Category Archives: In the News

Read a Guide to the 2011 City of Toronto Budget by Councillor Janet Davis


2011 City Budget Launched


The proposed 2011 City Budget was released at City Hall this week. This year, the City will consider its Capital, Operating, Water and Solid Waste budgets together and in a shorter period of time.  

The budget will determine how much funding is available to deliver the City programs, services, and facilities that residents rely on every day. I want you to understand how the budget will affect these services, and I want to hear your views. 

Over the next three weeks, the Budget Committee and Council will debate, make changes and approve the budget. Your input can make a difference.

Below you will find more information about the 2011 budget proposals and the next article in this newsletter details how to get involved. For more information about the budget, you can view the City web page at

Budget Highlights

The 2011 proposed budget has been balanced by drawing on our savings (reserves), reducing services and using the one-time surplus of $350 Million from 2009 and 2010.  With a tax increase of 0% and the elimination of $64 million in revenue from the Personal Vehicle Tax, the City has fewer ongoing revenues to build a sustainable budget for the future. 

The following is a summary of some of most important features of the proposed 2011 Budget.

Property Taxes, Water Rates and Garbage Fees

•    The proposed property tax rate increase from last year is 0%, so your property tax bill should stay the same.
•    The proposed Water Rate increase is 9% over last year, which will cost the average homeowner an additional $60 per year on their water bill
•    The proposed Garbage Bin Fee increase is 3%, which will cost the average household $6-$12 per year, depending on the size of bin used.

Parks and Recreation
•    Fees for recreation programs will increase 3% over last year
•    Adults taking programs at designated Priority Recreation Centres, such as the Secord Recreation Centre, will now have to pay fees for programs.

Public Library
•    The Urban Affairs Library at Metro Hall will be closed, and the collections and staff moved to the Toronto Reference Library.
•    The number of books purchased for circulation will be significantly reduced, meaning you will wait much longer to borrow some books

•    Funding to support tenants will be cut by $100,000

•    The TTC has proposed reducing the service on 48 routes, including the 62 Mortimer Bus after 10pm on weekends and holidays.
•    Fares may be frozen if the City and TTC can find $24m in cuts elsewhere in the budget to offset the cost

Police Services
•    200 to 250 positions will not be filled when officers retire in 2011

Toronto Water Programs
•    Drain Grant Program that provides $1500 to property owners for broken sewer pipes will be eliminated
•    Water efficient toilet and washer rebate program eliminated
•    Lead Water Service replacement program reduced

2011 Budget Process

Once the public hearings have been completed, the budget will be considered at the following meetings:
•    January 19: Budget Committee Hearings at the East York Civic Centre (see for more information) and the North York Civic Centre.
•    January 20: Budget Committee Hearings at the York and Scarborough Civic Centres
•    January 24 and 25: further Budget Committee meetings
•    February 10: Budget Committee Final Review of the 2011 Budget
•    February 17: Executive Committee reviews the Budget
•    February 23, 24, 25, and 28: Toronto City Council meeting to approve the budget

City Hall:
Councillor Janet Davis
100 Queen Street West,
2nd Floor, Suite C57
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Community Office:
East York Civic Centre
850 Coxwell Avenue
East York, ON M4C 5R1
Phone: 416-397-4870

Toronto Labour Council Analyses Municipal Election Results

Following the municipal election in Toronto on October 25, the Toronto Labour Council issued a statement with their analysis of the results along with a recommended course of action in the coming months.

In a one-on-one interview with journalist, John Bonnar, Labour Council President John Cartwright discusses the factors that led to Rob Ford’s victory and the challenges facing labour over the next four year.`

Listen to the broadcast.

Ward 1 candidates seek support from diverse constituency

Education and engagement are the keys to getting the vote out in Ward 1 – at least that’s the hope of a coterie of local community organizations who hosted a voter education and all-candidates meeting this week, in the last few days before Toronto residents head to the polls.

Hosted jointly by the Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC), Rexdale Community Legal Clinic (RCLC), Social Planning Toronto (SPT), Education Action: Etobicoke North, Community Organizing for Responsible Development (CORD) and Good Jobs for All, the event drew about 50 local residents to Albion Library Wednesday night, Oct. 20.

Some among them were first time voters in Canada, while others were veterans; all were keen to learn more about both the voting process and what their Ward 1 candidates – incumbent Suzan Hall, Ted Berger, Peter D’Gama, Omar Farouk, and Sharad Sharma – had to say about Etobicoke North issues.

