2021 Toronto City Budget
February 18, 2021
On February 18, City Council approved the 2021 City budget after a thorough review. Recognizing that many residents are facing unprecedented financial challenges as a result of COVID-19, the property tax increase has been kept at the rate of inflation, 0.7%, without reducing City services. As a member of the Budget Committee, I believe that this budget maintains fiscal responsibility, while ensuring that we make the necessary investments in communities and the environment. The key investments for Scarborough-Rouge Park are summarized below.
City-wide, this budget adds $8 million in funding to critical areas: $3 million for a special youth job training program in underserved communities; $2 million in additional support for hot spot COVID-19 neighbourhoods; $2 million for the expansion of internet access in underserved neighbourhoods; and $1 million in additional funds to promote main street businesses.
For the first time, the 2021 City Budget looks holistically at our investments in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and becoming more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Through this process, the City has identified 439 capital projects that either reduce GHG emissions, increase the City's climate resilience, or both. This corresponds to a 2021 investment of $611.3 million towards climate action, and an investment of $4.8 billion dollars over the next 10 years.
The City is also continuing to invest in our ravine systems. Last year, City staff removed 73 tonnes of garbage and 16 tonnes of recyclables from our ravines. To further this initiative, the 2021 budget includes $2.4 million for invasive species removal, litter cleanup and student internships. We are also investing $8.3 million in capital spending for trails, wayfinding and ecosystem restoration. This includes a commitment of $6.2 million from the Resilience Stream of the Federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. I would like to thank our MP Gary Anandasangaree for his support of the City of Toronto Ravine Strategy.
Investing in Community Safety
Ward 25 is included in a three-year pilot for alternative models of community crisis response, without the presence or intervention of the police. This pilot will allow the City to test, evaluate, and review the service design. The proposed model will have two crisis workers from local community agencies responding to calls together and will serve as an important first step towards improving our response to mental health crises. Learn more about this pilot by clicking here.
In Ward 25, funding is also included for the creation of after-school and weekend programming at the Danzig (West Hill) and Empringham (Malvern) youth hubs. A sum of $600,000 over 3 years has been awarded through a Youth Violence Prevention grant, in order to hire 3 local community members to run these spaces. Programming will be delivered via a partnership between the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club, Malvern Family Resource Centre and TAIBU Community Health Centre.
The City has committed to allocating $161 million over 10 years to implement the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan. This includes three new community safety zones in Ward 25: Highland Creek P.S., William G Davis Junior P.S. and Joseph Brant Senior P.S. Also included, is the installation of two new traffic lights at Meadowvale Road and Lawrence Avenue East, as well as Morningside Avenue and Fordover Drive. The budget also includes the hiring 18 additional officers dedicated to the enforcement of road safety across the City.
Investing in Local Parks and Recreation
Three local playgrounds will be upgraded in 2021: Highland Creek Park Playground, Bob Loptson Playground and the Viola Desmond Park Playground. This year will also include engagement with local community regarding the design for Bill Hancox Playground that will be upgraded in 2022.
This year, we will also break ground on the North East Scarborough Community Centre (8450 Sheppard Avenue East). This new facility will be net zero and will mitigate 277 tonnes/year of greenhouse gas emissions.
Investing in Public Transit
Through the 2021 Budget, the City has committed $1.238 billion in funds towards the Eglinton East Light Rail Transit (EELRT) project. This commitment is funded by redirecting funds raised by the City to pay for the Scarborough subway extension. In 2019, the Province of Ontario committed to build and fund a three-stop subway line to serve as an extension of Line 2, between Kennedy Station and Scarborough Town Centre Station, and removed the requirement for the City of Toronto to contribute to the project.
Through the City's funding commitment, we are one step closer to securing the $4.2 billion dollars needed to deliver this project for Scarborough. The EELRT would extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT by 15 km from Kennedy Station through the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) to Malvern, with up to 21 stops and three connections to GO Transit. The EELRT is an investment in the future of Scarborough and will help move our City forward. I will continue to advocate to my Federal and Provincial counterparts for dedicated funding towards this important infrastructure project.