City Council meeting of July 15, 16 and 17, 2008
Green light for environmental assessment to remove Gardiner east of Jarvis
To help revitalize Toronto's waterfront, City Council approved an $11 million environmental assessment to study the removal the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis Street. A new boulevard-style roadway would replace the east Gardiner. The new boulevard would allow the City to alter the land use in that area to feature high quality urban design and improve access to the waterfront by cyclists and pedestrians. The environmental assessment will support the City's plans to retain adjacent employment lands for knowledge-based industries. A steering committee of City and Waterfront Toronto officials will be created to oversee the assessment. The City will consider public and private partnerships as options to finance the proposed dismantling of the east Gardiner. During this assessment period the City will conduct minimal but necessary maintenance on the Gardiner east of Jarvis to ensure it continues to be safe. The removal of the east Gardiner was proposed by the Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors on June 12, 2008. Funding once targeted for the Front Street extension will now be re-allocated to support other waterfront initiatives in the public realm.
Woodbine Live transformation project incentives approved
City Council approved an incentive package to help secure the Woodbine Live project for Toronto. The project is a major development planned for North Etobicoke near Woodbine race track that will include the construction of a new entertainment facility, hotel, and retail complexes. The $1 billion project is expected to create 9,000 new jobs once the site is open, in addition to the boost to construction employment to build the facilities. Woodbine Live is near three priority neighbourhoods and the project will use a local hiring program to help meet its staffing needs. Woodbine Live is considered a transformative project under the City's Agenda for Prosperity with its potential to transform North Etobicoke. Through the incentives program Woodbine Live will pay reduced property taxes for up to 20 years, but even with that reduction, the City will net $171 million in new property tax revenue from this new tourist attraction.
City expands planning to address severe weather through Climate Change
As an extension of Toronto's Climate Change Action Plan, the City and its agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) will review the impact of climate change, especially severe weather, and develop plans to mitigate the impacts on City operations and infrastructure. Climate change involves a change in long-standing weather patterns, which impacts infrastructure such as buildings, roadways, sewers, as well as humans through such change as heat waves. City divisions and ABCs are expected to report back on issues and impacts for the 2009 budget process. The City will also consider the creation of an Extreme Weather Reserve fund.
Transit City - construction on Sheppard East LRT to start in 2009
City Council approved the recommendations of the environmental assessment, paving the way for construction of this first Transit City light rail line to start next year. Detailed design work on the light rail line will now begin. Council also requested that the TTC planning minimize the amount of land along Sheppard that must be expropriated for this project. The final environment assessment study report will be made available for a 30-day public review period.
Council directs funds from Toronto Hydro Telecom sale to Toronto Community Housing
City Council approved that a $75 million dividend from the sale of Toronto Hydro Telecom will go to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) to help address the backlog of repairs required to the City's public housing units. Council will also use its investment to encourage the provincial and federal governments to make a substantial investment to help repair TCHC buildings. Currently, TCHC sites have a repair backlog with a value estimated at $300 - 350 million. These buildings were downloaded by the province onto the City with an existing, substantial repair backlog. Included in the telecom sale is the City acquisition of four strands of fibre optic cable to use for information technology needs, and a $5 million fund for future City information technology initiatives that improve telecommunications infrastructure and accessibility.
Transit City - street access could extend from The Ex to Dufferin Street
Council approved an environmental assessment amendment that would allow expanded service along the Western Waterfront LRT. It would allow streetcars to travel along Fleet Street to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds and continue on to Dufferin Street. The streetcars could travel along the existing GO Transit rail corridor from the CNE to Dufferin, and on to Roncesvalles Avenue.
Award to be named in honour of Dr. Sheela Basrur
Council approved the creation of a new award, the Dr. Sheela Basrur Occupational Health and Safety Award, to be given out annually to the Division that has best contributed to staff safety and health programming through joint management-staff efforts. Dr. Basrur, the City's former Medical Officer of Health, passed away earlier this year.
Shade audits to be conducted for City playgrounds and splash pads
The City will launch a pilot project to help the public guard against harmful UV rays. An audit will be conducted at select locations documenting the amount of shade available to protect people at City playgrounds, splash pads and wading pools. The audits will help determine the shade needed at sites, and how that shade may be provided for existing and new play sites. A preliminary assessment in 2008 indicated most facilities need improvements to the shade provided.
Toronto Bike Plan - series of new bike lanes approved
A total of 4.4 kilometres of new bike lanes were approved for Royal York Road, Simcoe Street, Stanley Avenue and Birchmount Road. The City intends to add 50 kilometres of new bike lanes for 2008. The overall goal is to build 1,000 kilometres of bikeways in the City.
New expense policy for Councillors
Council approved a new Councillor Expense Policy (PDF).
Previous Council Highlights
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