March/April 2016 City Council Highlights

Toronto City Council meeting of March 31 and April 1, 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.

Toronto transit network planning

Council provided a series of requests and directives to guide the planning of Toronto transit network initiatives, including SmartTrack, Scarborough Subway Extension, Relief Line and Waterfront Transit Reset. Among the many recommendations and motions adopted, Council agreed to request the scheduling of a special meeting of the Executive Committee to consider transit network reports and related matters on a date before the Executive Committee's regular business meeting on June 28. 

Gardiner Expressway East reconfiguration    

Council approved a design called Hybrid Alternative Design 3 to be used in an environmental assessment of the Gardiner East area, which is a 2.4-kilometre segment of the elevated expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard from Lower Jarvis Street to Logan Avenue. A preferred design for a new connection between the east end of the Gardiner and the Don Valley Expressway had to be chosen to allow for the completion and provincial review of the environmental assessment before detailed design and construction work proceeds. 

Establishment of Local Appeal Body  

Council approved the governance structure and administrative details for establishing a Local Appeal Body that will hear appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions for minor variance and consent applications in Toronto. Council authorized Court Services to co-ordinate implementation and provide administrative support, and also approved a one-year city-wide pilot project to evaluate the benefits of mediation in resolving disputes related to minor variance and consent applications. 

Police services and investigations     

Council adopted a motion to ask the provincial government to review, with an "anti-black racism and anti-racism lens," the way police services are provided in Toronto and the Special Investigations Unit's handling of cases that involve members of racialized communities. The motion says a review by the provincial Anti-Racism Directorate and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, which is to include input from affected communities, will identify changes needed to ensure everyone is treated fairly.

Collection of data on fatalities     

Council adopted a motion calling for the City to collect information related to the deaths of homeless individuals for all occurrences in Toronto homeless shelters as well as other locations. The data collected will be shared broadly, including with Ontario government ministries, to help inform decision-making.

Toronto music strategy  

Council approved a detailed strategy to support Toronto's music sector. The strategy involves actions that support an environment that is friendly to music creators; encourages the business of music in Toronto; supports music education; promotes Toronto’s music sector locally and internationally; fosters alliances with other music cities around the world; and implements a process for monitoring progress and measuring success.

Advance vote in next election              

Council asked the City Clerk to prepare for additional advance voting days in the 2018 Toronto municipal election, and to consider including an advance poll during the Thanksgiving long weekend to allow returning college and university students to vote. During the 2014 municipal election, advance voting was available for six days at a voting place in each of the city's 44 wards, as well as at City Hall for all voters.

Payday lending operators    

Council voted to ask staff to report on an appropriate approach to regulating new payday lenders, instalment lenders, title lenders, cheque-cashing operations and cash-for-gold operations in Toronto. Council also agreed to ask the Ontario government to set rules for lenders, including increasing the fee for lender licences and capping the annual interest rate at 35 per cent.

Affordable housing initiative   

Council approved funding and incentives for 50 new affordable rental homes and 50 affordable ownership homes at 36 Tippett Rd. in Ward 10 York Centre. This project, developed in collaboration with Build Toronto and a developer, will contribute to achieving the City's 10-year targets for new affordable rental and ownership homes serving lower-income people, women, seniors, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, individuals with mental health issues and other vulnerable groups.

Leslie Nymark housing revitalization      

Council approved plans for the revitalization of Toronto Community Housing Corporation's Leslie Nymark community in North York. The plan includes the replacement of 121 existing social housing units and the creation of up to 540 new market units. The Leslie Nymark community is located off Leslie Street, north of Sheppard Avenue East.

Residential construction in neighbourhoods    

Council approved a strategy to minimize the impact of residential infill construction activity on Toronto neighbourhoods. The process of demolishing a house and constructing a new building creates challenges for both builders and the neighbourhood, and residential infill construction activity in Toronto has more than doubled over the past five years. In creating the strategy, Toronto Building pursued a collaborative approach that took into account the perspectives of builders as well as residents.

Expansion of Bike Share  

Council voted to give the Toronto Parking Authority responsibility to expand the Bike Share Toronto program outside the geographical boundaries of Toronto, subject to the relevant municipalities' consent. Metrolinx has provided funds to buy up to $4.9 million worth of bikes and docking stations for the parking authority to expand the Bike Share Toronto network. New bike-share stations will be situated in high-demand areas and near public transit stations, mostly in Toronto but also in other willing host municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Appointment of Toronto Photo Laureate  

Council appointed Geoffrey James as the City of Toronto's Photo Laureate for the term 2016 to 2019. James is a Toronto-based photographer who is recognized internationally as a master of landscape and urban photography. As the City's first Photo Laureate, he will advocate for photography and the visual arts, using his perspective to foster dialogue.

Recognition of women in war efforts    

Council supported asking the federal government to create a memorial recognizing the contributions Canadian women have made during major war efforts in which Canada has been engaged. The United Kingdom has built a monument to women of the Second World War. The City of Toronto recently recognized the contribution of Canadian women who spent the Second World War producing ammunition at plants in Scarborough.

Commitment on climate change   

Council endorsed the Government of Canada's commitment made at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) to limit global temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius and to try to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. The City's goals for reducing Toronto's greenhouse gas emissions, adopted in 2007 and reaffirmed last year, are in line with that target.

Support for Saving the Girl Next Door Act     

Council adopted a motion to support Bill 158, the Saving the Girl Next Door Act, 2016, which enacts the Human Trafficking Awareness Day Act and the Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act, and amends Christopher’s Law (sex offender registry). Earlier this year, the Ontario legislative assembly unanimously supported Private Member's Bill 158 – Saving the Girl Next Door – to take steps against human trafficking in Ontario.

Crossing guards on local roads   

Council agreed to ask the Toronto Police Services Board to report on the criteria/policy used for decisions on placing and removing crossing guards on the city's streets. The report is to include proposals that will help address the increasing number of requests City councillors are receiving for crossing guards at locations in their wards.

Tennis club operations     

Council amended the policy for outdoor community tennis club operations to place more emphasis on accessible, affordable tennis that makes the most of the City-owned tennis courts as municipal assets. Parks, Forestry and Recreation currently issues tennis court permits to 62 outdoor community-based clubs across the city, with a total membership of about 22,000 tennis enthusiasts.

North American Indigenous Games in 2017      

Council directed staff to work with the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario and consult with relevant divisions and agencies on ways the City of Toronto can support the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, which will be held in Toronto. The Games, a multi-sport event involving indigenous North American youth athletes 16 to 25 years of age, will also promote indigenous cultural activities. 

Toronto's NXNE festival     

Council agreed to ask City divisions and agencies to assist organizers of the North by Northeast (NXNE) festival to help ensure the realization of the festival's next stage of development. This year, NXNE plans to transform a Port Lands venue into a festival site that is expected to draw about 10,000 people for two days in June.

Bee City certification    

Council adopted a resolution to designate Toronto a Bee City – one of the required steps in the certification process for the international Bee City program. Since the Bee City program was launched in the United States three years ago, involving a set of commitments for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, 15 American cities have achieved Bee City certification. Toronto's certification would be the first by a Canadian city.

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