It was a whirlwind at council but the 2012 budget finally passed! I am proud to say that we’re on our way to fiscal responsibility while saving the programs and services that matter most to Torontonians. The vote was very close, 23-21, but in the end, we put back 0.2 per cent of the operating budget and ensured that you got the city you’ve been asking for in thousands of emails, phone calls, letters and meetings.
This is a budget that is the result of you raising your voice when it mattered most. Ward 32 residents were unstoppable – cranking out the creative ideas, passion and support around the clock. We even had one resident, a strong swimming advocate, sit through hours of Executive Committee in a wet suit!
The motion that carried the day, moved by Councillor Josh Colle, took weeks for us to put together. My colleagues in the ‘mighty middle’ were running from meeting to meeting, madly crunching numbers, drafting motions, asking questions of city staff. It was organized chaos, with staff working long hours and constituents providing a steady stream of ideas and inspiration. In the end, a coalition that spanned the political spectrum agreed to protect childcare, transit, pools and ice rinks, environmental programs and shelters.
· $5 million to the TTC to help prevent service cuts
· $3.9 million to prevent proposed cuts to libraries
· $2.8 million to restore funding to the Community Partnerships Investment Program which support seniors, newcomers and youth
· $1.97 million to restore funding for three shelters
· $1.68 million for the school-based childcare rent subsidy
· $1.3 million to restore youth programs at Priority Centres
· $680,000 for pools
· $670,000 to restore child care centre programming
· $323,000 for climate change and sustainability programs
· $325,000 for Live Green animators
· $260,000 for ice rink programming
This team effort of working across political stripes will hopefully carry over into other City Council affairs. Municipal politics seem to work best when we focus tightly on figuring out what is best for the city, suggesting constructive alternatives, thinking of revenue generation as well as prudent approaches to operations. We have some major challenges ahead to keep our great city running, but at least for today, we have show that we can work together and build a better city.
Go Ward 32 Go! – Mary-Margaret
Councillor McMahon was one of the 24 signatories on Councillor Stintz’s petition to have a special council session devoted to transit issues. She is strongly in favour of revisiting the current transit plan that prioritizes subways. She would like to see our transit dollars spent in such a way that they benefit the greatest number of Torontonians and gets the city moving faster, sooner while relieving congestion in both the core and suburbs. Please follow events in the media and on our website for further updates.
Transit is a critical issue for all Torontonians. Whether you take the subway, the bus or the streetcar, we all know it’s about moving people quickly and comfortably across every neighbourhood in this city. I believe that Torontonians need the facts about the plans, the costs, the timeline and the funding sources.
Earlier in February I supported the alternate plan put forward by Councillor Stintz that proposed that the Eglinton LRT come above ground east of the Don River. I also supported the proposal to study the viability of the Sheppard subway extension.
As much as I disagreed with TTC General Manager Gary Webster over the location of the Ashbridges Bay Storage Yard and the Gerrard India Festival fees for re-routing the streetcars, I was strongly opposed to how the TTC Commission conducted itself in dismissing him ‘without just cause.’
As a City Councillor I rely on dependable information and analysis from staff every day, from statistics on 311 calls to briefings from the Auditor General. Their ability to report and write reports without fear of reprisal is critical to good governance, and a transparent and accountable public service.
I will continue to monitor the transit issues and plans as they emerge at City Hall.
Councillor McMahon voted with Council to exempt Toronto from trade agreements like CETA that are currently being negotiated with the EU. In her opinion CETA was a bad deal for the city. It would have taken away Toronto’s autonomy and agency to support our local economy, protect the environment and run city services as we feel is best.
At the March council session, Councillor McMahon voted to restructure Toronto Transit Commission to have seven City Councillors and four citizen members (applications details for the citizen members will be posted when they become available).
There was a lot of jockeying for these important positions, with Councillor McMahon being nominated at one point. In the end, Councillor McMahon voted for a group that supports Council’s majority view that it is time to get the shovel in the ground building a transit system that moves more people, faster, sooner and within our financial means.
Councillor McMahon noted that the firing of TTC Chief General Manager Gary Webster by the previous TTC commission sent a troubling message to city employees who could fear reprisal for merely performing their professional duties of giving advice and insight.