Wednesday, part of this balanced breakfast. In the news: Doug Ford shares his wealth of basketball knowledge with Rexdale youth; no late-night cabs for people who use wheelchairs; holiday shopping across town, maybe; and Rob Ford refuses to implement taxes.
Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) now has his own sporting program, too, but this time it’s all about basketball, basketball, basketball. Membership in his team, the unoriginally named Rexdale Raiders, is focused around a Toronto Community Housing Corporation complex at 900 Queen’s Plate, where residents are apparently unable to access the onsite recreation facilities (seems they could probably use some more sustainable funding, eh Doug?). Seriously though, what Councillor Ford is doing is actually a pretty good thing. Hopefully he keeps at it once the press disappears and nobody is talking about his brother’s PR fumbles.
Wheelchair users in Toronto are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to transportation, especially during off-hours. In the city there are more than 170 cabs that can accommodate a person using a wheelchair, but most of those are contracted to the TTC’s underfunded Wheel-Trans operations. Wheel-Trans trips need to be booked in advance and impromptu trips by specialized taxis can cost far than trips in typical taxis. Cab companies seem willing to expand their fleets of wheelchair-accessible vehicles, but running these will need support from the City or some other source of funding. An extension of the Wheel-Trans taxi contracts has recently been put on hold.
City staff have prepared a report that endorses allowing city-wide shopping on some holidays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The report will go to the economic-development committee next week and it will make an appearance at council by the end of the month. The last time this was discussed, the idea was dropped in the lead-up to the 2010 election. Right now, only designated tourist zones are allowed holiday shopping, which retailers across the rest of the city see as an unfair disadvantage. Considering that “tourist” zones are all downtown and generally in more affluent areas, there is also a broader social concern when you look at the issue.
Following his executive committee’s review of the staff report that we first mentioned yesterday, Rob Ford told reporters that he would be sticking to the No Taxes to Pay for Things mantra that he has tattooed across his chest (not really, but wouldn’t that be neat?). Discussing the report, which outlines some possible ways to find money for transit, Mayor Ford said that he would not “implement” either taxes or user fees to support transit expansion. Of course, an unwillingness by the mayor to implement something is meaningless if council still decides to implement it. Regardless of anyone’s unwillingness to try new things or very old and well-established things, the ideas in the report are being passed along to public consultation. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) described the possibility of implementing taxes as asking residents to drink poison. Hey, if it’s in Kool-Aid, how bad can it be, member of Rob Ford’s executive committee?