First, thanks to the great many of you who have phoned, written, or come to meetings to discuss what kind of City you want over the last several weeks. Your dedication to our neighborhood and our City is inspiring.
I wish I could tell you all that the recent Council meetings came to a conclusive decision about proposed cuts to City services, but truth is most decisions were pushed off until the January budget debate.
I will keep you posted as the debate moves forward and ensure you get an opportunity to be heard.
One piece of news that came out during the debate may be of interest. For months I have been saying that the supposed $774 million dollar “deficit” facing Toronto is grossly exaggerated. Specifically, I have been claiming that the City’s revenue projections were far too low. In a just published City report it is clear that revenue projections are indeed low. As of August, the Land Transfer Tax revenue is 33% above forecast. If that holds our bottom line will be at least $75 million better than we thought. Many other revenue streams are likely to have improvements as well.
The report reviews a wide range of social and economic indicators and I urge all of you to take a look. In broad terms business and particularly real estate are doing very well. The social indicators are quite mixed. While food bank use and unemployment are down, welfare rates, daycare waiting lists, and affordable housing waiting list are climbing. This points to a growing level of inequality in Toronto.
I am very disturbed by this. Representing Ward 14 I know that a healthy mixed community depends on all groups doing well together. I hope my colleagues take this into account when we get to the City budget. We need to invest to ensure we don’t create a painful destructive social divide.
All the best,