Mayor Rob Ford and his executive committee will consider cuts totalling that much when they meet next week, QMI Agency has learned.
Consultants have recommended councillors consider drastically reducing how Toronto Police patrol the city’s streets, shrinking the size of the force, clawing back TTC and Wheel-Trans service, blowing away the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, closing libraries, cutting Toronto Public Health programs for AIDS, dental health and student nutrition, privatizing Exhibition Place and even selling the Toronto Zoo.
Ford welcomed the report but wouldn’t commit to supporting any particular idea. “I support what’s in the best interest of the taxpayers,” he told the Sun Wednesday.
“The report shows there are millions of dollars to be saved by getting rid of waste and duplication,”
But as Councillor Joe Mihevc said earlier this week, “one person’s gravy is another person’s essential service.”
The wide swath of savings, suggested by KPMG’s core services review of the city’s agencies, boards and commissions, will be up for debate when the powerful committee meets next Thursday.
In what will likely be one of the more controversial debates, the confidential document obtained by the Sun recommends eliminating Toronto Public Health’s $6.2-million Community Partnership and Investments Program which funds 42 AIDS prevention projects, 38 community drug prevention projects and 685 student nutrition programs.
Wrapping up the 20-year-old Toronto Atmospheric Fund is also being suggested.
The environmental fund has long been lamented by right-wing city councillors. Eliminating the program would mean grants and programs promoting clear air and climate change solutions would not be issued but, the report notes, the $23-million capital fund would be available “for other purposes.”
Although it makes money, Toronto Parking could also be on the receiving end of cuts from City Hall.
The report suggests selling or leasing off-street lots and garages, intensifying garage sites and looking at implementing a pay-by-cell parking payment system.
But consultants note the sell-off could cut into the amount of money Toronto Parking brings back to the city.
Asked if he thinks council will support any of the changes the consultants have suggested, Ford was optimistic.
“The tax and spenders will not support finding any efficiencies, but most councillors know they were elected to fix this problem, and I think they are ready to do that,” Ford said.