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E-BLAST: June Council Rundown: Elections, Plastics, and Late Night Noise


With patios and retail stores re-opening this weekend, it finally feels like we’re starting to get to the other side of the pandemic. Of course, responding to COVID-19 is still top of mind, but there are many other important issues affecting our City as well. City Council met this week, so let’s take a look at some of the big items from this month’s meeting. ELECTION RELATED INFORMATION REQUESTS Council considered a report from the City Clerk on a range of municipal election related issues. These are more important than ever after the Premier cut Council in half just before the 2018 election, creating super-wards.

In particular, I had requested the Clerk report back on a “matching funds” campaign program, currently in use in New York City. There, the City matches small campaign donations 8:1 instead of providing rebates much later on. This encourages candidates to focus their campaigns on smaller, neighbourhood-based contributions. The matching funds are provided only after candidates agree to strict, periodic compliance audits and website disclosure of their donors prior to election day. I’m disappointed that staff did not emphasize the need for these transparency measures here in Toronto.

While I had to concur it is not feasible to put this program in place for the next election in 2022, a few more councillors expressed an interest in pursuing it for the next term. Support for this healthy change for our democracy is growing.

ONTARIO PLACE REDEVELOPMENT UPDATE The Provincial government wants to redevelop Ontario Place, but hasn’t revealed any details about its plan in nearly two years. More importantly, there hasn’t been consultation with Toronto residents or the City on this massive project.

Council has requested that the Province start to work with us on the future of Ontario Place. We’ve also requested that public meetings be held as soon as possible so that residents get a say in redeveloping this iconic part of the city. THE PEANUT AS A POTENTIAL NEIGHBOURHOOD IMPROVEMENT AREA At the end of May, I requested that City staff review The Peanut, our neighbourhood in and around Don Mills Road, as a potential Neighbourhood Improvement Area (NIA). NIAs receive additional investments to address the community’s greatest needs, and I believe The Peanut deserves this designation.

I know how hard our community organizations are working to support the thousands of newcomers and low-income Torontonians who call The Peanut home. I was so glad to see my fellow Councillors support this motion, and I’ll be keeping you all updated on staff’s review of this item.

A retro aerial image showing why The Peanut got its name.

TORONTO NEWCOMER STRATEGY 2022-2026 Those of you who read my E-Blast last week will remember that I touched on the importance of securing more federal funding to support newly-arrived refugees when Canada can open up its borders again. In a similar vein, Council adopted the Toronto Newcomer Strategy 2022 - 2026 to ensure that our growing population of newcomers receives proper transition supports when they arrive here in Toronto in the coming years. This included calls on the Provincial and Federal governments to engage with the City on this important topic. CHILD CARE GROWTH STRATEGY In my last Council rundown, I shared exciting news about the Federal government’s plan to achieve universally affordable childcare by 2026. I know that Toronto families need to see this program come into effect as quickly and smoothly as possible.

This item adopted by Council requests that the City of Toronto be a partner in developing this plan. I moved that we take another look at our own Child Care Strategy to see how it can align with the Federal plan, how we can explore new models that match the changing needs of parents, and how we can grow enrollment in our centres this fall. The item also asks that the child care sector in Toronto receive much-needed funding to get through the end of the pandemic and recovery period. MANAGING PLASTICS AND SINGLE-USE TAKEAWAY ITEMS While the pandemic has spurred us to make faster progress on some important issues, like affordable housing, it’s caused us to lose ground on others, especially single-use items and plastics. We still need a plan to tackle this issue, so Council adopted two items aimed to decrease our use of plastics and single-use items. We called on the Federal government to implement its plan to reduce and ban some plastics as soon as possible, and implemented the first phase of our own reduction strategy.

For now, the City is focusing on encouraging and incentivizing businesses to take voluntary steps to reduce plastic. Once we get through the pandemic, we’ll be able to take stronger steps to eliminate single-use plastics. ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING PROJECT Council adopted another item to help our environment. The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) will be receiving $2 million from a federal infrastructure program to fund an electric vehicle charging pilot across the city. This will put charging stations into neighbourhoods, making electric vehicle ownership more accessible and convenient. This will help us achieve our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

An example of an on-street electric vehicle charging station. The City is already piloting 17 of these charging locations. The new TAF investment will see even more charging stations become available across Toronto.

HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT UPDATES Council and City staff are continuing to work around the clock to increase our supply of affordable and supportive housing. At this month’s meeting, Council adopted multiple motions to authorize the City to create more affordable housing spaces, including the multiple sites of modular housing I have written about in the past, affordable rental units on Queen St. E, and a proposal for affordable rental homes in a new development downtown.

Also of interest for our community: the City will be attending the Ontario Land Tribunal (formerly the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, or LPAT) to oppose a development appeal at Teagarden Court, just on the other side of Bayview Avenue. I have written many times about the trouble of this Provincial Tribunal, its changing names, and legal changes that have given it more and more authority to overrule local community planning decisions. The case of Teagarden Court is the perfect example of the increasingly troublesome approach the Province is taking to development. Here, we have a developer that had already successfully appealed to the Tribunal for their application and once they started to build, decided they wanted even more density. I will keep you updated as this goes forward. DEALING WITH LOUD CARS AND LATE NIGHT NOISE One strange side effect of the pandemic has been the marked increase in stunt driving and speed racing here in Toronto. Along with Councillor Fletcher, I moved to have Toronto Police increase their efforts to stop reckless driving. This motion also called on the City's Noise Bylaw team and Toronto Police to focus on the Don Valley Parkway when they begin initiatives to educate motorcycle riders and industry members on acceptable vehicle noise levels.

Council also passed a motion to investigate how Toronto Police and the City's Municipal Licensing & Standards division respond to all types of late night noise complaints. I know many of our residents are affected by this issue, and I hope this motion will ensure there’s no service gap in how these complaints are dealt with. STANDING AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA This past Monday, a Muslim family in London was tragically killed in an intentional Islamophobic attack. I was heartbroken by this act of terror, and joined my fellow Councillors yesterday in condemning Islamophobia in all forms. There is much we need to do in Toronto and across our country to stamp out Islamophobia and racism. After having a conversation with one of my team members who is Muslim, I realized just how often my own staff have to deal with racist remarks. I spoke at Council about the need for all Councillors to have a policy to call out racism when we hear it, even if it costs us a vote.



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