Toronto budget public input

Residents, business people have their say on 2011 budget
Opinions vary widely on priorities
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 21)

Margaret Watson advocates to sub-budget committee to not increase user fees for recreation. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Councillors got an earful from residents, businesses and community groups who came out to speak on the city’s budget at North York Civic Centre.
New councillor Doug Ford, brother to Mayor Rob Ford, chaired the meeting at times with occasionally humourous results.
He mistakenly introduced Margaret Watson from the Canadian Pensioners’ Concern as a deputant about prisoners’ issues. He made a joke of it by saying he needed glasses and playfully referred to former budget chief Councillor Shelley Carroll as “the warden”.
For her part, Watson gave a feisty presentation about preserving services.
“Many seniors are tenants who receive pressure from landlords. We are disappointed you have cut $100,000 from the tenant defence fund,” she said at the Jan. 19 public meeting. “We hope council doesn’t want to put more tenants at risk of homelessness.”


She also expressed concern about the TTC’s proposal to reduce service on 48 bus routes and how an across the board user fees increase will hurt seniors, children and families.
“We are our brothers’ keepers,” said Watson.
Councillor Ford asked if she was open to funding from the private sector for naming rates or sponsorship? She replied it depended on how much control businesses would have over how the money would be spent.
“We voted for council. We didn’t vote for Walmart,” she said to applause from the 100 or so people in attendance.
Shouts of “you go girl” and “way to go Margaret” rang through the North York council chamber.

John Cartwright says raise taxes 2% rather than cut services. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

She was one of 35 individuals or groups who signed up to speak to the budget subcommittee. Four sessions were held in North York, East York, Scarborough and Etobicoke-York. The East York session held the same evening, Jan. 19, attracted over 60 speakers and ran until nearly 1 a.m.
Back at North York, the hot topics were user fee hikes, cutting arts grants, bus service reductions and slashing the tenant defence fund.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong asked one deputant – John Cartwright, president of Toronto and York Region Labour Council, for his solution for balancing the budget?
“What services would you cut and what taxes would you raise so income meets expenses?” Minnan-Wong asked.
“There was no mention of a tax freeze in the election. We don’t support a tax freeze,” answered Cartwright, husband of Councillor Paula Fletcher. “There should be a modest tax increase of two percent.”
Councillor Ford made a point of reaching out to most deputants with a kind comment including telling Cartwright his wife Fletcher was one of the councillor’s favourite colleagues.
This drew laughs because Ford is right wing and Fletcher is on the left.
But not everyone was advocating for tax increases or cancelling service cuts.
Carol Wilding CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade had mostly praise for the proposed $10.63 billion operating and $2.049 billion capital budgets.
“Businesses taxes are being frozen for the first time since 2003,” adding that there’s broad based support for this budget among her members. “You have to balance your budget full stop. You can’t spend what you don’t have.”
The city has no more public meeting scheduled before city council approves the budget on Feb. 23-28. But several politicians are holding their own public budget sessions. Because there was no downtown session: councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam, Pam McConnell and Adam Vaughan are hosting one at city hall inside the council chambers on Jan. 22 from 2-4 p.m.
Councillor Josh Matlow’s budget meeting for midtown residents is Feb. 17 at the Toronto Memorial Community Centre, 200 Eglinton Ave. West from 7-9 p.m.

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3 responses to “Toronto budget public input

  1. The city’s right wing auditor Jeffrey Griffiths is behind this and we know he wants to kill all necessary services for the poor and tenants.
    We need to get this bastard fired.
    Email him at Jeff.Griffiths@toronto.ca or call him at 416-392-8461 and let him know we won’t stand for this.

    • Marque,
      why do you think the AG Jeff Griffiths report highlights abuses in staff expenses and sole-source contracts that could have costs millions less if they were put out to tender is a right-wing agenda. Wouldn’t freeing up those millions to spend on the state-of-good repair of social housing be beneficial to tenants who live there?

  2. The city is considering gutting much of the Tenant Defense fund the only thing preventing many poor tenants from homelessness.
    We all need to be calling our city councillors today to demand no cuts to this and other essential tenant programs.
    You need to call today. Call 311 and demand to talk to your city councillor personally. Don’t talk to a secretary demand to talk to your councillor as is our right! Also call up Rob Ford 416-397-FORD (3673) mayor_ford@toronto.ca Let them know we will be protesting at city hall and if they force us at their homes before they make these cuts that will leave thousands of poor helped every year become homeless.
    The mean spirited landlord group the Greater Torotno Apartment Association takes the money they extort from our overpriced rents and uses our own money to lobby against us. This is from there June 2010 magazine Building Blocks.
    Tenant Defence Fund. In 2000, City Council created the “Tenant Defence Fund” of $150,000 per year to fund tenant disputes on above the guideline (AGI) rent increase applications and $150,000 a year to the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) to advocate. Despite the original concept of the program it has morphed into whatever the politicians serving on the Committee want it to be. This is a very “political” fund and needs to be reigned in.
    Recommendation: commit to a full review of this program and possibly ending it

    We need to be protesting any cuts to these essential tenant programs at City Hall. We should also protest the
    Greater Toronto Apartment Association
    20 Upjohn Road, Suite 103 
Toronto, ON M3B 2V9 

    Phone: 416 385 3435 
Fax: 416 385 8096

    E-mail: samw@gtaaonline.com
    It is the lowest of the low to take money out of our mouths and then use it to try to put us all into the poorhouse.

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