City Council meeting of February 4, 2003
Municipal shelter bylaw
Thorough debate of a proposed municipal shelter bylaw and related policies ended with Council adopting a revised bylaw that will allow homeless shelters to be established on major streets across Toronto - subject to an approval process that includes consultation with local residents. The new bylaw will provide a consistent set of rules for the entire city, making it more feasible to build shelters outside the downtown core. The bylaw also eliminates the lengthy zoning amendment process that was involved when new shelters were proposed in certain parts of the city.
Union Station restoration project
Council decided to ask Mr. Justice Coulter Osbourne to review the process the City of Toronto followed in selecting a consortium to restore and revitalize historic Union Station. The City selected the Union Pearson Group following an RFP (request for proposals) process that began with an international request for expressions of interest in the project.
Front Street extension and the Gardiner
Following discussion and debate, Council approved a plan to extend Front Street two kilometres west from Bathurst Street to Dufferin Street. The extension is to include a new interchange with the Gardiner Expressway. Construction costs are to be shared equally by Toronto and the federal and provincial governments. In another decision concerning waterfront-area transportation, Council decided to undertake a study to identify ways of improving the Gardiner Expressway.
Registry for City lobbyists
Council endorsed plans for a registry that will identify lobbyists (as defined in the Code of Conduct for Council Members) who meet with individual members of City Council. The system will operate on an informal, voluntary basis while the City seeks enabling legislation from the Province of Ontario for a permanent registry program.
Impact of property reassessment
Council decided to allow any property tax increases resulting from the reassessment of property values to take effect without relief in the form of phased-in increases. Any such relief would have entailed delaying assessment-related tax decreases for many other homeowners. Council opted, however, to assist low-income senior and disabled homeowners whose homes are assessed at less than $295,000.
Streetcar proposal for St. Clair Avenue
Council approved undertaking an environmental assessment involving a proposal to establish an exclusive streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair Avenue. The right-of-way would improve the efficiency and appeal of streetcars as a transit option but reduce the street's capacity for other vehicle traffic.
Filling Ward 30 vacancy
Council decided to fill the vacancy left by Jack Layton, former councillor for Ward 30 (Toronto-Danforth), by means of an appointment that Council will make on March 26. Provincial legislation gives city councils the option of filling a vacant council seat by either appointing someone or holding a by-election.
Race relations issues
Council decided to ask the Toronto Police Services Board to provide reports requested earlier concerning the implementation of police race relations initiatives. In addition, Council wants the City's Diversity Advocate and members of Council's Reference Group to attend the board's meeting when the issue of race relations is on the agenda. Last October, Council took a position of "zero tolerance" of racial profiling for police purposes in Toronto. Council also directed the City's Task Force on Community Safety to address racism as part of its work on safety issues.
Access and equity status report
Council adopted a status report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force on Community Access and Equity, and requested that the report be used as a foundation for the preparation of the City's Plan of Action for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination.
Groundwork for 'Great City' campaigns
Council endorsed further study and preparatory work on a proposed City initiative involving "Great City" campaigns based upon five city-building themes. Community partnerships are fundamental to the project. The five themes, as identified in the City's new Official Plan, involve creating beautiful places, reducing auto dependency, meeting housing needs, creating a greener city, and supporting a dynamic downtown.
Water Efficiency Plan
Council approved a Water Efficiency Plan to meet the water and sewage treatment needs of a growing Toronto population. The emphasis on efficiency measures such as toilet and clothes washer replacement programs is expected to reduce peak demands for water, and flows of wastewater, by about 12 per cent by the year 2011. Implementation, at a cost of about $75 million, is one-third of an estimated $220 million that would be required for the equivalent expansion of water supply and wastewater infrastructure. In a separate decision, Council approved a City investment in a deep-lake-water cooling project for air conditioning downtown office towers.
Municipal service centre
Council gave its approval in principle to the concept of a new West District service centre to be situated close to the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Current municipal facilities in the west part of the city (Etobicoke and York areas) are lacking in terms of their efficiency as workplaces and their public accessibility. The City will explore a public-private partnership as one way of making the construction of a new facility affordable.
Five-star hotel to be built
Council approved plans for a 65-storey hotel-condominium tower in downtown Toronto. Construction is expected to begin in 2004 at the corner of Bay and Adelaide streets. The building, which will contain a five-star hotel, will be 309 metres tall - making it Toronto's tallest building apart from the CN Tower.
Previous Council Highlights
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