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Mayor Ford’s tenure, Bixi & smoke-free Toronto up for debate at city council

Mayor Rob Ford arrives to host his weekly radio show in Toronto on Nov. 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Rob Ford’s tenure as mayor is up for debate as city council begins its monthly meeting on Wednesday.

“Let’s get it on,” a defiant Ford said Tuesday, referring to the motion that could have him take a leave from office. He has made the motion a priority item.

Councillors will consider a jam-packed agenda that also includes a proposed property tax hike, the fate of Casa Loma and increasing the city’s revenue from gambling at Woodbine, among other items.

The meeting will begin at city hall on Wednesday morning and is scheduled for two days, but could get extended. Click here to read the meeting agenda.

CityNews is streaming the meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Click here to watch it.

Ford out of office?

Councillors Denzil Minnan-Wong and Peter Milczyn, both members of Ford’s executive committee, are urging Ford to take a leave of absence. If he doesn’t, they’re asking council to petition the province to have him ousted from office.

Click here to read the motion.

Rob Ford code of conduct violation

The integrity commissioner is advising that council find Ford guilty of violating the city’s code of conduct in relation to donations solicited for his football charity, but recommends that no sanctions be taken.

Last May, the Toronto Catholic District School Board decided Ford should not coach the Don Bosco Eagles high school football after reports of a video surfaced of the mayor allegedly smoking crack cocaine.

Click here to read the motion.

Casa Loma makeover

The executive committee is recommending that the city sign a 20-year agreement with the Liberty Entertainment Group to improve and manage Casa Loma.

Liberty is proposing installing a fine dining restaurant and banquet hall in the 98-room Edwardian landmark.

The Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma ran the landmark for 73 years, but the city scrapped the agreement about two years ago — and city hall has been accepting proposals ever since.

Click here to read the motion.

Social housing

The executive committee approved, with amendments, a 10-year funding plan for the Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC), including an increase to its annual operating budget for capital backlog repairs to $50 million for 2013.

A report from the city manager is also requesting that the committee direct the TCHC to allocate any unspent annual capital repair funding into a State of Good Repair Reserve Fund.

Click here to read the motion.

Getting revenues from Woodbine

The executive committee recommends that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) pay the city a share of the revenue generated at the Woodbine Racetrack.

Click here to read the motion.

Bixi bike-sharing program

The executive committee approved, with amendments, a confidential report about strategies that could save the Bixi bike-sharing program. The executive committee also recommended making the report public. The service, which launched in May 2011, is carrying a $3.9-million debt.

Click here to read the motion.

Property tax hike

The executive committee approved an interim property tax levy for 2014. It would be based on 50 per cent of the total 2013 taxes billed for each property, adjusted as necessary to reflect any additional taxes added to the previous year’s taxes as a result of assessment added to the tax roll.

If approved, the 2014 interim levy will raise approximately $1.84 billion.

Click here to read the motion.

Mixed public housing at Bayside Development

The city is considering buying lakefront condos for affordable housing.

If approved, the city will contribute $15 million in capital funding for the construction of approximately 71 affordable rental homes in the Bayside Development, near Queen’s Quay.

The mayor has said he opposes the motion, telling the Toronto Sun that prime lakefront property should not be used for affordable housing

Click here to read the motion.

Smoke-free Toronto

Toronto Public Health is proposing a wider smoking ban to protect people from second-hand smoke. If approved, it would make outdoor spaces, such as public squares, bar and restaurant patios, building doorways and hospital grounds smoke-free.

The proposal would essentially limit outdoor smoking to sidewalks and roadways.

Dr. David McKeown, the city’s medical officer of health, said in a staff report that about 60 municipalities in Ontario have similar or partial bans, and that a smoking ban has widespread public support.

Current legislation prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces and public places, in vehicles with children and on school property. It also prohibits smoking on covered or partially covered bar and restaurant patios and within nine metres of entrances and exits of health-care facilities.

Click here to read the motion.

Scrapping fees for recreational programs

The Community Development and Recreation Committee recommends the city scrap user fees for all of its recreational programs at a cost to taxpayers of $30.6 million a year.

Before amalgamation, the old City of Toronto offered free programs but other cities did not. After amalgamation, some municipalities saw their fees reduced while fees were introduced in Toronto.

Councillor Paula Fletcher, a committee member who supported the motion, has said that free programs encourage children to be active.

Click here to read the motion.

Council is also considering expanding its 33 after-school recreation care programs beyond priority neighbourhoods, which would cost an extra $1.3 million over the next three years for the 16 additional sites.

Click here to read the motion.

Street food vending bylaws

The city wrapped up public town hall meetings last as part of its review of bylaws for street food and food trucks.

Currently, food trucks are limited to private parking lots and special events. The city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Division is considering changes to the space carts so they can occupy on sidewalks, as well as other issues including:

• opportunities for vending on public property (city parks, public spaces, right-of-way).
• opportunities for vending on private property (parking lots).
• improved vending opportunities for mobile food vendors such as food trucks.

Click here to read the motion.

July 8 storm update

The city will get another update on the aftermath of the July 8 storm that dumped more than 126 millimetres of rain in 90 minutes, causing severe flooding to about 4,700 basements, mainly in Etobicoke and York.

Councillors want a staff report on a more co-ordinated approach between 311, Toronto Hydro, Hydro One and Toronto Water, which would help the information line respond better during emergencies, among other things.

Click here to read the motion.

Bloor-Dupont bikeway study

Council will debate whether to hire consultants to do an environmental assessment study for both Bloor and Dupont streets next year that would cost $450,000.

The work would include evaluating a design and implementation plan for a bikeway along the Bloor-Danforth corridor from Keele Street to Prince Edward Viaduct, as well as evaluating the feasibility of separated bike lanes.

There are bike lanes on Bloor from Sherboune Street to Broadview Avenue.

Click here to read the motion.

Hoarding co-ordination office

Council will consider creating a hoarding co-ordination office to synchronize the efforts of police, fire and social services when dealing with extreme hoarders.

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon is behind the proposal, which was prompted by an incident in her ward. In September, dozens of cats had to be rescued from a suspected hoarder’s home in the Beach after neighbours endured the stench and litter for years.

Council will also consider asking for a report from the chief medical health officer to have excessive animal feces and urine categorized as a public health hazard.

Click here to read the motion.

Downtown relief line

Coun. Josh Matlow wants council to get the ball rolling on an environmental assessment of the downtown relief subway line instead of waiting for a study on the matter from the chief planner.

The relief line, which would go from Pape and Danforth to downtown, would help relieve pressure on the Bloor-Yonge station.

A two-thirds vote is required by council to reopen the motion that previously delegated the matter to the city planner.

Click here to read the motion.