Council Update - August 2014
I am thrilled to share with you the latest victory with regards to the proposed development at 51-77 Quebec 40-66 High Park. We have emerged victorious as we prepare our fight at the OMB.
As you may know City Planning staff originally wrote in opposition to this proposal but on August 11, 2014 the developer submitted an amended proposal. After examining this new proposal Planning staff decided that they felt it was acceptable and they decided to settle with the developer. Unfortunately the details of Planning staff's review of the settlement proposal remain confidential and as a result I cannot share it with you at this time. Planning staff brought their recommendation to settle to City Council this week, please see this link for the original agenda itemhttp://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.CC55.12
I was extremely disappointed that planning staff decided to settle as I feel there is still so much wrong with this proposal. I brought a motion to council to reject Planning's recommendation and to authorize the City Solicitor to send an outside Planner to the OMB.
That City Council delete the recommendations in item CC55.12 and adopt the following instead:
1. City Council direct the City Solicitor to attend the Ontario Municipal Board in opposition to the applicant's August 11, 2014 settlement proposal and further authorise the City Solicitor to retain outside consultants as necessary.
2. City Council direct that Confidential Attachment 3 to the report (August 18, 2014) from the City Solicitor remain confidential as it pertains to litigation or potential litigation, including matters before the administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board and contains advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege.
I am delighted to report that my motion passed 31 to 2. This will mean that the city will continue to fight alongside residents at the OMB. I would like thank everyone who has contacted me with their concerns about this proposal and to thank the High Park Coalition who have been working tirelessly to fight this development. I will continue to keep you updated on this proposal.
I was pleased to vote in favour of the amendment moved by Councillor Anthony Perruzza requesting that:
City Council request the City Manager to write to the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, to request amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to cover projects like 9B, and to consider the "upstream and downstream" issues that the National Energy Board would not consider as part of a full environmental assessment.
City Council request the City Manager to write to the federal Minister of Natural Resources, to request a timeline by which the amendment to the National Energy Board Act will be implemented to require companies operating major pipelines to have a minimum financial capacity of $1 billion, as promised on May 14, 2014.
City Council request the City Manager to write to Enbridge to request that diluted bitumen not be transported through the City of Toronto.
Along with the other Accountability Offices established in the City of Toronto Act (COTA) in 2007, the Integrity Commissioner plays a significant role in the fair and open running of our City government.
The Integrity Commissioner reports annually to Council on the work of the office and this report covers the period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. It reviews the many cases undertaken by the Integrity Commissioner and the policies it has improved as a result. This is also the last report of the outgoing Integrity Commissioner, Janet Leiper, who did a terrific job with very limited resources. If you have a moment, please take the time to look through her report.
As you know, I am a firm believer in the role of the City of Toronto Ombudsman, opened in April 2009, as directed by the City of Toronto Act in response to the MFP spending scandal. The Ombudsman's Office promotes a high standard of resident care and staff performance. Both of these are good news for the citizens of Toronto because they ensure you receive a consistent level of service and accountability. The work of the Ombudsman's Office also contributes to a better understanding of how to organize the public service in the most efficient and effective ways. That's what I call respect for taxpayers!
According to this report, the vast majority of complaints to the office are resolved without the need for a formal investigation. Thirty-two investigations have been conducted, of which 24 were systemic. Over 300 recommendations have been made to date and since 2010, Council and its committees have adopted over 60 motions related to ombudsman work. The key impacts of these recommendations may be summarized as:
Improvements in existing or the creation of new legislation, policies and procedures;
Improvements in the way the public service communicates, both internally between divisions and externally with the public;
An increase in fairness, accountability and transparency.
I voted in favour of receiving this report because Council did increase the divisions under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman without increasing funding for more resources and because the work done by that office is essential to the fair and effective running of this City government. I encourage you to review this report when you have a moment.
I am pleased to tell you that I successfully moved a motion to increase the rental replacement number at this development to a level in line with the City's policies. The local Councillor negotiated three units be replaced which was much lower than the ten units City staff preferred and which was in keeping with the City's guidelines for livable neighbourhoods.
