The public wants change. Rob Ford wants to do the changing. But what will this mean for Weston?
My premises, in a nutshell: City services benefit all residents equally, but the rich pay more for them than the poor do. So cutting taxes (or cutting services) helps the rich and hurts the poor. The rich get their money back. Both the rich and poor lose their services.
There are four pillars to Ford’s campaign:
- Reducing city staff
- Reducing city budgets
- Reducing taxes such as the land transfer tax and the car registration fee
- Outsourcing union jobs and reducing wages
If you are a middle- or upper-class Westonian, Ford’s victory will leave more money in your wallet. But if you’re poor, (and Weston is one of the poorest ridings in the city) the next four years will sting.
Cutting taxes means cutting programs. Ford has been pretty clear that he doesn’t support the Priority Neighbourhood plan that brought millions of dollars into Weston and other poor areas. Weston arts and social-services groups like UrbanArts, Frontlines, and Northwood Neighbourhood Services will likely see cuts.
City staff will also be cut. Ford says that service will remain the same—which is believable only if you think that city staff are indolent, but not so indolent that they will refuse to work harder when they see the people around them disappearing. Perhaps. I’m willing to bet that the poor use city services more that others; certainly they use more employment services, community housing, TTC, and subsidized daycare. Cuts to staff will hurt the working class the most.
Finally, the poor in Weston will not see much tax relief; poor people generally don’t own cars or real estate. Changes to the vehicle registration tax, the land transfer tax, and property taxes are going to have only indirect effects, if any. Rent increases may not happen as quickly if property taxes do not grow.
But there are good things ahead. There will be more police. Ford has promised 100 more across the city, and Weston could use some.
Ford has also campaigned on ending ‘the war on cars’ and improving transit with busses. In an inner-burban riding like ours, this could be beneficial in the short run. New bus routes and improved bus service would reach us sooner than an LRT or subway.
More importantly, our re-elected councillor, Frances Nunziata, was one of Ford’s earliest and most vocal supporters. We should expect her to have the mayor’s ear and to hold a position of power. She has said that she would like to be the Speaker in the council. With luck (and focused community pressure) she could use her position for Weston’s advantage.