Toronto City Council met on May 3, 4, and 5, 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.
Regulation of ground transportation
Council approved details for the City's regulation of ground transportation, which covers traditional taxi cabs as well as ridesharing services offered by private transportation companies. The new rules establish regulations for private transportation companies (such as Uber) and modify existing regulations for taxi brokers, owners and drivers, with the intention of giving the taxi industry greater organizational flexibility. Toronto's new ground transportation bylaw is intended to serve the public's interests and provide fairness to the providers of ground transportation/vehicles for hire.
Bike-lane project on Bloor Street West
Council approved the installation of eastbound and westbound cycle tracks/bike lanes on Bloor Street West from Shaw Street to Avenue Road as a pilot project. The project will provide an opportunity to evaluate the impacts and benefits of cycling infrastructure on Bloor Street. Transportation Services intends to report back on its findings in 2017.
Use of paid-duty police officers
Council agreed to ask the Province of Ontario to amend the Highway Traffic Act to give municipalities the flexibility to opt for alternatives to using paid-duty police officers to direct traffic and close highways. Alternatives could include assigning special constables or peace officers, for example, for those kinds of duties where deemed appropriate. City divisions and agencies use paid-duty police officers to support road maintenance and construction as well as at special events.
Council approved a Toronto social procurement program, with the aim of increasing competition and diversity in the City's supply chain as well as for leveraging employment, apprenticeship and training opportunities through City procurement for people experiencing economic disadvantage, including those in equity-seeking communities. The program is expected to shift the City's procurement culture and make a positive impact on Council's poverty-reduction goals.
Assistance for Ecuador
Council adopted a motion concerning the recent earthquake that devastated Ecuador, killing and injuring thousands of people and destroying or damaging buildings and infrastructure. In addition to urging the Canadian government to expand its relief effort, Council approved direct involvement by the City of Toronto, including support for local fundraising and an offer of technical expertise from City divisions such as Toronto Water.
Council vacancy Ward 2 Etobicoke North
Council declared the office of Councillor, Ward 2 Etobicoke North to be vacant as a result of the recent passing of Councillor Rob Ford. Council chose the option of holding a City of Toronto by-election for Ward 2 voters to fill the vacancy, with nomination day June 10, advance voting on July 16 and 17, and voting day Monday, July 25.
Investment in local child care
Council voted in support of funding the creation of 464 new child care spaces in 10 locations, consistent with Children's Services' capital strategy for 2015-19. Since the implementation of full-day kindergarten in Ontario began in 2010, the Children’s Services division has been working with the province, families, school boards and service providers to realize the vision of an integrated early-years system in Toronto schools for children four to 12 years of age.
Highland Creek wastewater treatment plant
Subject to the completion of the provincial environmental assessment process this spring, Council authorized Toronto Water to proceed with design and construction of new incinerators to replace two old ones for processing biosolids at the Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in south Scarborough. Several related motions were adopted, including one calling for the use of enhanced emission-scrubbing technologies and one addressing the matter of greenhouse gas emissions at the treatment plant.
Council voted to ask the Province of Ontario to immediately ban the practice of door-to-door sales involving the sale or lease of water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, water filtration systems and other services/products sold by the home-services sector. Many Torontonians have reported experiencing aggressive door-to-door sales tactics, sometimes by people who misrepresent themselves as government officials or utility inspectors to gain entry to the home.
Toronto Licensing Tribunal proceedings
Council adopted a motion asking for a report on providing opportunities for direct community input – in a less restricted way than presently allowed – in matters that are before the Toronto Licensing Tribunal. Staff are to report the findings to the Executive Committee later this year.
Compensation and benefits
Council approved 2016 salary-range increases representing cost-of-living adjustments for management/non-union staff and accountability officers employed by the City of Toronto. Changes to the benefits plans were adopted, as were several motions, including a request for reports on performance pay, comparisons of employee compensation, and comparisons of staff turnover by cluster (groups of City divisions).
Issue of suicide deaths involving bridges
Council adopted a motion calling for the exploration of options for preventing suicide deaths resulting from people having jumped from bridges. The motion said statistics covering 2005 to 2009 indicate that 22 per cent of suicides in Toronto involved jumping from a high place such as a bridge or balcony. The findings of the research are to be submitted to the Board of Health for consideration.
Standards for maximum indoor temperature
Council supported asking the Province of Ontario to cover the costs of Toronto's public consultations on the implementation of maximum indoor temperature standards for rental multi-unit residential buildings. A health report says new evidence indicates exposure to temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius is associated with increased premature mortality and emergency medical services calls.
Call for ban on use of bullhooks
Council supported a motion calling on the Ontario government to move immediately to ban the use of bullhooks in zoos, circuses and traveling shows in Ontario. A bullhook is a sharp tool shaped like a fireplace poker that trainers have traditionally used to forcefully control animals, particularly elephants, in circuses and zoos. Several jurisdictions in the United States have taken action to ban the use of bullhooks on the grounds of animal cruelty.
World Police and Fire Games
Council voted in favour of requesting a report on the feasibility of Toronto hosting the World Police and Fire Games in 2017. The games are held every other year as a multi-sport event for full-time and retired professional firefighters and law-enforcement officers. In 2011, Toronto lost a bid to host the 2017 games, but the chosen host, Montreal, has cancelled its games. The World Police and Fire Games Federation has approached the City of Toronto about it possibly hosting the event next summer.