Council Update - July 2014
Saving Daycare Spots
As you know, I have been a champion of our local daycares since I got to City Hall. Recently, I have had the opportunity to help the City's Children's Services and the TDSB maintain spots by allocating Section 37 funds to Swansea Public School, Western Tech, and Keele Public School. You can see the Section 37 details for each school by clicking on the separate links below. In each case, the Section 37 funds will be used for renovations or construction carried out by the TDSB and will address, among other matters, the following:
· length of tenure for child care operations;
· the TDSB repayment schedule if use prematurely ceases as a non-profit child care facility;
· the requirement that Children's Services review/approve plans, specifications and budget for both internal and external work; and
MM 54.15 – Authorization to Release Section 37 Funds to the Toronto District School Board for the Construction of Childcare Facilities at Swansea Junior and Senior Public School
MM 54.22 - Authorization to Release Section 37 Funds to the Toronto District School Board for the Construction of Childcare Facilities at Western Technical-Commercial School
MM 54.24 Authorization to Release Section 37 Funds to the Toronto District School Board for the Construction of Childcare Facilities at Keele Street Junior and Senior Public School
Fighting for Open Media Access to the City
MM 54.13 Fair Media Access on City Property
The City Hall Press Gallery plays a vital role in the democratic process at City Hall and in Toronto's civic process. Residents across Toronto gather their information from a wide array of news organizations and it is essential that all members of the press gallery have equal access to media conferences at Toronto City Hall.
The journalists of the Press Gallery and their publications rent space at City Hall and the City of Toronto has an obligation to ensure that all media outlets are treated equally.
Members of Council are free to decline media interviews but the Mayor or a Member of Council should not be permitted to hold a media conference on City property where accredited members of the Press Gallery are excluded.
I was very pleased to second a motion moved by Councillor Fletcher with the following recommendations:
1. City Council direct that for all events held by the City, Mayor or Councillors to which media are invited, held at City Hall or in a City facility, all media outlets that are members of the City Hall Press Gallery be included.
2. City Council direct that City staff, including facilities and communications staff, only support events to which media are invited in spaces large enough to accommodate the expected numbers of media, such as the Members Lounge.
Working with You and City Staff to Manage Development
MM 54.20 1926 Lake Shore Blvd West
After the March 2014 OMB pre-hearing, the developer, Carttera, requested mediation from the OMB, which took place at the end of June. At that meeting, the resident representatives agreed to a settlement offer. That offer was assessed by City solicitors and planners and an updated report was moved during the July 8 City Council meeting.
MM 54.16 Planning Study for Bloor Street West between Keele Street and the Humber River
In 2005, the Bloor West Village Business Improvement Area, in collaboration with a number of neighbourhood organizations and resident groups participated in the Bloor West Village Urban Design Study, to discuss the future directions for growth in the village. That study has since been accompanied by the 2013 Bloor West Village Way Heritage Design Nomination which further examined the heritage aspects of the neighbourhood. While these studies provide valuable information regarding the Bloor West Village area, neither have been approved by City Council. While the Urban Design Study has been consulted and used as a tool when reviewing development proposals in the area, Planning Staff have applied Official Plan Policies and the more recent Avenues and Mid Rise Buildings Study, and performance guidelines completed in 2010 and approved by City Council when reviewing development proposals on "Avenue" areas such as Bloor Street in the vicinity of the Bloor West Village.
City Council in October 2012 requested "City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to undertake an Avenue Study along Bloor Street West between Runnymede Road and Keele Street". In light of the Avenue Study prioritization and city budget allocations for such studies and a recently initiated review of the avenue and mid-rise building study and performance guidelines, the requested avenue study has not been initiated.
A portion of Bloor Street West between Keele Street and the Humber River, is facing increasing pressure for re-development with recent planning applications and pre-application consultations.
This stretch of Bloor Street West currently has a diverse mix of commercial and residential uses in low-rise buildings. The surrounding established residential neighbourhood comprises mainly two and three-storey detached houses. In this context, community associations are increasingly voicing concerns that these new development proposals are not respecting the physical character of the main street and adding further impact to city services and infrastructure.
A timely review is required to help determine appropriate built-form, height and heritage value in order to provide an updated planning framework, if necessary, for the street.
