The Cheat Sheet: April 2018 City Council

Livestream · Meeting Monitor

This month’s City Council meeting looks like it’s going to be a bit of a clip show. On the agenda: SmartTrack, the Scarborough subway, gambling at Woodbine, a 350-year-old red oak tree, and more. Read on for my overview.

The Big Ticket: Transit

  • Chevron Stage Gate 5, locked and loaded. The nebulous SmartTrack is at a key juncture. Council will vote on a wide range of steps forward, including:

  • paying Metrolinx $1.2 billion

  • paying Metrolinx $268 million for extra stuff
  • expropriating land for stations
  • hiring a whackton of people to work on the project, for some $35 million over the next couple years (Metrolinx is going to pay us back for $7 million of it? idk)
  • creating Tax Increment Finance zones (here’s an explanation on how that [doesn’t] work). (Sort-of related.)

Oh, and the Star just broke a story that City staff fudged the data to make the mayor’s promised Lawrence East SmartTrack station look more justified than it actually was. So yeah, this will be interesting.

Cllr Josh Matlow has two Scarborough subway-related motions:

(Previously: after a complaint from transit advocacy group TTCriders, the auditor general found no evidence of political interference.)

  • Back in 2016, when City staff told Council the Scarborough subway extension was at 5 per cent design completion, was it really just drawn on the back of a napkin?

Neither of these will go anywhere, especially not before the election, but expect plenty of debate nevertheless.

Vaguely related: “The ongoing work on the SSE and associated bus infrastructure provides a unique opportunity to integrate public art through the design process.”

The Arts

Urban Planning

Regulations

Note: I normally try to avoid lumping items from the same committee together, but it was unavoidable this time.

  • Did you know that there’s legally only 25 massage parlours allowed to be licenced in Toronto? The law was created in 1975 and hasn’t changed since. So a lot of places that offer what the City officially calls “body rub services” are in fact licenced as “holistic centres”—which have cheaper licence fees and fewer restrictions. Years back, in an effort to crack down on unauthorized massage parlours, the City said people who work at holistic centres have to be members of approved “professional holistic associations” (PHAs). You’ll be shocked to learn that a bunch of PHAs are not totally on the up and up, and are basically a fig leaf, so to speak, for massage parlours.

    So there’s two tacks. One is like, “crack down on these sleazy, exploitative businesses tarnishing the good name of holistic centres and the 25 totally legitimate body rub parlours.” The other is “tightening regulations just forces already vulnerable workers underground and is an excuse for by-law enforcement officers to harass them and threaten to get them deported.” I’ll give you three guesses what side the Licensing & Standards Committee is on and the first two don’t count.

  • The revised interim car-share policy attempts to find a middle ground between car-share companies and people worried about PAAAAAARRRRKINGGGGGGGGGGGG.

  • Thanks to new legislation, the City now has the ability to limit and regulate payday loan places. For background, do see this CCPA report.

  • The sudden emergence of monstrous creatures that are attracted to sound poses regulatory challenges for governments everywhere. The City of Toronto continues to review the Noise By-law to balance the interests of industries, businesses, and the arts and culture sector with the need to keep citizens safe from vicious roving mutant alien things that attack at the slightest noise.

The Great Outdoors

Metallic Green Bee (Halictidae, Agapostemon sp.)

Council Business

Miscellaneous


As always, thanks for reading along, everyone. Corrections and suggestions are most welcome.

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