Daily Archives: March 8, 2011

Toronto housing board still in charge

Toronto Community Housing board still in place, for now
City Council to discuss TCH board at special meeting Wed
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier March eighth. Update here.)

Councillor Doug Ford wants remaining board members to step down. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

The remaining members of Toronto Community Housing’s embattled board are staying put despite Mayor Rob Ford’s calls for their resignations.
The issue was expected to be the heated topic today at city hall, but  while politicians voted unanimously to move the issue to the top of the agenda, the mayor failed to get the votes needed to debate it without having the issue sent to Executive Committee first.
The controversy stems from scathing reports from the city’s auditor general which said the housing corp. could have saved between $4-10 million if there was increased competition for contracts and shone the spotlight on inappropriate staff expenses ranging from planning meetings at spas to lavish Christmas parties. Meanwhile the city-owned housing corp. has a state of good repair backlog of over $300 million.
While the auditor didn’t call for a clean house of the current board the mayor has. The board chair David Mitchell plus eight other members resigned at the mayor’s request but councillors Maria Augimeri and Raymond Cho and tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King remain.
“Has (council) malfeasance on our part?” King asked. “Has the auditor general mentioned cause for our removal? If not, then we have a legitimate right to be here. Calling for our removal because they don’t like certain people is not what I call democratic.”

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City ends free downspout disconnections

City cancels waiting list for free service
Everyone will have to pay for their own service
Kris Scheuer
(Written March 3 for Town Crier.)

This home on Euclid Ave has a disconnected downspout already. The city's making it mandatory for everyone to do the same. Photo by Kris Scheuer.

The city has reneged on a promise to provide free downspout disconnections for almost 900 homeowners in North York.
In a budget-cutting move on Feb. 23, the city voted to end this free service as of March 1.
About 7,000 Toronto households on the waiting list will now have to pay out of their own pocket. What’s more, anyone who doesn’t disconnect their downspout by the mandated time may face court-imposed fines.
The city requires downspout disconnection to avoid sewer back-ups during heavy storms. This forces water run-off from a roof eavestrough to pour into a front yard rather than filter into a road sewer. The lawn absorption also takes strain off water treatment processing plants.
Back in 2007, the city voted to move from a voluntary program where the city offered the service for free to those who requested it to a mandatory one where residents pay.
In response, 37,600 people signed up before the cut-off date and since then, staff has been working their way through the applications.
It got whittled down to under 7,000 as of Jan. 28, but those on the list waited in vain.
Cancelling the free service now will save Toronto $673,000 in operating costs annually and $7.8 million total in capital costs over three years. On average it costs the city $1,000 per resident to provide this service including paying a contractor, contract procurement costs, inspection and administrative costs.

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