Ford wants to hear from Torontonians on cuts

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said Friday he wants to hear people's views on how to trim the city's budget, even if it takes three or four days.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he wants to hear from everyone about how to deal with the city's projected $774 million budget deficit.

On Friday, the mayor said he wants Torontonians to come to City Hall next week and voice their concerns when the city's executive council meets.

"Next Thursday at the executive meeting I encourage people — even if I have to sit there for three or four days — I want to hear what people have to say." 

Speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon Ford said people have made it clear to him what their priorities are:  clean roads, safe streets and having their garbage picked up.

But if Torontonians aren't willing to make cuts, Ford said, then the only other option will be raising property taxes.

"If we don't cut anything then who is going to pay the $775 million?  We all are. Property taxes are going to go up thousands of dollars."

Ford said he isn't going to "sit there and let that happen."  He said taking on the deficit demands a co-operative effort from council and taxpayers.

"The last thing I want to do is raise property taxes," the mayor said.

The executive committee will begin examining a consultants report next week, with an eye to trimming the city's budget.

The report by KPMG has been controversial.  It suggests many cuts — including closing Riverdale Farm, closing libraries and trimming the numbers of police and firefighters - in a bid to cut expenses.

Earlier in an interview with a Toronto TV station, Ford no decisions have been made, but everything is on the table. 

"If there's waste in the police department, fire department, any departments we're going to try to find that waste," he said.

"But at the end of the day it's the councillors who are going to say, 'Do we eliminate police officers?'  In my personal opinion, no.  I want to protect our police. I want to support our police."

Ford said reducing the numbers of police is "at the bottom of the list."