Council votes to reopen rec. centres full-time
Published Wednesday, September 26, 2007 6:26PM EDT
Toronto's 130 community centres will reopen full-time next month after city council reversed an earlier decision to keep them closed on Mondays.
Council voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to reopen the centres. Full service will resume Oct. 15.
A debate on the issue took place for most of Wednesday, though most politicians agreed the centres should reopen as soon as possible.
Mayor David Miller, who presented a motion to reopen the centres, came under fire for agreeing to shut down the centres in the first place. His peers grilled him on why he allowed that to happen without council's approval.
Miller said he's agreeing to reverse the decision because of the impact it has had on the public, but warned cuts would come and they would probably hurt.
"We are Canada's sixth largest government now -- we are not a small city, we are an enormous city," he said to council.
"We cannot manage public health, social services, public transit, recreation services -- all those things that need investment -- without sources of revenue that grow with economic growth."
Miller said the push to keep the centres open is proof council can do great things when they work together. He called on councillors to put their differences aside in Toronto's best interest.
Earlier this month, the doors at community centres were locked on Mondays as part of cost-cutting measures. Toronto is facing a $575 million budget shortfall next year.
Toronto's fiscal crisis has forced staff to scale back municipal services. Nearly $83 million in service cuts have already been identified this year in various city departments. Other measures include delaying the opening of outdoor ice rinks until January and reducing library services.
The cutbacks were announced in July after councillors voted to defer a vote on two controversial taxes until after next month's provincial election.
Miller maintains the proposed land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee are important revenue tools that will help alleviate Toronto's cash crunch.
A motion presented by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong on Wednesday to scrap the Sunday library closings and have outdoor rinks open on Dec. 1 as normal was ruled out of order.
Miller has said the city should be able to open rinks on time this winter if the new taxes are approved.
The mayor's tax proposal goes back to council for another vote on Oct. 22.
The taxes could raise $350 million for the cash-strapped city.
With a report from CTV's Desmond Brown