Toronto City Council met on November 8th and 9th, 2016. Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of decisions made by Toronto City Council. The City Clerk's formal documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Toronto's transit network
Council approved recommendations on negotiated terms for cost sharing and revenue sharing with the Province of Ontario and its transit agency, Metrolinx, and authorized City officials to enter into intergovernmental agreements on a range of transit initiatives. A "Stage Gate" process will be established for the planning, design and delivery of the SmartTrack project. The integrated SmartTrack/Regional Express Rail scenario includes six new stations and the Eglinton West LRT.
Decision on ward boundaries
Council voted in favour of moving from the current 44 wards to 47 wards. The 47-ward structure will achieve an average population of 61,000 people in each ward, with one councillor elected for each ward, reflecting the principle of effective representation. Certain parts of the city have experienced significant population growth since ward boundaries were previously reviewed in 2000. The intention is to have the new ward boundaries in place for the 2018 municipal election.
Filling councillor vacancy in Ward 42
Council decided to hold a byelection to fill the vacancy on Council for Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River that resulted from former councillor Raymond Cho's resignation after he was elected to the Ontario legislature. Nominations opened on November 10 and will be accepted until December 30, culminating in the byelection on February 13, 2017.
World Expo bid
Council discussed the possibility of Toronto mounting a bid to host the World Expo 2025 world's fair and decided the City will not develop a bid. Council affirmed that it remains open to considering future Expo bids, including for Expo 2030.
Flood protection for the Port Lands
Council approved plans and the anticipated funding arrangements – involving City, federal and provincial funding – to undertake the Essroc Quay project as a component of flood protection work required for development of Toronto's Port Lands. Flood protection is needed to prepare for possible catastrophic flooding of the Don River. The project will involve the creation of a naturalized mouth of the Don River and other flood protection measures. Proceeding with the work still requires confirmation of federal and provincial funding commitments.
Gender diversity in public appointments
Council supported setting a goal of achieving gender equality in appointments to City corporate boards, such as the boards of Toronto Hydro and Toronto Community Housing, by 2020. Council also asked for an annual report on the gender composition of appointments made on the recommendation of Council's nominating panel for corporations. At present, about 30 per cent of the public members appointed to the corporations' boards are women.
Cold weather services this winter
Council authorized the addition of beds to the emergency shelter system for temporary winter services, as well as new locations and funding as needed to support other measures to help homeless people in Toronto cope with the cold this winter. The City's Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division works with community partners to deliver a range of winter services, including during extreme cold weather alerts.
Aboriginal flags at City Hall
Council voted in favour of installing the flags of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Metis peoples, the Haudenasaunee and the Huron-Wendat at Toronto City Hall on a permanent basis, demonstrating the City's support for its First Nations communities. Toronto is situated on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the Metis peoples.
Police car graphics
Council agreed to ask the Toronto Police Services Board to respond to public concerns about the grey-coloured police cruisers Toronto police have started to introduce as a replacement for cars with the long familiar white, red and blue colour scheme. If a review finds that a change from the current look is warranted, Council wants steps taken to make sure the colours and graphics chosen "reflect the City’s values of diversity, inclusiveness and mutual respect."
Response to audits
Council considered reports from the Audit Committee and approved actions to improve the City's management of long-term disability benefits and prescription drug claims under the City's benefits program, as well as actions pertaining to the City’s fair wage policy. The fair wage policy is in place to make sure employees of companies doing business with, or working for, the City of Toronto receive a fair wage.
Licensed childcare in Toronto
Council adopted measures to support the development of a multi-year growth strategy for the City's licensed childcare system, which involves working with the provincial and federal governments to address capacity and affordability. On another agenda item involving childcare in Toronto, Council approved the establishment of a new funding model to support agencies providing home-based licensed childcare under contract with the Children's Services division.
Interim home for Red Door shelter
Council approved a proposal to lease a building at 1430 Gerrard St. E. for about three years as an emergency shelter for women and children while the shelter's Queen Street East site is redeveloped as a mixed-use building that will include a permanent Red Door family shelter. The plan envisages the Gerrard Street site eventually being used to provide transitional housing for families.
Use of service animals
Council endorsed amending the Toronto Municipal Code on the subject of service animals. The changes, which update the definition of service animal and provide exemptions for people with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal, are intended to ensure the equitable treatment of people with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals.
Training for servers of alcohol
Council adopted a motion to ask Ontario's alcohol and gaming commission to include in its Smart Serve training program – training for alcoholic beverage servers – instructions on identifying and intervening when incidents of sexual assault, harassment and violence occur involving colleagues or customers. Research has shown that bars, nightclubs and other establishments where alcohol is served have relatively high rates of sexual violence in and around them.
Live music venues in Toronto
A motion calling for the City to devise a strategy for the preservation of live music venues in Toronto received Council's support. There are concerns that gentrification and redevelopment, especially in the downtown core, could have a negative effect on the city's live music industry.
Caribbean Carnival safety
Council adopted a motion calling for staff to meet with Toronto Caribbean Carnival organizers and stakeholders as well as the City's liaison committee to work on a plan addressing safety and security issues during the annual carnival. Next year is the parade's 50th anniversary and more people than usual may attend the popular event. Concerns have been raised about large numbers of "stormers" – spectators who join and disrupt the parade of mas bands.
A motion addressing the matter of Canadian flags on City property received support from Council. As a result, City of Toronto divisions, agencies and corporations will need to create a schedule for inspecting and maintaining their national flags in good condition.
Transporting food in the Toronto area
Council voted to support an effort by the transportation industry and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to move more of the transportation of food off Greater Toronto Area (GTA) roads and onto rail. About a million truckloads of food and packaged goods move through the GTA annually. Greater use of trains would help food manufacturers lower their transportation costs while reducing road congestion and carbon emissions.
High Park Zoo
Council declared the High Park Zoo Master Plan a priority for the City of Toronto. The designation will open grant opportunities from outside organizations and other levels of government to help cover the costs of repairs and upgrades identified through work on the master plan. The zoo has been part of High Park for almost 125 years.
Skateboarding in Toronto
Council approved a skateboard strategy to serve as a guide for the City in creating a network of skateboard facilities and programs in Toronto, including for deciding on the locations of future skatepark facilities. Toronto currently has 14 outdoor skateparks. Council also supported a motion pertaining to informal, do-it-yourself skateboar