Council Highlights is a summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk’s full, official documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Council approved the Housing Now plan, which is designed to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing in mixed-income communities by making municipally-owned properties available to non-profit and private organizations. The first phase of Housing Now is expected to deliver about 10,000 new residential homes, including up to 3,700 affordable rental homes with average rents not to exceed 80 per cent of Toronto’s average market rent.
After discussion and debate, Council voted to have staff convene an urgent meeting with key providers of supportive housing in Toronto to identify ways to increase supportive-housing options that will help people exit homelessness. In addition, Council will ask the federal and provincial governments to commit funding to support the annual creation of 1,800 new units of supportive housing in Toronto to help reduce homelessness.
Council agreed to request a report from staff on options for an aggressive plan for building supportive and transitional housing in Toronto. Among other components of the adopted motion is a request for a report describing current mental health and addiction supports available in Toronto’s emergency shelters, respites and transitional housing, and identifying opportunities to expand those kinds of support services.
Council supported making cycle tracks on Richmond and Adelaide Streets permanent, as well as the cycle tracks on Peter and Simcoe Streets. The cycle tracks (separated bike lanes) were installed between 2014 and 2016. The Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks are the most heavily used in Toronto. During the pilot, the rate of cyclist collisions decreased by 73 per cent and serious motor vehicle collisions decreased by 18 per cent on Richmond and Adelaide, which are key commuter arteries downtown.
Council provided direction to staff regarding the City’s co-ordinated implementation of heat relief strategies for 2019. A work plan to be developed will include the creation of a bylaw requiring property owners to maintain an up-to-date list that can be used to contact building tenants in extreme weather emergencies. Working with Municipal Licensing and Standards, the work group will consider also consider asking landlords to provide a “cool room” and/or a shade structure on their properties.
A motion that Council adopted calls for a review and report on the City’s emergency response to the recent electrical power outage at 260 Wellesley St. E. and last year’s fire-related evacuation at 650 Parliament St. The motion includes a request for a review of building evaluations under the RentSafeTO audit program to make sure there are appropriate building and life-safety audits of all St. Jamestown residential towers.
Council adopted a motion calling for steps to be taken to accelerate the City’s Tenants First project, an initiative that would see Toronto Community Housing’s seniors housing units managed under a new model that partners with health service institutions to provide services for seniors to age comfortably in place. This approach will allow better service to be provided to seniors while enabling Toronto Community Housing to focus on other tenants, including families and vulnerable persons.
Council gave instructions to the City Solicitor pertaining to legal matters involving the Ontario government’s Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, 2018. That legislation included reducing Toronto’s electoral wards to 25 for the 2018 municipal election. The province’s appeal of a related Superior Court decision is scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal this June. Council’s instructions to the City Solicitor include opposing the province’s appeal at the June hearing.
Council adopted a motion to express Council’s opposition to several of the schedules that are components of the Ontario government’s Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. The proposed legislation has significant interest for Toronto and other municipal governments.
Council adopted a motion for the City to initiate negotiations to buy the decommissioned, now privately owned, Hearn Generating Station site in the Port Lands. The City’s plans for transforming the Port Lands have identified the site for a major public park and include re-use of the Hearn building for community purposes. Previous owner Ontario Power Generation sold the site last year. Council also directed staff to pursue heritage designation of the site.
Council adopted a recommendation for the recruitment of a new Board of Directors for the Toronto Parking Authority, the City agency that manages parking and the Bike Share program in Toronto. The board, with two members of Council and five public members, will put into place new governance policies and procedures once the board is appointed by Council.
Council adopted a motion calling for a report on the feasibility of allowing a grace period for street-parking violations (officially “Park in Permit Parking Location without a Valid Permit”) between 10 p.m. on December 31 and 10 a.m. on January 1 each year.
A motion for Council to continue its Toronto Islands Advisory Committee during the current term of Council was adopted. The advisory committee, initially created in 2014, has focused on strategic planning for the islands as Toronto’s centrepiece park, with the goal of enhancing the islands attractiveness as an accessible, year-round destination.