City Council Recap - April 17th & 18th

We discussed the Vacant Home Tax, housing, the Port Lands Gas Plant, Alcohol in Parks, Indigenous naming in the Port Lands and more.

We discussed a number of important items at this week's City Council meeting.

Fixing the Vacant Home Tax

As you likely know, there were a number of issues with the city’s 2023 Vacant Home Tax.

This included a lack of clear and accessible communication to residents. This particularly impacted seniors and those with limited internet access.

The process was not acceptable and will be improved going forward.

Council cancelled the late filing fee and will refund anyone who paid it via a credit on this year's property taxes. City staff will develop an improved communications plan for next year and thoroughly examine alternatives to the current declaration process, such as using utility usage data, to determine if a home is vacant.

If you have questions or need help, contact my office or visit the city's website. 

Alcohol in Parks

The success of the Alcohol in Parks pilot in our neighbourhood and across the city means that the responsible consumption of alcohol will be permanently allowed in the 27 parks that participated in the pilot last year as well as at least one park in every ward across the city.

This includes Greenwood, Monarch, McCleary, Riverdale and Withrow Parks in Ward 14, plus Riverdale Park West, which was added by Councillor Moise to go along with the already approved Riverdale Park East.

At Council, I also added Dieppe Park to the program. Dieppe meets all the criteria for inclusion and was on the list recommended by city staff.

Staff reported a minimal increase in 311 requests for noise, garbage or other issues at the 27 pilot parks last year. Police were not required at most of the 27 parks during the pilot and no increase in alcohol-related EMS visits from the prior year was found.

A strong majority of residents in Toronto-Danforth and across the city also indicated their support for making the pilot permanent in the city's survey.

This comes after the pilot program evaluation found minimal issues at participating parks and strong support from residents.

Councillor Alejandra Bravo and l went to bat for this program last year and again at Council this week. I'm very glad it was so successful in both of our wards and across Toronto.


We also considered a review of the city’s RentSafeTO program which regulates property standards and living conditions in large multi-residential apartment buildings.

As part of the 2024 budget Council approved more dedicated by-law officers and this week we asked staff to look at having more proactive enforcement, a focus on in-unit issues and stronger action against the most problematic landlords.

Thank you to those tenants who came out to MPP Peter Tabuns’ recent tenant town hall to share your experiences. It was great to hear directly from all of you. 

Port Lands Energy Centre

The Portlands Energy Centre, a natural gas generating station in the Port Lands, has been proposed for expansion. It is one of the biggest single emitters of greenhouse gases in the city and has air quality impacts in the surrounding neighbourhood.

City Council opposed the expansion in May 2023. Since then, the city's questions about the quantities of emissions have not been answered.

Therefore I moved a motion to request the Provincial Minister of the Environment to require a comprehensive environmental assessment to be done before approving the expansion.

Thank you to my colleagues who supported the motion, MPP Peter Tabuns for his ongoing leadership on this file, and the Toronto East Residents for Renewable Energy for their ongoing advocacy. 

Short Term Rentals

Council also considered recommendations for improvements to the city’s regulation of short-term rentals (i.e. Airbnb).

The changes approved by Council are meant to close loopholes and beef up enforcement of illegal and commercial operators. 

Indigenous Naming in the Port Lands

I'm proud that Council unanimously supported my call to move forward with a process in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous communities to name the new streets, parks and island being created in the Port Lands.

This process will use a framework that supports and honours our commitments in the Reconciliation Action Plan.

Future of the Blue Bin Program

We also discussed a report from the Infrastructure and Environment Committee about the future of the Blue Bin program. The province is transitioning the collection of recyclable materials from municipalities to a model of "Extended Producer Responsibility." 

Effective January 1st, 2026, municipalities can no longer provide Blue Box services to residents. A new organization made up of large producers of recyclable materials will be responsible for collection and processing.

The province denied our request to continue delivering the blue box program as it's deeply integrated with our garbage, organics, public litter receptacles, yard waste and other collection services, which will remain our responsibility after 2026.

The city will continue to deliver Blue Box services until 2026. There are a number of unanswered questions including what will happen with the existing blue bins, how complaints will be handled, and how collection of recycling from public bins will be done. 

Reimbursing Churches and Community Organizations that Supported Refugees

Council approved Mayor Chow's recommendation to reimburse the many churches and community organizations who stepped up to help shelter refugees.

Strengthening Rental Replacement and Tenant Relocation Policies

The city has one of the strongest rental replacement and tenant relocation policies in Ontario. These ensure tenants forced to leave a building being demolished to make way for a new development have the opportunity to move back to the new building and get moving assistance, rent gap payments and more.

Council approved recommendations to look at additional measures to support tenants. These include basing rent gap payments on current market conditions, rather than standard averages.

Thank you to everyone who contacted my office about this important issue. 

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