NEPMCC Meeting with Mayor Ford, January 20, 2014
Introduction by Mayor Rob Ford:
ü Building the Scarborough Subway: The City of Toronto has brought all three levels of government together to build a seamless extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway Line.
ü Rebuilt Toronto’s Fiscal Foundation:
o Kept Taxes Low:
§ Average Annual property tax increase over 3 years: 1.5% (0% 2011+2.5% 2012+2% 2013)
§ Reduced the average annual tax increase by over 57% (compared to 3.5% annual tax increase under the last administration).
o Stopped out-of-control spending growth at City Hall:
§ MILLER: Average annual increase in expenditures: $394 Million/year or 5.0%/year.
§ FORD: Average annual increase in expenditures: $8.4 Million/year or 0.2%/year.
o Reduced the size of government:
§ Found over $750 million in permanent efficiency savings (over four budgets).
§ Reduced over 1,346 unnecessary staff positions.
ü Significantly Increased Infrastructure Investment:
o Investing in State of Good Repair: Investing $10 billion over the next 10 years to maintain Toronto’s infrastructure in a State of Good Repair.
o Resurfacing hundreds of kilometres of roads and filling around 200,000 potholes every year.
o Investing $500 million into maintaining the Gardiner Expressway- a key transportation artery.
o Investing to maintain and upgrade Toronto roads, bridges, sidewalks and expressways.
ü Eliminated the Personal Vehicle Tax (PVT) Saved Toronto Residents over $200 million.
ü New Collective Agreement with full and part-time workers- Negotiated collective agreements that will provide the City with the flexibility to improve customer service and achieve significant savings.
o $150 million in direct savings with million more in productivity gains from improved efficiency.
ü Contracted out Garbage Collection West of Yonge Street- Saved over $80 million while improving service.
ü Reduced Councillors and Mayor’s Expense Budgets– Saved $6.4 million over 4 years.
ü Made City Hall more Transparent & Accountable- Reduced Sole Source spending by 75% in the first year (154 million in 2010 compared to 36.2 million in 2011). Adopted Whistleblower Protection By-law.
ü Renewed public faith in TCHC- Brought in a new Board of Directors and senior management team.
ü Fighting Gridlock: Traffic Management Strategy to keep Toronto moving.
ü Made TTC an Essential Service
ü Eliminated the 5-cent bag tax
The following questions were asked by NEPMCC members in attendance-
NEPMCC Member Questions
Member: The Ethnic Press is your friend.
Mayor: I appreciate the support. I attend all ethnic events that I am invited to.
Member: There are talks for an airport north of Pickering. Will the subway extend to that airport in the future?
Mayor: No, I am not aware of such plans.
Member: What are the long term plans of the subway extension?
Mayor: I want subways and I will keep fighting for subways. If we do not build subways, we will have problems.
Member: The Danforth BIA has issues with parking. Are we able to extend the parking times from 9-6 to 9-9?
Mayor: I did not support the new parking ticket rules. With that said, the BIA will need to talk to the Chief of Police. I believe that parking enforcement do have quotas that they need to meet.
Member: How do you balance your personal life with your job as Mayor?
Mayor: I have made mistakes, I have admitted to them. I have lied, but we all lie. We’re all human. Those days are gone.
Member: We need a flexible Mayor.
Mayor: I do not deviate from saving the taxpayer money. I run an efficient government. I’m straight-up with unions and there are no side deals.
Member: Toronto is poluted, especially in Etobicoke.
Mayor: That is the Ministry of Environment’s responsibility. I am happy to meet with MPP Doug Holyday, and a member from the Minstry. I will look into it.
Member: Do you have a message for Chinese New Year, especially for our new immigrants?
Mayor: Welcome and Kung Hai Fat Choi. We are here to help. Do they need help finding a job, housing? We are here to help them.
Be it new immigrants, or all residents, I answer all calls. You are the boss.
Member: Discussion around cricket fields.
Mayor: A cricket stadium would be great. It’s on the radar. I cannot promise you that I will build one, but I’m working on it.
Member: Why the increase in TTC fares?
Mayor: I do not agree with the large increase in the metropass fare. Why would we want to penalize our most loyal customers? I will eliminate the “$60 TTC Tax”, which is the equivalent of the increase in the metropass for the year. A $1 or $2 increase would have been more acceptable.
Member: You have plans to reduce the size of government?
Mayor: Yes, I plan to extend the contracting out of garbage collection. Also, within the City, we have 1 manager to 6 employees. 1 to 12 is more realistic. Why do we need 44 councillors. I will try to reduce that number. I will not stop trying.
12) Member: Mayors travel to promote their cities. Will you use our popularity as a first class city and promote us?
Mayor: I went to Chicago, Mexico and Texas. I do not want to travel on the taxpayers dime. Our tourism is up, and that speaks for itself. If I have to go on a mission, I will go, as I did with Chicago, Mexico and Texas. I am focusing on the organization of the Pan Am games right now.
13) Member: TTC track changes are a waste of $.
Mayor: I despise streetcars. We need to get rid of them, but Council wants to keep them. One way streets are challenging- they require a lot of urban planning to redesign.
14) Member: Metrolinx
Mayor: Metrolinx is pro-LRTs. I am not a fan of Metrolinx.
15) Member: What is your take on the Olympic bid for Toronto?
Mayor: We’re not ready for it. We would need $7 billion just to build a stadium. Look at Pan Am. That whole process is not doing well. We might be ready in about 15/20 years.
16) Member: Premier Wynne prefers talking to the Deputy Mayor over you.
Mayor: That’s her prerogative. What can I do? She’s the Premier. The people will choose in an election. It’s not very democratic.
17) Member: I admire you for admitting your mistakes. Will you repeat them?
Mayor: Actions speak louder than words. I’m not an addict. People will see what I’m all about. I’m out everyday. I was out everyday during our recent crisis. I’m working hard.
18) Member: 1/2 of the people in the Russian community support you. You talk of cutting taxes, but where will we find the money to build?
Mayor: There is so much waste. I’ve only scratched the surface. Example: the Management to staff ratio at City Hall.
19) Member: Why did you get rid of the $60 vehicle registration tax?
Mayor: The people of Toronto did not need another tax. If you would like to donate $60 to the City, we will give you a tax receipt.
20) Member: How we treat our most vulnerable is important. Seniors, those with disabilities,new immigrants. Have social services increased?
Mayor: We have improved and given more money to social services. The best social program is a job. We also have great shelters in this City. I would want help, and I have a big heart.
21) Member: Housing prices are rising. Is it due to Foreigners coming in and buying? Toronto residents can’t afford to buy in the City.
Mayor: I can’t prove it’s foreigners. You would have to talk to the Real Estate Board. The Land Transfer Tax should be reduced.
22) Member: Casinos are attended by addicts.
Mayor: Casinos exist already, with no tables, in the City. We should have that at Woodbine. Buses are full taking people to Rama and Niagara. That’s money that can be spent in our City. It brings in revenue, creates tourism and jobs. And not everyone that goes is an addict.
23) Member: The wait list for social housing is very long, and what is your take on increasing the minimum wage?
Mayor: Minimum wage is a provincial issue.
There are many bachelor suites available, yet individuals want one bedrooms. We are trying to encourage people to take the bachelor suites. Before we build more housing, we need to clean what we have first. Community Housing needs repairs.