Cutbacks To The Future
From mid-September through year-end, all City Community Centres will be closed on Mondays. Skating rinks won’t open until January. Fewer potholes will be repaired. Snow won’t be cleared unless there is at least 15 cm of it (the current minimum is 8 cm). New materials from Public Health will only be available in English.
Welcome to the new Toronto, where you get what you (and the provincial and federal governments) pay for—or won’t get what you won’t pay for, as seems to be the case.
At a noon press conference in the Council Chambers Members’ Lounge, City Manager Shirley Hoy announced cuts that will save the City of Toronto $34 million for the duration of this year and $83 million for next year. Which will only leave us $492 million in the hole.
Three quarters of the City budget is essentially untouchable by the City Manager, being tied up by provincially-mandated programs, emergency services (police, fire, EMS), and transit. Nor can any major programs or services be chopped outright without the approval of Council, the next meeting of which is not until September 26; the CM only has the authority to make reductions.
In addition to the above, these cutbacks include:
- “reduced park maintenance and a reduction in the residential tree planting program”
- “releasing seasonal litter staff two weeks earlier than normal and a reduction in the number of litter vacuums will result in more litter on the streets”
- “less street cleaning”
- previously-announced cuts to Library service
- “reduction in health promotion programs and community outreach services”
- “significant delays in issuing licenses and responding to requests for inspections and bylaw enforcement, particularly for graffiti eradication”
- “Funding to make City-operated daycares accessible to clients with disabilities has been deferred.”
- “Renovations to the Mayor’s office and the second floor of City Hall have been cancelled.”
- “reduced service will be in effect at parking tag counters, tax and water counters”
Also, the following:
Toronto Building – Due to the hiring freeze, there will be reduced bylaw enforcement, particularly the Sign bylaw. The public submitting development applications will also experience delays at building application counters. The Green Roof Initiative will be delayed. The adoption of a bylaw regulating construction related vibration will also be delayed.
IllegalSigns.ca coordinator Rami Tabello, whose site has made a pretty convincing case that the Sign bylaw isn’t enforced, anyway, remarks that the above paragraph “doesn’t make sense because Buildings is financed by permits, not taxes.” Even their salaries? “Oh yeah. In fact, they have a 2.5 million surplus; the reserves are actually permit-holder money, and any cuts to buildings only increases the surplus.” And that surplus stays with Buildings? “Yes; actually, permit holders can sue the City for the money if they can show that the money won’t go to cover future Buildings department deficits.” Huh.
“The choice is now clear,” Mayor Miller says in the release. “Toronto Council can support investment to meet the needs of a growing city or it can oversee the continued erosion of our quality of life.”
UPDATE (August 11, 12:30 p.m.): Following the press conference, Adam Vaughan crashed Denzil Minnan-Wong’s scrum in an apparent effort to stem the tide of bullshit. This resulted in an increasingly-personal shouting match, with Howard Moscoe and Glenn De Baeremaeker eventually joining in on the (deserved) assault on Minnan-Wong. You may have read about this elsewhere, but nothing compares to watching the unedited video of the incident.
Jonathan Goldsbie is a campaigner with the Toronto Public Space Committee, and, as such, Minnan-Wong tried to pick a fight with him at the most recent meeting of the North York Community Council. Photo of Wallace Emerson Community Centre by burnstoemerge from the Torontoist Flickr pool.