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E-BLAST: Your 2022 Budget

Budget season has rolled around again here at City Hall, and I know what you’re thinking: “Our Councillor is the biggest budget nerd there is. Is this E-Blast going to be full of boring numbers?”

Rest assured I’m not going to fill this column with numbers. You already know the big number. There’s going to be a property tax increase of 4.4% this year. This is the largest increase since 2001, when Mayor Lastman followed his promised three years of 0% property tax increases with a 5% increase in one year.

I’m pretty sure you know that inflation is the biggest reason for this year’s increase. As I write this column, I’m watching CBC’s The National explain why inflation is at a 30-year high nationwide. Municipal governments are especially vulnerable to inflation because we are so service delivery-oriented and labour intensive. Supply chain issues, rising labour costs, and even the rising price of fuel and food all impact the cost of City services.

Since the mega-city of Toronto was created, every Mayor and Council has struggled to continuously improve the services you rely on while also creating enough capital to build and renew our infrastructure. My favourite blog, City Hall Watcher, produced a chart of the past twenty years of Toronto tax increases that is quite telling:

You can click on the above image to view a larger version.

Way back in 1998, the new City of Toronto began with Mel Lastman’s bold promise of zero property tax increases for an entire three-year political term. It seems amazing when you look back at it on a chart. What isn’t shown in that chart, and what we often forget, is that those zero percents were balanced out by a $900 million amalgamation fund provided by the Provincial government at the time.

Once that fund ran out, reality set in. It became clear that shrinking Council and reducing six mayors down to one didn’t shrink the number of residents needing service, nor the cost of providing that service. Since that time, property tax increases have been roughly in line with inflation, no matter how you slice it.

Keeping property tax increases at the rate of inflation for so many years has meant hundreds of millions in cost-cutting measures. Any time we need to fund a new service, or address a growing crisis like climate, poverty, or our affordable housing supply, it means cuts to other services or pushing much-needed infrastructure projects even further into the future. These infrastructure costs are the most concerning because they have to be met sooner or later. I constantly hear from residents who want to know when we can get our roads in better condition, create more affordable housing for our children’s future, improve our parks and recreation spaces, and build a better, more affordable transit system. Take a look at another City Hall Watcher chart:

You can click on the above image to view a larger version.

This iceberg has been growing for years. When I was Budget Chief, inflation was trending upwards and then the 2008 global financial crisis arrived. Each division manager told me they could only balance their budget if they put off a few infrastructure projects to future years. This was how they had survived the three years of zero percent increases. Our great senior financial planner, Josie Lavita, cautioned us, “If you keep putting off this capital infrastructure work, as the guy on the Titanic shouted, ‘Iceberg, dead ahead!’”. City Hall Watcher brought the iceberg back to demonstrate that while this year’s budget makes grand promises of infrastructure spending over the next ten years, it still leaves $40 billion in important work unfunded.

Some of these unfunded projects are solely the responsibility of the City, but others really require the support of our Federal and Provincial governments. In particular, our housing crisis continues and the City can’t address this on our own. We are investing in housing, but our Federal and Provincial partners need to do more. In particular, I want to see every party running in the June Provincial election to promise that they will commit more to housing solutions. Take a look at how this year’s capital budget for Shelter, Support and Housing is funded:

Note that on an annual basis, the City is contributing roughly what Mayor Tory committed to spend to address the housing crisis in his 2018 mayoral campaign. However, he quite reasonably expected the Provincial and Federal governments to match those funds since they, too, ran on addressing the crisis. It hasn’t happened.

There is one other looming pressure the City needs to address: staffing vacancies. This one is not addressed in this budget, but it affects all of the services you rely on and needs to be solved in the very near future. The City of Toronto has long been a very demanding place to work, and staff are often enticed to go work elsewhere in the GTA. Our 2020 salary/wage freeze has made this issue worse by causing Toronto to fall behind what is being offered in surrounding municipalities. This chart shows the current vacancy rates in our different service areas:

Clearly, this freeze needs to be lifted. Our best and brightest staff are being attracted away, and we need to fill these vacant positions. I’ll be asking the City Manager for an urgent update to his People Plan to address this.

It’s my job as your Councillor to tell you what’s happening with our budget, but that’s not my only job. Despite some grim news around budget pressures, crisis planning, and inflation, it’s still my job to improve our neighbourhood in every annual budget process.

