisfying his pathological need for attention. Frankly, we are disappointed that Cllr Mary Fragedakis seconded it.

Things of the Month

  • Tree Removal Permit of the Month: these two black walnut trees in Etobicoke. The applicant is concerned people could be hurt by falling walnuts. Uh…okay. Staff say the trees are healthy and should not be cut down; Etobicoke York Community Council, however, wants to approve the permit as long as the owner plants (and offers cash-in-lieu for) replacements. Apparently black walnut trees are a recurring matter of contention: my research turned up several stories.

    Related: I’m pretty sure you could efficiently expand the City’s tree canopy on private lands by just upholding staff recommendations for tree removal permits.

  • Best Title: “Waiving Park Permit Fees to Wave the Flag”. Take a bow, Paula Fletcher.

  • Heritage Property of the Month: Mimico’s Blue Goose Tavern, which dates back to 1909.

  • The latest community to get special neighbourhood-branded street signs: Scarborough’s Guildwood Village.

Development & Urban Planning

Construction Woes

Miscellaneous


Corrections? Additions? Suggestions? Let me know in the comments.

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