Tory to deliver speech on fate of Gardiner as vote draws closer

Mayor John Tory is expected to address the Empire Club of Canada on the future of the Gardiner Expressway this afternoon as a city council vote on what to do with the eastern portion of the crumbling highway draws closer.

City council is expected to meet Wednesday to decide between two options for the 2.4 kilometre stretch of the Gardiner between Lower Jarvis Street and Logan Avenue.

The first option would see the elevated expressway removed completely east of Jarvis Street and Lake Shore Boulevard widened to eight lanes to accommodate the displaced traffic while the so-called “hybrid” option favoured by Tory would see the highway rerouted between Jarvis Street and the Don Valley Parkway with a new exit put in at Cherry Street.

Though Tory has been vocal in his support of the hybrid proposal due to concerns over the traffic implications of removing the highway altogether, an increasing number of councillors and city leaders have thrown their support behind the tear-down option in recent days, including former mayor David Crombie, former city planner Paul Bedford and a group of 14 developers.

Meanwhile, on Monday the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition released a statement affirming its support for the hybrid option. “We have one chance to get this right,” Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Andrea Micieli said in the statement. “Toronto’s streets are already choked with cars. Spending the next several years tearing down a chunk of the Gardiner to replace it with an eight-lane boulevard dotted with traffic lights is an irresponsible move that will worsen the congestion crisis crippling Toronto’s streets. As our city’s population grows – adding another half-million people by 2031 according to the city’s own official plan – the focus must be on reducing traffic times and gridlock.”

The “hybrid” option is expected to cost a total of $919 million over a 100-year period compared to $461 million for the removal option. The immediate cost for the hybrid option is estimated at $336 million compared to $240 million for the tear-down option.
Tory’s speech to the Empire Club of Canada is expected to begin at 12:55 p.m. at Arcadian Court. The mayor is then expected to speak with reporters afterwards.

City hikes curbside garbage fees, particularly on large bins


A day after passing a property tax hike that will average about $83 more per household per year, city council passed a motion Wednesday to hike curbside garbage fees by as much as $126 per bin.

At the same time, those with the smallest trash bins will be paying only a few dollars more.

Mayor John Tory, who supported both the tax increase (which at 2.75 per cent was below the rate of inflation) and the garbage fee hike, said the garbage price increases are necessary for the city to get closer to recouping the real costs.

However, he also said that changes to the fees mean residents can actually save money by downsizing their black bins and putting more into the recycling bins, which are free of charge at any size.

“I hope it creates an incentive for people to do even more than they’re doing to divert waste,” he added.

As of April 1, the new prices (after rebates that also vary by bin size) will be:
Small – $10.63
Medium – $88.73
Large – $249.39
Extra-large – $343.60
That’s equivalent to a cost increase of:
Small – $3.91
Medium – $32.64
Large – $91.00
Extra-large – $126.39.

Matthew McGuire, president of the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, blasted the fee hike on Wednesday.

“John Tory managed to hike taxes to pay for his budget today, but he spent whatever credibility he had as a fiscal conservative,” he said.

Toronto City Council increases property taxes by 3.2%


Toronto City Council has debated and voted on the 2015 city budget, and by a vote of 36-8 ultimately approved the budget. The property tax will increase by 3.2%, which means households will pay an average $83 more per year. In addition, water rates were increased by 8% and garbage fees were increased a whopping 58%.

Before the debate,mayor John Tory said the city’s $11.4 billion operating budget is designed to improve service levels and keep major services intact.

Before the City Council to discuss budget, Tory said the city’s operating budget of $114 million, the city government to improve service levels and keep major service project. Tory’s budget includes a 2.25% tax increase, lower than the rate of inflation, and an additional 0.5% tax increase to fund construction of the Scarborough subway extension.

Meanwhile, Tory also proposed to cut the Toronto Board buses and police expenditures total 100 million 10 million yuan, and invested 90 million yuan to improve the quality of service buses Bureau. On the final city council budget outcome for rent increased by 3.2%. Some media reports, due to the large increase in garbage fees, and therefore need to rent rose 3.2 percent.

