Public art cuts suggested in city service review
Toronto should cut or eliminate funding its public art programs, according to a report released on Wednesday on how the cash-strapped city could dig its way out of debt.
The potential savings plan was outlined in a report by consultants KPMG LLP on services that report to the city's planning and growth management committee.
The report suggests that Toronto's current art funding provided a substantial investment in public art at a modest cost to the city.
The city spends some $1.9 million a year maintaining hundreds of pieces of art in public spaces.
The report went on to suggest the city cut back its attempt to inspect and control the posting of illegal signs across the city.
Bylaw officers currently police the city in search of businesses that post sandwich board advertisements on streets without paying for a permit.
Among the other recommendations made on Wednesday:
- reducing the level of consultation involved in the project planning reviews
- reducing the amount of information being explained to the public, or charging for the service
- cutting money for the city's public realm, including repairs to city benches
- cutting heritage grants available to historical buildings.
The report suggests that cutting back on the city's review processes could speed up the time associated with processing applications, but could also "lead to sub-optimal outcomes."
City council called for the full service review in April, asking KPMG to recommend ways to bring spending in line with the city budget. Toronto faces a $774-million shortfall in 2012.
Sections of the core services review have been released over the past two weeks, recommending ways to cut the cost of some 150 city services.
The eighth and final installment of Toronto's core services review will be released on Thursday and is expected to include some of the most contentious recommendations.
According to the Globe and Mail, Thursday's report will outline potential cuts to the Toronto Transit Commission and will recommend cutting overnight bus service and privatizing specific routes.
Once the full report has been reviewed, councillors will discuss in September which recommendations to approve.
While the core service review does not provide dollar estimates for their recommendations, it does mark each with a potential savings rating of low, medium or high.
Previous recommendations 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.
In another cost-cutting measure, Mayor Rob Ford has offered buyouts to 17,000 city employees.