The Cheat Sheet: May 2018 City Council

Livestream · Meeting Monitor

First of all, my apologies for getting this out late, especially because there is a lot of important stuff on the agenda. We’ve got a council appointment (and another departure), the Eglinton East LRT, #TOcore, new affordable housing opportunities, the Seniors Strategy, and more.

Meta-Council

  • The first order of business will be appointing a replacement for Cllr Shelley Carroll, who stepped down to run for the Liberals in the upcoming provincial election.

  • Chin Lee also recently resigned, running for the Liberals in the new riding of Scarborough North. He faces off against another former councillor, Raymond Cho, who, after years of trying for candidacies across the political spectrum, ended up with the Conservatives. The item also notes “An additional vacancy may arise depending on the outcome of the Ontario General Election on June 7, 2018 and Council may wish to make additional contingency plans.”

  • Amid all the debate about redrawing Toronto wards, it seems we forgot to name them. Maybe we should do that.

  • Cllr John Campbell wants to know who leaked the confidential report on the giant flagpole land deal thing (see the CBC and the Star). He’s like, even I wanted it to be public, but it shouldn’t have been leaked.

Young and Old

  • The Seniors Strategy 2.0 is out. It has several recommendations, including part of the TCHC “Tenants First” strategy, separating seniors’ housing into its own unit, as well as expanding many services for seniors—free dental care, digital literacy programs, senior-friendly park equipment, and more. These all sound great, but frankly, the likelihood that Council will vote to actually fund any of these initiatives is extremely low. In reality, the City’s Seniors Strategy looks more like this. (Related.)

  • The Auditor General has suggestions on making child care services more cost-efficient. Recommendations include monitoring subsidy recipients more closely, cracking down on fraud, and transferring the operation of child care facilities to the non-profit sector.1 See also this response from Cllr Janet Davis, one of the main child care advocates on Council. A cost analysis of City-run childcare centres will be coming to Audit Committee in 2019.

  • Ooh, new child care facility! Liberty Village is getting more livable all the time.

  • What to do with closed-down schools has been an ever-present issue at City Hall: the Ministry of Education may have designated them “surplus”, but for the neighbourhoods around them, they serve as de facto community hubs. Last year the Province put a moratorium on school closings while the process is under review. Anyway, Council may vote to establish a $15 million fund (taken from the Land Acquisition Reserve Fund) specifically for buying future “surplus” school properties.

  • The City-School Boards Advisory Committee wants Parks, Forestry and Recreation to bring school boards into planning how to implement the PFR Facilities Master Plan. (Related.)

Getting Around

  • So remember when the Scarborough subway extension project’s sop to efficiency-minded transit wonks was that there would be money left over for extending the Eglinton LRT east to Malvern? And then the cost estimate went up and there isn’t going to be money left over? Yeah, well…they’re planning it anyway. Have at it, I guess.

    Related: the Scarborough Centre Transportation Master Plan. This will be…interesting. Largely because Planning, of course, wants to make it more dense and pedestrian-friendly in order to attract more development, foot traffic, etc., and suburban councillors are wedded to the idea of 1950s-style car-centric city-building.

  • Hey, remember when Council fucked over Toronto’s licensed taxi drivers by throwing out a decade of negotiation and a painstakingly crafted licensing strategy because Uber? Janet Davis and Kristyn Wong-Tam remember. (Related.)

  • How long do people have to wait for their Wheel-Trans appeal to be heard? How many are successful? And how much does it cost the city? The Accessibility Advisory Committee wants to know.

  • Road closuresssss. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Affordable Housing

  • So the area at Bloor and Dufferin with the Catholic school and the Loblaws is getting redeveloped. The Province already promised $20 million for a new school and community hub there, but the local councillor, Gord Perks, and Ana Bailão want the other governments to pony up more money for affordable housing on the site.

  • Rooming houses are some of the last truly affordable housing in the city, and they’re disappearing. Perks wants to create a pilot project to buy and fix up a rooming house, then put out a call for proposals for non-profits to run it as supportive housing. Here’s a news story.

    (Related: frat and sorority houses won’t have to be licenced as rooming houses, but they will have to meet other requirements.)

The Arts

  • Section 37 Benefit of the Month: an extra $5,000 for a mural in an Etobicoke underpass. The work of the artist, Nick Sweetman, seems to heavily feature arthropods and other invertebrates. SEAL OF APPROVAL.

