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Council meets without Ford; debate raves at the Ex, pay parking & councillor pay

Toronto city councillors will be debating a host of items at their regular monthly meeting, including whether to permit raves again at Exhibition Place, if the city should have a photo laureate and a proposal to ensure decommissioned street signs aren’t autographed after some initially were signed by the mayor.

The meeting began at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Click here to watch a live stream and click here for the full meeting agenda.

It was the first meeting without the mayor after temporarily stepped aside last week. Rob Ford took a leave of absence last Wednesday for what he said were alcohol issues. Ford reportedly flew to Chicago on Thursday but did not officially enter the United States, according to a Tuesday report in the Globe and Mail.

It’s not known where Ford is, but his brother, Coun. Doug Ford said Tuesday that the mayor was “in rehab doing good. That’s all that matters.” If the mayor misses three consecutive city council meetings, he could be removed from office.

Councillor salary hikes

Councillors will debate whether to give themselves a pay raise of about two per cent after the executive committee rejected a proposed 13 per cent pay hike last month.

After much consideration, executive committee members rejected a 12.9 per cent pay increase for councillors, which would raise their salaries from $105,397 to $119,025, and a 12.7 per cent raise for the mayor from $177,499 to $200,013.

Click here for the motion.

Raves at Exhibition Place

Coun. Mike Layton is behind a motion that’s proposing the city reverse a ban to permit dance parties and raves at the Better Living Centre located on Exhibition grounds, as well as conduct a review of safety protocols.

“The problem is when you don’t host them at city venues, you have no control over them,” he told CityNews on Monday.

Last week, the Exhibition Place board of governors voted 4-3 against hosting so-called electronic dance music (EDM) concerts. The motion was introduced by Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti who has said the use of ecstasy and other illicit drugs was of particular concern.

Layton, who sits on the board of governors, voted against the proposal to stop hosting the dance parties at the Ex, telling media the safety concern was exaggerated by Mammoliti and Muzik nightclub owner Zlatko Starkovski, who complained about the EDM events. Muzik is also located on Exhibition grounds.

“We host them there so they’re not hosted in unsafe private venues,” Layton said.

The last time there was death at one of these events it was because it was in the basement of a garage that had no running water, no sanitary systems and no police or paramedics, he said.

“That’s the kind of protections you get when you host them at a city facility,” he said.

EDMs would also contribute much-needed revenue for Exhibition Place, according to the motion. Layton said the city hosts anywhere from two to five dance parties each year with event organizers paying $100,000 per event.

Allowing such events would also be consistent with the city’s current efforts to revitalize the music industry, Layton’s motion stated.

Click here to read the motion.

Garbage collection in Etobicoke

Layton is also behind a motion concerning garbage collection in Etobicoke. The region has had private pick-up since 2008 but did not renew its contract with Green For Life (GFL) this year.

Layton wants to know why the contract was not renewed and if there were complaints.

Click here to read the motion.

Homelessness task force

Coun. Paul Ainslie wants to know more about the mayor’s task force on homelessness. Ford announced in 2011 that the task force would be run by Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti.

“To date nothing has taken place with regards to a task force on homelessness,” Ainslie’s motion reads, and he wants to know why nothing has been done.

Click here to read the motion.

Eglinton Avenue

The city is revamping Eglinton Avenue at every turn, from transit to sidewalks to cycling. Council will look at 21 recommendations from the Planning and Growth Management Committee that is supposed to improve retail, residential and traffic use.

Click here to read the motion.

Photo laureate

Toronto got its first poet laureate in 2001 when acclaimed poet George Elliott Clarke became the city’s first literary ambassador. And now Coun. Joe Mihevc would like Toronto to also have a photo laureate.

Mihevc, who was approached by a resident with the idea, said it’d be great to honour photographers as well as celebrate the city through their work.

If council approves his proposal, a photo laureate would be chosen in early 2015 by a jury after a nomination process, he said.

Click here to read the motion.

Ombudsman report on TCH hiring practices

Councillors will be asked to review and adopt a report by the city ombudsman into the controversial HR practices at Toronto Community Housing, which ultimately led to the departure of its CEO Eugene Jones in recent days.

The 111-page report follows Fiona Crean’s investigation into TCHC’s hiring, firing and promotion practices over the last two years under the watch of Jones.

The ombudsman said it was “an alarming tale” of some senior executives ignoring policies and running the agency “as if it was their own personal fiefdom.”

Click here to read the motion.

Decommissioned street signs

Coun. Paula Fletcher wants to make sure that no additional decommissioned City of Toronto street signs, which are currently being auctioned off, are autographed after some were initially signed by the mayor.

Over 1,500 decommissioned signs are for sale over the next year. Click here for the auction site.

“Many enthusiasts would prefer not to purchase a sign that is signed by anyone, as it defaces the sign and reduces its value,” her motion stated.

Fletcher said should a resident want an autographed sign, ”they can approach the individual directly rather than have a number of signs autographed in advance which immediately lowers the pool of bidders for the sign.”

Click here to read the motion.

Maple Leaf Forever

Fletcher is also proposing that wood from the Maple Leaf forever tree that fell during last summer’s thunderstorm be used for a new podium for the city council chamber.

Alexander Muir, who wrote The Maple Leaf Forever poem, planted a silver maple at his home on Laing Street in Leslieville, but the July 19, 2013, storm blew it down.

The city was able to preserve the wood for other uses, including a Speaker’s mace for the House of Commons. It also planted a sapling from the tree last month at the Leslieville School to mark its 150th anniversary.

Click here to read the motion.

Pay for parking by phone

The city’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee is recommending that Toronto allow drivers to pay for parking by using their phones or other devices. If approved, it would be implemented at both parking machines and parking lots.

Click here to read the motion.

Recyclable cups

According to the city, 1 million hot drink cups (like Tim Hortons cups) are used in Toronto each day. Coun. Anthony Perruzza, seconded by Coun. Layton, wants to make sure those cups are recyclable.

They also want to pressure retailers to introduce financial incentives for customers to reuse their cups, like a discount for travel mugs.

Click here to read the motion.