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posted December 16, 2007
As he was standing by the campfire at Campbell Rink yesterday, Dougal from the Diggin group asked who was paying for the free hot dogs that were grilling on the fire. He was told "Dufferin Rink cookie money" (i.e profits from the Dufferin Rink snack bar). Despite the low price of the snack bar food over at Dufferin Rink, there's still some extra to put back into the park or into other parks. We said to Dougal, "hot dogs don't cost much anyway, nor does hot chocolate powder -- it's easy to put together some snacks for Campbell Rink."
But afterwards we thought about the cost some more, and about what's involved in making hot dogs and hot chocolate over that simple campfire -- Read More >>
posted on December 13, 2007
CITY IN A PARK-WHAT IF WE STARTED LOOKING AT THE IDEA THAT NEIGHBOURHOODS COULD BE RUN FROM PARKS?
By: MIKE SMITH
Published: DECEMBER 13 - 19, 2007
Source: NOW MAGAZINE www.nowtoronto.com
I wonder what starts people down the paths of their fascinations – city planners, for instance. Children’s blocks? A romantic encounter in an urban square?
My first exposure to planning came unexpectedly. Maybe I was protesting too soon after September 11. And maybe I was mouthier six years ago. A constable was searching my knapsack. But soon he and I were agreeing that policing couldn't make us safe.
Unless you design neighbourhoods so people can care for each other, he said, the police will be forever doing mop-up. His superior silently poured the juice from my lunch onto the street to illustrate the point.
posted December 17, 2007
Terry Flynn thought that demolishing the Matador Nightclub at Dovercourt and College to make way for a parking lot made no sense. However it seems that City Councillor Adam Giambrone supported the demolition. So Terry wrote him a letter with some calculations:
(:letter:) I am not sure what logical argument can be extended by the City to expropriate a historical building and tear it down for 20 parking spaces on a streetcar line in 2007.
posted October 07, 2007
We present two articles on local concerns, written within a week of each other, which -- in their original versions Sue-Ann Levy's Toronto Sun article, Paul Terefenco's NOW Magazine article -- seem to further polarize public discussion. What if explicit or implicit insults are removed? Could the issues raised in these articles lead to a working out of some solutions? What follows are versions of the originals as re-written by a CELOS researcher, to explore this idea.
Read More >>
posted on September 09, 2007
Apocalyptic visions: It doesn’t have to be this way
By: DAVID SOKNACKI
Published: August 10, 2007
Source: insidetoronto.ca article
As theatre the drama now playing at City Hall merits a below-average rating. Even by the standards of 100 Queen Street West, the hysteria over the new taxes is over the top. The key players have all settled into predictable messages. But in this excitement there is an opportunity to develop some principles for better governance. Let’s hope that Council doesn’t lose sight of the underlying reasons for the current financial position. With any luck we won’t have a repeat performance next year.
posted September 05, 2007
Mayor Miller’s directive to cut $100 million from the city’s operating budget this year, in preparation for even harsher cuts next year, resulted in staff cuts affecting the lowest-paid and most vulnerable staff at Parks and Recreation. There’s quite a range of pay in this department: 25 of its 200-plus management staff make over $100,000 a year, with additional 24% benefits on top of that. At the other extreme are the many recreation-program casual staff, who earn $20,000 if they’re lucky enough to get close to full-time hours. It’s those staff who have been told that their hours have been radically cut (especially if they work in the 50 outdoor rinks). This includes students working for their tuition, and much of the “new blood” in the department, young people willing to put up with the wages for now in order to get established. Read More >>
posted August 20, 2007
Mayor David Miller lost the first round of his attempt to gain some more taxes for the city by charging drivers and new house buyers extra. He may win the next try – after all, cities are legally required to balance their budget, and the 2007 municipal budget was over half a billion dollars too high. City Council will have to do something. Here’s the math:
The big-picture financial situation: Toronto’s debt (also called “liability,” from capital expenditures and employee WSIB claims, retiree benefits, sick-leave pay-outs and employee separation costs) has increased every year and is now $2.39 billion. (For comparison, from 2005: Montreal: $6.049 billion debt. Ottawa: $253 million debt. Vancouver: $7 million debt. Calgary: $561 million assets. Edmonton: $2.531 billion assets.) Interest payments on the city’s debt come from the city’s operating funds: almost $203 million last year, if we read the financial report right. And Toronto’s operating expenses continue to rise. In 2005 the gross operating budget was $6.8 billion; by 2006 it had risen to $7.1 billion. Read More >>
posted August 20, 2007
Mayor David Miller lost the first round of his attempt to gain some more taxes for the city by charging drivers and new house buyers extra. He may win the next try – after all, cities are legally required to balance their budget, and right now the 2007 municipal budget is over half a billion dollars too high. City Council will have to do something. What’s more, Toronto’s debt (from capital expenditures) is about to hit 2 billion. So it’s no wonder that when City Council refused to order the new tax now, the Mayor asked City staff to help out by reducing City operating expenses by $100 million. Read More >>
posted August 20, 2007
When Mayor Miller raised the alarm, City managers decided that one way to save money was by cutting the hours of Parks and Recreation part-time workers. Community centres are to be closed on Mondays; outdoor ice rinks are to stay locked until January; golf courses will close a week early; and the cleanup workers will disappear from the parks well before the leaves fall.
There are some puzzling things here. For example: community centres also make money, by charging fees for daycare or weight rooms or swimming lessons. Laying off the part-time program staff will save on wages but will also mean lost fees (and full-time staff will have to be paid whether the centres are open or not). Read More >>
posted August 20, 2007
Every park has to help reduce the operating costs while the City tries to dig itself out of its deepening fiscal hole. Here are some immediate suggestions for Dufferin Grove Park, based on talking with on-site staff and park users. Read More >>