Council adopted various amendments to the Vacant Home Tax aimed at addressing housing issues. The amendments include changing payment due dates, modifying definitions to clarify terms, introducing new exemptions, and increasing the tax rate for vacant properties from one percent to three percent effective for vacancies occurring in the 2024Taxation Year. Additionally, there’s a provision for directing some additional revenue from the tax to the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program.
Various amendments were made to enhance the HousingTO 2020-2030Action Plan. Key decisions include the establishment of eligibility rules for occupying Affordable Rental Housing units and Affordable Home Ownership program participation, aligning Rent-Geared-to-Income program rules with the affordable rental housing program, and negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto Inc. Council also reiterated requests to both provincial and federal governments for funding support to achieve the goals set out in the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan.
Council issued a directive to the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, to review and propose amendments to the Winterlicious/Summerlicious program for better and equitable support to restaurants across Toronto, based on the findings of two restaurant and hospitality surveys. Further, the General Manager was directed to work with relevant divisions to enhance access to City-run programs focusing on underserved restaurant segments outside the downtown core. Appreciation was conveyed to the Government of Canada for extending the repayment deadline for the Canada Emergency Business Account loans and a request was made to extend the qualification for partial loan forgiveness up to 33 percent to December 31, 2024. Additionally, a directive was issued to identify resources to assist restaurant owners facing displacement due to development, to be shared as part of the Economic Development and Culture Division’s next update in the first quarter of 2024.
Council passed a resolution to transition the vehicle-for-hire industry zero emission vehicles by 2030. This includes amendments to the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 546, Licensing of Vehicles-for-Hire, requiring all new and renewed licenses for taxicab and limousine owners, and private transportation company drivers to register and use a Zero Emissions Vehicle starting January 1, 2030. A Zero Emissions Grant Program is to be established from January 1, 2024, to December 31, 2029, to support this transition, funded up to $10 million through the Municipal Licensing and Standards’ operating budget.
She city supports the province’s decision to return 53 hectares in the Town of Ajax back to the Greenbelt Plan Area. The council also requested a review of other sites removed through amendments and encouraged alignment with the Greenbelt Plan’s vision. A report on this matter was forwarded to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for further action.
The Infrastructure and Environment Committee adopted an extensive update on the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, aimed at eliminating traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets. The amendments include a simpler process for speed bumps, expanded criteria for establishing Community Safety Zones, expanding the Zebra Crosswalk Policy, enhanced enforcement of vehicles blocking bike lands, and area-based speed limit reductions. The initiative continues to build on the progress made since the inception of the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan in2017, focusing on enhancing safety for all road users.
At the Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting on October 25,2023, several steps were taken to address the growing congestion issues in Toronto, particularly caused by construction road closures. The Infrastructure and Environment Committee approved amendments to include new construction hubs, expand the Traffic Agent Program, and proposed a fee increase for road encroachments slowing traffic on TTC bus routes. These measures are part of the updated Congestion Management Plan 2023-2026, aimed at better coordinating street usage, enhancing traffic management, and improving safety for all road users.
The Infrastructure and Environment Committee approved a public comment on the Federal draft Clean Electricity Regulations, which are pivotal for Toronto’s TransformTO Net Zero Strategy aiming at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The draft federal regulations, while a positive step, require further refinement for clarity and effectiveness. This is the first comment of its type, authorized by a motion moved by Councillor Saxe last spring.