February 2016 City Council Highlights

Toronto City Council meeting of February 3 and 4, 2016                                    

Council Highlights is an informal summary of decisions made by Toronto City Council. The City Clerk provides the formal documentation at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Union Station revitalization  
Council authorized funding for design and construction enhancements to help make Union Station a destination for dining, retail, events and culture. The new design will include facilities for special events in the Great Hall and the west wing, as well as improved lighting and finishes, a reconfigured food court and a fresh-food market. The enhancements are intended to contribute to making Union Station a major attraction in the downtown core.

Internet prices in Toronto
Council voted to support the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision of July 2015 directing the large telecommunication companies to make their fibre-optic networks available to small competitors at wholesale prices. Bell has asked the federal government to overrule the CRTC's position. The motion that Council adopted states that the CRTC ruling is consistent with the ideal of competitive, affordable Internet prices for Toronto residents.

Unlicensed providers of ground transportation    
Council directed the City Solicitor and the Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards to return to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice "under the appropriate circumstances" to seek an injunction against Uber and individual UberX drivers based on the updated Toronto Municipal Code regulations that Council approved last year. Any vehicle used for hire in Toronto must hold a municipal licence.

Rail safety    
Council adopted a motion to renew the City's call for the Government of Canada to improve rail safety in Canada. Council is asking for increased government regulation of the transport of dangerous substances by rail, as well as a provision for municipal input into railway risk assessments, among other actions. Documentation with the motion said there have been improvements to rail safety lately but more needs to be done, specifically concerning rail safety in urban areas.

Spadina subway project  
Council agreed to increase the City's share of funding to build the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. The Toronto Transit Commission recently identified additional project costs of about $400 million, bringing the total project budget to $3.184 billion. York Region and the Ontario and federal governments are also contributing funding for the transit project.

St. Lawrence Market North         
Council authorized demolition of the St. Lawrence Market's current north building at 92 Front St. to allow for completion of an archeological assessment at the site before construction of a new building. The multi-storey building will include courtrooms and Court Services administrative offices, a market hall on the ground floor, and a multi-level underground public parking garage.

New emergency shelter    
Council approved locating a new, 80-bed men's emergency shelter at 29 Leslie St. The shelter, to be operated by the Salvation Army, will replace capacity in the shelter system that was lost when the Salvation Army closed its HOPE shelter last year. A community liaison committee including local stakeholders will be established by the Salvation Army to support the integration of the shelter into the local community and address any issues that arise. 

Review of health system 
Council adopted recommendations in response to Patients First, a recent working paper from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The paper includes discussion about improving the integration of public health with primary care for a greater prevention focus and to better address inequities. Council's actions include asking the ministry to maintain the independent governance of the local public health sector by boards of health and to continue the funding of public health units directly funded by the province rather than through local health integration networks. 

Exhibition Place   
Council decided to ask the City's Chief Planner to determine appropriate actions and conditions to amend the Official Plan for buildings on the lands designated Parks/Open Space on the Exhibition Place grounds to permit leases in excess of 21 years. Council also asked for the preparation of a report that addresses the preservation of heritage properties, public space, event accommodation and public enjoyment of the area, along with a public consultation strategy. The City is continuing a joint planning process with the province for Exhibition Place and Ontario Place. 

Street murals at community events      
Council voted to permit, on a pilot basis, the installation of up to four street murals on low-traffic local streets during community street events with permitted road closures this summer. Street murals are large murals painted directly onto the asphalt road surface, often in chalk, to beautify a street or intersection and encourage participation in a street party or festival.

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