Latest updates from the Toronto City Council meeting of February 20 and 21, 2013:
Term limits for members of Council
A motion calling on Council to request a report addressing the subject of term limits for City councillors and mayors was not discussed by Council. Instead, the motion was referred to Executive Committee for consideration.
Plan for economic growth and jobs
Council endorsed a new economic growth plan that focuses on increasing employment and commercial property tax revenues. The plan, Collaborating for Competitiveness – A Strategic Plan to Accelerate Economic Growth and Job Creation in Toronto, sets targets for improving the quality of jobs in Toronto and commits to harmonizing the policies/activities of the City and its agencies to help create a more attractive climate for business and investment. Council adopted several amendments for actions related to the economic strategy.
Council endorsed the strategic approach contained in the Toronto Newcomer Strategy and directed that it be closely integrated with the City of Toronto’s economic development plan. The strategy focuses on advancing newcomer health and labour market outcomes, and supporting newcomer access to municipal supports and their civic/community engagement. The approach involves collaboration with City divisions, other orders of government and the community-based sector.
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At the Special Council session on transit ion March, Councillor McMahon put forward a motion that passed in a 42-1 vote. It addressed our pressing need to examine what revenue tools could be used to finance continuous rapid transit expansion. Everyone agrees that transit expansion is critical for our city to get more people moving faster, quicker – the biggest challenge is paying for them. To that end, Councillor McMahon felt it important to get a closer look at what revenue tools are available, with an eye to creating a sustainable funding strategy for the full range of transit modes – LRT, busses, subways and streetcars. Councillor McMahon is particularly keen on getting a funding strategy in place so we can examine the viability of the Downtown Relief Line that is urgently needed to address crowding and congestion in our ward.
“Remarkably, given the bitterness tainting so much of Toronto’s transit debate, the measure passed in a 42-1 vote (with two councillors absent and only Norm Kelly opposed),” wrote the Toronto Star. “Council’s right and left wings finally came together. Even Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Councillor Doug Ford were on board.
The report is to be prepared by staff and is due back to Council in the fall. The full Toronto Star article is here: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/1151310–toronto-is-studying-road-tolls-and-other-fees-to-pay-for-public-transit
Monday Feb 6, 2012
Today in council chambers Councillor McMahon spoke in favour of the motion to petition the Province of Ontario to remove the city of Toronto from the jurisdiction of the Ontario Municipal Board that passed with a majority vote. Councillor McMahon pointed out that residents are very concerned about the evolution and development of their neighbourhoods and “most of all they want input and consultation, the chance to be heard”
She noted that the long term environmental and social costs of sprawl are well documented and that developers, for the most part, just want to build the homes and shops to house our growing population. Everyone will benefit from greater clarity and local accountability.
Councillor McMahon stated that “none of this can happen however with an OMB hovering over us and overriding our decisions and second guessing our residents, our planners, and our municipal process.”
Councillor McMahon went on to say that there was a time when the OMB was much needed here in Toronto, but that time is past “At this point, tthe OMB is ultimately a destabilizing force, creates distrust and instability,” she said. “No one feels they can trust anyone or any plan because they fear that a six storey buildings opens the way for eight storeys, ten storeys, and so on. Good design for the common good is getting lost in the fray.”
In closing Councillor McMahon stated that everyone benefits from greater clarity and consultation in planning, developers, residents, planners and businesses. “It’s time we made our own decisions about planning our own city and neighbourhoods.”