TORONTO, Ont. – Toronto city council voted Thursday not to debate Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong’s motion to cap the land transfer tax, deferring the issue to the executive committee, which meets on March 20.
Mayor Rob Ford wants the tax reduced by 10 per cent in the 2014 budget, but his opponents see it as a crucial revenue stream.
Council also voted not to debate term limits for elected officials, accepted the ombudsman’s annual report and postponed a debate on youth violence as the meeting continued for a second day.
Ombudsman Fiona Crean’s annual report, which looked at the response to the Wellesley Street fire and confusion over parking tickets, among other items, was the first major item on the agenda as city council met Thursday.
Crean said the most common complaints were about poor communications, delays and inadequate service, unpredictable enforcement, and unfair decisions.
She also said the very role of the ombudsman was under fire in 2012. Council voted 35-0 to adopt the report.
Council voted not to debate term limits for elected officials, including the mayor. Coun. Mary Margaret McMahon’s motion was defeated, 16-28. The motion will now be studied by the executive committee.
Council also voted to postpone a debate on youth violence. Coun. Josh Matlow had asked for a report on the effectiveness of a joint Ontario-Toronto program targeting youth violence.
A last-minute motion that would prevent police from issuing parking tickets during a 10-minute grace period was shut down on Thursday, after council decided not to add it to the agenda.
If police issue a ticket within 10 minutes of the permit expiring, drivers can have the ticket cancelled at any of the city’s four parking tag offices.
Many drivers aren’t aware of the policy. Last fall, council voted to highlight the grace period on the city website, but Coun. Matlow argued it would be easier if police were prevented from issuing a ticket until 10 minutes had passed.
Matlow’s motion was not added to the city’s agenda.
Council also voted against Coun. Karen Stintz’s motion to quash a bylaw that forces cyclists to ride single-file. The motion needed a two-thirds majority to pass and was defeated 29-15.
City council voted 39-3 in favour of Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker’s motion not to appeal an Ontario Superior Court ruling striking down Toronto’s ban on shark fins.
The judge ruled the bylaw went beyond the city’s jurisdiction.
Now, city staff will study whether to craft a new shark fin bylaw and will have a report by June.
A debate on whether to extend city services to the estimated 100,000-200,000 undocumented workers (those whose visas have expired) in the city got impassioned on Thursday evening.
Coun. Joe Mihevc, who proposed the measure, said, “We want our agencies to welcome every one of them and find ways to regularize them in the city.”
Mihevc, whose parents came to Toronto as refugees, implored council to “practice the politics of compassion here.”
Coun. Cesar Palacio said undocumented workers have homes, pay taxes and they deserve to be helped.
“How fair is it for them to live in fear of them being deported,” he asked.
Palacio said he came to Canada as a visitor with his family and when his father died four years after settling in the city he had no choice to but to juggle school and 16-18 hour work days to care for his six siblings.
He appealed to councillors to “do the right thing. Let’s keep our hearts open.”
Vaughan told the story of his father Colin, an architect and former Citytv reporter who came to Canada by boat and worked and married in Toronto before becoming a citizen.
“If the next boat coming along brings someone as good as my father, please welcome them,” he said.
Minnan-Wong, who referred to undocumented workers as illegal immigrants, said the city should not help them.
It’s an “insult to every immigrant who played by the rules to get into the country. It sends the message to the world it’s OK to break the law to come to Canada and it says the city is an accomplice to this law breaking.”
With files from Showwei Chu