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East York people, places, events & insights

EY speaking out about proposed City budget cuts

John Tory listens to a consituent at EYCC January 09, 2017 -GARY W-P

Mayor John Tory got an earful from EY residents at Civic Centre budget input hearing Jan. 9.  -GARY W-P

\ By Gary Webb-Proctor \

East York residents and political reps are poised to make a significant impact on the City of Toronto’s budget deliberations process this year —and one has already got city Mayor John Tory backpedalling on proposed cuts that rankle many in the borough.

Olympic record-setter and historic 2016 gold medals winner Penny Oleksiak, a student at Monarch Park Collegiate in the area, tweeted her opposition to a proposed budget cut that would see the closing of the pool at S.H. Armstrong Community Centre on Woodfield Rd., along with two others.

“It’s important to teach kids how to swim.. It saves lives and is a good physical activity,” Ms. Oleksiak wrote.

Mr. Tory responded the next day with a tweet saying he’d asked the city’s Budget Chief, Gary Crawford, to try to find a way to save the pools. But Mr. Crawford was subsequently quoted as saying that might not be easy to do.

Jennifer Story -STAFF

Jennifer Story -STAFF

Other cuts already included in the proposed budget, which is still $91 million in the red prior to final Council deliberations in February, include elimination of a school-based child care occupancy grant (that allows schools to operate child care centres without charging parents full rate); cutting an already approved extension of general day care fee subsidies; closing of the Capri child care centre operated by the city; reducing park and gardens maintenance; closing Extreme Heat Cooling Centres and cutbacks to arts and community grants.

At consultation meetings held at East York Civic Centre on January 9 a parade of local residents and representatives of various social agencies, arts organizations and local elected representatives assailed the proposed cuts as short-sighted and too severe.

One homeowner, Karen Joveer, told the committee that while she is a senior struggling to make ends meet on a fixed income “I would happily pay an additional $140 a year,” if, as a news report had suggested, that amount from each taxpayer would cover the shortfall and allow the cuts to be forestalled and restore originally planned improvements to services such as the TTC, day care fees  and poverty reduction.

Janet Davis -staff

Janet Davis -STAFF

Toronto District School Board trustee Jennifer Story, who represents EY’s Ward 15 (Toronto-Danforth), told the hearing that eliminating the subsidies for school-based child care “is not an abstract issue but will directly affect low income families” who already feel burdened by child care costs.

One EY councillor who was completely onside with Ms. Story’s concerns was Ward 31’s Janet Davis, who subsequently induced a member of council’s Community Development and Recreation Committee to introduce a motion there recommending to the Budget Committee that the city not only maintain the school-based grants but also to reinstate approved new general day care subsidies and keep the centre open.

The Budget Committee meets on Tuesday, January 24 to consider that motion and other proposed cuts and input.  To make your views known before the meeting you can email mayor_tory@toronto.ca, exc@toronto.ca or clerk@toronto.ca .

 

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