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Unpacking TO City Council

Topics on the summer meeting agenda affecting our communities

by J Den

The agenda for the last official Toronto City Council meeting until October went up this week. Typically packed with items, this Tuesday looks to be another Council meeting that goes into overtime, especially with items such as Scarborough transit being debated. Since community councils (Etobicoke-York, etc) also won't meet again until fall, there are many last minute items that would normally be dealt with locally.

Here's a look at some interesting items, from those already approved in Committee and just passing through Council, to reports and motions from individual councillors.

The Already Dealt With:

Proposed redevelopment of Seaton House and displacement of George St residents. (This was already approved by the City’s Executive Committee on July 3rd; unless 2/3rds of council wish to reopen the issue, the Executive recommendation will be accepted). OCAP has planned an emergency action against the loss of shelter beds and harm reduction programs that would result from the current proposed plans for Seaton House.

Framework for a Youth Equity Strategy. What does this mean? It's a developing guideline on which programming will be prioritized for marginalized youth and address youth violence. METRAC (The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children), a community-based antiviolence group, has raised concerns about how the framework’s “tendency to focus on ‘gangs and guns’” ignores the role ideas about gender play in violence and has excluded input from young women and trans youth. (This item has already passed through the Community Development and Recreation Committee).

Multi-year planning for Arts and Culture. This proposal for multi-year funding agreements with major cultural organizations and local arts organizations, ranging from the Art Gallery of Ontario and UrbanArts to Pride Toronto and the Caribbean Carnival, could eliminate the yearly political budget fights that occur over these grants and provide greater stability. (This item has already been approved by the Economic Development Committee)

Studying restricting bars in Kensington Market. Bars are often able to pay higher rents than many of the Market’s traditional businesses. Studying this restriction is being proposed in the interests of preventing further gentrification. (This idea has already been adopted by the Toronto and East York Community Council)

Some New Business:

Line 9B Reversal Update. The City of Toronto applied for and was accepted as one of fifty intervenors with full privileges in the National Energy Board Line 9 hearings. Read what actions the City has taken so far.

Requesting Ward Boundary Changes -- which produces side effects. The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition has submitted a petition to realign all City ward boundaries to the Federal riding boundaries which would also reduce the number of councillors by half.

Report: Surveillance on Wheel-Trans Vehicles. The City Ombud has been investigating the little-known practice by Wheel-Trans of using its own onboard surveillance videos to re-assess eligibility for riders and deny service. Reports by the City Ombud have been key to shedding light on many highly questionable practices, most recently TCHC’s poor communication and eviction of seniors leading to their deaths. (Another report on Wheel-Trans service changes has been bouncing from committee to council and may finally be considered at this Council meeting too.)

Integrity Commissioner's Annual Report. So many complaints have happened in the past year that the Integrity Commissioner is recommending the position become a full-time job.

Scarborough Rapid Transit. City Council may make up its mind to either support the LRT as already planned or build a subway. How to fund subway construction, the impact of all the planning delays and the City's relationship with Metrolinx (the Provincial transportation planning body) will likely take up an entire day of council and will be most of what you end up hearing about.

Motions From Individual Councillors

How do you deal with the neighbour from Hell? Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker of Scarborough Centre would like a City policy on how to deal with individuals who make multiple unreasonable complaints to the City against their neighbours over minor items. Because someone is doing that. Kitchener already has such a policy.

Buying a marker? Got ID? Councillor Michelle Berardinetti thinks restricting the sale of “graffiti implements” such as markers to those over 18 will cut down on what she deems “vandalism”.

Emergency! Asian carp are invading! Councillor Mike Layton has moved a motion urging Council to write the Federal and Provincial government a letter about working with US partners on the other side of the Great Lakes to deal with this invasive species before it's too late.

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