It’s hot out already, and it’s not even noon. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, has issued an Extreme Heat Alert until further notice.
The Library is open and air conditioned, as is the Pelmo Community Centre. Weston Lions Pool is fantastic—and was not very busy yesterday, when I was there with the kids. Admission is free, and the water is cold. Bring a pair of flip-flops, though; the change rooms are, well, well travelled.
A late-found pot of money means that library hours will probably not be cut While Frances Nunziata was predicting that library hours would have to be trimmed, Rob Ford’s allies on the powerful executive committee voted in the end to soften the tough 2012 budget and preserve library services.
Nunziata earlier told Correire Canadese that
cuts to the library system will not lead to closures… but rather to “the reduction of a few hours of operation.” She emphasizes that “taxpayers cannot pay out-of-pocket.”
In the end, however, City Council will be asked to cut the library budget by $3.9 million, instead of $7 million. According to the Star, library hours will probably not have to be reduced. Council will vote next week on the budget.
The extra money came from a $8.8 million surplus from higher-than-expected property tax revenues in 2011.
The Weston Library will be hosting an energy conservation workshop on Thursday, October 20. The Toronto Region Conservation Authority will be explaining energy rates and billing, and showing ways to save money.
The Weston and Mount Dennis library branches will have to cut service hours if City Council accepts the recommendations of the city’s chief librarian. Both the Weston and Mount Dennis branches will be asked to close for an additional 2.5 hours every week.
The cuts have been ordered by Rob Ford, who told every city department to cut 10% of its budget. Not all libraries, however, are being told to close early. Of the 98 libraries in the city, 29 dodged the axe.
Despite Doug Ford’s stated willingness to close library branches, none of the libraries in the riding of the mayor’s brother are facing service cuts. Both libraries in Frances Nunziata’s riding are, however.
Rob Ford promised in his election campaign that “services will not be cut, guaranteed”. Cutting service will only solve part of the library’s budget problems however; collections will also be reduced.
The City Manager has issued his review and has recommended cuts to Toronto services to balance the budget deficit. Among the possible cuts that might affect Westonians:
Elimination of the neighbourhood improvement fund that reduces graffiti, funds murals, and employs young people in Weston
Grants to the Weston BIA
Closure of some branches of the library system
A reduced number of police officers
Additional fares or reduced service on the 352 and 313 late-night busses and service reductions on the 59 Maple Leaf bus
Reduced snow clearing and reduced grass cutting in parks
At this point, details are sparse, and little has been decided. The City Manager report distilled an external audit down to a manageable number of recommendations, which will, if your humble correspondent understands the process correctly, be further debated at City Council among other places.
Councillor Nunziata will be holding a public meeting to hear residents’ input on Thursday, September 15, at the York Civic Centre: 2700 Eglinton Ave. West. The meeting will begin at 7 pm.
Mike Sullivan, the recently-elected MP for Weston, sent a letter to Mayor Ford and all members of city council urging them not to cut libraries and essential services in Weston. He told them that the libraries here are not “part of the ‘gravy’ you took aim at in the election campaign”.
The letter says that the libraries should not be considered for review as ‘non-essential’ services. Sullivan writes, “In fact, to many residents of this riding, wards 11 and 12, there is precious little gravy in the services they need from the city.”
Sullivan also argues against increasing user fees or fines, and says that “adding or raising user fees… is also unnecessarily punitive” for poor residents. User fees “penalize seniors, the poor, and marginalized residents. First because these person tend to use services such as community centres, pools and libraries more than more affluent residents, and second because the addition of such fees becomes, in effect, a tax on seniors and the poor.”
Mike Sullivan ended the letter by saying that he would do his part in the coming months to urge the government to provide more funding for infrastructure and transit.
Frances Nunziata says the library union is “fear mongering” when it alleges that the libraries in her ward are vulnerable. She says
Residents of Ward 11 can rest assured that the Weston and Mount Dennis libraries will not be closed and any suggestion to the contrary is absolutely false.
The Toronto Public Library Workers Union put out a press release earlier this week that said the Weston and Mount Dennis libraries were threatened by the current cost-cutting at City Hall because they are in the ward of a councillor who is sympathetic to Rob Ford. Recently, Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, said that he would cut libraries “in a heartbeat“.
As we are still in the early stages of reviewing all City operations, there will be rumours surfacing regarding cuts that will be made. The review of the existing library system is one such example of how rumours have spread… The Weston and Mount Dennis libraries are not in any danger of being closed; if this was ever being considered, which it is not, I would fight tooth and nail to ensure that it did not happen.