Toronto: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Toronto Mayor John Tory to drop his demands for a $1.4-billion bailout from federal and provincial governments and instead cut waste such as an uncompetitive construction bidding process and a multi-billion dollar park.
“We have a simple solution for Mayor Tory’s $1.4-billion budget quandary: he should abandon his plan to build a $3.8-billion floating park,” said Jasmine Moulton, the CTF’s Ontario Director. “There are far more pressing priorities in the city right now, and the mayor shouldn’t be taking more money out of taxpayers’ pockets when instead he could redirect funding from his pet project.”
Tory repeated calls for funding from the provincial and federal governments Tuesday morning. He cited the city’s projected deficit of $1.4 billion for this year, referring to a newly released report that will be considered by the executive committee next week.
The report estimates that the total financial impact of COVID-19 on the city’s budget amounts to $1.9 billion, but the city was able to find $514 million in savings through “workforce restraints, spending constraints and cost avoidance.”
“While it’s positive to see the city has found some savings, there’s a glaring omission with a much bigger price tag that should be added to that list: Mayor Tory’s $3.8-billion floating park vanity project,” said Moulton.
The city says Rail Deck Park will cost $1.7 billion, but the Canadian Taxpayers Federation released a report in May showing the park is likely to cost at least $3.8 billion. Despite concerns over cost, Mayor Tory has confirmed the city will proceed with its plans to build the park.
Likewise, the city of Toronto could have saved up to $48 million by increasing competition in its construction bidding process by allowing all construction workers to bid on projects. Instead, Toronto city council voted against provincial competitiveness legislation and restricted bidding to a select group of unions last summer.
Meanwhile, Tory said that if Toronto does not receive a bailout from the provincial and federal governments, he may have to implement a “massive tax increase” and “damaging cuts to services.”
A tax increase is the last thing the city needs right now. Toronto lost 472,000 jobs from February to May this year, according to a report released by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario.
“Mayor Tory has his priorities all wrong,” said Moulton. “It’s unconscionable to think the city’s most vulnerable will be hung out to dry so that Tory can slap his name on his legacy project, a floating park that no one can afford.”
Jasmine Moulton, Ontario Director