Views from the 6ix Dad, Councillor Norm Kelly

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Views from the 6ix Dad, Councillor Norm Kelly

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Views on budgets

“If you think there’s blood on the floor now, you wait and see what’s going to happen if you don’t have the insight and the political will to support the recommendations that have come down to you from the Executive Committee.”

—On the spectre of a double-digit property tax increase if Council didn’t support Executive Committee’s recommendations. The remarks followed a Council meeting in which the recommendations in the Core Service Review were being considered. Among these, Kelly voted to consider privatization of the Toronto Parking Authority, eliminating the Neighbourhood Realm Improvement Program, eliminating the Toronto Youth Cabinet and Seniors Forum, eliminating community environment days, ceasing funding for the Christmas Bureau, eliminating the Hardship Fund, and extending the timeline to achieve the City’s tree canopy goals.


“We’re talking about recalibrating the services and the expenditures of this city in a way that makes our economy sustainable for the future.”

Speaking on the 2012 budget. This was at the meeting in which Council overturned $15-million worth of cuts and service reductions in the 2012 budget. Kelly voted against the reversals and also voted for a $3.9-million cut from the Toronto Public Library’s operating budget.


“The goal of this administration is to make government as effective and efficient as possible. Once that task has been completed you have to look to other revenue tools.”

—On the Ford administration’s plan to focus on infrastructure in 2013. Efficiencies that the councillor would vote for included not to fund student nutrition using investment earnings, to continue to charge youth drop-in fees at indoor pools, not to direct investment earnings to Community Partnership Programs, reducing funding for AIDS programs by $104,000, not to use a $3.8-million provincial contribution to fund 264 new childcare spaces, not to use extra money to fund student nutrition, and not to review the budget process to make it more transparent. He did, however, vote to consider allocating $6.8 million from surplus to the social housing reserve.


“I’m very, very pleased with the cooperation that you saw today among members of this council. This truly was a collegial effort. And so the budget is not mine, it’s theirs.”

—On working with councillors on the 2014 budget. Having assumed most of the mayor’s powers, Deputy Mayor Kelly was presiding over the 2014 budget. In Council, he would vote against a number of the mayor’s motions, including a $7-million cut to the tree planting budget, eliminating security guards from libraries, eliminating the council expense and travel budgets, and reducing external grant funding by $5 million.


Views on transit

“What we need in this debate is what Steve Jobs brought to Apple.”

Lamenting that Council was unable to make bold transit decisions. By his vote at Council, his idea of innovation appears to be burying all rapid transit underground.


“Every buck would go into subways, every dollar, it would be a special fund, it would not go into general revenue.”

—On the possibility of imposing a sales tax to fund a Sheppard subway. In the following year, Kelly would vote against recommending any revenue tools for Metrolinx to use to fund transit.


“I don’t think anyone of us found this a very easy decision to make. For me, this is not about Gary Webster the man. I’ve worked with him over the years, and enjoyed working with him…and I thank Gary Webster for all that he’s done.”

—On his decision to vote to terminate the employment of TTC chief general manager Gary Webster. Soon after, he and other Ford loyalists on the TTC board were removed when it was restructured by Council.


“The only guy in the room who actually voted, as your metro councillor, for the Sheppard subway.”

On voting for the Sheppard subway back in the 90s. The councillor would ultimately vote to extend the Sheppard subway from Don Mills to Scarborough Town Centre regardless of expert panel recommendations.


“Madrid builds subways in the city. Scarborough is in the city. Madrid builds LRTs in the suburbs. Our suburbs are in the GTA.”

—On the idea that Scarborough is not suburban. This, of course, ignores the fact that the word “suburban” actually means something quite specific.


“In Scarborough, subways and rapid transit will be the issue, so it ain’t going away…in this case [the issue won’t be] over until the 2014 election.”

—On the debate over what to replace the Scarborough RT with. In July 2013, the status of the LRT replacement was in question and councillors were pushing for an extension of the Bloor-Danforth Line instead. Kelly would vote to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway to Scarborough Centre and fund it with an annual 0.25 per cent property tax increase later that month.


“I want them collectively to join me in making another request of the Premier to either commit to a subway [on Sheppard East], or delay funding of an LRT.”

—On what he’d like to see the 2014 mayoral candidates commit to regarding the future of Sheppard East.


Views on climate

Photo by Jay Dee from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Photo by Jay Dee from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

“We haven’t canned anything or anyone yet. But there’s always an affordability factor in any initiative undertaken by the City. So let’s see what the 2012 budget brings. We will try and sustain our environmental initiatives to the degree that the new fiscal realities will allow.”

—On the possibility that various environmental programs were going to get cut. Throughout the term, Kelly would vote in favour of eliminating water efficiency rebates, rescinding the ban on sale of bottled water at City parks and rec centres, cutting positions at the Toronto Environment Office, and eliminating the plastic bag fee.


