TORONTO, Ont. – After a day of fireworks at city hall that saw councillors discuss the land transfer tax and after-hours lobbying, and the Ontario premier weigh in on funding from a possible Toronto casino, elected officials returned for a routine council meeting.
Zoning amendments, liquor licence applications and parking regulations were all on the agenda as councillors met for their regular monthly city council session on Thursday.
The first item on the agenda was a moment of silence for Guelph Const. Jennifer Kovach, five-year-old Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger — who was struck and killed by a city garbage truck earlier this month — and Stompin’ Tom Connors.
A motion to consider making condo developers include affordable housing in their buildings in exchange for relaxed height restrictions passed with an amendment.
Deputy mayor Doug Holyday wants the city planner to consider whether funds from Section 37 agreements could instead be put towards public transit.
On Wednesday, Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee voted in favour of having city staff explore ways to reduce the controversial land transfer tax, including a request by Ford to reduce it by 10 per cent, and report back with options in July.
The municipal land transfer tax (MLTT) brings in $340 million a year, which under the mayor’s scenario would mean staff will need to find ways to offset $34 million in general revenues.
The committee voted to defer “indefinitely” two controversial proposals: one, from Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon about studying term limits for city councillors and the mayor, was shut down in McMahon’s absence; and a proposal from lobbyist registrar Linda Gehrk, to restrict after-hours lobbying was also dismissed.
Also on Wednesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne told Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) chairman Paul Godfrey and CEO Rod Phillips that there would be no special funding deal for Toronto, despite earlier reports that the OLG was offering the city between $50 – 100 million in hosting fees — a number that eclipses other municipalities.
A vote by city council on whether to allow a casino in the city is expected later this spring.
With files from Showwei Chu, Shawne McKeown and Michael Talbot