The Week at Toronto City Hall #6
On the agenda: ride-sharing regulations, reptiles, robots, and more.
On the table at Toronto City Hall next week: Uber regulations, mini-robots, venomous snakes, a new tree emblem, the future of the ActiveTO bike lanes, 311 service levels, and more. Also, Jim Karygiannis’s campaign finance compliance audit is in. Let’s dive in!
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The Week at Toronto City Hall: Ride-hailing, reptiles, robots, and a reckoning for Jim Karygiannis
MONDAY: 🚈 The Toronto Transit Commission gets the CEO’s updates [PDF] on the October 29 ransomware attack, unvaccinated staff being put on leave, customer mask use, and more.
Also, a time capsule has been buried at the McNicoll bus garage, to be opened in 2051, probably by a society of super-intelligent raccoons.
TUESDAY: The 🗂 General Government and Licensing Committee grapples with implementing City regulations for Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hail drivers. See Matt’s recent Toronto Star column for a thorough background on the issue.
I had a little fun with this report on 311 service requests, as it’s a little more pared-down than the Open Data downloads. They only created a table, so I made an interactive version. Please check it out, because I’ve wasted so much time on this.
Other items: the City is decommissioning its old fax machines in favour of digital versions; Councillor Paula Fletcher wants to license dog kennels.
🏚️ North York Property Standards Panel: is anyone else mildly tickled that an architecture professor owns such a run-down apartment building? It is pretty cool-looking, though. Architecturally speaking.
🛠️ Etobicoke-York Committee of Adjustment [PDF]: We got a live one! That is, another laneway suite.
WEDNESDAY: 📈️ The Economic & Community Development Committee meets. In community space news, a community food hub is coming to 200 Wellesley St. E. in St. James Town; and venerable local bookstore A Different Booklist will be getting new digs in the development formerly known as Mirvish Village.
The City’s Black, Muslim, Tamil, Filipino, and Protegée Youth Fellowships, programs that offer young people placements in councillors’ offices, are being combined into one program, the Diverse Youth Fellowship.
Reptilia Zoo wants to set up shop at Harbourfront, but Municipal Licensing & Standards staff say they shouldn’t be excepted from the by-law prohibiting venomous animals. Local hospitals would need to stock antivenins for all the venomous snakes, which would basically be impossible. (This might be overkill, but the staff report doesn’t include the exact species, so we can’t say for sure.)
🔎 The Compliance Audit Committee meets about former councillor Jim Karygiannis, who, like the classic Sloan album, was twice removed. The auditors’ report [PDF] clears Karygiannis of only some campaign finance violations, meaning he may still be prosecuted under the Municipal Elections Act.
🏆 Bid Award Panel contract award of the week: $3,176,323 for fixing up Nathan Phillips Square.
🛠️ At the Toronto & East York Committee of Adjustment, the big-ticket items are a new entrance for Museum Station in Queen’s Park and adjustments to the next stage of the Regent Park redevelopment. There’s also several laneway suites.
THURSDAY: 🚧 The Infrastructure and Environment Committee gets an update on the Cycling Network Plan (mediocre) and the fate of the ActiveTO bike lanes (hopeful).
They’ll also debate whether to ban mini-robots, like delivery bots, from sidewalks and bike lanes. Why? The machines are an accessibility nightmare. They’re also slower, dumber and more vulnerable than human couriers—but for startups, one benefit is that they can’t unionize…yet.
What should be Toronto’s arboreal emblem? I took the liberty of drafting a proposal:
Plus, using wastewater to heat and cool buildings; snow clearing as an accessibility issue, Dwight Avenue trees, and all quiet on the Western Waterfront.
🛠️ North York Committee of Adjustment: honestly I cannot find anything even mildly interesting in here. There isn’t a single laneway suite.
FRIDAY: 🏚 Your Toronto Preservation Board Heritage Building of the Month: the Crosse & Blackwell building at 545 Lake Shore Blvd. W., first a manufacturer’s headquarters, then home to Omni TV, and currently a shelter.
🎢 Board of Governors of Exhibition Place: I’m literally screaming. In a community consultation, an anonymous member of the public describes Exhibition Place as “Toronto’s largest parking lot.” (See report [PDF].)
THE WEEK AFTER NEXT: The 2022 Rate-Supported Budget goes to Executive Committee.
Nev’s Bug Report
As the year fades, among the last spiders out and about are grass spiders (Agelenopsis), from the funnel-weaver family Agelenidae.From late summer to autumn their sheet webs adorn the urban landscape—not just in grass, but virtually any surface, particularly hedges and fences. Like many spiders that use webs to capture prey, they are poorly sighted but highly sensitive to vibration. At their largest, they can take down yellow jackets. At this time of year the only ones left are females, guarding their egg sacs until they die. Next summer the spiderlings hatch, and the cycle begins again.
In Monday’s edition of City Hall Watcher: It’s time for an update to the COUNCIL SCORECARD, our ongoing tracker of how often councillors vote with Mayor John Tory on major items. Some will rise. Some will fall. Some will basically just stubbornly stay where they’ve always been. You’ll need to subscribe to see how it all shakes out.
— Matt Elliott
As always, thank you very much for reading. Suggestions and corrections are welcome. If you want more updates like this, smash that like button, and don’t forget to subscribe!
No relation to Australia’s Sydney funnel-web spiders (Atrax robustus). Grass spiders are completely harmless and very timid.