The City’s Budget Committee is coming to our community to hear your ideas and concerns. Committee members will hold two sittings at the East York Civic Centre this Wednesday, January 10 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards. Hearings will also be held at City Hall (100 Queen Street West) at 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
As the recent shelter crisis demonstrates, our City services have fallen far below the level needed to address the increased needs and growing population in our city. Over the last two years, Council considered and approved many reports with recommendations to invest in new or expanded services and programs. The waitlist is over 100,000 for affordable housing and over 12,000 for child care subsidy. 180,000 new spots are needed to meet the demand for recreation programs. Thousands of seniors and people with disabilities have been waiting years for a range of accessible services. Transit service desperately needs to be less crowded, more reliable and more affordable.
The demands and needs of our City are simply not being met. We have become a city that waits – and a Council that always seems to wait for the right time to do the right thing.
As I mentioned in previous communications, the preliminary budget leaves out $95M of important new initiatives approved by Council. Almost $54M of funding has been provided from other levels of government and other sources to pay for some or all of these programs – yet they are not included in the budget. This simply makes no sense.
The budget assumes a 2.1 % residential property tax increase (the small business increase is half.) Many people I talk to say they’re not opposed to a larger tax increase – but they want to make sure it’s spent wisely and that we plan for the future. Our tax rate again remains almost the lowest in Ontario. The federal and provincial governments have provided additional funding for some of our important cost-shared services. We have also developed plans based on significant community consultation. Now it is time for us to do our part. I believe our Council and City has do more if we want to maintain and build a City we are proud of.
You can find all the budget documents at toronto.ca/budget2018. The initial power point presentation from the launch in November is a good place to start, as well as the appendix which lists all the included and excluded initiatives. It will give you a good snapshot of the City’s financial plan.
This is your chance to be heard. You can attend and speak directly to the Committee. You will have 5 minutes; however the Committee often cuts it to 3 minutes, so be prepared. To register, you can call 416.392.4666 or email the Budget Committee at email@example.com. You can also write in your comments to the Budget Committee or Executive Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. I too want to hear your priorities and ideas so please copy me at email@example.com.
Thank you for getting involved. We can do better.
City Councillor Janet Davis
Ward 31 | Beaches-East York