On February 14, the City's 2024 Budget was approved. We heard from thousands of Torontonians in this extraordinary budget process that had the most opportunities to engage in the City's history. We invited neighbours from every corner of the city into the tough, necessary, and exciting choices that get us back on track: to be a city we can all be proud of. We heard your most urgent priorities: housing for everyone; reliable, safe, affordable transit; strengthening our public services and infrastructure; and real safety in our communities.
Going into the budget process, Toronto was facing an unprecedented financial shortfall of $1.8 billion. After years of austerity, of degraded expectations about what Toronto can be, we set our sights higher, prioritizing care for our communities, getting our fiscal house in order, and cooperation with all levels of government.
I’m not new to the fight for affordable and safe housing for all. One of my first acts as a City Councillor was to fight tooth and nail to protect the $10 million committed to the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) program for affordable rentals. Now we’re going so much further, moving a historic, $100 million investment so rental housing stays affordable, forever.
Additionally, this budget invests in:
- 65,000 rent-controlled homes
- 1,296 rent-geared-to-income units
- An additional $3.1 million for the Eviction Prevention in Community program
- More inspectors to uphold housing standards for RentSafe
- More funding for both the Rent Bank and Tenant Support Program.
- Lowering the multi-residential tax rate keeping it at 3.5% (ensuring tenants in multi-residential buildings won’t face big above-guideline increases from landlords)
We’re investing in affordable, accessible, and reliable public transit that gets us where we need to go, and thrive in this city we all love. Here in Spadina-Fort York, we are moving forward with the design of the long-awaited Waterfront East LRT with a $63 million investment, realizing the potential for people to live, work, learn, and play on our beautiful waterfront.
The budget also includes:
- A freeze on TTC fares
- 97% of pre-pandemic service
- 160 visible staff to improve safety
Full funding for the construction of the Scarborough Busway, Eglinton LRT, and the Finch West LRT
Our public and green spaces are precious. This budget invests in new parks, as well as revitalizing existing well-used and well-loved parks in Spadina-Fort York. These are some of the exciting developments we’re looking forward to:
- A park at 801 Wellington and 10 Ordnance is coming to the Niagara neighbourhood in winter 2025
- The long-awaited revitalization of David Crombie Park is starting winter 2024
- Construction on Victoria Memorial Square will begin summer 2024
- Final designs for a new park in the heart of King-Spadina at 229 Richmond West begin this year
- The revitalization of Osler Playground will be complete by late summer 2024
- Restoration of the historic Bathurst Quay Malting Silos and the creation of a new promenade space
- New affordable housing and an EarlyON program centre at 150 Queens Wharf
- Revitalization of the John Street Corridor streetscape
- Restoration and preservation of the public art piece Salmon Run on Bremner Blvd
- Initial funding for the implementation of the Toronto Island Master Plan
- Underground utilities and public realm for the Quayside development
- Completion of the Indian Residential School Survivors Restoration of Identity Project at Nathan Phillips Square, fulfilling our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation National Call to Action
Safety in our city continues to be a priority for me. This budget:
- Expands the Toronto Community Crisis Service city-wide
- Hires hundreds more firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and civilian staff
- Implements the Open Hours plan for Toronto Public Library (TPL), with more youth hubs
- Provides additional TPL Youth Hubs serving priority neighbourhoods
- Increases community grants focused on youth violence prevention
- Invest in by-law officers to enforce rules around noise and dangerous dogs
I did not support the additional increase to the Police budget, which now sits at nearly $1.2 billion. While there is an undeniable problem with response times in Toronto, Toronto’s Auditor General found that 40% of the calls for police service they reviewed could be handled by an alternative response. What we need to ensure is that all our emergency services are doing what they are uniquely equipped for.
We know a more equal city is a safer city. We must treat investments in affordable housing, protection for renters, strong public services, and transit improvements as investments in our safety and well-being. I was proud to support additional initiatives in the budget to:
- Implement the Direct Care initiative for Long-Term Care Homes
- Invest in more youth and community programs in priority neighbourhoods
- Invest in the arts, environmental programs, and CPIP grants
You can see my remarks from the budget here: