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 require masks or face coverings in all enclosed public places to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This measure, effective in Toronto starting July 7, reflects advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. The result is the enactment of a temporary bylaw requiring businesses and facilities to have a policy that ensures people wear masks or face coverings while in the premises, helping prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Council adopted a report that will guide the City’s actions in making way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces at restaurants and bars. CaféTO will ensure that accessibility and safety are not compromised while making it easier for many Toronto restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them and make use of additional space for physical distancing – in accordance with public health guidelines. Restaurants and bars currently remain closed for dine-in service.
Council supported a member motion calling for a municipal code amendment specifying COVID-related health and safety measures to be taken by landlords/operators of multi-residential apartment buildings. The measures include providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer in common-area rooms that remain open (such as laundry rooms), keeping gyms and playrooms closed, and scheduling the cleaning of frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and elevator buttons.
Council adopted a motion to urge the provincial and federal governments to immediately establish an intergovernmental table to create emergency responses to the housing and homelessness crisis in Toronto, a crisis that has been exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The motion also addresses related matters such as the need for water and sanitation supports at encampment sites.
Council supported recommendations to request the Province of Ontario to immediately provide additional supports for staff and residents of long-term care homes to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. Among specifics of the recommendations is direction for the City’s Seniors Services and Long Term Care division to engage in the province’s investigative process into the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario’s long-term care homes.
Council requested the preparation of a report for September that presents a framework to guide the design of future City infrastructure projects. The focus is on incorporating public health guidelines in architectural design and in the “built form” of infrastructure projects to enhance protection from COVID-19.
A major backlog in the processing of construction applications by the City’s Committee of Adjustment – a problem tied to the pandemic emergency – is addressed by a member motion that Council adopted. The motion sets out steps for the City to take to clear the backlog over the coming months to support the recovery of the construction industry and related employment/economic activity in Toronto. The current building slowdown is also attributed in part to recent disruptions to the supply chain and worksite slowdowns tied to COVID-19 safety protocols.
A series of recommended steps to assist with pandemic response and recovery were approved by Council. The measures include requesting the Ontario Ministry of Health to create an efficient system of transferring information from laboratories to local public health units and encouraging the ministry to quickly develop a provincial COVID-19 testing strategy.
Council approved a report along with motions about policing in Toronto, with the aim of establishing alternative service delivery models for community safety response and increased accountability. Council’s approval sets the stage for pursuing alternative ways of responding to incidents such as individuals experiencing mental health crises – ways that do not involve police officers attending the scene. In addition, the City will work on realigning its budget priorities to focus more on Toronto’s most marginalized residents.
Council adopted a motion asking pertinent City staff to organize training for Council members and their immediate staff in confronting anti-Black racism. In 2017, City Council unanimously adopted the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, with numerous actions/recommendations for City staff to implement. One of the action plan’s priorities is working to shift the municipal government’s culture, addressing anti-Black racism in City practices, policies, hiring and retention strategies, and service delivery.
Council supported recommendations calling for staff to report on the implementation of an Indigenous community-led pilot project, overseen by the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council and Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. The pilot project will address community safety, harm reduction, conflict and crisis response, and peacekeeping from an Indigenous-led perspective. This action is part of the City’s response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Council ratified five-year agreements with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79, the union representing the City’s 24,000 inside workers. Local 79 members have also ratified the agreements. There is an agreement for each of four employee groups that make up CUPE Local 79. The City and the union reached a negotiated settlement in March but emergency COVID-19 response efforts prevented ratification until now.
Council adopted a series of recommendations tied to, and furthering work on, the first annual progress report on the Housing Now Initiative for building affordable housing in Toronto. Council’s actions authorize further City investment in new affordable housing units as part of Phase One of the initiative, as well as various enhancements to the initiative. Among various other steps to be taken, the City will work on identifying any smaller City sites that could be used for non-profit housing.
Council adopted recommendations to further preparatory work for building modular housing at two sites, one in central Toronto and one in Scarborough. Provincial authorization for a zoning amendment is needed to proceed – with a target for completion of the modular units this fall. Modular housing is a type of prefabricated housing built in a factory and assembled on site. Building modular housing is considered a quick, effective way to provide homes along with localized support for those experiencing homelessness.
Council adopted recommendations calling on staff to create terms of a new pilot program enabling DIY (Do-It-Yourself) music organizations to use City-owned spaces at lower than market value. An inventory will be compiled identifying City-owned properties suitable for tenancy by DIY music organizations, and staff will provide a related report to the Toronto Music Advisory Committee. Toronto’s continued growth as a city has created serious financial challenges for many DIY music organizations.
Council authorized making a recent, successful pilot project for free-floating car share a permanent program for Toronto, effective immediately. The Toronto Parking Authority will be asked to explore business arrangements that would allow car-share companies to use municipal parking facilities, by means of permits. The City and car-share providers will pursue efforts together to expand the availability of car-share parking in residential areas.