At yesterday’s City Council meeting, Ward 2 Councillor Rob Ford proposed that City Council reject the garbage fees. Ford pointed out that the proposed changes reduce the solid waste rebate by $18 million. But his proposal was supported by only two votes.

The waste disposal charges will increase fees for small garbage bins by $3.91 annually, for medium bins by $32.64 annually, for large bins by $91 annually, and for extra large bins by $126.39 annually.

Tory argued that people can save money if they are willing to reduce their amount of waste and choose a smaller garbage bin. He said garbage collection and disposal costs are increasing, and while the city’s goal for waste diversion is 70%, the city is only hovering around 55%. This measure, he argues, is to encourage the public to reduce waste.

At the meeting, Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks proposed to increase the property tax rate to 3.92% from the required 2.75%. It is understood that the city budget is facing a shortage of $86 million.

Another controversial aspect in the budget is whether funds from capital reserves should be borrowed to supplement the budget and repaid over six years. In this regard, City Councillor Mike Layton pointed out that the city borrowed money from the capital funds to temporarily balance the budget shortfall, but the city still need to pay for it. He said that means that means the City wants to raise taxes. Other contents of the Budget, the City Council will continue to discuss today.

The proposal is also subject to fierce criticism from the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition. The group notes the original garbage fees were offset by a tax rebate, but Tory’s plan to roll back this rebate will effectively make taxpayers pay twice for garbage collection.

Tory urged to clamp down on office budgets


Mayor-elect John Tory is being urged to clamp down on councillors’ expenses.

In the wake of a Toronto Sun story on councillors’ office budgets, the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition urged Tory to change the rules governing expenses at his first council meeting in December.

Tory’s spokesman said Tuesday that the incoming administration will “take a look” at the suggestion.

Under the current rules approved by councillors in 2012, councillors each have a $30,000 office budget. But they can turn to a separate general council budget to fund rent for a constituency office, cellphone expenses and the cost of delivering one newsletter.

“Council’s expense policy lacks common sense,” coalition president Matthew McGuire stated in a press release. “Councillor expenses are just that: councillor expenses. They should come out of council expense budgets, not a bottomless general expense budget.”

McGuire also argued third quarter councillor expenses should be released early in an election year — these expenses weren’t public until days after the Oct. 27 election.

“It’s imperative for voters to be fully-informed while casting ballots,” McGuire said.

Tory spokesman Amanda Galbraith said “keeping taxes low and ensuring Toronto tax dollars are responsibly spent are critical parts of John’s platform.

“As Mayor, John will work aggressively to ensure that all budgets are carefully and responsibly managed,” Galbraith said. “In particular, John will bring increased accountability and leadership so we no longer see the disgraceful cost overruns like at Union Station and Nathan Phillips Square.

“With respect to this specific suggestion, we will take a look.”

Councillor Doug Ford warned Tory on Monday not to increase councillors’ office budgets.

Getting council to slash their own budgets was one of the Ford administration’s key early accomplishments and Ford predicted some councillors would want to push to fatten up those budgets again with Tory in office.

Incumbency a curse at City Hall


Raymond Cho. Anthony Perruzza. Mark Grimes. Giorgio Mammoliti. Maria Augimeri. Gord Perks. Ana Bailao. Joe Mihevc, John Filion, Pam McConnell. Janet Davis. Shelley Carroll. Glenn De Baeremaeker. Chin Lee. Norm Kelly. Ron Moeser.

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Doug Ford deliberately avoiding brother Rob

Dushi In The News

Mayor Ford and Doug Ford in recent weeks have tried to reduce the number of criticisms leveled at Doug Ford in his bid for Toronto mayor. Additionally, an organization has launched a campaign called STOP CHOW NOW which has resulted in a number of lawn signs popping up.

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