Dear friends and neighbours,
Last week, Toronto City Council approved the 2016 City Budget. The budget reflects Council's commitment to maintaining current service levels and investing in transit, housing and poverty reduction. Toronto's residential property tax rate continues to be the lowest in the Greater Toronto Area. At 1.3%, the City budget approved by Council was kept under the rate of inflation. This amount is exclusive of the Scarborough Subway levy.
Here are some highlights from this year's budget:
As previously announced, this year's TTC budget allows for numerous service improvements including earlier Sunday morning subway service (at 8 a.m.), more frequent buses outside of peak hours, and faster boarding on streetcars. It also adds new express bus routes, including three in Ward 24, to lessen your commute time. More information about these routes can be found here.
This year's Toronto Police budget crosses $1 billion for the first time, with the majority of costs associated with salaries and benefits. It is the first Toronto Police Services budget submitted under the new Chief, Mark Saunders. I met with Chief Saunders to express my concern about the growing budget increase and received assurances that he had a plan to respond to cost pressures, and bring changes for the 2017 budget. I believe Council and the public should give Chief Saunders a fair chance to reform the Police Service.
Funding for additional staff was added in the amount of 57 new paramedics and 17 Fire Services staff to better serve our population. These frontline staff are crucial to responding effectively to emergencies.
Bessarion Community Centre
The 2016-2025 Capital Plan includes funding of $77 million for construction of the Bessarion Community Centre. It will be a 3-storey, 133,000 sq. ft. building that features:
1. Recreation and fitness facilities
2. An aquatics centre
3. A Toronto Public Library branch (to replace the Bayview branch)
4. A child care centre
5. Two levels of underground parking
6. Direct access to Bessarion Subway Station
The project is in the final design review phase. The current projected completion date is 2020.
Long Term Care Homes & Services
Council approved funding for the expansion of the Homemakers and Nurses Services Program. The increased funding allows for 31,200 additional hours of homemaking services or 400 additional clients as part of Long Term Care Homes & Services.
An additional $1.25 million was included in the Children's Services budget to increase the number of childcare subsidies. The amount is expected to cover an additional 165 spaces.
City Council provided $220,000 in funding for a crime prevention program under the Youth Development Unit.
For more information including reports on selected budgets and helpful infographics, please view the webpage here.