November 30, 2011
City councillors have a number of wide-ranging issues to debate Wednesday, including selling off city assets, naming rights for public buildings, separated bike lanes, amending councillor expense budget rules and backyard chickens.
Council is debating whether it should sell the city’s stake in Enwave. Earlier this month, the executive committee recommended selling 43 per cent of the city’s share in the company that operates three steam plants and a state-of-the-art cooling plant in Toronto that supplies air conditioning to 60 downtown buildings.
The city stands to make about $100 million from the sale.
Coun. Ron Moeser put forward a motion asking that councillors be allowed to use up to $20,000 from their staff salary budgets to cover the costs of leasing a constituency office, which falls under their office expense budget. Councillors’ office expense budgets were reduced this year to $30,000 from $50,000.
Councillors will also be discussing naming and sponsorship rights for municipal properties as a potential way of raising funds for the city.
The feasibility study on a pilot project of physically-separated bike lanes in the Richmond-Adelaide corridor between Bathurst and Sherbourne streets will also be up for debate.
And in the wake of the death of cyclist Jenna Morrison, Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker asked council to consider making truck side guards mandatory on all city trucks and implement a policy that the city will only conduct business with companies that do the same. Councillors voted 39-3 in favour of side guards.
The devices prevent cyclists from becoming trapped under a truck’s wheels.
NDP MP Olivia Chow recently introduced a Bill C-344 calling in Parliament to require trucks to use the safety devices.
“The City needs to review both its own actions and the actions by other levels of government in order to ensure that Toronto residents are provided the maximum level of protection possible as they enjoy the simple act of riding their bike to work, school or home,” the municipal motion states.
Council debated whether it should allow residents to keep backyard chickens. Coun. Joe Mihevc is in favour of the idea. Bylaw amendments have been implemented in Vancouver, Kingston, Ont., New York and Los Angeles to allow backyard hens for eggs. Councillors have asked city staff to draft some guidelines about how people could keep backyard hens in a “safe and appropriate manner” and the recommendations would be presented at the licensing and standards committee in February.
On Tuesday, council agreed to provide a one-time transfer of nearly $500,000 to the Toronto Police Services Board’s operating budget to fund the Independent Civilian Review of the G20 summit.
Council also voted in favour of preserving the 44 community environment days.
“If you’re happy Council saved the 44 Environment Days that were targeted for reduction, thank Cllr David Shiner who found a solution today,” Coun. Josh Matlow tweeted Tuesday.
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