1. City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to
a. undertake a review of the current built-form, density, height, and heritage value of the properties on Bloor Street West between Keele Street and the Humber River;
b. consult with the community, including landowners and other stakeholder groups, together with the Ward Councillor, to understand the community's concerns and develop a vision for future development in the study area; and
c. report back on the findings of the review and to provide recommendations for changes, if necessary, to the planning framework for the study area.
PG 34.4 - Official Plan Policies for Implementing a Development Permit System - Final Report
This Planning report and Council's reaction to it demonstrates that many Toronto residents, including those of Ward 13, still have many questions about the Development Permit System. I have heard positive and negative comments from residents in equal measure and think that the best way to gauge the interest of residents of Ward 13 is for staff to do an official consultation. That is why I moved a successful motion directing Planning staff to assess residents' interest.
PG 33.14 - Implementing a Local Appeal Body for Toronto - Public Consultation Comments and Guiding Principles
I voted in favour of this report that summarizes the results of the public consultations on implementing a Local Appeal Body (LAB) for the City of Toronto to hear appeals of minor variance and consent applications. The report also provides principles, informed by the consultation, to guide LAB implementation in the event Council decides to implement a LAB.
Emergency Preparedness and Public Health
EX 43.3 - Review of the City of Toronto's Emergency Response to the December 2013 Ice Storm
As part of my continuing efforts to empower and protect residents from the effects of storm events, I supported motions at Council to improve the City and Toronto Hydro's ability to prepare for and respond to these events as well. Please take some time to review EX 43.3 and the related Public Health motions:
HL 32.2 - Strategies to Prevent Heat-Related Illness and Deaths from Extreme Heat Emergencies
HL 32.3 - Comprehensive Review of Cold Weather Protocols and Cold Weather Health Impacts in Toronto
Taking Care of Our Environment
As a member of the Board of Health and the Parks and Environment Committee, I promote and support policies and programs that enhance the sustainability of our neighbourhoods and our quality of life:
PE 28.4 - Toronto's 2012 Greenhouse Gas and Air Quality Pollutant Emissions Inventory
PE 28.5 - Corporate Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan (2014-2019) - Green Energy Act - Regulation 397/11
PE 28.6 - Resilient City - Preparing for a Changing Climate
Supporting Community Space and Programming
MM 54.12 - Authorization to Release Section 37 Funds for Capital Improvements to the Swansea Town Hall Community Centre
Many of you know the Swansea Town Hall and all of the programs it supports in the community. It provides meeting space for a diversity of programs and services for seniors, adults, and children with or without caregivers/parents. The building houses a Toronto Public Health Dental Clinic, the Swansea Memorial Library, the Swansea Senior's Association and the William Small Historical Archives. Also associated with the Town Hall are several community groups and partners including Horticultural and Historical Societies and the Ratepayers' Association. The Swansea Town Hall Community Centre also works regularly with other neighbourhood organizations such as the local Parks and Recreation Community Centre. Click on the link above to see the details of the motion. The funds will provide one-time funding for capital improvements pertaining to enhanced accessibility, rental space, the purchase of a power generator, additional energy saving retrofit and flooring replacement.
Council Update – June, 2014
CC 52.6 – Appointment of the City of Toronto Integrity Commissioner
CC 52.7 – Appointment of the City of Toronto Auditor General
I was honoured to be asked to join Councillors Gloria Lindsay-Luby, Mary-Margaret McMahon, and Jaye Robinson on the selection committee for the new Auditor General new Integrity Commissioner. We undertook a comprehensive recruitment process to recommend one preferred candidate for each position to City Council. These were unanimous votes to appoint Beverly Romeo-Beehler as Auditor General and Valerie L. Jepson as Integrity Commissioner. I would like to welcome them both to the City.
CD 29.2 – Red Door Shelter Update
The Red Door Shelter is a 106 bed emergency facility located in the east end of the City providing shelter service on behalf of the City. The building in which they work is owned by a private company that went into receivership in November 2013. Consequently, the future of the Red Door Shelter became very uncertain. The property has an offer to purchase which is due to close imminently. The City, Red Door and purchaser have been in discussions recently and after reviewing the space needs of the shelter and a preliminary business plan, the purchaser has presented a proposal to Red Door to include the shelter in the redeveloped site. The redevelopment would take three to four years. It is the intent of Red Door to continue operating during the redevelopment and City staff will work with Red Door to identify an appropriate site to facilitate a temporary relocation. EX 42.25 - Capital Variance Report for the Three Month Period Ended March 31, 2014 and Motion regarding the Scarborough Centre Library Civic Green project
I supported Councillor De Baeremaeker's motion to move funds already reserved for this project into the capital budget in order to complete the Civic Green just west of the new library at the Scarborough Civic Centre.
