Council Highlights is an informal summary of selected actions taken by Toronto City Council at its business meetings. The complete, formal documentation for this latest meeting is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.
Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency and adopted a stronger target for emissions reductions – aiming for “net zero” emissions for Toronto by 2050. In recent years, Toronto has experienced more frequent flooding and other severe weather events. The weather is expected to get “hotter, wetter and wilder” in the years ahead. With the declaration of a climate emergency, Toronto joins hundreds of other cities in acknowledging the gravity of the world’s climate crisis.
Council adopted a biodiversity strategy intended to support healthier, more robust biodiversity and increased awareness of nature in Toronto. The strategy envisions a Toronto with flourishing natural habitat and an urban environment that supports a great diversity of wildlife. Created through extensive consultation, the biodiversity strategy complements the City’s ravine, pollinator and resilience strategies, and aligns with the City’s plan for forest management.
A motion that Council adopted requests a report on the feasibility of the City requiring all dining establishments in Toronto to provide reusable food serviceware for eat-in customers, reducing their use of single-use plastics in Toronto restaurants. The notice of motion points out that many quick-service restaurants in Toronto are already providing reusable food serviceware, eliminating disposable dishes, take-out containers and plastic cutlery that can end up in landfill.
Council adopted a motion to direct the General Manager of Transportation Services to investigate and report on ways to improve timing and co-ordination of construction (such as road work and sidewalk repaving) to prioritize safety in school zones. The motion also calls on staff to present options, in time for the 2020 budget process, for accelerating the roll-out of Vision Zero in school safety zones.
Council supported a motion calling on Transportation Services to work with the two companies that deliver the City’s crossing-guard service to provide ongoing training to all crossing guards involving their duties for safety around schools. Toronto’s school crossing guard program serves more than 700 locations.
Council voted to support a motion to immediately ask the Ontario Minister of Transportation to permit the City to deploy automated speed-enforcement cameras at all of Toronto’s school zones and community safety zones to make them safer. A separate motion that was adopted urges the Minister of Transportation to expedite the implementation of regulations (under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act) for the effective use of cameras on school buses’ mechanical stop arms.
A motion adopted by Council directs staff to expand the scope of the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan to target heavy trucks and active construction sites. The notice of motion says a recent analysis found that 35 pedestrian deaths in Toronto between 2007 and 2017 involved trucks, including a recent death involving a cement truck that struck a pedestrian.
Council voted to provide additional funding to support the Toronto police response to increased levels of gun violence. The funding is the City’s share of $4.5 million from all three orders of government to assist with Toronto police efforts. Among other recommendations and motions adopted pertaining to gun violence, Council voted to make another request to the federal government to ban handguns nationally and adopted a motion calling on the federal government to approve tighter bail restrictions and tougher sentences for people charged and convicted of gun offences.
A motion calling for City funding to help address youth violence received Council’s support. The funding will establish a program called TO Wards Peace, which involves a gang intervention model with community-based “violence interrupters” working with nurses and family support workers as teams in designated neighbourhoods.
Council authorized City funding to facilitate creation of the 651 affordable rental homes through the City’s Open Door Program in a eight non-profit and private-sector developments at locations across Toronto. Five other non-profit groups have plans in the works that could yield hundreds of additional affordable housing units. The Open Door Program was approved by City Council in 2016 to support the City’s efforts to deliver new affordable homes and help meet housing targets.
In response to a report on electrical systems in Toronto Community Housing (TCH) buildings, Council adopted a motion to direct TCH to adopt nationally sanctioned electrical maintenance standards for its buildings. Toronto Community Housing has a 10-year capital plan that is in effect to address its aging infrastructure, including upgrades to electrical systems.
Council adopted a series of recommendations to prepare for the City’s future oversight and management of e-scooters in Toronto. The City is planning for the provincial government’s anticipated introduction of regulations for e-scooters in Ontario. At present, the use of e-scooters on City sidewalks and pedestrian ways remains prohibited, and e-scooters may not be parked or left on streets and sidewalks.
Council directed staff to stop issuing any new licences to payday-loan establishments in Toronto. The City will immediately require all payday-loan outlets that are operating to give their customers information about credit counselling services, including supports available to help people manage their financial situations so as to avoid cash shortfalls and cyclical debt. Council also voted to prohibit payday-loan establishments, pawnshops and cash-for-gold vendors from advertising on City property.
Council agreed to ask staff for a report on the feasibility of exempting all costs related to the City complying with, and undertaking initiatives connected with, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act from any efficiency savings guidelines that are set out for the City’s 2020 budget process. Staff are to determine the feasibility of establishing a centralized budget/fund for all accessibility-related accommodations and initiatives.
Council supported a motion calling on the Ontario government to “halt the closures of, mergers of, and cuts to” Toronto’s local health care services, including public health units, land ambulance services, hospitals and long-term care homes. Cities and towns across Ontario are adopting similar motions to protect their local health-care services.
Council endorsed a Workforce Equity and Inclusion Plan designed to foster diversity in the makeup of the Toronto Public Service. Specifically, the plan aims to accelerate progress toward the City’s goal of having a public service whose diversity reflects that of Toronto’s population. Council also requested a report on strategies for achieving better diversity in Council-appointed staff positions.
Council directed staff to develop a gender equity strategy for the City and report to City Council with the strategy in the fourth quarter of 2021. Council also supported establishing a gender equity unit within People and Equity (formerly the Human Resources division) at the City to develop that strategy. Creating the unit will provide dedicated resources to ensure the creation of a robust strategy.
Council approved a motion to ask the Toronto Transit Commission board to explore options for discounted post-secondary student single-fare and monthly passes, taking into account provincial government changes to university and college fee systems. The TTC will be asked to report on this matter during the City’s 2020 budget process.