Council Highlights Toronto City Council meeting of December 5, 6, 7 and 8, 2017

Toronto City Hall

Council Highlights is a summary of a selection of decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk’s formal documentation is available at

Toronto’s emergency shelter capacity 
Council approved funding for about 400 more emergency shelter spaces as part of a plan for 2018 and longer-term shelter infrastructure in Toronto. Among the many actions specified, Mayor John Tory was asked to hold a meeting with community leaders about their role in providing shelter and winter respite spaces in addition to the City’s sites across Toronto. Council also directed staff to identify opportunities to add beds at existing City shelters – including some women-only spaces – and to lease more motel rooms to help meet shelter needs. 

Next steps for SmartTrack 
Council approved concepts for six SmartTrack stations as the basis for completing station design work and authorized the City to work with Metrolinx in the assessment process for the stations. The six stations are St. Clair-Old Weston, King-Liberty, East Harbour, Gerard-Carlaw, Lawrence-Kennedy and Finch-Kennedy. Council’s approval included additional recommendations as part of next steps for moving ahead with the SmartTrack project. 

Short-term rentals 
Council adopted recommendations to create a new bylaw and regulations for short-term accommodation rental in Toronto. The new regulations will allow a property owner or tenant to participate as operator/host of a short-term rental in their principal residence for a maximum of 28 consecutive days, typically facilitated through companies/platforms such as Airbnb. Short-term rental operators will need to register online with the City and there are operator fees. The new regulations take effect June 1, 2018. 

Developing the Port Lands 
Council approved a planning framework to guide the revitalization of the Port Lands and endorsed a precinct plan for the area’s Villiers Island. Completion of the Port Lands Planning Framework and Villiers Island Precinct Plan is the culmination of four years of collaborative work by the City and Waterfront Toronto with support from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and numerous City divisions and agencies, all shaped by robust public consultations.

Planning process for Rail Deck Park 
Council voted to authorize City officials to proceed with the planning required to establish a new downtown park popularly called Rail Deck Park. The proposed project involves an eight-hectare (20-acre) decking structure and park facility to be built in the Union Station rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way. The work outlined for the next two years will include discussions with Metrolinx on a Spadina-Front GO station at the west end of the proposed park. 

Establishment of Indigenous Affairs Office 
Council supported the establishment of an Indigenous Affairs Office in the City Manager’s Office, with five staff positions including a youth intern position. A consultant will work with the City on ensuring that the office reflects the Indigenous community’s vision for this municipal office. The Indigenous Affairs Office will provide more focused and co-ordinated leadership on Indigenous affairs.

Confronting anti-Black racism 
Council adopted the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism along with steps for implementation, which include the establishment of an “accountability circle” group of diverse Torontonians of African descent to support the plan’s implementation. Studies show that anti-Black racism still exists in Toronto, affecting the life chances of more than 200,000 Torontonians of African descent.

Support for survivors of human trafficking 
Council authorized the City’s use of funding available for Covenant House Toronto to pursue new initiatives providing support, transitional housing and rent supplements for women and girls who are survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. An estimated 2,000 homeless youth in Toronto are vulnerable to being trafficked on any given night. 

Enhanced security at Toronto City Hall 
Council approved measures to enhance security at Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square with the aim of providing a reasonable level of protection from potential threats while maintaining an accessible City Hall and public square. The direction provided by Council includes surveying members of the public and City staff for their input on the matter of potentially using metal detectors to screen people at the entrance of City Hall. 

Policy on City investments 
Council adopted a revised investment policy in response to changes to the regulations that cover City of Toronto investments. The policy is intended to assist the City’s Investment Board in guiding the management of the City’s investment portfolio to achieve improved returns while reducing the City’s exposure to risk.

Updated Toronto Green Standard 
Council approved the Toronto Green Standard, Version 3 as a framework for Toronto’s buildings, including demolition and construction work, to achieve near-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in support of TransformTO. Related motions were adopted on matters such as infrastructure for electric vehicles, bird-friendly treatments for glazing and green infrastructure for residential properties with less than five units. The Toronto Green Standard Version 3 is scheduled to come into effect in May 2018.

Traffic-related air pollution 
A series of measures to address health risks from traffic-related air pollution in Toronto received Council’s support. Measures include, for example, pursuing opportunities through the Toronto Congestion Management Plan (2016-2020) to reduce traffic-related air pollution. Council supported a related motion that calls for all City reports addressing traffic measures and controls to routinely include related information about traffic congestion and air pollution.

