Yellow yarrow flowers on the City Hall green roof

The Cheat Sheet: July 2017 City Council

It’s the last Council meeting till October, and as you’d expect, the agenda is packed. There’s a ton of shelter- and housing-related items, the aftermath of this spring’s floods, banning penguins, terrible motions from Cllrs Ford and Mammoliti, and more. Watch the livestream or follow my tweets.

The Big Ticket

  • With so much on the agenda, it’s hard to say which item is the most important or most contentious. TCHC? Winter shelter services? The King St. pilot project?

    I’m going to go with the ambitious low-carbon TransformTO strategy, which is before Council after being deferred last month. As I wrote,

    [The 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.

  • However, for my money the most entertaining and quintessentially Torontonian item is the Auditor General’s report on a matter involving a sketchy land deal, digital billboard consultants, a North York city councillor-turned-lobbyist, and Cllr Giorgio Mammoliti’s not-at-all-overcompensating plans for the tallest flagpole in North America. Check out the Star story for more.

Getting Around

  • The King Street Transit Pilot comes to City Council for final approval. While falling short of a dedicated streetcar-right-of-way and banning cars (BAN CARS), the project aims to speed up travel time by restricting car traffic and redesigning streetcar stops. For a preview of what to expect, scroll way the heck down for my tweets from when Executive Committee discussed this.

  • Cllr James Pasternak is very concerned about the commuter parking crisis in Toronto. This is what public transit wonks call the “last mile” problem, and seek to solve by decreasing commuters’ reliance on cars. But this is Toronto!

Environment

  • Staff estimate this spring’s floods, which swamped the Toronto Islands and damaged waterfront infrastructure and shorelines, will have cost the city about $5 million by the end of July. This motion requests full reports on the total operating and capital costs, due back this November and the third quarter of next year respectively. It also temporarily puts Islanders’ rent and licence fees on hold.

  • The Planning and Growth Management Committee, in agreement with staff, want to amend the green roof bylaw so Metrolinx can build a few big green roofs instead of having to build a bunch of small ones. Staff explain this would make it more efficient while keeping the spirit of the bylaw.

  • No more new parking pads! Staff recommend ending the parking pad program because the parking pads contribute to stormwater runoff and the by-law is “inconsistent and frequently modified”.

"3 - Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Carried) That the General Manager, Transportation Services be requested to provide to City Council a copy of all addresses with licensed parking pads."
Also, this is just petty.
"[That] City Council forward this Motion with "the Favour of a Response is Requested" to the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Governors of the Eight Great Lake States, the Premiers of Quebec and Ontario and their respective Ministers of the Environment, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the International Joint Commission, and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative."
I’m sure Trump will get right on that, buddy.

Urban Planning

Housing

Shelter

  • In a mildly surprising move, Mayor Tory rebuked several of his allies on Council by declaring his support for this new men’s shelter on Runnymede. It will be interesting to see how the vote goes.

  • Council may approve a 51-bed youth shelter in Scarborough, operated by YouthLink. Before you get too excited, making it permanent will count as a “new and enhanced” budget request next year—when, as you know, the administration is insisting on a budget freeze.

  • It’s already time for Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) to start preparing for winter. This motion recommends increasing emergency warming centre and shelter system “flex bed” capacity and expanding the volunteer-run Out of the Cold program; prominent anti-poverty advocates say it’s just a band-aid for a systemically inadequate system. (Related.)

Animals

Diversity and Inclusion

  • It’s not often that I say this, but “Towards an Action Plan for Transgender Youth” is a really, really good City report. Not a knock against our public service, you understand—there’s nothing wrong with City reports, generally—but this is just a stand-out report. It’s an excellent introduction to transgender social issues that manages to be accessible while not sacrificing nuance or intersectional analysis, as many “trans 101”-type things tend to do. Focused, obviously, on Toronto youth, but I think it’s valuable to a wider audience as well, if only to see how it should be done. (Related.)

  • Cllr Kristyn Wong-Tam wants to establish an Intersectionality Awareness Week where it would be legal to punch anyone who asks “Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television?” the City would raise public awareness of the concept, rooted in Black feminist thought, that social identities and power dynamics based on race, gender, class, etc., overlap in unique and complicated ways.

  • The Aboriginal Affairs Committee recommends looking into establishing an Aboriginal Office at the City. Currently there is only a consultant who reports to the Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Office. Winnipeg, for example, has an Indigenous Relations Division; Vancouver has been designated a City of Reconciliation. (Related.)

Breweries

A number of local breweries are getting “by the glass” licences—craft beer aficionados may want to check these out:

Oh, For Christ’s Sake

  • It’s well-established that replacing streetcars with buses is more expensive, less efficient, requires vehicles and facilities the TTC doesn’t have and wastes the vehicles and facilities it does, but darned if Cllr Michael Ford doesn’t want to study it anyway. (Is “shenaniganry” even a word?)

  • Whether you think raising the minimum wage hurts or helps the job market, there are definitely a metric fuckton of studies already out there. But darned if Cllr Ford doesn’t want to study it anyway. I’m sensing a theme.

  • This motion from Cllrs Giorgio Mammoliti and Jim Karygiannis is less pro-police than anti-Black Lives Matter.

Things of the Month

Probably Just Interesting To Me

  • There’s a new report on the changing Ontario Works caseload. (While the money itself comes from the province, the City administers the program.) The overall caseload is down 11% since 2010. However, the increasingly precarious job market, systemic discrimination, and other barriers mean that people are on social assistance longer (3 years on average), face steeper barriers to employment, and have more complex needs.

  • The 2018 meeting schedule is out, which means I get to update my Google Calendar.

  • Oh boy, final 2016 operating budget variance report!

Miscellaneous


Questions, comments, additions, suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

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