Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Ford slams move to eliminate recreation program fees
The city’s community development and recreation committee voted Tuesday to ask council to provide “universal access” to programs at recreational centres across the city as part of the 2014 budget.
The issue goes to city council next month where Ford is expected to try to kill the recommendation in order to avoid a budget crunch.
“We can’t afford it,” Ford said Tuesday. “There is $30 million or $40 million and we have the lowest fees around — $1 or $2 or $5 for a family to use some of these facilities and we’re going to give it for free? You have to pay for stuff in this life and nothing is for free and people understand that.
“Even some of the poorest people, they can afford a dollar or $2.”
Ford accused councillors on the committee of pandering for votes.
“The left is trying to get votes and say everything is for free,” he said. “Well why don’t they give up their office budgets and give up their salaries and stuff? ...It is just game-playing. I’m not going to support it.”
City officials warned the move would cost around $30.6 million a year..
Councillor Joe Mihevc argued the vote “moves the ball” in the right direction.
“We need to make sure that the financial piece is never an obstacle to children, to seniors, to adults, to teenagers participating in recreation programs that it is a right of citizenship or residency in the City of Toronto to be able to access these programs,” Mihevc said.
“Nothing is free, the issue is how you pay for it. The question we need to ask ourselves as Torontonians, is the health of all the kids in our neighbourhood, is that something that we should be communally concerned about?”
Mihevc argued dropping recreation fees could be phased in over a term or two terms of council.
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