Developing low-carbon thermal energy 
Council directed City staff to negotiate with Enwave Energy Corporation for an agreement on jointly developing low-carbon thermal energy networks in Toronto, consistent with the City’s TransformTO strategy addressing climate change while also supporting other City goals. The technologies involved could include, for example, sewer-heat recovery, ground-source heat pumps, solar thermal collectors, waste heat recovery and use of urban biogas and urban biomass.

City’s rate-supported budgets for 2018 
Council adopted the 2018 rate-supported budgets and fees for Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management Services and the Toronto Parking Authority. The rate-supported budgets are funded primarily by users through the payment of fees. In 2018, Toronto homeowners will pay an average of five per cent more for water services and two per cent more for residential curbside waste collection.

Management of City real estate 
Council amended municipal code chapters and shareholder directions to establish appropriate authority for the Toronto Realty Agency over Build Toronto and Toronto Port Lands Company. The action is part of centralizing the City’s real estate authorities and decision-making with real estate transactions now directed through the City’s new real estate service-delivery model. Council adopted the framework for centralizing real estate authorities earlier this fall.

Film studios on Lake Shore Boulevard 
Council endorsed the City’s ongoing negotiations to buy the former Showline Studios properties on Lake Shore Boulevard East from Canada Post in order to keep the site as a studio complex. The City is currently pursuing the transaction so the complex’s three studios can go back on stream for movie and television productions. The film, television and digital media industry is a major economic driver for Toronto.

Bayview extension speed limit 
Council voted to designate a 60 kilometre-an-hour (km/h) speed limit instead of the current 50 km/h on Bayview Avenue between the southerly section of Pottery Road and the River Street ramp. On account of the change to the speed limit, the City will look into implementing measures such as the installation of sidewalks for pedestrian safety. 

Consolidation of civic theatre boards 
The consolidation of the City’s three civic theatre boards will take effect on December 31, as specified in Council’s approval of recommendations on management of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, the Toronto Centre for the Arts and the Hummingbird (Sony) Centre for the Performing Arts. A single, merged board for the three facilities is to be called Board of Directors of Civic Theatres Toronto.

Community project – Thorncliffe Park Hub 
Council authorized staff to enter into an agreement for the construction of community space in the Thorncliffe Park Hub at the East York Town Centre Mall. Staff resources were also approved for this project, part of the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy 2020. In addition, Council agreed to pursue establishing a job skills training centre/community hub for the Kingston Road/Galloway Road/Orton Park area to help alleviate high youth unemployment in that area.

Growth plan for community recreation 
A community recreation growth plan covering the next four years was approved by Council, with the target (conditional on funding) of adding 70,000 program spaces at Toronto community centres where demand and projected future demand exist. The target for 2018 is 20,000 more spaces in City recreation programs. One of the specific targets that was set involves expanding the Swim to Survive program to cover all of Toronto’s Grade 4 students by 2021. 

Taxation and small businesses 
Council voted to ask the Interim Chief Financial Officer to review and report on tax policy tools that can be used to provide relief to small business owners facing unsustainable tax increases that have resulted from Current Value Assessment. A motion on the matter said small business and low-rise commercial property owners, such as those on historic Yonge Street, need to see a change in how they are taxed if the retail and built-form character of these neighbourhoods is to survive. 

Managing curbside space 
Council approved the Curbside Management Strategy and related actions such as undertaking a pilot project involving permit-only zones for deliveries in the financial district. Curbside space, which is the access point between road and sidewalk, tends to be in high demand by competing users. The City considers it vital to prioritize curbside uses, especially downtown, as part of managing traffic movement while supporting the downtown core’s economic activity.

Internet access in Toronto 
Council supported undertaking City efforts to improve access to affordable high-speed Internet service for all Toronto residents and businesses, and to ensure City infrastructure evolves in line with improving technology standards. Efforts to address the “digital divide” include working with low-income households as well as with Toronto businesses that lack high-speed broadband services. 

Uber data breach 
A motion adopted by Council calls on Uber Technologies to disclose information about a data breach in late 2016 so the City knows more about it. The reported breach occurred five months after the City licensed Uber as a private transportation company. The licence requires such companies to implement security measures for data collected about their passengers and drivers. The Council motion was made as part of an effort to enforce the licence’s requirements. 

Rogers community television 
A motion to ask Rogers Communications to reverse its decision to discontinue its Toronto community channel received Council’s support. The motion also asks for a report on why the action came about earlier this year and what options could be pursued to restore the live televised broadcast of Toronto City Council meetings.

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