Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services, and a lack of leadership from council. “I feel great about tax reductions, but there’s a reality here: we need more money,” Tory tells a news conference.
“The only way we can balance the budget is to make cuts,” he said. “I will be the first mayor to go into the next provincial election pledging to balance the budget by the end of this term.”
Says a city council meeting was attended by a couple thousand residents. A total of $10 million was being set aside for a new elementary school, and $75,000 was provided for a police detachment.
Tory says Toronto could save $20 million if it builds the school but chose not to because costs were not as great as the city hoped and the school was not part of Toronto’s long term planning.
The school was only a short-term solution, he says, as he was able to find $800,000 in savings elsewhere within the budget.
“We need more in the budget,” he says, though he would not say exactly what.
Tory says the city has a long way to go in terms of leadership within the council.
“Toronto council members are not acting in the best interests of the people who live here,” says Tory, who was elected in 2006 on a platform to shake up the status quo and was made mayor in the spring of 2011 amid much uncertainty.
“They’re not leading. What they’re doing is keeping the city safe. That’s what we ask of ourselves. That’s what we expect from our elected leaders. The only thing they can do is get involved and lead,” Tory says he told council at his election victory speech in December.
“I think it’s going to be very hard for any mayor to succeed. No mayor can make decisions in isolation. You can make good decisions when there’s support from the council,” he says.
Tory says he is aware there are some councillors who he says need a wakeup call, including Councillor Gord Perks, now chair of city council’s economic development and transportation committee.