March 2017 Council Highlights

Toronto City Council met on March 28 and 29, 2017. Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of the decisions Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk's formal documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Scarborough subway extension    

Council approved the McCowan alignment for the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway (Line 2) from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Centre, and approved an approach to procurement for the subway project. Council also endorsed a concept for a 34-bay bus terminal at the Scarborough Centre station and called for the encouragement of private-sector involvement in that project. In addition, staff were asked to work on a funding plan and construction timetable for the Eglinton East Crosstown Extension as part of the Scarborough network.

Standards for apartment buildings  

Council approved the regulation of apartment buildings with the aim of improving tenants' living conditions. The resulting apartment bylaw will apply to rental buildings three or more storeys tall and having 10 or more dwelling units available for rent. It will not apply to co-operative housing, long-term-care facilities or licensed retirement homes.

Rent protection     

Council adopted a motion to encourage the passage and implementation of the provincial Rent Protection for All Tenants Act, 2017 for Ontario. Council also affirmed its support for changing the current situation so that tenants living in housing built or occupied after 1991 would have legislated protection to control their rent increases. Many Torontonians now spend more than half of their income on rent.

Strategy on chain stores      

Council voted to request a report on creating a retail strategy that addresses the threat chain stores pose to the character of many Toronto neighbourhoods. The motion Council adopted specifies that the envisioned strategy will ensure new retail uses are consistent with the Official Plan's goals and will promote variation in the size and type of new retail spaces on commercial main streets.

Caffeinated energy drinks  

Council agreed to amend the City's municipal alcohol policy so as to require the organizers of events held on City property to be familiar with Health Canada’s caution against mixing caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol. Event organizers are to be asked not to sell caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol. In addition, Council supported asking the City's agencies to consider not selling energy drinks to anyone under age 18.

Commitment to a tolerant Toronto     

Council supported a motion calling on Council to condemn all forms of racism and discrimination in light of a rise in racially and bias-motivated acts in Toronto.

Federal investment in affordable housing     

Council supported a motion for the City to ask the Canadian government to implement the commitments to housing funding made in the 2017 federal budget and to establish a housing funding allocation model for investing funds based on housing need. Council agreed to ask the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to release the government's proposed national housing strategy.

Gender diversity for suppliers    

A motion pertaining to gender diversity in City procurements received Council's support. As a result, staff are to report back later this year on the possibility of establishing a requirement that the board of directors of companies contracting to provide goods and services to the City have at least 30 percent gender diversity.

Making meeting rooms accessible   

Council voted to ask staff to pursue interim measures to make sure the council chambers and committee rooms at Toronto City Hall and the civic centres are accessible and comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Managing City investments      

Council established an Investment Board to manage and oversee the City's investment of funds not immediately needed by the City. The board, which will become effective next January, will replace an existing investment advisory committee that has provided advice on investments. This change is tied to a City of Toronto Act financial regulation that takes effect January 1, 2018. 

Commonwealth Games  

A motion raising the possibility of Toronto bidding to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which was on the Council meeting's agenda, was referred to the Economic Development Committee without any discussion of the subject at the Council meeting.

Call for inquest into fire fatality    

Council adopted a motion calling on the City to request a public inquest into the February 2017 death of Vernon Belanger, who died as a result of a fire in his unit at the Community Housing building located at 291 George St. 

Regulation of dog collars     

Council directed staff to undertake public consultation on the use of "prong, choke and slip" dog collars and to report back to the Licensing and Standards Committee. Council approved the repeal of a section of the Animals chapter of the Toronto Municipal Code that banned use of the collars. Information accompanying a motion before Council indicated that organizations such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind need to be able to use such collars in their training of service dogs, for example.

Road hockey     

Council adopted a motion asking Transportation Services to speed up its efforts to remove "ball play prohibited" signs from Toronto streets where they are still posted. In addition, the police board will be urged to educate police officers about the City's lift of the ban on playing hockey and basketball on streets under certain conditions and to end police enforcement of the old prohibition.  

Disposal of old computers      

Council supported a motion to ask staff to report on the disposal of expired computer equipment at the City, giving priority to providing usable equipment to not-for-profit organizations that have a working or financial relationship with the City. The report will also identify options for distributing computer equipment overseas in support of economic development and city building. 

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