Council Highlights is an informal summary of selected actions taken by Toronto City Council at its business meetings. The complete, formal documentation for the June meeting is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Council adopted several motions after discussing the current status of City-Ontario government discussions about the realignment of responsibilities for Toronto public transit between the City and the provincial government. The motions include asking City staff to report on the possibility that the realignment process, including questions about the technology involved, will delay construction of the City-planned Relief Line. Council also requested information about plans for dealing with overcrowding of the Yonge subway line that would result from a Relief Line delay. Another motion pertains to making sure new public transit is fully accessible.
Council voted to maintain the City of Toronto’s status as a “construction employer” for contracting with trades on many of the City’s major construction projects. For many years, the City has been considered a construction employer bound by province-wide collective agreements applicable to trades in the industrial, commercial and institutional sector. The City only uses unionized sub-contractors for construction work involving that trades sector. Council’s vote on this matter came as a result of Bill 66, which gives Ontario cities an opportunity to terminate their construction employer arrangements.
Council supported including City agencies in a review of City operations and programs in preparation for the 2020 budget process. A related report to Council says the City must be prepared to address financial challenges that may arise from provincial funding changes and proposed legislative changes for 2020 and beyond. Ontario announced in late May it would not go ahead with its earlier announced retroactive 2019 funding cuts that would have affected child care, public health and ambulance/paramedic services immediately.
Council authorized the City to apply for funding under the federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to help pay for eligible Toronto capital projects. To date, the City has received approval in principle under the fund for the Midtown Toronto Relief Storm Sewer project, which will address basement flooding, reduce disruptions caused by surface flooding and reduce combined-sewer overflows. Several other Toronto flood-protection projects are to be included in the City’s next application for funding under the program.
Council asked the City Manager to explore options for the City to participate in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) more formally while retaining Toronto’s direct government-to-government relationships and ability to enter into direct intergovernmental agreements. Council wants the City to collaborate with AMO on issues of mutual interest. The City of Toronto has not been a member of AMO since 2004.
Council supported a motion calling on City Council to “institutionalize resilience” in the City’s decision-making and take leadership on resilience in line with the City’s new Resilience Strategy. The strategy calls on City leaders to make climate-change considerations and sustainability practices a part of “how we do things” in Toronto.
Council decided to reiterate its requests to the Government of Canada to ban the sale of handguns in Toronto and take various additional steps to address the availability and use of guns. Council is also reiterating requests for the Ontario government to ban the sale of handgun ammunition in Toronto, and to legislate for suspending the liquor licences of establishments where police have evidence of multiple gun-related offences occurring on the premises.
Council approved an Official Plan amendment to address the loss of rooms in rooming houses as a form of shared, affordable housing in Toronto. The loss is occurring as a result of redevelopment. When rooming-house rooms are lost to development, tenants often need support services and financial assistance to find and maintain new affordable housing, as they are often unable to afford the rent for a self-contained unit.
Council authorized the addition of 28 frontline paramedics this year – subject to the confirmation of anticipated provincial funding – to Toronto Paramedic Services to help address workload tied to increased emergency-call demands. A report with this item says the main drivers of the rising demand include an aging and growing population, an increasing need to transport patients to specialized facilities, and increases in Toronto’s vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Council supported a motion calling for City officials to consult on the municipality’s role and responsibilities for implementing the recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It was noted that the City has a responsibility to act and collaborate in implementing recommendations within the City of Toronto’s purview.
Council adopted recommendations to ensure that relevant City programs and services are able to assist survivors of human trafficking. The recommendations focus on increased staff training as well as the creation of a specialized support team to provide outreach to people who may be at risk of human trafficking or who may have other vulnerabilities related to sex work. The report considered by Council notes the importance, in this context, of understanding the difference between human trafficking and consensual sex work.
Council adopted a series of recommendations to strengthen the City’s bylaw governing the operation of clothing drop boxes. This action follows a staff review that looked at improving the safety of the containers, other ways to collect clothing donations, rules guiding the location of clothing drop boxes, and enforcement. As of April, there were almost 600 clothing drop-box permits held by licensed operators and charitable organizations in Toronto.
Council asked for a report on aircraft flight paths over Toronto. The request was prompted by concerns that Don Mills residents have raised about their exposure to high noise levels from aircraft. Work on the report will include public consultation and a comparison of flight-path noise levels in different parts of the city.
Council authorized the City Manager to pursue arrangements for the City of Toronto to sign and support the declaration of an international initiative called the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights. Staff will also pursue related actions, such as creating new programming in partnership with the Toronto Public Library to further digital safety and literacy among Torontonians.
Council voted unanimously to ceremonially dedicate a section of Bremner Boulevard near Scotiabank Arena as “Raptors Way” in honour of the Toronto Raptors and the team’s recent NBA championship. Street-name signs on Bremner Boulevard between York Street and Lake Shore Boulevard West will identify both the official street name and the ceremonial street name – Raptors Way.