Look out, week, here comes Wednesday! In today's news: the City looks at outsourcing shelters, the new cost of killing Transit City is estimated at $65 million, the TTC won't lower service on its busiest routes next year, and the bells at Old City Hall will keep ringing.
There may be some time yet before the twelve days of Christmas, but in the meantime Torontonians can enjoy the endless days of City service cuts. Today: five golden shelters-a-contractin’ out. (It’s not the catchiest lyric, but give us a break; the carol has a lot of verses.) A consultant’s report released Friday recommends outsourcing five City-run shelters to third parties, which could put 220 City employees out of work. Latte-sipping left-wing councillors, whose wards contain several of the shelters, are not amused.
It was all well and good when the library board voted to cut its budget by 5.9 per cent instead of the mayor’s requested 10, preventing branch closures and hours reductions, but then budget chief Mike Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) got involved. Del Grande says council can just vote to cut the library budget by 10 per cent anyway, although who knows whether council would do it. After all, some councillors might actually be looking for re-election.
But the City needs to scrimp and save these days, especially if it wants to pay off the $65 million Metrolinx now estimates it will cost for Mayor Rob Ford’s decision to cancel Transit City. After criticisms from councillors at a budget committee meeting yesterday, Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) jumped to his brother’s defence with another sweeping generalization about how Torontonians want subways instead of streetcars.
Speaking of the mayor and subways, Gordon Chong, the man charged with putting together the business case for Ford’s promised Sheppard subway line extension, won’t have his initial report ready this month as initially planned, saying it will be ready by February. The reason for the delay, like just about everything else in the city right now, is not enough resources.
In brighter news, the TTC might be able to preserve service levels on some of its busiest routes thanks to a $5 million savings chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) has found, although the money won’t prevent the proposed 10-cent fare hike in 2012. So far it’s unclear where Stintz found the money, but all evidence points to one place: super transit-friendly space aliens from the future. Now if only we could get a monolith for the Scarborough RT renovation.
And finally, a victory for Luddites and romantics everywhere as the City has saved the century-old clock and bells at old City Hall, preventing them from being replaced by an electric mechanism by finding a cheaper maintenance provider. If there was ever a reason to put off going to see the bells ring, this is it.