Cuts to Toronto's transit service, crossing guards proposed
Massive cuts to Toronto's police and transit services, as well as public health programs and libraries, are recommended in the last of eight core service review reports released on Thursday.
Two weeks of reports recommending spending cuts to 150 city services came to an end on Thursday, with the release of the longest, and possibly most contentious, report to date.
The latest report targeted errant spending in Toronto's 105 arms-length agencies, and suggests selling off the Toronto Zoo, Exhibition Place and one or more city-owned theatres.
City council called for the massive full service review in April, asking a consulting firm to recommend ways to bring spending in line with the city budget. Toronto faces a $774-million shortfall in 2012.
Cuts suggested to TTC services
The report, conducted by KPMG LLP, suggested wide-spread service reductions to Toronto's transit system including abandoning its current service improvement strategy, eliminating overnight bus service and setting stricter criteria to use the Wheel-Trans program.
KPMG says city coffers would benefit from abandoning its current Ridership Growth Strategy. The changes would increase "acceptable" crowding levels, cut service frequency and could also eliminate Toronto's overnight bus services.
The report goes on to say the elimination of overnight buses would be "a major inconvenience to a relatively small number of customers" and suggests doubling fares on overnight buses as another option.
As well, it recommends the city consider further privatization of its Wheel-Trans service, while also making the service's criteria stricter to lower demand on the system.
Report targets police cuts
In a bid to save money spent by the Toronto Police Service, the audit recommends the city consider implementing a hiring freeze and offer incentives for early retirement in order to cut down on front-line workers.
The report does warn that reducing the number of uniformed officers could "adversely affect crime rates in the city."
Other suggestions for the police service include:
- considering one-officer patrols instead of the current partnership model
- reducing or eliminating the school crossing guard program
- ending the need for police officers to be posted at construction sites
- transferring parking and by-law enforcement to another department
Thursday's report further suggests closing some of the city's library branches and cutting hours at others, selling some of the city's off-street parking facilities as well as selling the Toronto Zoo, Exhibition Place and at least one of the city's theatres, specifically the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
KPMG also suggest eliminating a public health program that funds AIDS and drug prevention as well as student nutrition.
Previous recommendations from the core services review over the past two weeks have included:
- eliminating city-run childcare
- cutting farm and zoo attractions
- sending more trash to landfills to cut down on costly recycling
- further privatizing garbage collection
- cutting down on how often streets are cleaned and snow is plowed
- eliminating fluoridation of Toronto's water supply
- eliminate funding for public art programs
- cutting heritage grants available to historical buildings.
In another cost-cutting measure, Mayor Rob Ford has offered buyouts to 17,000 city employees.