Support for Toronto restaurants, taxi industry on the agenda at this week's city council meeting
Toronto City Hall is seen in this undated photo.
Published Tuesday, October 27, 2020 9:14AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 27, 2020 2:05PM EDT
City councillors will discuss ways to support Toronto’s struggling restaurant and taxi industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic at this week’s city council meeting, which gets underway on Tuesday morning.
Councillors are expected to vote on recommendations to help facilitate winter patios as indoor dining rooms remain closed in Toronto, which is in a modified version of Stage 2 until at least Nov. 10.
"I am determined to make sure we do everything we can as a city government in the short-term to help restaurants who are willing and able to set up winter patios," Mayor John Tory said at a news conference ahead of today's meeting.
"I recognize no single thing we have done or will do for the restaurant business is that magic solution that gets them back on their feet. But we are trying to do everything we can."
Coun. Michael Ford is also asking his council colleagues to support a motion requesting the province cap fees food delivery companies, such as Uber Eats, can charge restaurants during the pandemic.
Ford’s motion has garnered support from Tory, who said it appears some companies are not prepared to voluntarily take action to help restaurants stay afloat.
“You got to hope that corporations have the good sense to do something on their own without being forced to do it, but then you realize sometimes they're just not really listening and so you have to do it for them,” Tory told CP24 on Monday night.
Support for the city’s hard-hit taxi industry is also on the agenda at this week’s meeting.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam is expected to introduce a motion asking for the city to offer some financial relief to taxi drivers in Toronto.
Wong-Tam said the taxi industry has lost over 90 per cent of its business due to the pandemic and 95 per cent of cabs have been parked or without service since the province declared a state of emergency back in March.
She said owners have indicated that it will take the industry an estimated 12 to 18 months to fully recover at “full service levels and revenues.”
“For the Taxicab industry to survive, they need immediate financial relief and assistance from the City of Toronto,” Wong-Tam’s notice of motion read.
“Despite access to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), many taxi owners have indicated that they will be unable to pay the existing taxi renewal fees, and are concerned about their ability to replace their fleet when they reach the end of their current viability cycle.”
She is recommending the city reduce taxicab licensing fees for 2020 and extend the maximum age of vehicles that can be used by cab drivers by two years.
Tory said he also hopes to see council approve the city manager's recent report outlining Toronto's strategy for recovery and renewal following the pandemic.
"This is our roadmap to build the city up in the wake of the pandemic," Tory said. "We know that COVID-19 will remain a threat to us as it is today and in the immediate future so this will also guide us as to how we can continue to reopen safely."
Another item on this week’s agenda is a motion from Coun. Shelley Carroll calling on the province to back down on its plan to scrap ranked ballots for municipal elections.
The province recently announced plans to amend to Municipal Elections Act to remove ranked ballots as an option for municipalities, a system Toronto city councillors were considering for the 2026 election.
Tory told reporters Tuesday that he believes the province's justification for shelving ranked ballots doesn't "hold water."
"I think we should be left to decide how people are going to get elected in our municipalities... I am a supporter of ranked ballots because I believe it will help diversify our council," Tory said.
"I hope that our motion and other pressures that may come upon the government will cause them to revisit this."