Toronto comments on the 2024 budget

Laura Hull –

Over a series of town halls in January – in-person, over the phone and by video conference – Torontonians expressed their views on the city’s 2024 budget. The meetings followed some held last November, when May­or Olivia Chow and the Budget Committee started budget con­sultations with online surveys and in-person meetings across the city.

the bridge attended two town halls, on January 16 and 22. At the first meeting, Ward 13 Coun­cillor Chris Moise and Ward 10 Councillor Ausma Malik led a presentation on the budget and answered questions. The sec­ond featured more organization leaders than residents, but both had common themes.

Asked what was in store for Ward 13, Moise said that with more money going towards so­cial services and helping un­housed people, the neighbourhood should see some problems resolved.

The biggest concern was the housing crisis. People were also concerned about safety and police. Residents asked if the budget would deal with increas­ing feelings of being unsafe, and if money going to build more shelters would help solve the problem. The Councillors said the city recognizes existing problems and that the money al­located for these issues will in­crease security.

Another major concern was lack of funding for Toronto’s art scene. In the November con­sultations, people suggested cutting arts funding to finance other areas.

But in January, people stressed the importance of arts and culture to bring life back to the city after the pandemic. Ma­lik agreed with a resident that the city needs to maintain arts funding. “At the Economic De­velopment Committee, we did demonstrate our support for arts and culture through the grants [to] the Toronto Arts Council.”

Some people supported the proposed hike in the proper­ty tax rate, while others were much more concerned. Could it be made progressive, based on property value, and weighting it with other taxes?

Residents also asked about increased funding for the TTC and making it more affordable.

One resident asked the city to allocate funds to make all TTC stops accessible. Another concern was the backlog on the state of good repair work need­ed across the city.

On January 22, comments once again focused on wheth­er increasing taxes was the fair and right thing to do. One resi­dent asked the city to seek new means of revenue instead of just hiking up taxes. A 6th grader asked the committee to increase the animal services budget.

Many union representatives and community organization leaders echoed residents’ con­cerns. Everyone – from resi­dents, Toronto Police, paramed­ics, Toronto Arts Council, to the Daily Bread Food Bank – wants a safer, less expensive, and more accessible city.