Who can vote, how to vote, where to vote, how to get language assistance when voting, and, perhaps most importantly, why it’s important to vote were among the topics discussed in the voter education portion of the evening.

Among other things, municipal governments in Canada are responsible for water, garbage, the TTC, ambulance, police, and fire departments, libraries, and snow removal, explained Richard Degaetano, a SPT community planner.

“The city collects taxes from you and your neighbours to pay for these and other services – $9 billion in tax money. If you want to have a say in how that money is spent, you have to vote,” he said.

That message is especially important in a ward that saw the lowest voter turnout in the city during the last municipal elections in 2006, with a lacklustre 33 per cent of eligible voters exercising their right to vote.

In a community that boasts a 64.2 per cent immigrant population – 27.8 per cent of those having moved to Canada since 2001 – organizers suggested there needs to be more engagement with novice voters who might not fully understand the Canadian voting system or be able to readily access their candidates through traditional media. Hence their event, which gave local residents both the opportunity to learn and ask questions about the voting process, as well as get up close and personal with their candidates.

Following the voter education session, each of Ward 1’s six councillor candidates were given three minutes to speak their piece, then rotated around six different tables of residents, where they engaged voters in “speed-dating” question-and-answer sessions.

Berger, who’s running for a second time in Ward 1, said the 2006 election served as a “warning shot” for incumbent councillor Hall, as the total votes of her seven competitors came well within striking distance her own tally of votes (Hall won the election with 4878 of the 9585 votes cast).

“That shows that there was already strong opposition to the way things were going at city hall,” he said, noting his experience as a former York Region trustee. “My agenda is to get more accountability for voters – you are the taxpayers, you’re number one. I’m only here for one reason: you, the people. I’m running not just on talk, but on action.”

Former Etobicoke city councillor Crisanti, another former Hall competitor who lost the Ward 1 seat in 2003 by 882 votes, also took the Hall to task, firstly for voting in favour of both the $60 vehicle registration tax and the contentious land transfer tax, and secondly for what he claims is a votership “fed up” with shoddy service from city hall.

“Many people have told me they are desperate for a councillor that will see them and respond to their needs so they don’t have to call Rob Ford to get the service they need. It doesn’t have to be that way,” he said. “I have a vision for Ward 1 which includes jobs and safe streets. I will get things done at city hall, I will fight to bring our fair share of services to our community, and most importantly I know that my role as city councillor is to serve you personally.”

Peter D’Gama, a former IT consultant and paralegal, is running on a public transit-heavy platform.

“We need to build our city and a key component to that is public transit, one of the most important services that the city delivers. It is essential to connecting our communities from Scarborough to Etobicoke to downtown,” he said, noting also the local job-creation potential of Transit City, particularly the Finch LRT line. “We also need to work with residents to ensure jobs go to them – to work with institutions like Humber College to ensure (local residents) get the training they need for these great jobs.”

Omar Farouk, CEO and president of the International Muslims Organization, said he’s running for councillor because the community is “in crisis” and needs to be healed through transparency, accountability, and good service.

“A city is as good as its infrastructure, and we need to take care of basics before we can move to grander visions. I will focus on the simple things that matter most: a TTC that runs on time, neighbourhoods that are safe, roads that are fixed, parks that are clean,” he said. “We need a police force that is well-equipped and well-informed. We need schools that are safe…I will fight each and every day to make sure that our tax dollars are respected and invested in our community. I will demand better at city hall – to cut waste and provide real value for your money.”

Councillor for the last 10 years, Hall defended her decade of service to the community, highlights of which include: bringing $15 million worth of upgrades and equipment to local parks and community centres, encouraging Toronto Police’s 23 Division to come into the ward, assisting to establish the first local business improvement area (the Islington Albion Square BIA) in the ward, securing at council a five-month lee time for local residents to apply for jobs at the billion-dollar Woodbine Live development when it’s up and running in 2013, supporting the vehicle registration tax exemption for low-income seniors, organizing towards a community hub at the old Father Henry Carr school building, establishing the Thackeray cricket grounds at Kipling and Steeles, and spearheading North Etobicoke Revitalization Project.

