Council Highlights - Toronto City Council meeting of April 26, 27 and 28

Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of the decisions Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk's formal documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Growth strategy for child care    

Council approved a 10-year strategy for expanding child care and early learning programs in Toronto and authorized staff to meet with federal and provincial representatives in pursuit of a tri-government agreement on expanding child care and early learning. The City's vision is a licensed child-care system serving 50 per cent of Toronto's children up to age four by 2026. Council confirmed its commitment to the City funding 20 per cent of child-care operating costs.

City's tendering process       

Council adopted recommendations and motions, including confidential instructions to staff, pertaining to an audit that identified ways to strengthen efforts to detect warning signs of potential bid rigging in the competitive tendering process for City contracts. One of the motions addresses the code of conduct for construction contractors and other suppliers, and specifies that any companies that act inappropriately will lose the privilege of bidding on City contracts.

Crime and evictions – Toronto Community Housing  

Council supported asking the Ontario government for legislation that gives providers of social housing such as Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) discretion to refuse to house a tenant who has been previously evicted for serious criminal activity. In addition, Council asked staff to provide advice on pursuing legislative amendments aimed at helping with the security of TCHC residents, including through the work of TCHC's special constables.

Actions on affordable housing  

Several proposals that pertain to the preservation of existing, or support the creation of new, affordable housing at various locations were adopted by Council. One of the proposals, for example, involves the City entering into agreements with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) to fund pre-development work for converting a building at 389 Church St. into self-contained, affordable rental housing.

Support for refugees and other newcomers    

Council adopted several recommendations tied to the City's role related to refugees, refugee claimants and undocumented Torontonians. Among the actions adopted is a request for the Canadian and Ontario governments to provide more funding to the City, including for the Toronto Newcomer Office and various municipally delivered social services that face increased demand for their services.

Provincial cost-sharing on housing and transit     

Council voted in support of a motion by Mayor Tory to ask the federal government to require the Province of Ontario to contribute to a 40-40-20 cost-share model pertaining to the second phase of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund and the National Housing Strategy. The motion expressed concerns about the 2017 Ontario budget's lack of clarity on the province's anticipated matching of federal funding for transit and housing infrastructure. 

Toronto Community Housing properties  

Council approved a proposal from Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) to close two of the three blocks of townhouses in a complex at Firgrove Crescent in North York. TCHC is to provide a plan for relocating tenants from the deteriorating buildings. In a separate item on the agenda, Council approved a funding arrangement for TCHC to undertake full energy retrofits at nine of its residential buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat rising utility costs. 

Fire chief appointment       

Council appointed Matthew Pegg as Toronto's new fire chief following a North America-wide recruitment search. Pegg, who served as Toronto's interim fire chief from May 2016 until now, assumes the position of Fire Chief and General Manager, Toronto Fire Services. Chief Pegg heads Canada's largest fire service.

Community consultation on emergency shelters   

Council adopted a new community engagement process that sets out how the City will engage with the public concerning new or relocated municipal shelters to serve homeless people. As part of the same agenda item, Council authorized staff to introduce a new service model to apply at four new shelter programs operating on a pilot-project basis.

Protection of heritage buildings   

Council adopted motions requesting reports on protecting heritage buildings, including by creating a "heritage survey" of all the buildings/structures across the city that have potential heritage value. Heritage buildings or areas identified as being under threat of demolition for development would be afforded some protection under the Ontario Heritage Act and through the City's process for demolition permits.

Review of holiday shopping bylaw   

Council considered the subject of holiday shopping in Toronto and approved a plan for the City to hold public consultations on the impact if retailers that serve prepared meals were allowed to operate on public holidays. Restaurants in Toronto are already allowed to operate on holidays because of their exemption from the holiday shopping bylaw that the City enacted in 2006. The bylaw requires retail stores that are not exempt to be closed on nine public holidays each year.

Closure of Branson's urgent-care service    

Council decided to ask the medical officer of health to convene a roundtable meeting on the matter of medical services in the area of North York General Hospital's Branson medical centre on Finch Avenue West. Council also asked the city manager to write to Ontario's health minister requesting continued funding of necessary medical services in that area. A recent announcement said the urgent-care service at the Branson Ambulatory Care Centre will close in June. 

Shark finning and sale of shark fin  

Council agreed to ask Premier Kathleen Wynne to consider banning the sale of shark fin and shark fin food products in Ontario. In addition, Council will urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support a bill now under consideration to ban importing into Canada shark fins harvested through shark finning. The practice of finning, long illegal in Canadian waters, involves cutting off a shark's fins and tossing the still live shark overboard.

Home-visit municipal voting program     

Council authorized the establishment of a home-visit program to serve home-bound electors in the City's municipal and school board elections. The home-visit service will be provided to electors who are unable to attend a voting place because of illness, injury or disability.

Next step for Open Data initiative   

Council agreed to ask staff to prepare a master plan on Open Data at the City of Toronto for consideration by the Executive Committee later this year. Research and engagement with stakeholders have set the stage for a master plan in support of the City's commitment to open government. That commitment entails improving the delivery of services, making information more accessible and undertaking initiatives that help build trust in government.  

Advisory committee on accessibility  

The City's advisory committee on accessibility issues has a new name. Council approved changing the former name – Disability, Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee – to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee.

European gypsy moth outbreak    

Urban Forestry staff received Council's authorization to implement a pest management program to control a European gypsy moth infestation in several wards on the west side of the city. The program will include spraying a biological control agent and mechanically removing egg masses from individual trees. The City has been working to control gypsy moth caterpillar populations for many years while acknowledging that the pest, which defoliates trees, cannot be fully eradicated.

Support for City manufacturing  

City Council directed the City Manager to investigate options – in consultation with stakeholders and Business Improvement Areas – to support the City's manufacturing industry, including the provision of property tax relief if "Buy American" legislation is passed in the United States.