Council Updates: Term limits, undocumented workers and shark fins

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.

Newcomer 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.

Undocumented workers in Toronto
Council affirmed its commitment to ensuring access to municipal services for everyone living in Toronto, including undocumented workers. Council also agreed to ask the federal government to take steps to enable Ontario to bring in skilled workers who have left Canada as undocumented workers and have Canadian children. In addition, a motion calling for greater collaboration of the federal, Ontario and Toronto governments on immigration and settlement programs received Council’s support.

Human trafficking – vulnerable people
Council adopted recommendations and motions concerning human trafficking, which refers to the recruitment of vulnerable persons for forced labour, especially sex work, organ removal or other forms of exploitation. Council actions are intended to strengthen the protection of vulnerable women and children, improve services available to victims of human trafficking, and reduce human trafficking/exploitation in Toronto.

Addressing youth violence
Council directed the City Manager identify immediate steps the City can take to address the identified roots of youth violence in Toronto. Among the actions under consideration are the establishment of a youth violence strategy, the creation of a youth anti-racism plan, and the improvement of access to services in local neighbourhoods.

Regulation of personal services
Council instructed the City Solicitor to introduce a bill to amend the Municipal Code to expand the regulation of businesses that provide services using equipment that breaks the skin and creates the risk of exposure to blood. Examples of businesses included are tattooing, piercing and electrolysis. The code amendments will create a disclosure system enabling the public to easily access inspection reports – similar to the system for restaurants. City inspectors will issue tickets for failure to comply with infection prevention regulations.

Decision of Divisional Court
Council adopted a motion requesting the City Solicitor, in consultation with the Integrity Commissioner, in light of the decision on the appeal of “Magder v. Ford,” to review relevant legislation and bylaws and report to Council on possible legislative changes Council may decide to request of the province. Council took the action after considering information provided by the City Solicitor and the Integrity Commissioner about the January 25 ruling of the Divisional Court on an appeal by Mayor Ford under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The information was provided to assist Council in applying the Code of Conduct for Members of Council.

Ombudsman’s 2012 report
Council adopted the Toronto Ombudsman’s 2012 annual report and supported the creation of a Toronto Public Service Act spelling out expectations and standards for members of the Toronto Public Service.

Shark fins
Council adopted a motion asking for a comprehensive review of the implications, locally, of depleting oceanic species that are used as food sources. The review, which is to include consideration of shark populations and shark finning, will present options available to the City for addressing any identified concerns. In 2011, Council adopted a bylaw prohibiting the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin and shark fin food products. The Superior Court of Justice, in a ruling announced last November, invalidated the bylaw. Council has instructed the City Solicitor not to proceed with an appeal of that Superior Court of Justice decision.

Naming of road in honour of Jack Layton
Council approved the renaming of a portion of Don Jail Roadway to Jack Layton Way so that the reconfigured street has one consistent name from the Don Valley Parkway to Broadview Avenue. As part of the Bridgepoint Hospital development, Jack Layton Way (at that time not extending to Broadview Avenue) was approved by City Council last year in honour of the late Jack Layton.

Forest management plan
Council adopted the “Sustaining and Expanding the Urban Forest: Toronto’s Strategic Forest Management Plan” that identifies Toronto’s challenges and actions for achieving the goal of a healthy urban forest that can be sustained for future generations. In adopting the committee’s recommendations, Council appointed Councillor Sarah Doucette as Toronto’s Tree Advocate to promote urban forestry policies.

Toronto’s future climate
Council adopted several actions in response to a recent report on Toronto’s projected climate conditions for the period 2040 to 2049. The study provides a window on extreme weather events such as rain storms and heat waves that Toronto’s public infrastructure is expected to be operating in over the course of its service life. Among actions taken by Council is a directive to establish a working group with broad representation that will assess the adequacy of the City’s infrastructure and plans in light of the anticipated climatic conditions.

Sale of cats and dogs in pet shops
Council adopted a report on the City’s regulation of pet shops’ sale of cats and dogs in Toronto, and approved revised wording for acceptable sources of dogs and cats. The wording specifies that Toronto pet shops must obtain their cats and dogs only from municipal animal shelters, registered humane societies, registered shelters, or rescue groups. The City regulates the sale of cats and dogs primarily to make sure they were not obtained from illegal home-breeding operations.

Revitalization of Mimico’s lakeshore strip
Council directed the Chief Planner to report on how recommended policies and initiatives will create a framework to encourage investment in the Mimico 20/20 study area (lakeshore area). The City’s Mimico 20/20 process is designed to create policies guiding revitalization of the apartment and commercial strip along Lake Shore Boulevard West close to Lake Ontario.

Review of snow clearing
Council directed staff to review the City’s current contracts for snow removal and report on whether snow removal services provided in response to the snowstorm on February 8 complied with contractual requirements. More than 25 centimetres of snow accumulated in parts of Toronto that day. Some residents voiced complaints about clearance response time, blocked driveways and narrowed streets.

Council Highlights is an informal summary of decisions made by Toronto City Council. The City Clerk provides the formal documentation at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

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