“That last one brought a lot of support into the community. I worked with the police, local agencies and residents to help make this a safer community. When I was first elected, there were six murders just immediately in Jamestown. They were never solved. We don’t have that problem now,” she said. “We’ve been working together to bring supports and resources in and, as a result, this community has become a safer place to live.”

Sharad Sharma, a small business owner, has promised to draw more businesses and companies to invest in north Etobicoke in order to create local jobs.

“I strongly believe that human resources are the best and greatest resource on Earth, and if used properly, can do wonders for any community” he said. “One of my main objectives is to mobilize and nourish these available human resources and engage all in a participative community opportunity, turning north Etobicoke into a successful business and vibrant neighbourhood.”


Toronto – Last Thursday, the Good Jobs for All Coalition sent an open letter to Prime Minister Harper demanding the Federal government reform Employment Insurance so laid off workers are not left out in the cold.

The release of Fridays “StatsCan Labour Force Survey September 2010” report reveals Toronto’s unemployment rate hovers at 10.1%.


Mayor May Not

by John Michael McGrath  It had to happen: Toronto mayoral candidates suffer from debate overload

Last night, the inevitable finally occurred. With approximately one squillion debates scheduled for this municipal election, some of the candidates were late attending one debate (at the University of Toronto’s downtown campus) because they hadn’t yet left a previous debate (at Lawrence and Dufferin). This tragedy might have been avoided if all of the candidates could agree to some kind of multilateral disarmament on this front, but that seems unlikely.

The second debate (live-tweeted by the Globe and Mail‘s tireless Kelly Grant, who was forced to sit on the floor for part of it) was actually kind of novel: rather than the usual shoutfest where Rob Ford talks about the gravy train and everyone else tries to come up with new ways to call Ford on his talking points, the candidates sat down for one-on-one questions from John Tory, without whom no Toronto political event is complete.

There were also statements from the audience, which led to some interesting moments, such as these from the Globe live blog:

“This is a conversation among friends,” Rocco A says. Someone shouts, “You’re not my friend!”

Tough crowd.

What would you do for affordable housing? [Sarah Thomson] blames prob on poor planning, wants more mixed income and portable rent subsidies. Sarah calls TCHC “the worst landlord in the city.”

Audience member calls her on it. “That’s not true!”

But really, less and less is being gleaned about the candidates through the endless rounds of debate. In fact, the candidates appear to be increasingly worn out by them. George Smitherman raised the issue last week during the debate at Pinewoods, and his campaign manager tweeted that they get hell when they object to the schedule.

It’s tempting to mention that there will be a ton of arguments waiting for them in the mayor’s office, too, but that would just be mean.

A community that moves together stays well together.

The Malvern Community Coalition hosted Malvern in Motion, its 6th annual neighbourhood festival, Sept. 11. The event focused on health and wellness by encouraging good eating habits and active living.

Marie Clarke Walker, the local residence organizer, said the goal of the festival is to engage young people in the community and to teach them the importance of being involved.

“There is both a youth component and a workshop component so that we can engage youth and they can engage us – frankly, it should be about them engaging us more than us engaging them,” Walker said. “This is their community, their future – most of us that are involved are on our way out. So the building is for the next generation and the generation after that.”

Despite a lower turnout than last year — 200 compared to nearly 800 last year, according to Malvern in Motion chair Venesse Lewis — the grounds outside the Malvern Community Recreation Centre boomed with music, dance, and laughter. The smaller crowd also meant more room for kids to run and ride their bikes.

Parents and children lined up for free food, including roasted corn, catered Caribbean food and cake, while youth volunteers handed out soft drinks and freshly made popcorn.

Members of the city’s police, fire, and EMS departments also made appearances, and were greeted by grinning, giggling kids wanting to get a look inside their vehicles.

Agencies including Taibu Community Health Centre and Action for Neighbourhood Change staffed booths promoting strong and healthy individuals and communities.

Labour coalition Good Jobs for All held a workshop to educate people about the importance of public services in building strong communities and of making them accessible to everyone.

“If we let our public services – our schools, our hospitals, our community centres, our libraries, our roads – collapse, it will take more than one or two or three generations to get them back,” Walker said. “If we don’t have those things, you’re looking at user fees most people won’t be able to afford, so they won’t be able to have those services that we currently enjoy.”

At the community meeting, the public was encouraged to not only get actively involved in the October municipal election by voting but also by getting to know the issues facing the city.