Every year, I pore over the budget with my Chief of Staff, Tom, to track any work slated for Don Valley North. If staff promised to do something in this budget year, we go on the hunt to make sure it hasn’t been pushed out. If it has, we get to work ensuring that staff realign their draft budget to deliver on what they promised. If they can’t, they have to give me a detailed reason that I can share with you.

I also sit down with my team to make a list of your most frequent calls to the office. This helps me know which services are lacking in our neighbourhoods and what to look for in the thousands of pages of Budget notes. Once I see what City staff have proposed, I can press them to invest in service improvements where needed.

Ultimately, it’s you, the residents of Don Valley North, who determine what I focus on in our budget each year. I’m holding my annual Budget Town Hall on Wednesday, January 26th at 6:30 PM to share more details on our budget and give you a chance to ask your most pressing questions. I’ll also share a comprehensive list of what’s budgeted for our ward and my plans for how to address what isn’t yet included.

You are investing more than ever in Toronto’s budget this year. I’m going to make sure you have the 411 on where your dollars are going.


Budget Town Hall

Want to dive deeper into the 2022 budget? My team and I are hosting a virtual Budget Town Hall on Wednesday, January 26 at 6:30 PM. This is your chance to ask questions of City finance staff and learn more about how the budget shapes the services you rely on.

To RSVP for the meeting, visit the link below:


Update on Snow Clearing Operations

That was some snowstorm we had on Monday—over 55 cm! That’s more snow in one day than when Mayor Mel called in the army to help with snow clearing back in 1999. I know my team has taken calls from many of you over the course of the week with questions and concerns about snow clearing operations. We know that many people’s driveways were blocked in by snow banks and some local sidewalks still have not received plowing. Rest assured that City staff and contractors are still working around the clock to continue snow clearing and snow removal efforts. The City has completed salting and plowing on our major roads. Plowing on local roads and sidewalks is continuing today. City crews have also started the snow removal process in North York, where front-end loaders and dump trucks are used to collect snow and remove it to the City’s five snow storage sites. Let us know if there are still streets being missed. As of this morning, my team has been able to help residents make requests to 311 for driveway windrow clearing and missed snow clearing on roads and sidewalks. If you’re still experiencing any snow-related issues, send my office an email at or give us a call at 416-338-2650 and a member of my team will be happy to help. I also want to let you know that this is the last year of the old snow clearing contracts. Next year, we’ll have modernized contracts with one company accountable for all of the snow clearing services north of the 401 between Dufferin and Victoria Park. They’ll be experts in our North York-style streets. Thanks to all of you for your patience as the City continues to work through this major snow event.


Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Parkway Forest Community Centre

North York General Hospital and North York Toronto Health Partner's are running a weekly vaccine clinic at Parkway Forest Community Centre for the next three weeks, and may extend the clinic depending on demand:

  • Tuesday, January 25: 4:30 - 7:30 PM

  • Tuesday, February 1: 4:30 - 7:30 PM

  • Tuesday, February 8: 4:30 - 7:30 PM

First, second, and third doses of Moderna are available for people 30 years and older. Walk-ins are welcome while supplies last, but appointments are preferred. Book an appointment at the link below:

Seneca COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

North York General Hospital has reopened their Seneca vaccination clinic. First, second, and third doses of Moderna are available for people 30 years and older. Walk-ins are welcome on the following dates while supplies last:

  • Thursday, January 20: 4:30 - 6:30 PM

  • Friday, January 21: 4:30 - 6:30 PM

  • Saturday, January 22: 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM

  • Sunday, January 23: 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM

Appointments are also welcome. More information is available at the link below:


Tyndale University GO-VAXX Mobile Bus Clinic (3377 Bayview Ave)

Tyndale University is very pleased to be hosting a mobile vaccination clinic on campus on Monday, January 31. It is available to anyone in the community. The clinic will bring pediatric doses for 5-11-year old’s, 11-17 youth doses, and first, second and booster doses for adults. The vaccines administered will be in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines. Anyone under 30 will receive Pfizer and those 30 and older will receive Pfizer or Moderna depending on availability. You can start to book appointments at 8:00 AM the day before the clinic using the Provincial booking website at or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line number at 1-833-943-3900.

Booking Vaccine Appointments

COVID-19 vaccine appointments for first and second doses are available for those ages five and older. Third dose appointments are available for those ages 18 and older. Appointments cam be booked through the provincial booking system online or by phone:

  • Online:

  • Phone: 1-833-943-3900

For more information on vaccines, visit the link below:



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