A scale model of City Hall, at City Hall, shows the planned revitalization of Nathan Phillips Square.
Each week, we round up the latest news, views, and rumours from City Hall.
In a sure sign that the slow summer news season is almost upon us, much ink was spilled by the daily newspapers this week when Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley East) called on the mayor to "get out of the radio station and come back to City Hall." Many others have made similar comments about Rob Ford, whose day-to-day whereabouts are a secret closely guarded by his staff, to the extent that his unexplained absences are the subject of rumours at 100 Queen West. But because Carroll is a hypothetical mayoral candidate in an election that is still more than two years away, her remarks made headlines.
As if to prove Carroll's point, Ford cancelled his "bi-weekly" weigh-in for the third time in five weeks Tuesday morning. No reason was given. We do know he spends some of his spare time making awkward videos for Sick Kids.
NB: On Saturday, the Toronto Star published a story that fleshed out Carroll's accusations. Documents the paper obtained indicate Ford is scheduling a third of the meetings he was a year ago, and cites sources claiming he often doesn't leave his house until noon on weekdays.
Penny pinching Pride
Another indication summer is approaching: the annual fight over Pride funding kicked off in earnest this week, when Councillor James Pasternak (York Centre) confirmed he will do whatever he can to withhold city money from the event if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is allowed to march in the Pride parade on July 1. Council was dragged through similar machinations last year but QuAIA agreed to bow out, saving everyone a lot of trouble. QuAIA says it will register for the parade this time around, but even if the group follows through it's difficult to see how it would lead to Pride being defunded. The city manager ruled last year that the group doesn't violate city anti-discriminatory policy, and being deeply offended by a tiny part of massive cultural event is shaky ground on which to build a case for pulling its funding.
- Members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty were forcibly removed from a committee meeting Tuesday when they attempted to protest the imminent closing of the Schoolhouse men's homeless shelter, one of the few in the city which allows clients to drink alcohol
- With pieces of the Gardiner Expressway falling faster than Facebook shares, the mayor and public works chair Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Valley East) inspected the underside of the highway Friday with city staff, promising that any trouble spots will be closed off from the public
- A motion from Councillor Josh Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence) that would have ended the ban on food trucks in parking lots got no immediate action from the licensing and standards committee, which forwarded it Thursday to city staff, who are expected to report back in October
When Andy Byford took the reins at the TTC he promised to measure how well the transit system is meeting its performance targets, and he wasn't kidding. This report from the TTC CEO, going before the commission's board next Wednesday, contains a handy scorecard of how well the TTC is doing on Byford's "key performance indicators." According to the report, subways are on time more than 96 per cent of the time on the Bloor-Danforth and Sheppard lines, but are behind target on the Yonge-University-Spadina line. Employee absenteeism remains unacceptably high, and escalators are out of commission more than they should be.
In some good news, ridership projections for 2012 are already coming in higher than predicted, and the system should carry a record 512 million riders this year, up from a projected 503 million.
MEETINGS, MOTIONS, AND MINUTES
In what's becoming a recurring phenomenon at City Hall, dozens of exotic dancers descended on Committee Room 1 Thursday, where the licensing and standards committee was considering a review of regulations governing adult entertainment parlours (last time there was a pole dance). Representatives from the industry want the rules clarified, and in some cases loosened, but they'll have to wait. The committee punted a review of regulations to city staff, who will report back no later than October.
In the above photo, committee chair Cesar Palacio (Davenport) goes over a procedural matter with Viviana Martinez.
COUNCILLOR OF THE WEEK
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Scarborough Centre) is spearheading an effort to expand pet licensing in order to better track lost cats and dogs and raise money for shelters. Currently, only 10 per cent of cats and 30 per cent of dogs in Toronto wear license tags.
"When we euthanize - some people say kill - 6,000 cats a year, that's not where I want to be as a city councillor," he said Thursday. Nor where we should be as a city, we would add.
CITY SOUND BITE
"I was once an admitted idealist about the role of news media, However, I'm quickly losing faith in some reporters' commitment to accuracy."
- Councillor Josh Matlow (St. Paul's) let loose this uncharacteristically cynical tweet after the dailies ran stories that quoted other councillors tearing into his bureaucracy-heavy plan to scrap bylaws that prohibit street hockey. He later told the Toronto Star he had "an awful 24 hours" after the stories ran, and has since dropped his effort to change the bylaws. They're never enforced anyway.
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA
On Monday, the affordable housing committee meets, and will provide an update on the closely watched task force that's attempting to find an alternative to selling off 619 city-owned community housing properties.
At a meeting of the TTC board Wednesday, CEO Andy Byford will give an update on system performance and ask the board to increase the commission's 2012 budget by $2.1 million, in order to meet increased ridership demand.