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FORUM: Building a progressive city budget (Winter 2022)

March 14th, 2022 · No Comments

Affordable housing, climate initiatives, road safety all on the agenda

By Mike Layton

The 2022 budget process will have wrapped up by the time this publication goes to print, but I still thought I could provide an update on some of the policy pieces I have been working on advancing through my role on the budget committee. 

My focus in budget committee has not wavered from working to ensure we are building a more just, green, safe, and equitable city.

Some things that have already been accomplished include the expansion of services to Indigenous residents in Ward 11, and by extension city-wide through 2 projects. 

First, we are looking to build Indigenous affordable housing in the parking lot at 19 Spadina Road (and I will have more information about this in future updates) and secondly, plans for the Thunder Woman Healing Lodge, a little further north on Spadina, are close to being fully realized.

On climate, council has agreed to, as part of developing a climate lens on budget decisions, establish a process for identifying projects that produce net positive and net negative climate impacts. 

I still need to work to have council support funding for more city planners assigned to improving the Toronto Green Standard and ensuring our future builds are as green as possible.

Unfortunately, there are still major holes in the budget when it comes to housing and road safety. 

The need for affordable and supportive housing units has never been greater and the province must provide the City of Toronto with the funding necessary to meet our targets. 

While council has a commitment to ensure these funds are available to us, I worry about what will happen should the province decide not to fund our supportive and affordable housing targets, and the budget has no contingency built in to support this. 

Safety in existing units continues to be a concern for many tenants and I tried to increase funding for RentSafeTO enforcement, but this failed on a vote of 5-1. 

Council must stop pretending that renters and tenants do not exist and start funding the services they need properly. 

We must also be looking to further expand the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition Program to support the acquisition of housing by community agencies in order to provide housing.

I attempted to remove $2.6 million from the Toronto Police Services budget to put toward enforcement of poor rental property standards and protection of the health and safety of Toronto’s tenants. Unfortunately, this did not pass. 

Throughout the budget deputations from the public, I consistently heard calls to address the police budget, but council has not yet shown any indication or willingness to decrease this budget. 

We must work to fund alternative service response models.

Lastly, road safety continues to be a priority in every transportation related decision I make. 

While the budget continues to prioritize Gardiner rehabilitation over the majority of other capital needs on our road infrastructure, there are actions council can take to limit the danger and exposure on our roads by increasing Automated Speed Enforcement and lowering speed limits. 

Council will be looking to expand Community Safety Zones on all arterials in all of Toronto, but a study is not truly action. 

We must find creative ways to hold those driving dangerously to account.

My hope is that by the time this is published, in addition to all of the above, council will have approved: waiving library late fees; increasing the senior’s digital literacy program; capital funding for the TTC to expand their fleet; providing free menstrual products across all service agencies; reallocating resources from the Toronto Police Service to support community services and alternative response models. We will see.

I provide more frequent and timely updates through my e-newsletter and encourage everyone to visit and sign up to receive bi-weekly updates on the goings-on in Ward 11.

As always, please contact me at if you have any questions, or concerns.

Mike Layton is city councillor for Ward 11, University–Rosedale.


Tags: Annex · Opinion