City Council meeting of September 28, 29 and 30, 2004
Tree protection bylaw
Council approved a bylaw to help preserve Toronto's urban forest by requiring a City permit for cutting down any mature trees on private property. Effective immediately, residents and developers need a permit in order to remove trees with trunk diameters greater than 30 centimetres. Seniors are exempt from the permit fee, which is $100 a tree to a maximum of $300 for applications that are not related to developments. Fees are different for developers. The bylaw will be enforced only in response to complaints during the next six months. The new bylaw extends a tree bylaw that has been in effect for the pre-amalgamation City of Toronto since 1995.
St. Clair Avenue upgrade
Council ended a long debate by voting to approve a project that will establish dedicated streetcar lanes along St. Clair Avenue West between Yonge and Keele Streets. The existing streetcar tracks need to be replaced and the Toronto Transit Commission favoured the approved plan, which will improve public transit service significantly and reduce traffic congestion. The changes are also designed to make the street safer for drivers and pedestrians. The City expanded the project to include other improvements such as "streetscaping" and new lighting to make the street attractive for residents, shoppers and businesses along St. Clair.
Council adopted a series of recommendations for new rules covering finances in City of Toronto municipal elections. The new rules, which require amendments to provincial legislation in order to take effect, prohibit corporations and unions from contributing money to election campaigns. Among other recommendations adopted are rules for providing more transparent disclosure of campaign finances; increasing the amount of money candidates can spend on their election campaigns (but now to include their fundraising expenses within that spending limit); making campaign surpluses the property of the City; and making Elections Ontario responsible for monitoring and enforcing the rules covering election finances.
New taxicab regulations
Council agreed to establish new rules aimed at ensuring that Toronto's taxicabs are in good condition. One requirement specifies that when a cab is replaced, the replacement vehicle must be a new, unused vehicle. Standard-licence taxicabs in fleets, which usually operate 24-hours a day, cannot remain in service more than five years. Ambassador cabs and owner-operated standard taxicabs, which are usually operated no more than 12 hours a day, can be up to six years old before they are replaced.
Replacement of computers
Council authorized the City's purchase of computer equipment from Compugen Inc. Compugen was the successful bidder responding to the City's Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to 15,400 desktop and notebook computers, and related products and services. The RFP's evaluation process was scrutinized by an independent fairness monitor. Council specified a condition for the purchase of computer printers: the supplier must agree that the City can use recyclable cartridges from sources other than the original equipment manufacturer and not void the printer warranty.
"3-1-1" customer service strategy
Council approved plans for a "3-1-1" customer service strategy that is designed to improve public access to City services obtained by telephone, the City's Web site and over-the-counter. The eventual use of electronic kiosks at convenient locations is envisioned. The intention is to redesign City services from a customer perspective, building in greater accountability for service delivery. The 3-1-1 strategy builds on recent service improvements at the City such as online parking permits and online registration for recreation programs. A report presenting an implementation strategy for the 3-1-1 initiative is expected to be considered by Council later this fall.
City's budget process
Council approved plans for the City's 2005 budget-setting process, including improvements that continue the evolution of the budget process. The budget process is linked to Council's strategic plan and City programs' business plans, with service priorities the main focus of budget review. The City is placing more emphasis on multi-year financial and operating plans, and on Council providing direction to the administration regarding annual budget priorities and targets.
Initiatives for the homeless
Council approved funding to support agencies that provide services and projects that prevent or alleviate homelessness. A total of 113 community projects received approval under the City's 2004 Homeless Initiatives Fund (about two-thirds of it provincial funding). Money in the federally-funded Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative will help to support 35 City-approved capital improvement projects, three new programs and two transitional housing projects this year.
City of Toronto and AMO
The City has suspended its membership in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Council voted to suspend the City's participation and membership after AMO signed a protocol with the Province of Ontario that compromises Toronto's efforts to talk directly with the governments of Ontario and Canada to negotiate a "New Deal" for Toronto. The City is also concerned at AMO acted in a manner that was unaccountable to its membership in the development of the protocol. Council will review its decision about membership in AMO at the end of the year.
Parks and Recreation permits
Council approved a policy for the allocation of recreation permits to groups using the City's indoor and outdoor facilities and sports fields. In addition, principles adopted will guide the development of harmonized permit rates (on a revenue-neutral basis). The allocation policy is needed to ensure that permits are distributed fairly, especially when demand for permits exceeds the supply of facilities. Allocation under the city-wide, harmonized policy will be phased in over several years.
City's new poet laureate
Council appointed Pier Giorgio Di Cicco Toronto's new Poet Laureate for the next three years. He succeeds Dennis Lee in the honourary position, which involves representing and championing the literary arts on behalf of the City of Toronto.
Previous Council Highlights
Council Highlights is an informal summary of Council's recent decisions, produced for readers' convenience. Any questions about this summary can be emailed to Strategic Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org
The formal documentation of Council's decisions is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/index.do
Questions about the formal documentation can be emailed to the City Clerk's Office at email@example.com