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E-BLAST: Council Highlights: E-Scooter Rules, Expanding Housing Options & More

City Council wrapped up another busy session last week. We considered everything from expanding housing options in neighbourhoods to a strategy for e-bikes and e-scooters. Read on for updates on the most important items we tackled:

I know a Corporate Asset Management Plan (AMP) doesn’t sound very exciting, but as your Budget Chief I can assure you it is extremely important. Essentially, the AMP spells out exactly how much we need to invest in our existing city infrastructure (things like parks, community centres, transit, community housing, libraries, and more) to protect the services you expect and rely on. This is part of our constant work to find savings and reinvest strategically to deliver smart financial management for the people of Toronto.

While this is a great tool for the City, the AMP makes it very clear that we need greater partnership from the Provincial and Federal governments. The New Deal reached with the Province last year was a great start, but we are still staring down a significant state-of-good-repair backlog—the plan identifies an investment gap of about $2.6 billion per year. As I’ve written about time and time again, Toronto needs a new funding formula to keep our city in good shape. In the absence of that, our other orders of government need to step up and provide greater partnership just to continue delivering the level of service we offer today, let alone improve that service.

Every year, the City invests a considerable amount of money into our core infrastructure like roads, bridges, and sewers. As part of our ongoing work to improve services and find financial efficiencies, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie and I met with some of the larger construction groups who bid on and deliver these projects. We discussed opportunities to both speed up the delivery of projects and save money in the process. Their suggestion: the City could save big by adjusting the timing of our tendering process. Right now, we take successful suppliers through a long meeting cycle—this not only costs us money, but sometimes discourages good firms from bidding on our work. Deputy Mayor McKelvie moved an important motion that will have staff report back on suggested improvements for savings ASAP so that we can deliver better results for Torontonians.

Council took a long look at what we call “micromobility devices”, with a focus on e-bikes, cargo bikes, and e-scooters. I’ve included a chart below that shows where each of these micromobility devices are allowed:

E-scooters remain the only vehicle that are technically not permitted anywhere. This isn’t stopping thousands of Torontonians from riding them daily. While we’re still awaiting Provincial rules on e-scooters, I believe we should proactively decide what rules we want to see in force. First and foremost, we need to get e-scooters off sidewalks. This is one of the top complaints I hear from neighbours across the ward. I also want a mandatory helmet rule to ensure these vehicles are safe. As we wait to hear from the Province, I hope to see Council take a more proactive approach to e-scooters going forward.

Free-floating car-share is a service where people can pick up a car in one part of the city and drop it off somewhere else. Currently, the only company providing this service in Toronto is Communauto and the service is mostly limited to downtown and East York. This item considers expanding the service city-wide. It got deferred, but I want to bring it to your attention now because it’s something we have to keep an eye on. 

You all know well that it is currently illegal to park for more than three hours or overnight on any street in North York. It’s what makes our snow removal system work smoothly, particularly windrow clearing (you can’t clear a windrow with cars parked on either side of a driveway). These parking rules are also what our roads were designed around. If free-floating car share companies expand to the inner suburbs of our city, those rules would change. Free-floating rental cars would be exempt from the three-hour and overnight parking bylaws—the current proposal is to allow them to park on a street for up to 72 hours. 

A photo of a communauto "flex" vehicle (a free-floating car-share)

I love car share services, and often use them myself when I’m traveling. However, I’m concerned about this ask. We need to have a bigger conversation in the suburbs about whether we want to adapt our street parking rules. City staff are currently working on a separate Parking Strategy for Toronto, and we should include this car-share discussion in that strategy to make sure it works with our overall parking goals. That debate will happen later this year, and I’ll be sure to share another update then.

Back in October, I wrote a column about the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) initiative. I focused on the component that would allow small apartments on major streets (like Bayview Ave, Steeles Ave, etc.) to make sure you had a chance to take part in community consultations about the proposed changes.

The final report passed handily at Council. Small apartment buildings of up to 60 units will now be permitted on major streets, with affordable housing considered wherever possible. In my speech at Council, I reminded Councillors that we were not considering something new. We’ve had buildings like this included on major streets since the fifties—we simply stopped building them for the last 45 years. I showed examples from my October E-Blast and reminded everyone how essential it is that we create a range of housing options to tackle our housing crisis for current and future generations.

22 Elkhorn Drive, a low-rise apartment building tucked between a tennis club and an elementary school right here in Don Valley North.

We are continuing to see an alarming rise in antisemitism, and I’ve heard from many members of our Jewish community who feel terrified going out into our city. This is especially true after the horrific attack on a Jewish school last weekend. We all need to band together to put a stop to this. 

On a motion from Councillor Matlow, the City Manager will develop an urgent action plan to fully utilize all resources the City has at our disposal to fight this growing problem. I supported Councillor Matlow’s motion as the original motion only requested that Council write a letter to the Province asking them to take more action. While we do need to see more from our Provincial and Federal partners, we are Toronto City Council—we need to direct the City to take stronger action on the parts of the response that are within the City’s power. I trust that this work will help us do our part to stamp out antisemitism and all forms of hatred in our city.


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