Councillor Shelley Carroll

Find out the latest news and upcoming events in your neighborhood. Politics, news, views, and links from Ward 33 Councillor Shelley Carroll.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pay Raise Details

Amid the confusion on this topic, let me provide some detail and then I would welcome your input before Council votes during the Council session beginning July 25th.

The members of Policy and Finance voted in favour of recommendations based on the findings of an outside Blue Ribbon Panel and then further verified by a Corporate and public sector wage consultant. This two-pronged approach to professional review of the issue was requested by the councillors who voted to overturn Councillor Moscoe's stealth motion on councillors' salaries earlier this year. Folks may remember that I supported the motion by Councillors Walker and Pitfield to overturn that raise in favour of this review.

The panel recommends that we set our salaries at the 75th percentile of whatever is being paid in large City Councils across Canada and review every end-of-term to ensure that we are staying within that range. It recommends that out of respect for our overall financial position, that we put in place a system that ensures that we will never, ever become the highest paid councillors in Canada.

Under these recommendations, Toronto Councillors would receive a raise Jan. 1st, 2007 that amounts to about $6400.00. This is a large sum of money and under the new recommendations would be unlikely to happen again. It would bring us to a point some 25% below the total compensation to Mississauga/Peel Regional Councillors and Vaughan/York Regional Councillors and hold us there. The intent of the recommendations is to always maintain a similar distance below the highest paid Canadian City, term after term into the future.

This intentional setting of the bar below other councils ensures that our method of setting our own Councillors' salaries will never be thrown back at us by any union or employee group at contract time. After all, what union would demand to be compared to other cities and risk having their wages frozen to maintain their wage position at a point down the list about three quarters of the way from the top.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rooming House Issues Returning to Council

You may have read in the papers that a motion to re-look at the issue of Rooming House Licenses is returning to Council. In Affordable Housing committee this week, I took what I hope is a helpful step.

I moved that a report already being developed by staff on Rooming House Issues be further developed and then brought to the Affordable Housing Committee, but must be accompanied by comment from Licensing Staff, Building Standards Staff and the Fire department on illegal rooming houses.

To be crystal clear on the issue, I am not prepared to look at ANY expansion of legal licenses in ANY part of town until we have fully explored whether or not we can use the new City of Toronto Act to properly address illegal situations.

As many of you know from our community info night last fall, official staff have a great deal of difficulty entering unlicensed rooming houses. We have closed a number of unlicensed residences in Ward 33 but only through exhaustive investigations. Residents learned at our meeting last fall with MLS officer, Joe Lucci, that reporting an address for not adhering to outdoor property standards was the best way to get an investigation rolling. Residents have helped out with this and it has led to limited success.

Remember that this outdoor component is the heart of the Rooming House issue. You should expect that all of the homes on your street look basically the same, give or take a gardener in residence, and the homes should sound the same in the middle of the night, quiet. In areas where Rooming Houses are licensed, former Toronto, Etobicoke and York, this adherence to local street standards is required of legal rooming house operators and enforced.

I will not be voting to expand licenses into new areas of the City without the ability to curb illegal practices.

Buchan Court OMB

The Ontario Municipal Board Hearing on 25 Buchan Court, the old Bloorview Children's Hospital site, was adjourned today. The decision will take a few weeks. It is torture for a Politician to observe these proceedings without speaking, though our silence is always advised by the solicitor. The Developer's attorney is always certain to try to take apart the local politician on a witness stand.

But I had no need to woory. Area residents gave excellent deputations of professional quality. They demonstrated how exhaustive our working group study of this application has been and that objections are reasonable and based on fact.

I've drafted an article for the Bayview Post, included below:

It might be tempting fate to say the OMB hearing on the former Bloorview Children’s Hospital site went well. The hearing has just adjourned and the tribunal’s decision will not surface for weeks, but it has to be said, there is indication that OMB adjudicators are playing by the new rulebook.

When the Province introduced a Bill to reform the OMB, earlier this year, Torontonians were underwhelmed, if that’s a word. New wording such as “shall have regard to City Council’s position,” seemed lackluster. It seemed unlikely to change the frequent practice of steamrolling right over our development refusals. But twice lately, Ward 33 has had projects before the OMB and we have witnessed this new “Regard for Council’s position.”

In the Bloorview case, council did refuse the application and the adjudicator stopped several times during the 4 days of hearings to ask for clarifications in this regard. Community members gave several professional-quality deputations and they had the adjudicator’s attention in a way I haven’t witnessed in years past.

Last month, the final hearing on an even larger application in Parkway Forest came before the tribunal. Like Bloorview, this hearing had only one adjudicator, surprising given the size of the application and the complexity of the file. This was not a case of refusal but rather a request from Council to be granted significant authority to continue negotiating certain reductions as well as authority to review and make requirements of the developer throughout several years of phased development.

The adjudicator was attentive to the details of the City’s submission. She stopped the Developer’s attorney on the one item where the Developer and the local school board had settled an amount different than that suggested by Toronto Council.

A new day may be dawning at the Ontario Municipal Board. What is still needed, however, is to adequately fund this overseer of development province wide. The total lack of technology and staff in these hearings remains a complete shock and an insult to citizens. There is nothing to provide tribunal members with adequate records. They furiously scribble their own notes throughout lengthy legal summations.

Come to that, how about more tribunal members. These are crucial decisions. I would ask the Province if one adjudicator with zero support should be burdened with the fate of an entire neighbourhood.