“If you go back in time, millions of years, when the Earth was really warm, you found trees in the Arctic. So, more warmth, more trees, it’s as simple as that.”

In response to the idea that climate change would reduce the green canopy.


“The implications are frankly that we’ve got to spend an enormous amount of money to revamp our system to withstand [extreme weather events]…investments on that massive scale, if we are to ask taxpayers to fund them, we’d better be sure.”

—In response to a report from the Toronto Environment Office on the City’s unpreparedness to deal with the climate in 30 years.


“I wish the future could be as clear as the futurologists in all fields are suggesting whether it is social, political, economic, climate. Life is so complex that it is very difficult to get a handle on what may be coming our way, but nonetheless I think this is an important contribution to debate at City Hall.”

—Expressing skepticism of the TEO report’s predictions. Regardless, Kelly voted with the Parks and Environment Committee unanimously to accept the report’s findings.


“I was talking to one climatologist who said we could end up having the climate of Tennessee. That ain’t bad.”

—On the silver lining of the climate change cloud.


“There are people who believe that the conclusions of this report are apocalyptic in their character. In fact, they’re saying life is going to be a little more comfortable in this city.”

Introducing a report of the Parks and Environment Committee on climate change at Council, giving us this wonderful GIF:


Views on Pride

Photo by eddiejdf from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Photo by eddiejdf from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

“I don’t think this Council is anti-anything so much as it is pro-taxpayer. Every group that relies on money from the City is going to have its grant reviewed…All groups will go through a very thorough examination.”

—On the possibility that Pride Toronto could lose its funding.


“There’s no antagonism between the two flags. Cities right across the country are doing this. This is an expression of Canadianism.”

—In response to then-mayor Rob Ford’s opposition to flying the rainbow flag at City Hall during the 2014 Winter Olympics.


“[The relationship] developed out of my belief that when you are the mayor, you are the mayor of all the people. And as the deputy mayor, I felt that I had to be mayor of all the people.”

—On his support for the LGBTQ community during his time as deputy mayor.


“In too many countries in the world, in too many cities, people are denied full participation in the lives of their communities by unfair discriminatory laws and customs. Our assembly today is designed to remind people of this unfairness and to declare our support for those struggling for their basic human rights.”

Remarks at the raising of the Pride flag at City Hall for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.


Views on governance

Photo courtesy of Olivia Chow.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Chow.

“Overall a bit too much street theatre with some smug arrogance.”

On the all-nighter of deputations regarding the 2011 Core Service Review.

“Courts make governing in a democratic society quite a challenge.”

—Responding to a court injunction ordering the City not to evict Occupy Toronto from St. James Park. As the chair of Parks and Environment, Kelly had been working with City staff on a plan to remove the protestors.


“Would I respect it? No, because I think it’s the wrong decision.”

—On the possibility that Council would decide to restore the Transit City LRT plan.


“[The massacre] is something that happened purely in an Asian context between two Asian societies. I’m not sure Canadian society is at a point where it has to be instructed about these things, because I think we have values that preclude being attracted to behaviour like that.”

Questioning the value of commemorating the Nanking Massacre. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam had a motion at Council asking the City to recognize the 75th anniversary of massacre.


“I feel for people who want to live here and enjoy the quality of life that we’ve built up over the century. I respect what they want. But so many of us got what we wanted by following the rules. We lined up.”

—On undocumented residents in Toronto. Council was considering a motion to direct staff to report back on how to allow undocumented workers to access City services. Later in the term, he would vote to endorse the federal government’s efforts to “remove illegal immigrants.” And although he was absent for the first Sanctuary City vote, he would later vote against moving forward with a plan to allow undocumented residents to access City services.


“I went back and took a look at the original Council at amalgamation—almost three quarters or more have been replaced. The system actually works.”

—On term limits. Kelly has been a member of Toronto City Council since amalgamation and became a Metro Toronto councillor in 1994.


“Most of the people who will speak here today will refer to studies they’ve never read…using questionable empirical methodology.”

—Anticipating the content and quality of deputations at Executive Committee for a casino. In the end, the councillor voted to support a casino in the City of Toronto both at Executive Committee and at Council.


“You have an obligation, under the system…to support the core policies of the mayor. You appreciate that you have opportunities to affect that policy because of your closer relationship to him.”

—On his support of the mayor. Norm Kelly has been a supportive ally of every mayor since amalgamation.


“It was a report request, because there are members of Council who felt that the principles of transparency and accountability haven’t been extended to the people who exercise influence here at City Hall.”

—On his motion to ask the Lobbyist Registrar for a report on requiring non-profit organizations, unions, community organizations, and grassroots campaigns to register with the Lobbyist Registry. The motion was withdrawn by the deputy mayor.


“The majority of councillors will realize that by supporting this they will be supporting the interests of the people of Toronto, as well as the interests of the waterfront community.”

—On pushing for Council to make a decision on allowing jets at Billy Bishop Airport before the 2014 election. Kelly had previously voted to ask for a report on allowing jets at the island airport.

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