  • The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee gives a cautious go-ahead to road murals.

  • I really want to know what historical events led to sidewalk portrait artists being banned by draconian regulations (now being reversed). $2 million general liability insurance? Permit fees of over $450? There’s gotta be a story here.

  • Nuit Blanche comes to Scarborough!

Urban Planning

Home Improvement

  • So whatever happened to that planned Nathan Phillips Square bike station? It seems nothing has happened since 2013, when the Ford brothers heard about plans for shower facilities and raised the spectre of TOWEL-SNAPPING GAYS having HOT, FURIOUS GAY SEX in a STEAMY BIKE BATHHOUSE. I’m not kidding. Anyway, now McMahon and De Baeremaeker are politely asking for an update.

  • Of all the items on the agenda, the fence by-law change is probably going to have the most sweeping and immediate impact. Staff recommend loosening regulations so people don’t have to apply for exemptions that Community Councils routinely green-light anyway. They also are getting rid of Fence Viewers, people appointed to go look at fences as part of mediation in fence disputes. Which was a thing you could be appointed for, in case you didn’t know.

    Related: another revolutionary motion regarding utility cuts.

  • This item on energy-efficient retrofitting loan programs raised a tiny alarm bell to me with the item “City Council request the Government of Canada to address the legal and policy barriers that appear to contribute to lower participation in Local Improvement Charge programs”, because I feel LICs are rather inequitable. Your mileage may vary.

  • As Toronto’s summers have gotten warmer, extreme heat has become an increasingly important public health issue. These proposed by-law changes don’t set a “maximum indoor temperature”, but they will at least do something about landlords keeping the heat on long after warm weather arrives. Council may also vote to have staff look into measures like requiring apartment buildings provide air-conditioned space, or mandating air conditioning in new builds.

  • Someone in North York is running medical offices out of their house, and the local councillor, David Shiner, is worried the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal could let them get away with it. “A decision of this nature would be a mockery of the City.”

  • Wait, I thought new front yard parking pads had been banned. What is this nonsense?

The Great Outdoors

  • At Executive Committee, the Scarborough Waterfront Project EA item attracted heated feedback from members of the public, from yacht club members to environmentalists. Some of their concerns, like sandy beaches (“we don’t want another Leslie Spit” [??]), accessibility, and sick waves, made it into the recommendations. After Council, the EA will be submitted to the Province for approval.

  • North York’s Earl Bales Park is getting a fully accessible playground courtesy of Canadian Tire®’s Jumpstart charity.

  • The City prepares to legalize drinking in Parks, Forestry and Recreation-operated stadiums. Can Trinity-Bellwoods be far behind?

  • Tree Removal Permit of the Month: This lopsided little-leaved linden tree in Rosedale. Literally the only reason they want to cut it down is that it was irregularly pruned and now it’s got more branches on one side than the other. It can’t help it! All trees are beautiful!!

    Also, “lopsided little-leaved linden tree” is fun to say.

Equity-Seeking

Miscellaneous

  • We couldn’t pass a lead pipe replacement loan program but we’re getting a home dialysis water rebate program? K.

  • The FIFA World Cup is coming, and it’s time for the traditional liquor sales extension. Forza Azzurri!

  • Interesting way to try to get out of paying your workers fairly: “Queensway claimed that the company was in compliance stating that their backhoe operators were not employees but rather ‘shareholders’ of a ‘small business’ company; thus, the Fair Wage Policy did not apply.” Note: it didn’t work.

  • So, it turns out there’s a whopping $577 million in unpaid fines for traffic violations, by-law infractions, and the like, that the City hasn’t collected. Whoops. Just slipped their mind I guess.

  • You can get a quick preview of upcoming festivals and events in Nathan Phillips Square from this list of permits.

  • As the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization proceeds, the hot dog stands have to move a bit. Don’t worry, friends, together we can get through this challenging and chaotic time.


Thanks for reading, everyone, and sorry again for the lateness. Any suggestions, corrections, etc., welcome—just leave a comment!


1. Originally: “rather than building new facilities, buying subsidized spaces in existing non-profit licenced child cares”. Thanks to the AG office for clarifying!

Leave a Reply