Libraries appear set to escape proposed service cuts
There might be some early good news from today's executive committee meeting: closures to Toronto Public Libraries are not on the mayor's agenda. In fact, it's quite the opposite if you ask Rob Ford. "I never ever said I was closing a library. I said we are going to find efficiencies. I never said we were going to close libraries and we are not closing libraries," he told reporters during a brief press conference earlier today. Later on, he restated his stance on Twitter, but with an implicit caveat that cuts could come later on. "I am not ready to close libraries - I believe the Chief Librarian can find efficiencies, to meet her budget targets," he sent to his 13,000+ followers. Lest one get too confident about this, however, it'd be good to recall that when convenient Ford conflates the terms "efficiency" and "cut."
Although it was the mayor's brother and Ward 2 Councillor Doug Ford who was most outspoken about potential cuts to libraries, the mayor's (new) desire to protect libraries from closure is likely the result of a backlash from the public and a lack of support from members of council who have otherwise been sympathetic to the mayor's agenda. Back in early August Councillor Frances Nunziata made it clear she didn't support closing library branches, and even more recently Councillor Denzil Minan-Wong told reporters that "libraries are an important community asset. We won't be closing any."
Ford also indicated that he's never been in favour of eliminating windrow clearing, one of the potential service cuts highlighted in the Core Services Review under consideration at today's executive committee. Given the trajectory of the proceedings so far, one suspects that these services will remain part of a small minority to be protected. To follow what's going on at City Hall today, you can stream the meeting live at this link or tune into channel 10 on Rogers cable.
Photo by Britt Embry in the blogTO Flickr pool
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