EY 33.1 and 33.2 – Applications to Remove Private Trees
I am pleased to say that Council supported the original staff recommendations to refuse these applications to remove two healthy, private trees.
MM 52.4 – Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy – by Councillor Janet Davis, seconded by Councillor Sarah Doucette
In 2007, Council approved a strategy to accelerate the replacement of water pipes made of lead that remained in an estimated 65,000 homes built before 1951. The plan was to replace 11,000 water service connections over a nine year period, starting in 2008. Of those, 9,000 would be "planned" and replaced on a street-by-street basis as part of the City road and water capital program. Another 1,500 replacements would be "on demand" and replaced on a case-by-case basis, most often because of high-lead test results or broken pipes. In January 2011, Council adopted a new Lead in Drinking Water Strategy. The revised Water Service Replacement Program budget was cut from $38.5 million to $17.5 million annually. The total number of service replacements was reduced by 6,000 (from 11,000 to 5,000 annually). All replacements that were to be coordinated with water meter installation and non-arterial road resurfacing were eliminated.
In August 2011, as part of the Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy, Council also approved a "Corrosion Control Plan" to introduce "orthophosphate" into drinking water which will, over time, build a protective coating on the inside of all water pipes. Recent media reports have demonstrated that many areas of the City continue to have high-lead levels in their water. Reports from Toronto Water staff also appear to show that the number of water service replacements has fallen short of our targets, and the Corrosion Control plan is behind schedule.
Despite the new strategy to implement Corrosion Control, replacing the entire lead pipe, both private and public portions, is the best way to fully eliminate the risk of lead in water. Full replacement remains the recommended approach of public health officials across North America and around the world. In light of the recent public concern about lead pipes, I believe Council should receive a comprehensive update on the status of this program. The five recommendations of the motion include a report from Public Health and Toronto Water on the health impacts on lead in drinking water, a report on the feasibility of developing a Lead Service Replacement Program on a model similar to the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), and restoring the remaining planned lead service replacements on a street-by-street basis as part of the City road and water capital program.
CC 52.5 – Appointment of the Toronto Ombudsman
This item was deferred to the next meeting of City Council. I supported the motion and asked Councillors to review all this term's Ombudsman reports and see that the City Manager has agreed to every recommendation included in them. The Ombudsman's role is vital to residents as a last point of contact for ensuring fair treatment by the City. Council originally agreed to staff's recommendation for a five-year contract with a five-year renewal option, as this is the standard practice for positions of this kind. Last year, when the first five-year term ended, Council agreed to a two-year extension.
EX 42.33 - Restoration of Funding for Youth Employment Toronto (YET) Program
I was pleased to support a City Council request to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to strongly advocate for the restoration of the YET program funding in 2015. YET is one of many community employment supports for youth that have closed in Toronto because of a withdrawal of funding from Employment and Social Development Canada, and their loss is expected to make it more challenging for youth with barriers to employment to find work and begin a career. The program has a long history of success, reaching a substantial number of youth each year. In the 2013 funding year, the program reached 1,772 youth, 886 of whom worked with YET staff on a full assessment of their needs, an uptake rate of more than 50%. During the year, 895 youth received case management services, 225 youth were employed, 111 returned to school, and 184 registered in skills enhancement programs.
April 1 to 3, 2014 City Council Meeting
Two items took up most of the three days of Council in April and they were EX 40.1, the Billy Bishop Airport expansion and LS 27.1, Street Food Venders, but we also voted on EX 39.4, the Renovation and Expansion of BMO Field and CC 50.9, the National Energy Board Decision on the Enbridge Line 9 Application.
