Tuesday is to Monday what Friday is to Thursday. But, you still have to go to work tomorrow, so it's not quite the same. We tried! Today: Toronto's budget surplus; Mayor Ford's Chicago mission seems to keep growing in size; TCHC to retain most of its single-family homes; the bureaucrat in charge of the Gardiner Expressway has departed; the Premier pledges to strengthen animal welfare laws; and a homophobic slur captures the attention of Jays fans.
Though we were warned of a projected $774-million funding gap for 2012, Toronto actually is running a $188-million surplus for the first six months of this year, according to the latest update on the operating budget. It has also been estimated that the City will end the year with about $115 million more than expected. So how did this swing occur? The reason is two-fold: increased revenues from things like (ahem) the land transfer tax, planning applications, and building applications; and underspending by leaving approved work force positions unfilled (1,800 jobs as of June),”costs saved” due to the Toronto Public Library’s labour disruption, and through the TTC due to lower fuel costs and reduced demand for its Wheel-Trans service. Yippee?
Mayor Rob Ford is gearing up for his Chicago trade mission, and it seems he’s taking everyone with him. In addition to former premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, Councillors Doug Ford (who would think to separate them?!), Paul Ainslie, Mike Del Grande, Peter Milczyn, Michael Thompson, Mark Grimes, Jaye Robinson, and Michelle Berardinetti will also be attending. But the guest list doesn’t end there. Mike Williams, General Manager of Economic Development and Culture, and George Spezza, director of business services in that department, are also attending, as are Robert Deluce, president of Porter Airlines, George Cohon, who founded McDonald’s Canada, and Carol Wilding, president of the Toronto Board of Trade. Wowzer. Get ready, Windy City, here comes Team Ford!
A long-awaited report outlining the fate of TCHC dwellers has been released. Drafted by the Social Housing Working Group, the report recommends the sale of 55 single-family homes (in addition to the 56 vacant homes already approved for sale), as well as other cost-cutting measures, including an affordable ownership program, reduced operating costs, and a more competitive bidding process to help put a dent in the $751-million repair backlog.
Though the Gardiner, falling concrete and all, was deemed “perfectly safe,” it seems that John Bryson’s job was not. The structures and expressways manager’s tenure ended last week, and according to the National Post, details about his departure are scarce.
After receiving a 76,000-signature petition calling for laws that will control zoos and aquariums, Premier Dalton McGuinty says that Ontario is ready to strengthen its animal welfare laws. This statement comes at a time when the OSPCA, the Niagara Falls Humane Society, and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums are investigating allegations of animal suffering and neglect at Marineland. Until those investigations are complete, McGuinty says, the province will hold off on taking any further action.
Tired of taking your frustrations out on the NHL, or even MLSE? Torontonians have a new target for their scorn, and this time it’s a Blue Jay. Shortstop Yunel Escobar is facing backlash over a homophobic slur written in Spanish under his eyes during Saturday’s game. But, before getting too heated, consider this: perhaps Escobar is trying, provocatively, to start a dialogue about free speech and it’s connection to Pride funding? No? Bah, we haven’t even convinced ourselves. As you were.