Budget invests in communities and the environment
On February 18, City Council approved the 2021 city budget after a thorough review. Recognizing that many residents are facing financial challenges as a result of COVID-19, the property tax increase has been kept at the rate of inflation, 0.7 percent, without reducing city services. As a member of the Budget Committee, I believe that this budget maintains fiscal responsibility while ensuring that we make the necessary investments in communities and the environment.
Investing in Community Safety Scarborough–Rouge Park is included in a three-year pilot for alternative models of community crisis response, without the presence or intervention of the police. The budget includes $1.7 million for the pilot. The proposed model will have two crisis workers from local community agencies responding to calls together and will serve as an important first step towards improving our response to mental health crises.
The Toronto Police Service will not receive a budget increase this year and will absorb a budget pressure of $46 million. Their budget includes expanding the Neighbourhood Community Officer program to 10 additional neighbourhoods and hiring 18 officers for the enforcement of road safety.
In Ward 25, funding is also included for the creation of after-school and weekend programming at the Danzig (West Hill) and Empringham (Malvern) youth hubs. A sum of $600,000 over three years has been awarded through a Youth Violence Prevention grant, in order to hire three local community members to run these spaces.
Investing in Public TransitThe city has committed $1.238 billion in funds towards the Eglinton East Light Rail Transit (EELRT) project. This commitment is funded by redirecting funds raised by the city to pay for the Scarborough subway extension. In 2019, the province committed to build and fund a three-stop subway line to serve as an extension of Line 2 between Kennedy Station and Scarborough Town Centre Station, and removed the requirement for the City of Toronto to contribute to the project.
Through the city’s funding commitment, we are one step closer to securing the $4.2 billion needed to deliver this project for Scarborough. The EELRT would extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT by 15 km from Kennedy Station through the University of Toronto Scarborough to Malvern, with up to 21 stops and three connections to GO Transit. I will continue to advocate to my federal and provincial counterparts for dedicated funding towards this important project.
Investing in EnvironmentFor the first time, the city budget looks holistically at our investments in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and becoming more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Through this process, the city has identified 439 capital projects that either reduce GHG emissions, increase the city’s climate resilience, or both. This corresponds to a 2021 investment of $611.3 million towards climate action, and an investment of $4.8 billion over the next 10 years.
The city is also continuing to invest in our ravine systems with $2.4 million for invasive species removal, litter cleanup and student internships. We are also investing $8.3 million in capital spending for trails, wayfinding and ecosystem restoration. This includes $6.2 million from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan Resilience funding from the federal government. I would like to thank our MP Gary Anandasangaree for his support of the city’s ravine strategy.
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