EX 40.1 - Request to Amend the Tripartite Agreement for Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
This report, titled Request to Amend the Tripartite Agreement for Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA), was debated at length. While I do not support expansion of BBTCA or allowing jets into BBTCA, I supported the Deputy City Manager's report, especially because it included the development of an Airport Master Plan for the BBTCA. The staff report was approved unanimously by Council.
The main reason I supported the Deputy City Manager's report is that, under current arrangements, there are no restrictions on the number of passengers using the BBTCA. Even without the introduction of jets, passenger volumes could continue to increase from the current 2.3 million passengers in 2012 to approximately 3.8 million. The Toronto Port Authority (TPA) has 202 daily flight slots available to organize flights and 189 of these slots are now being utilized. If caps are not put in place by the City, the TPA can increase the number of slots. Supporting this report will allow us to put a cap on slots and flights, which I feel is very important moving forward. I support having an Airport Master Plan which will govern many aspects of the operations of the BBTCA.
Additionally the staff report listed several requirements that are necessary before considering any amendment to the Tripartite Agreement.
An environmental assessment of the runway extensions;
Implementation of caps on the number of daily flights must be set;
A detailed design for the runway with taxiway configurations;
A method of construction for these facilities;
Transport Canada confirmation that the design and operating procedures will not alter the Marine Exclusion Zone and will fall within the Noise Exposure Forecast;
The City must amend its Official Plan Policies to guide the future form, sale and scope of the BBTCA as well as its relationship to other users of the Waterfront. All of these issues must be addressed prior to Council's consideration of any amendment to permit jet-powered aircraft and runway extensions.
Currently there are concerns that noise levels already exceed the World Health Organization noise guidelines related to sleep disturbance and children's learning performance.
Additionally, when the number of airline passengers increase, so will vehicular traffic. This increases the safety risk to pedestrians and cyclists who use the area. Concerns were also raised about the effects on the bird sanctuary on the island and the potential risk of bird strikes.
This is not a significant problem now, but with the potential introduction of jets this will become a problem as jets cannot handle a collision with a bird over four pounds. The anticipated increase in vehicles will antagonize the lack of parking, traffic and congestion. Concerns have also been raised about water safety, as toxins such as de-icing fluids, could spill into the lake. Increasing the BBTCA's size would also affect other activities conducted at the Waterfront, such as the Music Garden and Fort York. The Board of Health Report, titled "Health Impacts Associated with Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Expansion, dated December 9, 2013, states that current levels of pollution already exceed health benchmarks.
I supported the following motions on the first day of the April City Council meeting:
Approval of the Staff Report does not imply City Council's support for or against airport expansion or the introduction of jets;
Any costs associated with amendments to the Tripartite Agreement shall be at no cost to the City and not from any funding currently available to the City and shall instead be borne as a per passenger fee, a landing fee or any other airport fee;
That staff ensure that the TPA define and protect the role of general aviation;
That staff review all existing safety documents and report back to Council with a comprehensive review of all Transport Canada exemptions and rationale;
Direct the City Manager to consider the health impacts identified by the Medical Officer of Health;
City Council direct that the Airport Master Plan and Environmental Assessment include a review and analysis of the impact of any expansion on the bird populations in the Inner Harbour Area and Tommy Thompson Park and the potential danger that existing bird populations and bird colonies may pose to air traffic and air passengers;
That City Council ensure that the creation of a new road extension of Dan Leckie Way not be included in any negotiations or plans to facilitate airport expansion;
That the Deputy City Manager undertake consultation with Waterfront Toronto during any negotiations with TPA and Transport Canada;
I have heard from many residents, some of whom support Porter, but the majority of residents who contacted my office do not support any expansion of BBTCA. I believe that we need to allow the City to implement an Airport Master Plan for the BBTCA so that we can in fact cap the number of flights in and out and have a say over future operations at BBTCA.
LS 27.1 - New Opportunities for Toronto's Street Food Vendors
I supported the staff recommendations, coming into effect on May 15, 2014, and all the amendments that carried for several reasons. Regarding the food trucks, I supported allowing them to be on any block with paid meter parking for up to 3 hours as long as they are 50 linear meters away from any open or operating restaurant. In Ward 13, that means only parts of Bloor and Dundas Sts W will be open to vendors. Below are some more highlights of what was approved at City Council.
