City Council meeting of October 28, 29 and 30, 1998
Homelessness declared a national disaster
Council expressed overwhelming support for a recommendation declaring homelessness a national disaster that requires emergency relief efforts supported by all levels of government. Council's motion calls for the creation of a national homelessness strategy using disaster relief funds. In Toronto, the hostel system is overwhelmed with the number of people seeking shelter.
In a related decision, Council voted to encourage the construction of rental apartment buildings through property-tax breaks. A shortage of rental units is a major factor in the homelessness problem.
Response to anticipated closure of schools
City staff will meet with the Toronto school boards and will develop a plan with the goal of minimizing the negative impact that anticipated school closures will have on school-based community activities, including many municipal recreation, public health, drop-in and day-care programs.
Council wants to make sure the boards consider local residents' present and future needs when making decisions about reducing capital investments in school buildings and properties. The boards attribute their anticipated budget shortfalls to a new provincial funding formula for school facilities.
Role of the community councils
City Council decided to ask the Province of Ontario to enact legislation allowing the City to delegate authority to Toronto's six community councils for making final decisions on many issues. At present, decisions made by the community councils on matters such as local parking and the licensing of local sidewalk cafes must be approved by City Council in order to take effect.
Coat of arms and motto for Toronto
Council voted to adopt a coat of arms that symbolizes the new Corporation of the City of Toronto. The design, displaying the motto Diversity Our Strength, features a bear, beaver and eagle as well as symbols that allude to the former municipalities. The coat of arms was created by Canada's chief herald, Robert Watt, in consultation with City officials and the public.
Anti-prostitution tactic considered
Council will ask the provincial government to enact legislation giving Toronto police the authority to seize and temporarily impound vehicles owned or occupied by those convicted of communicating for the purpose of prostitution. The Winnipeg police department reports that Manitoba's enactment of similar legislation is helping to reduce prostitution activity on the streets of Winnipeg.
Licensing of holistic practitioners
Council approved the creation of a licence category for holistic services/manual healing in order to separate the regulation of holistic services from the City's efforts to control body rub parlours. The resulting bylaw (Bylaw 806-1998) sets out the requirements and fees for licences. The holistic practitioner licence category includes therapeutic methods such as acupressure, Alexander techniques, biofield therapeutics, Feldenkrais method, reflexology, rolfing, therapeutic touch, Trager method and zone therapy.
- Council approved a proposal for developing an economic development strategy. Creation of the strategy is to include consultation with business groups and clients of the City.
- Council decided to increase the budget for construction of the Sheppard subway to enable work to proceed on the Bessarion station. Cost overruns led the City to consider deferring the station's construction. The new subway line, expected to cost $930 million, is scheduled to open in 2002.
- Council adopted a public housing report calling for City consultation with social-housing tenants and providers as the City prepares to take on the administration of social housing.
- Council turned down a proposal from the owner of an adult entertainment lounge who wanted the City to waive a bylaw that prevents him from building glass booths that would be used by erotic entertainers. A City bylaw for such facilities prohibits structures on the same floor as the main stage.
- Council confirmed that COTAPSAI members will be notified of their eligibility for the City exit program when placed in positions at lower salaries than those of their former positions. COTAPSAI (City of Toronto Administrative, Professional and Supervisory Association Inc.) represents many of the City's managerial and professional staff.
- Council approved funding to enable Works to continue its Works Best Practices program, which involves modernizing plants and equipment of the Water and Wastewater division.
- Council endorsed a proposal to make the Celebrate Toronto Street Festival on Yonge Street an annual signature event for Toronto. The first festival, held last July to bring the people of the new city together in a spirit of celebration, drew more than 400,000 residents and visitors.
- A Live Production Unit electronics facility will be included in the renovated council chamber at Toronto City Hall to support the Clerk's centre-table staff during Council meetings. Councillors supported a request for funds to cover this addition to the renovation project.
Note of clarification
An item in the previous edition of Council Decisions reported that Council had approved the distribution of notices to assist people in reading their 1998 property tax bills and to explain the procedures for "property tax appeals." In fact, appeals involve the appeal of property assessment, not of the tax levy itself. The property's assessed value is used in the calculation of the tax levy.
Previous Council Highlights
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