Toronto budget passes as protesters arrested
Toronto's city council passed its controversial 2012 budget on Tuesday, but some of its planned cutbacks have been dropped.
Protesters tried to get into the building as the debate went on inside, and at least five people were arrested.
Toronto EMS said two people were treated for exposure to pepper spray.
Dozens of police officers were lining the doors of the building and a stretch of Queen Street West was shut down.
The crowd was protesting proposed cuts in the budget, which passed by a vote of 39-5, with several amendments that lessened the cuts.
What was saved
- $5M TTC service
- $3.5M Library service
- Community grants
- School pools
- Wading pools
- Priority centres
- Skating rinks
- Mechanical leaf collection
The $9.4-billion budget before council contains a 2.5 per cent property tax increase approved earlier Tuesday, but a surprise omnibus bill delivered by Coun. Josh Colle scuttled many of the cuts Mayor Rob Ford had been championing.
The city reported a $154-million surplus for 2011 and Colle convinced council to use $15 million of that money to reduce or remove some of the more contentious cuts, such as chopping some TTC routes, closing five wading pools, as well as funding for ice rinks and homeless shelters. .
His motion succeeded — but only narrowly by a vote of 23-21.
"These were some of the ones that were really highlighted, not necessarily by my constituents, but by people across the city," said Colle, a rookie councillor for Eglinton-Lawrence.
Ford claims victory
After the budget passed, Ford said the reduced cuts and the 2.5 per cent tax increase were nothing compared to what the left-leaning councillors would have wanted.
"That's like trying to stop a tidal wave, and we did," he told reporters. "We fended them off."
Ford said the councillors who backtracked on cuts would have to answer to their constituents. "They see money in front of them, it's like putting food in front of a dog," he said.
Asked about the protests, the mayor said it's always the same 500 people "over and over again. That's fine by me."
Colle said he saw his motion as "tweaking," but Ford ally Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti said it was not fiscally sustainable.
"It has hijacked the process completely," he said before the vote was taken.
The 2.5 per cent tax increase, which passed by a vote of 38-5, will add about $60 per year to the average property tax bill.
- A previous verison of this story failed to include the result of the vote on Coun. Josh Colle's motion. For the record the vote was 23-21. The vote to increase property taxes passed 38-5. And the overall budget was passed by a vote of 39-5. We apologize for any confusion.Oct 03, 2013 1:54 AM ET