"Street Vending" Mobile Vending Zones will consist of:
All pay-and-display parking spaces on Major and Minor Arterial Roadways as defined in Chapter 910, Parking Machines, and the City's road classification system;
Areas of the right of way, such as non pay-and-display parking spaces or lay-bys, which are designated as such by the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS), from time to time.
The following restrictions will apply to all Mobile Vending:
No Mobile Food Vending Permit holders will be allowed within 50 linear metres of an eating establishment during those hours when the establishment is operating and open to the public;
No Mobile Food Vending Permit holders shall operate within 30 linear metres from the property line of any school or place of worship;
No Mobile Food Vending Permit holders shall operate within 25 linear metres from a designated vending area on the sidewalk;
No Mobile Food Vending permit holders shall operate for more than 3 hours on the same block within a 24-hour period;
Mobile Food Vending Permit holders shall comply with all parking and traffic restrictions, the Highway Traffic Act and its Regulations, the Toronto Municipal Code and its By-laws and the Toronto Parking Authority and its policies;
In addition to all that, there will be a limit of 2 Mobile Food Vending Permit holders on any one block.
The amendments also included the stipulation that mobile vending be prohibited within the boundaries of a Business Improvement Area, or within 50 metres of the boundary of a Business Improvement Area, during a special event organized by the Business Improvement Area and events in public squares where food vendors are required to pay fees to participate, unless the food truck vendors are invited by the Business Improvement Area.
No more than 125 mobile vending permits will be issued within the next 12 months, inclusive of the existing 27 curb lane permits, and until the MLS Executive Director reports back to the Licensing and Standards Committee in one year.
To encourage new small business entrepreneurs, City Council has authorized the appropriate Community Council, at the request of the local ward Councillor, to designate a particular street vending location for entrepreneurs introducing new products, or variations of products, as identified by the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture.
Vendors will be permitted to operate for more than ten minutes in private, licensed commercial parking lots and not Green P parking lots which are owned by the City.
A moratorium was implemented on Sidewalk and Curb Lane Vending Permits for all non-food vendors until the MLS Executive Director reports back on the appropriateness of this type of vending on the public right of way.
The MLS Executive Director will report back to the Licensing and Standards Committee on the feasibility of establishing a new permit fee for a licensed restaurant wishing to operate a non-motorized refreshment vehicle on the sidewalk outside of their restaurant.
The MLS Executive Director, will also report to the Licensing and Standards Committee in one year on the impact of the new regulations on street food vending in Toronto, including recommendations for reducing the impacts of noise, idling and environmental impacts of using generators, and recommendations for reducing the impact of discharges to the City's sanitary sewer system.
Finally, ice cream trucks will be allowed to operate for up to 30 minutes on any local or residential street, as long as they're a minimum of 30 meters from a school yard. The stipulation of operating a minimum of 30 meters from public parks and ferry docks was removed.
EX 39.4 - Renovation and Expansion of BMO Field
I supported the City Managers report on the "Renovation and Expansion of BMO Field". The stadium is actually owned by the City so providing a loan to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., which will be used to enhance the stadium, is in the City's interest. You'll see in the report that the agreement includes the stipulation that the loan will be paid back with interest, which was an important consideration for me. Here are some highlights of what City Council approved for BMO Field:
Expansion of the permanent seating capacity at the BMO Field stadium at Exhibition Place to 30,000 (and allow for an additional 10,000 in temporary seating capacity) to enable the Stadium to be the home stadium of the Toronto Argonaut Football Club;
The addition of a partial roof to cover the majority of the seats of the stadium.
These changes will require work and the timing is projected to be:
Phase 1 – Seat Expansion and Additional Work
On September 10, 2014, excavation will commence but no construction can take place during the CNE period. By May 1, 2015, seat expansion and additional works will be completed.
Phase 2 - New Partial Roof Installation
On October 1, 2015, work will commence and be completed by May 1, 2016.
The City wants for completion of Phase 1 of the Stadium Improvements to be achieved by May 1, 2015 to ensure the availability of the Stadium for the Pan Am Games
The funding for this work will be provided on the basis of the following contributions:
City of Toronto $10,000,000
Province of Ontario $10,000,000
Federal Government $10,000,000
City Council has secured a financial contribution from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. for transportation initiatives and planning studies to improve access and from Exhibition Place and to enhance the use of public transit.
