Donation will open outdoor skating rinks on time
Toronto's outdoor skating rinks will open on time this holiday season after the city received a $160,000 corporate donation on Friday.
Due to a massive budget shortfall next year, the city earlier this year announced a series of cost-cutting measures, including opening outdoor rinks one month later than the usual date, Dec. 1.
But on Friday morning, MasterCard Canada offered the donation, which will open the rinks on time.
"Mayor Miller accepted the offer -- he phoned the president of MasterCard Canada this morning," the mayor's spokesperson, Stuart Green, told CTV.ca on Friday.
The delayed rink openings threatened to cancel the annual Cavalcade of Lights, which kicks off in late November and runs through December at Nathan Phillips Square.
MasterCard Canada president Kevin Stanton, who lives in Toronto, she he and his family enjoy skating at public rinks.
"(They're) an essential part of the vibrant life during the winter."
While Green said the mayor's office was happy to accept the funds, he added the money only puts a drop in the city's financial bucket -- a void that needs to be filled with government funds.
"This points to a larger problem ... we still face a $575 million shortfall next year," Green said.
"This city has a real need to fund public services with public money."
People near Nathan Phillips Square on Friday were happy to hear the rinks wouldn't be affected, but upset the city couldn't accomplish the feat on its own.
"I think it's a great idea. If the city can't help, I think it's great that somebody else can step in and do it," one woman said.
"I think that's a nice gesture -- but unfortunately the city couldn't just say 'thanks for the offer, MasterCard, we'll use that for something else,'" one passerby said. "We should be taking care of our own needs."
Earlier this year, the city's community centres were closed on Mondays as a cost-cutting measure.
But after a strong backlash from the public and other politicians, Miller reversed his decision. Councillors voted unanimously to reopen the centres full time.
Miller still wants councillors to approve a land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee, which could raise $350 million for the cash-strapped city.
Councillors will vote on the two controversial taxes on Oct. 22.
With a report from CTV's John Musselman