Save our essential services

[attach]4624[/attach]Gay Pride and Caribana are just two examples of a whole city (sadly without the mayor in the case of Gay Pride) celebrating and showing support for a distinct community that makes up the spectacular diversity that is our Toronto. At this time of year we welcome tourists from all across Canada and the world who find the city is quite different than the concrete jungle they’d expected. They love our ravines and parks but are astounded at the numbers of trees across the whole city. The canopy that covers our city is truly remarkable.

Shade trees are viewed to be essential ingredients to an age-friendly or liveable city (accessible transit, park benches and public toilets are some others).

Social inclusion (getting people out with others) is now as important as not smoking as a determinant of health, especially for seniors.

The recent heated budget discussions have been truly worrying. It seems that the people of Toronto voted for a mayor who promised there would be no need to cut services, yet we have just watched a disturbing exercise in which parks, childcare, libraries — all the things that nourish our city — risk being placed on the chopping block.

As Joe Mihevc said so wisely “One person’s gravy is another person’s essential services.” The funding of Gay Pride and Caribana is important to the GBLT and Caribbean communities, but also for the tourism and economic activity and community pride they generate. Our parks and pools and beaches are access to water and life-saving swimming skills for those who will never be able to afford a cottage. Libraries and subsidized early learning and childcare are also ways to ensure the equal opportunity that allows our children and youth to reach their full potential.

I am concerned that the process for making these decisions is leaving out the citizens of Toronto. The mayor only has one vote on council. We need to support our councillors who are standing up for us, as well as the reputation of our great city.

We can’t let the evidence-free ideology of one man ruin our wonderful city. We all need to roll up our sleeves, get involved and insist upon a true democracy between elections.