TORONTO - So you won't be charged that stupid 5 cent fee for a plastic bag anymore. Ask around, and the general consensus was it was nothing more than a cash grab, like another mini tax that consumers had to bear. We know someone that would go to a major supermarket and use the self check-out. Even though they would have a full grocery order, and a minimum of 10 bags used, when asked how bags they wanted to pay for, they always clicked "None". The reasoning? They didn't want to, nor did they feel they should have to, pay for the bags. Rebels.
Anyways, here are the recent Toronto City Council highlights you might have missed, because its summertime and really, BBQing is a whole lot more fun.
Plastic bags in Toronto
City Council decided to rescind, effective July 1, the Toronto bylaw that currently requires retailers to charge five cents for a plastic bag. Council adopted a motion to establish a new bylaw prohibiting all retail stores in Toronto from providing customers with single-use, plastic carryout shopping bags, including those advertised as compostable, biodegradable, photodegradable or similar, effective January 1, 2013.
Honouring Jack Layton
Council decided unanimously to rename Toronto Island Ferry Terminal the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. In honouring the former City Councillor, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) and leader of the federal New Democratic Party this way, Council waived the two-year waiting period usually required for a renaming. The Toronto Ferry Docks were chosen for the renaming because of Mr. Layton's long-time personal connection to the Toronto Islands.
City funding of 2012 Pride festival
Council agreed to reaffirm its recognition of Pride Toronto as a major cultural event that promotes the ideals of tolerance and diversity. At the same time, Council supported a motion to condemn the use of the term "Israeli Apartheid" used by a group that has marched in some past Pride parades. Council reaffirmed that it does not endorse the political positions of any single group or organization participating in the Pride Festival and Parade. This action was taken as Council approved the allocation of a total of $6 million in grants to 10 major cultural organizations, including Pride, for 2012.
Feasibility of hosting 2024 Olympic Games or World Expo 2025
Council decided to ask staff to obtain input from the provincial and federal governments, as well as relevant agencies, on the pros and cons of creating a bid to host World Expo 2025 and/or the 2024 Olympic Games in Toronto.
Funding to combat bed bug infestations
Council authorized the expenditure of $250,000 this year to reinstate the Toronto Public Health Bed Bug Team to continue its efforts to control bed bugs. Council agreed to ask the provincial government to match that funding for 2012 - and to commit to funding for Toronto's efforts in 2013 and beyond. The one-time provincial Bed Bug Support Fund ended March 31. Toronto Public Health reported that failure to control bed bug infestations increases the risk of bed bugs spreading within multi-unit buildings and moving into other community settings such as hospitals, movie theatres and community centres.
Expansion of bikeway trails
Council adopted a multi-year Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan and new trail connection priorities. The City's consultation with the public and agencies such as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority identified opportunities for new bikeway trail connections to expand and improve Toronto's bikeway network. New trail construction projects scheduled in the next few years will add to the existing network of 286 kilometres of bikeway trails.
Working with gang-involved youth
Council authorized the City's use of federal funding to help address youth gang violence in Toronto through policy and program responses to support young people, families and communities affected by gang activity. This effort will build on the experience of a recently concluded pilot project on diverting youth from involvement with gangs.
At Council's request, staff will make changes to the City's meeting procedures and provide video-conferencing as an option. The intention is to make it feasible for people with disabilities to participate and provide input without attending in person.
Water bill adjustments
Council approved municipal code amendments that will allow for the one-time adjustment of the dollar amount on a residential water customer's utility bill when warranted. A high water bill can result from situations such as a malfunctioning water meter or a leak. The City of Toronto issues 1.5 million water bills annually and receives relatively few complaints about the billings.
Police checks on prospective City employees
Council supported a motion calling for a review of current procedures for police record checks and other hiring practices involving City of Toronto staff who work with vulnerable residents, including children and youth.
Site plan control for development projects
Council enacted a city-wide Site Plan Control Bylaw that establishes the entire city as an area of site plan control while allowing for the exemption of small developments from the site plan approval process. The new bylaw will replace the existing site plan bylaws of the six pre-amalgamation municipalities. Having a single bylaw will improve the administration of matters regulated by site plans. Site plan approval is a tool that helps the City achieve its development objectives.
Rebuilding the playground at High Park
Council took steps to allocate financial donations received to fund efforts at the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground in High Park. Staff have worked with the local councillor, community and donors to design a new castle playground structure to replace the structure that was destroyed by fire in March, and to make other improvements to the playground.
Far Enough Farm and High Park Zoo
Council gave the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division authority to continue operating the High Park Zoo and Centre Island's Far Enough Farm this year, financed by donations collected in recent months through community fundraising efforts. Funding to support the farm and the zoo was not provided in the City's 2012 operating budget.
Further information about Council meetings and decisions: clerk(at)toronto.ca or 416-392-8016
Previous editions of Council Highlights: www.toronto.ca/council_highlights