The Week at Toronto City Hall #2
Inclusionary zoning, sidewalk patios, winterization, police shootings, and raccoons.
On the agenda next week at Toronto City Hall: a long-awaited but underwhelming affordable housing policy, park winterization, the future of CaféTO, SIU investigations, fixing up the Gardiner, and a couple of Committee of Adjustment items. I break it all down for you! Plus, your weekly Bug Report.
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The Week at Toronto City Hall: Inclusionary zoning, sidewalk patios, winter park plans, and raccoons
MONDAY: 🩺 The Board of Health gets its monthly COVID response update.
🏡 At the Toronto & East York Property Standards Panel: do raccoons count as “pests”? 🤔️
📚 The Toronto Public Library Board discusses the library system’s use of security guards. The library union has previously spoken out about workers feeling unsafe on the job.
TUESDAY: 🚧 The Infrastructure & Environment Committee prepares for winter with a plan for more snow clearing and year-round washrooms. Councillor Paul Ainslie also has some ideas: a Scarborough cycling plan inspired by this report [PDF], and an Adopt-a-Road scheme that would let t̶h̶e̶ ̶C̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶p̶a̶y̶ ̶s̶t̶r̶e̶e̶t̶ ̶c̶l̶e̶a̶n̶e̶r̶s̶ residents “take an active role” in street cleaning.
WEDNESDAY: In the wake of new provincial legislation, the ✍️ Executive Committee has the opportunity to lower property taxes for small businesses. However, note the kicker in the full report [PDF]: landlords have no obligation to pass on the savings to their tenants by lowering commercial rents. Big oof.
Despite the fulminations of Councillor Michael Ford, staff are recommending making the CaféTO program permanent. I took the liberty of mocking up a Toronto Sun cover in advance. And I had to resort to an online WordArt generator, because I couldn’t figure out how to make text effects that terrible in GIMP.
🛠️ At the Toronto & East York Committee of Adjustment [PDF]: this tony Rosedale property is getting even more luxurious, with the addition of “a below grade swimming pool, sports court, detached garage and accessory building”.
🏆 Bid Award Panel contract award of the week: $641,299 (over four years) for T-shirts and sweatshirts.
THURSDAY: 🏘 The Planning & Housing Committee considers a brand-new inclusionary zoning policy that would require new developments over a certain size to set aside a percentage of floor space as affordable housing. The proposed policy plans a gradual phase-in, from 5–10% at first, to 8–22% by 2030—far slower and lower than what progressive councillors and affordable housing advocates hoped for. And it doesn’t apply city-wide—provincial legislation limits it to areas within 500–800m of a subway, train, or light rail station.
The silver lining: the City may finally change its definition of affordable housing from “average market rent” to “30% of gross household income”, which is standard in the affordable housing sector.
Another promising change is the proposed Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) program, which would help non-profit and Indigenous housing providers buy up affordable private rental apartment buildings and rooming houses. What would this look like? One example is actually on Wednesday’s Executive Committee agenda—selling off the City-owned Queens Quay property that’s currently a Radisson, in exchange for the Parkview Arms, the Queen West rooming house.
🚔 At the Toronto Police Services Board, learn about 7 injuries and/or deaths the police concluded the police did not need to be criminally charged for! They’re mostly cases from January–March 2021, but also this one from January 2020, where a man died after the police shot him in the chest and arm. (He turned out to be unarmed.) The thing that gets me about this one is that the three police officers fired 14-17 times, at a man sitting in a pickup truck two to three metres away, but he was shot only five times. From my investigation I conclude the police are incredibly lousy shots.
🛠️ This combined Toronto & East York and Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment [PDF] meeting is pretty much all Toronto & East York items. The standout is the upgrade plans for Parkdale’s Milky Way Garden, a community garden tucked away in a graffiti-adorned alley.
FRIDAY: 🎢 The Board of Governors of Exhibition Place gets an update on the next stage of Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation. We’re spending 38% of the capital budget on this, so you might as well pay attention.
🎳 The Striking Committee meets. However, as of press time the agenda has not been published. We’ll keep you posted.
THE WEEK AFTER NEXT: It’s the Rate Supported Budget launch. (That’s water, waste, and parking.)
Nev’s Bug Report: This week’s bug is the European Firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus), a relatively recent arrival to Toronto. These striking red-and-black insects can be found clumped together in great numbers, feeding on plants and trees in the family Malvaceae such as hibiscus, mallow, and linden. They are harmless to plants and animals alike. Just shoo them outside and leave them alone.
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Always a pleasure. Looking FWD to yr comments and info in these next month's leading up to the elections.