The Cheat Sheet: December 2017 City Council

The Cheat Sheet: December 2017 City Council

This month Council will pass the rate-based (water, waste, and parking) budgets. Also on the agenda: Rail Deck Park, SmartTrack, taking action against anti-Black racism, AirBnB regulations, and more.

The Big Ticket

  • The 2018 water, waste, and Parking Authority budgets, which are all funded directly through fees, are passed separately from the tax-supported budget. As is tradition, environmentally-minded councillors will make an inevitably doomed bid to charge industrial polluters fairly for treating their wastewater.

Social Justice and Equity

  • The five-year Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism aims to (begin to) tackle the structural oppression of Black Torontonians. Systemic racism operates throughout education, policing, housing, employment, and more—all of which the City has the power to shape through policy. Check out the full report.

  • What’s next in the Poverty Reduction Strategy? Check out the 2018 Work Plan. Council also has the chance to endorse the recent provincial report recommending broad reforms to Ontario’s social assistance programs. (Related.)

  • Toronto follows Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Hamilton in establishing an Indigenous Affairs Office. Developed in consultation with local Indigenous organizations and Mississaugas of the New Credit, Six Nations, and Métis leaders, the plan is to improve relations with Toronto’s Indigenous communities and hold the City to its promises of reconciliation.

  • Staff conclude that adding a gender diversity requirement for boards of companies that do business with the City probably isn’t worth it.

  • Council may add 1,000 new shelter beds and ask the Mayor to declare an emergency to allow staff to take more measures to address the over-capacity shelter system and the rising number of homeless deaths. Not clear how this aligns with Tory’s recent promise to add 400 beds. (Related: a group of U of T medical students want to help Shelter, Support and Housing improve data collection.)

Transit

  • The latest stage of SmartTrack introduces concepts for six planned stations—including Lawrence East, a station Metrolinx earlier concluded shouldn’t be built yet…and then somehow approved anyway. Also, an update on the financing strategy has been delayed until after the election. 🤔 For more background, see the Toronto Star. Also, apparently there’s political will for tunnelling the Eglinton LRT despite the fact it is prohibitively expensive, because CAAAAAARRRRSSSSSS.

  • New subway station, new traffic regulations.

  • IT BEGINS: expropriating property, if necessary, for the planned Scarborough subway stop.

Parks and Rec

  • Plans and early cost estimates for Rail Deck Park are coming together. Some of the next steps include a financial strategy, a “public ideas competition”, and a request for Metrolinx to include a “decking structure” as they design the Spadina-Front GO station. (Related.)

  • After being hassled by many residents, Cllr Ana Bailão wants to put an off-leash dog area in the Junction Triangle’s Erwin Krickhahn Park. (Staff say it’s too small.)

  • This three-year plan would add 60,000 new spaces in community recreation programs. (Passing it is one thing. Funding it is another. More on that later.)

The Interwebs

Urban Planning

Planning Studies

Other Stuff

Hoo boy. Here’s a motion that would introduce what’s called a development permit system in Toronto. It’s kind of an alternative way to do zoning that (among many other things) pre-empts OMB appeals and gives more power to city planners, which is both good and bad, really. The community is meant to get a lot of say in creating a development permit by-law for their area, at the cost of being able to appeal or make exceptions for individual developments as they come up. See Dylan Reid’s article for a thorough explanation of how a DPS works and the pros and cons of implementing it here. And much thanks to Andrew Jeanes for walking me through the basics.

Well, Council did go on to amend the Official Plan, but they haven’t actually passed a Development Permit By-law yet. Development industry group BILD and a bunch of rate-payer groups got the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) to put appeal hearings on hold till there’s actually a by-law on the books and people can appeal that instead. So yeah, I think that’s what’s going on there?

War On the Car

  • The Board of Health recommends monitoring traffic-related air pollution and taking steps to reduce people’s exposure as much as possible. #bancars

  • Halloween is like 11 months away, but it’s never too early to prepare. Cllr Sarah Doucette has an idea: Councillor-sponsored road closures to help manage crowds.

  • This Vision Zero Road Safety Plan report has provoked both mockery and outrage for a proposal to accept donations for funding road safety measures. And that’s not even the worst part lol: “Residents who have voluntarily donated funds to support RSP may contact their Councillor to advise what improvements they would like to the funds to apply to.” Democracy! Blame Cllr Christin Carmichael Greb.

Miscellaneous

A white spruce (Picea glauca).

Sorry for the lateness, I really have no excuse. Anyway, watch along with the Council livestream! Thanks for reading, and any corrections, additions, suggestions, etc., are welcome.

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