The Budget process is almost wrapped up and the Budget Committee has sent their recommendations to Executive. As Budget Chief, my main focus for 2016 has been about managing your money responsibly. Frankly, we needed to have an honest conversation about our City’s finances and we’ve done that. We also needed a rigorous review of all spending and we’ve accomplished that as well.
My number one priority, and the priority of the Mayor, is to ensure that the City remains affordable for its residents. I wholeheartedly stand by the Mayor when he says he’s not prepared to raise taxes above the rate of inflation. Keeping taxes low is the responsible and respectful thing to do. To achieve this, we have shown the same kind of restraint and discipline you face with your household budget. We all have to make choices, like taking a vacation or getting a new furnace. At the City it may concern a choice between raking our beaches more often and investing in transit.
I believe we have struck the right balance of being financially prudent and making targeted investments in the priorities of residents. We have supported city building, transit, and targeted investments in many areas, including emergency services, the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens, and the arts.
Thank you to those of you who took the time to contact my office and encourage me to stay the course to keep the City affordable.
On the local level, we are making sure that your money is also being spent where you want, and where investment makes sense. Through the public consultation process, the Parks department analysed the feedback for a proposed splash pad at Cathedral Bluffs Park. Due to the lack of support for the project it will be relocated to a park which will actually benefit two wards, including ours. You can access the letter to the Cliffcrest community here.
City Planning staff recently presented an optimized transit plan for Scarborough. This revised plan recognizes the Scarborough Town Centre as a major regional hub best served by a subway – not an LRT. I have always supported a subway to Scarborough Town Centre and I’m pleased that this report has emphasized that. The new plan will provide 23 new stations across Scarborough, provide an express subway from Kennedy station to the Scarborough Town Centre, as well as a new rapid transit service to UTSC – all for the same cost as the original subway plan. This is an evidence-based network plan, and all three components – Scarborough subway, LRT, and SmartTrack – will work together to improve local transit and accessibility for Scarborough residents. Upcoming public consultation for the Revised Scarborough Transit Plan will take place in February, and my office will be providing the specifics once they become available. I look forward to when we finally get shovels in the ground. If you would like more information on the revised plan, City Planning’s report can be found here.