The $10 million City contribution towards the proposed expansion of the stadium will be debt-financed with full recovery from the guaranteed annual payment provided by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
CC 50.9 - National Energy Board Decision on Enbridge Line 9B Application - Emergency Response Capacity
I supported the City Manager and City solicitors including all the amending motions. Here are highlights of what was approved at City Council:
City Council directed the City Solicitor to write to the Federal Minister of Natural Resources requesting immediate implementation of proposed regulations announced by the Government of Canada that will require companies operating major crude oil pipelines to have a minimum of $1 billion in financial capacity.
City Council requested the Premier, the Minister of Energy and the Minister of the Environment to follow-up on any outstanding concerns not addressed in the National Energy Board decision on Line 9B and further, to advise that the City supports any actions undertaken by the Province to ensure the outstanding concerns are addressed by Enbridge.
City Council requested the Ontario Minister of the Environment to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment for the Enbridge Line 9B Application.
City Council requested Enbridge to confirm the specific date and location of Enbridge's Emergency Response Team's deployment for the Greater Toronto Area.
City Council directed the City Manager, in consultation with the City Solicitor, to write to the President and Chief Executive Officer, Enbridge and copy the National Energy Board advising how City Staff would be involved in the review of the further steps required by the National Energy Board.
City Council requested the City Manager, in consultation with the City Solicitor, to report back to Council on the City's input to Enbridge on emergency preparedness, including current and proposed education and training on emergency response, and measures to protect the City's drinking water resources, prior to Enbridge filing an updated emergency management plan and procedures as required by the National Energy Board decision.
February 19, 2014 City Council Meeting
Feasibility of Hosting 2025 World Expo – ED 28.5
At its meeting of June 6, 2012 City Council directed the City Manager and the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture to obtain input from the provincial and federal governments and key relevant agencies and boards and submit separate reports to the Economic Development Committee on the pros and cons of creating a bid to host World Expo 2025 in Toronto.
The City Manager's office presented a report to the January 20, 2014 Economic Development meeting titledFeasibility Considerations of Toronto Hosting the 2025 World Expo (ED 28.5). At the February 19, 2014 City Council meeting, I voted in favour of City staff moving forward with their investigation into the real costs and potential benefits of hosting the 2025 World Expo. The link to the report includes details of the motions and voting results.
Ombudsman's Annual Report – CC 48.6
The position of Ombudsman was established by the Ontario Legislature through the City of Toronto Act 2006. The Ombudsman is independent of the Toronto Public Service and an appointed officer of Toronto City Council. The Ombudsman’s job is to investigate complaints about the administration of city government, including the work of its agencies, boards, commissions and corporation. The report states, among other things, that the office handled 1,827 complaints in 2013, a 28% increase compared with 2012. Of the complaints completed, six were in- depth systemic investigations.
On page 12 of the report, the Ombudsman states that the five most common issues remained similar to those reported for 2012: poor communication; inadequate, poor or denied service; unpredictable enforcement; wrong, unreasonable or unfair decision; and unreasonable delay. I encourage you to read it to understand exactly what the Ombudsman's office can do for you and how to contact them.
I voted in favour of receiving this report.
Social Media Policy During an Election Year – CC 48.7
Social media has become an essential communication tool between Councillors and residents and it will remain so during this election year. It's the first election in which social media will play a significant role so it has become necessary to devise both a policy and a process to regulate its use, ensuring it cannot be used by incumbents to gain an unfair advantage over other candidates. I voted in favour of the report's recommendations but some Councillors still have questions the Integrity Commissioner will have to advise on.
Internet Voting Service for Persons with Disabilities – CC 48.4
The first recommendation of the report advises "the use of internet voting and telephone voting as alternative voting methods for persons with disabilities during the advance vote period in the 2014 Municipal Election". I voted in favour of all the original staff recommendations. This is an important step in the City's ongoing efforts to make civic participation truly accessible.
2014 Toronto City Budget
January 30, 2014
After a raucous two days, on the evening of Thursday, January 30, City Council passed the 2014 Operating and Capital Budgets.
Thank you to all who contacted me in the weeks leading up to the Council vote, who supported the Runnymede Fire Station, the High Park Zoo, and all the other city matters that you care about. It was a tense budget process but we managed to make some meaningful improvements and keep the city moving forward in 2014.
In 2013, we fought the cut to the Runnymede Fire Station and, along with all the other wards where trucks were threatened we won a year-long extension. It was not possible to do so this year. Knowing the odds against keeping these fire trucks in place, including ours, I met with Fire Chief Jim Sales several times to discuss the fate of the fire station itself.
The matter of Fire Services is a complex one at the City these days. There are various types of plans and reports that are meant to inform our decisions and yet the timing of these reports is not co-ordinated so we are, both Councillors and public servants, asked to make decisions that are not fully informed. With all the growth taking place across the city, especially closer to the downtown, and almost all of it in mid-rise or tall buildings, it doesn't make sense to start removing service from the areas experiencing the growth, such as Ward 13.
In order to ensure we can take back a fire truck and crew as the Ward grows, I did my best to convince the Fire Chief to keep the station functioning and he agreed. Until such time as Fire Services wants to install a permanent truck and crew at Runnymede again, I'm pleased to say that the station will be available for a fire truck if it ever needs one temporarily. I would also like to make the station more of community resource, with your input and participation.
As many of you know, the High Park Zoo funding was removed from the City budget beginning June 2012. Since then a small group of volunteers have led the charge to protect it, raising enough funds to keep it running for almost two years. If it weren't for them, and all the generous donors – including the Honey Family Foundation, Moses Znaimer, Cupe Local 79, and the Grenadier Group – the High Park Zoo would have closed by now. The 2014 operating budget is the first year of renewed permanent funding for the High Park Zoo. We saved the High Park Zoo! It's something we should all be proud of. From now on, donations to the zoo will be used for capital improvements that will make it an even better community resource for over 700,000 adults and children who visit every year!
The 2014 Operating Budget includes a 2.23% property tax increase for residential properties. This translates into an increase of $56.66 for the average residential property assessed at $499,521, which will pay $2,598 in municipal taxes in 2014. Included in the increase is dedicated funding of $12.70 (0.5% increase) for construction of the new Scarborough Subway and $1.63 (0.06% increase) to begin the significant work to restore the City's tree canopy after the ice storm, in partnership with the provincial and federal governments. More information on the property tax impact is available at http://bitly.com/MC7ffA.
As part of its strategy to enhance Toronto's business climate, the City continues to reduce its tax rates for commercial, industrial and multi-residential. This will result in an additional 0.48% or $11.93 for residential properties to make the total tax increase 2.71% or $68.59.
Some of the new and enhanced services include:
- providing stabilization funding for increased food costs and expansion of Student Nutrition Program to 27 new sites
- restoring full operating funding for the High Park Zoo
- expanding library hours
- adding more by-law enforcement officers
- increasing funding for CPIP
- adding 4 new youth lounges in 2014 (3 in 2015, 3 in 2016) based on the St. Stephen's service delivery model
- accelerate arts and culture funding over 4 year period
- expanding child care spaces
- funding to implement Toronto Youth Equity Strategy
- expanding the Swim to Survive Program
- expanding the After-School and Recreation (ARC) Program
- provide funding for Major Theatres Strategic and Business Plan Implementation
- added back a vehicle in Fire Services
- add new funding for the TTC to reduce crowding during rush hour,
- I also voted in favour of a motion to report back on enhancements to the Housing Stabilization Fund this year.
Somehow the lessons of the July 8 floods and the December ice storm didn't have the impact I wish they had. Council was unwilling to re-invest in the City's extreme weather reserve fund through dedicated property tax revenue. Instead, we have to hope that the reserve can be topped up through end of year surpluses. That funding is too unpredictable and we will have to keep fighting for this as the extreme weather events continue.
I also supported the position in favour of deferring money dedicated to the Scarborough Subway extension until 2015, when additional preparatory work has been completed. Unfortunately, that option was never put forth for us to vote on. One item I did have a chance to vote in favour of was to add a separate line on our property tax bills indicating the specific amount being used for the Scarborough subway.
Thank you again for your commitment and participation. It makes a great difference and allows me to represent you better.