Toronto city councillors will have to earn their summer vacation.
The agenda for this week’s council meeting, the last until October, includes 281 separate items — 17 more than at any other meeting of Rob Ford’s tenure as mayor and more than at any other meeting since 2008.
The likely highlights:
The provincial government agreed to spend $1.8 billion to replace the obsolete Scarborough RT with a new light rail line. But Mayor Rob Ford and Scarborough councillors would prefer a subway, and council now has to choose one or the other. If council chooses a subway, it also has to decide how big a tax hike to impose.
A subway extension would cost at least $1.1 billion more to build than light rail, would be shorter in length and have fewer stops, and would require the city to raise property taxes and take on debt. The subway would, however, travel faster, and it would eliminate the need for riders to transfer to a second train at Kennedy Station.
The size of council
Ford, who ran on a pledge to reduce the size of government, wants to cut the 45-member council by about 20 members. The city plans to conduct a comprehensive review of ward boundaries — but the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, a Ford-friendly advocacy group, has filed a successful petition to compel council to discuss the issue immediately. If council doesn’t decide to reduce the number of wards, the group can appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
St. Lawrence Market North funding
The cost of redeveloping an underused building north of St. Lawrence Market has risen from $75 million to $91 million. The government management committee was deadlocked 3-3 on whether to halt the project. Council will now make a decision.
Island airport settlement
The city has been trying for years to come to terms with the Toronto Port Authority on a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) fee for the island airport. In April, on a rare re-vote, council narrowly rejected a proposed PILT of 94 cents per passenger. It will now vote again — on a revised proposal that is being kept confidential.
According to the city’s integrity commissioner, Mike Layton and Adam Vaughan violated the code of conduct for councillors when they harshly criticized city manager Joe Pennachetti’s April report on the casino file. They have both apologized, and the commissioner is recommending no further action, but their council opponents may take the opportunity to denounce them on the council floor.
The bylaw enforcer of Scarborough
Fed up with a resident who has made dozens of bylaw complaints about his or her neighbours, Scarborough Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker wants council to approve a report on the issue of how to deal with “multiple complaints from one person, complaints that appear to be vexatious, and complaints from feuding neighbours, etc.”
Council illegally decided last term to cover the legal expenses of councillors Giorgio Mammoliti and Adrian Heaps. Now, the city is attempting to recoup that money. But a settlement with former councillor Heaps would allow him to pay back only $14,000, less than a third of his bill — and allies of current councillor Mammoliti want Mammoliti’s less-favourable settlement reduced “in the interest of fairness and equity.”
An investigation by the city ombudsman found that Wheel-Trans was using its surveillance cameras to attempt to determine which riders were not sufficiently disabled to use the service — and not telling the riders. Council will discuss the ombudsman’s findings.
Councillor Michelle Berardinetti wants the province to shorten the 10-month municipal campaign period — to five months for council races, six months for the mayoral race. Councillor Paul Ainslie wants the province to allow photos of candidates to be included on election ballots “to assist voters whose home language is not English.”