City Council meeting of February 1, 2005
Strategy to assist homeless people
Council approved a strategy to provide street outreach services that will help homeless people find and keep permanent housing. Council agreed to hire more outreach workers and to create 1,000 new units of affordable housing annually. The strategy also establishes a protocol for Nathan Phillips Square. Once outreach work has run its full course, and only when viable housing, shelter and support options are available, the City has the right to ask people to no longer sleep on the square. Toronto is also asking the provincial and federal governments to live up to their responsibilities in addressing Toronto's housing crisis.
Action plan for social assistance
Council supported a proposal for staff to prepare a comprehensive plan to improve support for the large number of Toronto residents living in poverty. A variety of circumstances and trends has resulted in low-income people having fewer options and supports. Among the City's goals is to assist vulnerable Toronto residents, notably single parents, to obtain jobs that will move them out of poverty.
City's contribution to tsunami relief
Council agreed to offer City resources, including staff expertise and financial assistance, to help tsunami-ravaged communities rebuild. More than 400 members of the Toronto Public Service with relevant skills have formally expressed interest in going overseas to help. The City is ready to respond when the United Nations and international agencies advise on how cities such as Toronto can best assist with medium and long-term rebuilding efforts. Council also wants the City to consider twinning with a city or town directly affected by the tsunami. Earlier this year, shortly after the tsunami that killed more than 160,000 people in countries bordering the Indian Ocean, the City of Toronto helped to collect financial donations for humanitarian aid and sent water treatment supplies to the region.
Toronto and AMO
The City of Toronto will continue to pursue direct government-to-government relationships with Queen's Park and with Ottawa. Council decided to not to renew the City's membership in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for 2005.
Support for aerospace industry
Council endorsed a financial incentive package to encourage Bombardier to use its de Havilland site in Downsview (north Toronto) for the assembly of its new C-Series jets. Bringing the jet-assembly program to Toronto would create about 2,500 new jobs a year in addition to 7,500 jobs at the supplier level across the Greater Toronto Area. The incentives will not affect the City's current tax revenue or have negative budget implications for 2005.
Redevelopment of Regent Park
Council adopted planning approvals for the redevelopment of the Regent Park housing project in east downtown Toronto. Regent Park, built for low-income residents in the 1950s and 1960s, consists of more than 2,000 rent-geared-to-income apartments in blocks of buildings and has no public streets. The ambitious plan will replace the current buildings and create a mixed-income community in housing built on a traditional street grid.
Public transit serving York University
Council approved recommendations for the construction of bus rapid transit from the Downsview Subway Station to York University as an interim improvement in advance of a subway extension in that area. The plan calls for express buses to operate in bus-only lanes on Allen Road and Dufferin Street, on a new bus-only roadway in the hydro corridor north of Finch Avenue, and on a new bus-only roadway on the York University lands west of Keele Street. The bus-only lanes/roads will provide faster and more reliable bus service than at present. Council reaffirmed that the extension of the Spadina-University subway north to Steeles Avenue is the City's top priority for subway expansion.
Cultural attraction on the waterfront
Council decided the City will go ahead with planning for a "Humanitas" cultural attraction on the waterfront that provides a forum for dialogue and story telling about the past, present and future of Toronto - as well as about the urban experience in general. The decision follows a feasibility study that found there is strong public support for such an attraction on the Toronto waterfront. Next steps will include looking into opportunities for fundraising and obtaining more public input. Council also wants to assess whether Humanitas is the best name for the attraction.
Controlled burns in parks
Council approved plans for prescribed burns in three parks this spring. Staff of Parks-Forestry and Toronto Fire Services will conduct burns in High Park, South Humber Park and Lambton Park in order to stimulate the growth of black oak savannah and woodland vegetation that have been in decline. Controlled burns mimic the naturally occurring fires that over the centuries enabled the prairie-like vegetation to survive and prosper in competition with invasive plant species. Previous controlled burns in the three parks in recent years have proven highly successful in stimulating desired growth.
Previous Council Highlights
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