Saturday Brew: Toronto School Closures, Municipal Budget Cuts, Dalton Days, Parking Meter Upgrades, Vaughan Crane Crash
What's happening in the GTA (and sometimes beyond):
As the Toronto District School Board loses students to Peel Region, York and Durham, new Director of Education, Chris Spence, is proposing to close 35 schools in eight neighbourhoods across the city. According to Spence, the point of the closures isn't only to save money by shedding costly unused space in sometimes run-down schools, but also to keep students in large enough numbers to allow more program choice. But with the price of commuting expected to steadily increase and families potentially migrating back downtown, some trustees think the proposed closures are premature and ill advised.
Also proposing cuts is Toronto's municipal government, which plans on taking a 10 per cent bite out of its operating budget by cutting $343 million over the next two years. Unlike the province, the city can't legally run a deficit, so councillors are being called on to implement immediate spending controls, a possible 3-per-cent hike in user fees, and to avoid any "new initiatives."
Speaking of the province and its deficit (recently announced at $24.7 billion), The Star is reporting that one of the ways the McGuinty government might tackle the shortfall is by bringing back the "Rae Day," or as it would have to be referred to this time around, the "Dalton Day." Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?
After spending $10 million two years ago to fix a glitch with electronic parking meters around the city that allowed people with expired or over-limit credit cards to park for free, the Toronto Parking Authority is spending another $7.6-million to further address the problem. The new influx of cash will go towards equipping meters with the ability to process parking payments immediately via online transactions. But I wonder exactly what "immediate means? I was using a machine at Spadina and Richmond a couple weeks ago that took about three minutes to process my five dollar parking fee. I sincerely hope it's going to be faster than that.
Vaughan is just not feeling the love these days. Not only are residents whose homes were destroyed by tornadoes two months ago reporting that insurance companies have done little to help them, but yesterday a massive crane toppled at a construction site. But, there is good news. Miraculously, the crane operator survived the crash and there was only one injury reported.
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