Back in May 2013, Council had a public debate over whether to host a casino downtown. While the focus primarily stayed on the downtown proposal, adding additional gaming to Woodbine was also voted on and denied. This issue re-emerged in May of this year as the Executive Committee put forward a proposal to support expanded gambling at the facility.
As the Vice-Chair of the Board of Health I have heard loud and clear the harm expanded gambling in Toronto could have on our City. In 2013, the Medical Officer of Health and the Board of Health submitted a report to Council recommending that City Council oppose the decision to build or expand casino facilities. This opposition was renewed at the June 1, 2015 Board of Health meeting with an updated report on the health impacts of expanded gaming at Woodbine. One key recommendation from this report was limiting the hours of operation to 18 hours a day. This six hour closure would ensure people left the facility, and did not continue to gamble beyond their ability. Council chose not to support this motion, so I could not in good conscience vote to support expanded gambling.
While this motion succeeded, I hope there are additional motions brought to Council in the future to assure the financial, emotional, and mental safety for Toronto residents.
I was thrilled that the vast majority of Councillors voted with me to support the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy. Through this strategy, we will be working to create a prosperous city where all residents have access to good jobs, adequate income, stable housing, affordable transportation, nutritious food and supportive services by 2035.
As the federal government removes door-to-door mail delivery across the country, Toronto needs to prepare for the arrival of “superboxes” across the city. I with council voted for the City Manager to work with Canada Post on a long list of concerns including safety, property ownership, access, and implementation of the work to be done. While only a change at the federal level can reverse the end of door-to-door delivery, we as a city can work to ensure the installation of these boxes works for our communities.
MM8.48 - Bike racks for School Boards
A motion to donate to Toronto's school boards 150 bicycle racks that the City bought and installed at Pan Am Games venues this summer was also approval. The bike racks, each of which provides parking for eight bikes, will be given to the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board after the Games as a legacy of the TO2015 Games. Council also supported authorizing the allocation of City funds to provide for more bicycle parking at parks and community centres across the city. As I often hear from residents that more bike parking is needed, I was ecstatic to support this motion.