I'm pleased to provide highlights from the last City Council meeting.
New Regulations for Toronto's Ground Transportation Industry (Taxi-Uber)
The item that attracted the most attention was City Council's overhaul of the ground transportation industry. Adopting most of the city staff recommendations, including changes to taxi regulations, City Council created a new licensing class called "Private Transportation Companies" (PTCs) that would encompass Uber's ride-sharing services. Many of you are likely aware of some regulation highlights from the news, but I would invite you to review the full list of recommendations at the link above.
Amendments to the Lobbying By-law
Amendments were made to the Lobbying By-law to strengthen enforcement and add transparency regarding lobbyist-client representation. Some residents associations had been concerned that ratepayer groups would be included in the new changes. Though Council did ask staff to review requirements for labour unions and public service associations, ratepayers associations were not included. Council has also requested a clear definition of a "Not-for-Profit" organization going forward.
Update on Paid Duty Activities
Whether it is for a community event or an organization using paid-duty officers (including City divisions and agencies), many have expressed concerns regarding the steep cost of hiring off-duty police officers. City Council made a number of requests to the Province of Ontario and the Toronto Police Services Board to help reform the paid duty officer system. This includes a request to the Province to amend the Highway Traffic Act to allow alternatives to using paid-duty officers to direct traffic and close highways.
Banning Door-to-door Sales
I am sure many residents have had the displeasure of dealing with aggressive door-to-door salespeople selling water heaters, furnaces, water filters and other home services. These unsolicited sellers may sometimes intimidate or misinform residents, even going as far as misrepresenting themselves as City or government officials. City Council voted to ask the Province to ban this practice of door-to-door sales by the home-services sector.
Standards for Maximum Indoor Temperature
A new health report suggests that prolonged exposure to temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius is associated with increased premature mortality and emergency medical service calls. Some rental apartment buildings do not provide air conditioning and do not permit tenants to install air conditioners, which makes it extremely uncomfortable on hot summer days. In contrast, there are regulations requiring minimum temperatures during the winter months. I have raised this concern for tenants on many occasions, however city staff have advised that the Province has still not provided the city with the ability to implement a regulation regarding maximum heat in the summer. City Council supported asking the Province to cover the funding costs of holding public consultations on new maximum indoor temperature standards for multi-unit residential rental buildings.
Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Highland Creek Treatment Plant in East Scarborough processes 15% of Toronto's wastewater, and produces an average of 110 tonnes of bio-solids per day. The two existing Multiple Hearth incinerators on site were constructed in the mid-1970s and are nearing the end of their service life. City Council authorized Toronto Water to move forward with plans to replace them with the newest generation of incinerators once the provincial environmental assessment completes.