Toronto City Council met on December 13, 14 and 15, 2016. Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of the decisions made by Toronto City Council. The City Clerk's formal documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Council adopted measures involving City of Toronto revenues, agreeing to ask the Ontario government to make legislative reforms that will allow the City to implement tolls on roads owned by the City and a tax on hotel and short-term accommodation rentals. Council specified that all revenue collected from road tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway will be dedicated to transit and transportation initiatives.
Council adopted recommendations that address the City's use of funding from the federal government for Toronto infrastructure, including public transit and water/wastewater projects. Council's authorization allows the City to proceed with related intergovernmental funding agreements.
Rehabilitation of Gardiner Expressway
Council authorized a new approach for the rehabilitation of the F.G. Gardiner Expressway. The new approach involves phasing the rehabilitation based on the expressway's structural condition and, among other measures, incorporates techniques for mitigating traffic congestion during the work. The expressway has been in service for about 60 years and the concrete deck for the elevated section is approaching the end of its design life.
Mid-term committee appointments
Council approved the mid-term appointments of Council members to various committees, agencies and external bodies. Most of the appointments are for the period January 1, 2017 to November 30, 2018 and until successors are appointed. Council's committees consist of the Executive Committee, seven standing committees and six special committees.
Council adopted the 2017 rate-supported budgets for Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management Services and the Toronto Parking Authority. Those budgets are called "rate-supported" because they are funded entirely by users through fees. In 2017, Toronto homeowners will pay an average of five per cent more for water services and two per cent more for waste collection pickup.
Fair Pass transit program
Council voted to establish a Fair Pass program to improve low-income Torontonians' access to public transit once Presto is fully operational, among other measures tied to the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Funding for the program's first phase is to be considered in the City's 2018 operating budget, with an anticipated start date of March 2018. The proposed discount under Fair Pass for those eligible is 33 per cent for an adult TTC Presto fare and 21 per cent for the adult monthly pass.
Municipal election preparations
Council considered recent changes to the Municipal Elections Act and supported taking steps to have new modems and software in place for Toronto's 2018 municipal election. The City will explore establishing a partnership with Elections Ontario to share voting technology in future elections. Council also considered a motion that proposed exploring the possible future use of ranked ballots in Toronto. Council voted against supporting the motion.
Resiliency officer for Toronto
Council approved the recruitment of a chief resiliency officer to help establish and guide implementation of a resiliency strategy for Toronto. The strategy is intended to improve Toronto's ability to adapt and respond to the physical, social and economic challenges of the 21st century. The two-year position is to be funded by a grant from 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Council approved a set of short-term strategies for TransformTO, intended to expand and accelerate existing City programs and policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The short-term strategy ties in with Council's goal of achieving an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
Council authorized the City to negotiate a new agreement with Metrolinx for the Smart Commute workplace program to update its funding and administration. Smart Commute works to support people in shifting to more sustainable transportation instead of driving to and from work alone. About 300,000 employees in Toronto are currently supported by Smart Commute, which has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.
Council adopted a series of amendments to the Toronto Municipal Code chapter dealing with dangerous dogs – specifically the prevention of dog bites, the risks associated with dangerous dogs and the responsibilities of dog owners. Responsibilities now include muzzling the dog and displaying warning signs on the property, among others. The amendments also address matters of animal welfare.
Ontario Municipal Board review
Council adopted a series of recommendations to provide input for the provincial government's current review of the Ontario Municipal Board's scope and effectiveness. The province's proposed changes are intended to give more weight to local and provincial decisions, support alternative ways to settle disputes and support clearer, more predictable decision-making.
Toronto Hydro and Toronto Parking Authority
Council approved actions to enhance Toronto Hydro Corporation's balance sheet, restoring its capacity to pay dividends, and to enhance the Toronto Parking Authority's ability to generate income. Council's decision follows a recent study on optimization of the City's investments in Toronto Hydro, a City corporation, and the Toronto Parking Authority, a City agency.
George Brown waterfront expansion
Council approved steps to proceed with the sale of a City-owned waterfront property east of Lower Jarvis Street to George Brown College. The college plans to construct an academic building focused on technology and innovation. The property, north of the existing George Brown College academic building, is to include a non-profit child care centre.
Construction and trees
Council voted to ask for a report from Parks, Forestry and Recreation on a plan for proactively and effectively protecting City trees during development projects.
Council approved amendments to the City's Eco-Roof Incentive Program, which was established in 2008 to encourage the installation of green roofs and cool roofs on buildings. The changes adopted are intended to further advance the implementation of eco-roofs in Toronto and include increasing the incentive offered for green roofs, providing financial support for structural assessments and allowing partial cool-roof retrofits.
Improved PATH wayfinding
Council approved funding to help pay for a new sign system to be created for the financial district's underground PATH pedestrian walkway that connects downtown office towers, retail hubs and transit. In recent public consultations, improving wayfinding in the PATH was the top priority identified by people in the financial district.
Accessibility at civic meetings
Council supported increasing the accessibility of the City's public consultations and committee meetings through the inclusion of alternative and visual languages, including audio description, for communication. Staff have been asked to work on accessibility standards for participation at public meetings.
Accessibility on bus routes
Council decided to ask the Toronto Transit Commission to review the process for classifying bus stops/routes to help determine ways to improve accessibility at bus stops and along bus routes. Council also wants to make sure TTC bus passengers can be dropped off between bus stops at safe, accessible locations.
Support for community basketball
A basketball development plan intended to build capacity in community basketball through means such as a strengthened network of community basketball program providers received Council's approval. Under the plan, Parks, Forestry and Recreation is to establish an introductory basketball program, among other initiatives.
Rail safety incidents
Council voted to ask staff to review and report on last August's train derailment at Dupont Street and Howland Avenue in the Annex area, with a focus on improving the City's communication with the public during derailments and similar incidents. A motion addressing the subject said that while the derailment in August was contained without drastic effects, the incident created anxiety in the neighbourhood and was a sharp reminder of rail safety risks in the city.
Alternatives to on-street parking
Council supported a motion to ask City staff and the Toronto Parking Authority to prepare a report on options for allowing the regulated use of technology/apps to facilitate sharing or renting private driveways and parking spaces.
Massey Hall revitalization
Council voted to express its support for the Massey Hall revitalization project and encourage the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to allocate funds to help advance the second phase of the revitalization. A study shows that a revitalized Massey Hall will contribute to long-term growth in jobs and other economic and cultural benefits.
Lost railway stations of West Toronto
Council agreed to indicate its support for replacing the "lost railway stations of West Toronto" by asking Metrolinx to work with area residents on using the architectural template of some of the former railway depots/stations in the area to support design of new stations as part of GO Regional Express Rail and SmartTrack transit services.
Agriculture in Don Valley
Council approved a proposal to look into creating an urban farm in the Lower Don lands, with the feasibility study to be incorporated into current studies of Toronto ravines and the Lower Don area. There is community interest in creating an urban farm similar to Black Creek Community Farm. The envisaged Don Valley agricultural farm would be situated on public lands south of the Brick Works.