By JONATHAN JENKINS, Toronto Sun
Published On Tuesday November 9, 2010
At least they know where the washrooms are now.
A parade of earnest new council faces, fresh from an orientation session complete with protocol binders and a tour of the building, held court at City Hall Tuesday and vowed to work together.
But despite the protestations of a new era of co-operation, fault lines on the new council – which will meet for the first time Dec. 7 – are not hard to find.
“The new councillors that have been elected are a thoughtful, mature group of people and all of us are coming in here with the spirit of co-operation,” two-term school board trustee and now councillor-elect for Ward 22, Josh Matlow said. “Voters want the partisan bickering to end.”
That doesn’t mean, though, that Matlow and incoming mayor Rob Ford are on the same page on everything.
The new councillor is amenable to fiscal hawk Ford’s promise of getting rid of the vehicle registration tax and opening garbage pickup to tender but says voters “overwhelmingly” want most services defended.
And he’s skeptical about Ford’s vow to hire 100 new police officers.
“I expect mayor (-elect) Ford, as a fiscal conservative, will recognize that if we want to save money we can’t just make commitments to spend more,” Matlow said. “We need to prioritize and make sure we do it in the right order.”
Sarah Doucette, the community activist who toppled veteran Bill Saundercook in Ward 14, said she “gets along with everybody” but also made it clear she won’t support hiring the new officers either,
“As far as I see, the crime rates are going down and we’re still keeping the same number of officers,” Doucette said. “I know Mr. Ford would like to put more officers in the schools and I don’t think it’s necessary.”
Toronto Police already cost the city $880 million. Another 100 officers would raise that by $10 million, while killing the $60 car tax would mean some $50 million less in revenue.
Newcomer Ana Bailao in Ward 18 said she’s willing to forego the car tax cash but is less keen on Ford’s campaign promise — since backed away from — to also repeal the land transfer tax, worth about $200 million annually.
“Everybody would like to see it gone but the reality is are we going to be able to afford this?” Bailao said. “I’m not going to jeopardize key services in this city to see the land transfer tax go.”
Another sign Ford’s fiscal plan has not been wholeheartedly adopted by the incoming council is that most said they planned on hiring more than two staffers to run their offices. Ford has said he believes councillors need only two staff and he’ll cut the allowable hiring budget.
One councillor who didn’t get the orientation with the rest of his new colleagues was Ward 2 rookie Doug Ford.
Both he and his younger brother Rob are vacationing in Florida.
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