What has Toronto done for you lately?
Sandie Benitah, ctvtoronto.ca
Published Friday, April 30, 2010 1:25PM EDT
Ever wonder what city hall does for you?
Many are confused about city hall's role in their personal life and often dismiss the municipal government as not having any power.
In fact, who you vote in as councillor and mayor will directly impact your day-to-day routine.
Here's just a glimpse of what the city is responsible for:
Property taxes (residential, business)
Each year, the city looks to balance its books by raising property taxes for both homeowners and businesses. Homeowners were understandably concerned when a draft of the 2010 budget called for a 4 per cent increase. (It was later reduced to 2.9 per cent). Small businesses had some reprieve as the rate for small businesses declined by about 3 per cent. What will the next budget hold? Get involved!
Cost of living
Just like property taxes increase, so do user fees. We elect the officials who decide how much it costs to take our kids swimming on a nice afternoon and how much it costs to pay for a parking ticket online. It was city council that lobbied the province to pass revisions to City of Toronto Act back in 2006 that gave them additional taxation powers. Remember the days when we only paid one land transfer tax? When we didn't have to pay twice for garbage? When we didn't have to pay a vehicle registration tax? Different people have different visions for our city so get to know your local candidates.
We've all seen what the public can do when they are fed up with a situation. Who knows what will come out of the TTC's customer service panel and town hall meetings but one thing is almost for certain – the next head of Toronto's public transit system will be a city councillor. Time to make those votes count!
Concerned about the rash of break-ins in your neighbourhood? Worried about the recent gun play in your community? The city decides just how much money the police get and how many police officers patrol our streets. Some candidates think the city has too many officers while others want to beef up police presence. Only a vote will tell which side you're on.
Now for some interesting facts:
- In 2006, 14 candidates were elected to council even though the majority of people did not vote for them. In fact, some even won with less than 25 per cent of the vote.
- Although women make up roughly half of Toronto's population, only 32 per cent of candidates elected to council were women in 2003. That number actually went down in 2006 when the number of women on council dropped to 22 per cent.
- Although 47 per cent of Toronto's population is made up of visible minorities, only 13 per cent of council in 2003 reflected that. The number of visible minorities in council dropped in 2006 to 11 per cent.