Because we’ve apparently got to re-hash every major debate we had last term, this month’s big item will be expanded gaming at Woodbine. However, there’s many other important things on City Council’s agenda for this meeting before the August break, including the Poverty Reduction Strategy, childcare funding, flood management, new bike lanes, and more.
My apologies to everyone for this late Cheat Sheet! The recent cold snap shocked me back into hibernation, and I have spent most of the last few days asleep.
If you read the previous committee meeting Cheat Sheet you may recognize several items on this City Council agenda. Accountability officer shakeup, Fimbulwinter, oil pipelines, taxi law, the Spadina subway extension, drones, spruce, Baby Point, a Baudelaire reference, and more below the fold. Continue reading The Cheat Sheet: March 31 City Council
Much is at stake for the future of accountability at the City of Toronto. A modern government cannot expect to retain the confidence of the people unless it is willing to hold itself accountable by submitting itself to the kind of scrutiny an independent ombudsman provides. While Council recognizes this in principle, insufficient finances increasingly contradict that support.
The residents of Toronto count on their municipal government to properly fund the office in order to meet our mandate effectively. That assumption remains unfulfilled, even though the money required is an investment in a strong system of accountability that produces savings and good governance.
I reluctantly have to warn Council and the public, again, that our ability to meet our statutory mandate defined by provincial legislation is undermined by a lack of funding. Toronto cannot have a legislated ombudsman who is “independent” and then have the office’s work indirectly controlled through budget allocation.
It could be said that the office is a victim of its own success. But that loses sight of who is important. The real victims of this funding shortfall are the residents who will not be able to get swift action on their complaints, those who continue to face unfair and unequal provision of city services.
—Ombudsman Fiona Crean in her 2014 annual report
Monday’s City Council is actually a Special Meeting, and for once it’s not a transit debate that we’ll all walk out of hating everyone and everything. This time, Council will appoint fill-in councillors for Wards 5 and 20, vacant after councillors Milczyn and Vaughan levelled up to MPP and MP, respectively. You might see some familiar names on the list of candidates for Ward 5 and Ward 20. They include former Ford staffer Nico Fidani, cinephile urban legend Reg Hartt, and, uh, me. Yep. After saying on Keenan’s show that you couldn’t pay me to be Ward 20 councillor, I went and signed up, mostly as a joke…but upon consideration, I guess I know this beat pretty well.
The July City Council meeting proper starts Tuesday. (You’ll have gotten a preview of several of these items if you followed my Executive Committee livetweeting.) Here’s the full agenda and the livestream. My picks for items to watch are after the jump!