Preserving quality city services

A Town Crier Community Column

Despite the world-wide economic troubles, Toronto is doing something right. Toronto has the largest high-rise building boom in the world.

This is not to say I think all high rises are a good thing — I will work with the residents of Ward 29 to make sure any development here does not undermine the character of our wonderful local neighbourhoods.

Nonetheless, this boom means there are a lot of people investing in Toronto and a lot of people who want to move here. It is not just people who want to move here — businesses too. Companies like Google, Coke, Corus, SNC-Lavalin and are all setting up new offices in central Toronto.

This kind of boom creates growing pains and that means our city government has budgeting challenges, made worse by the downloading from the provincial and federal governments in the recent past.

To tackle this challenge we need up-to-date numbers on both the revenue and expense side — real decisions require real numbers. As a former businesswoman, I have to see a spreadsheet with properly-vetted numbers.

For any proposed cuts or new revenue streams, those numbers have to include an analysis of the implications for the city’s future revenues and our economy. Our responsibility as councillors is not just to balance the books but also to provide stewardship for Toronto’s overall prosperity. The delicate mix that created that boom cannot be slashed willy-nilly. Unfortunately, city council has not been provided with this information.

As well, we cannot continue to revisit well-thought-out, publicly-consulted-on infrastructure projects like Transit City and the Waterfront as it wastes money; sends the wrong signal to investors; and undermines our economy.

Opposition to the proposed cuts, cancelling Transit City and revising the Waterfront plan make up the majority of the thousands of messages I have received from Ward 29 residents since last fall’s election. Many people told me that they want to create a caring society that takes care of those in need. The vast majority of those concerned about the cuts stated they see a strong link between quality city services and programs and Toronto’s overall success and prosperity.

It is not just local residents who see this link. This year, Toronto was ranked second best city in the world in PricewaterhouseCoopers “Cities of Opportunity” report. According to that report, health, safety and security are key elements of Toronto’s success.

We must be careful not to jeopardize our prosperity.

About this article:

By: Mary Fragedakis
Posted: Nov 2 2011 6:07 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto