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Extra transit cash should go to streetcars, TTC chair says

A TTC streetcar takes on passengers in Toronto on Nov. 17, 2009.

TTC chair Karen Stintz says she will recommend that the extra $5-million coming to the transit commission from the city be used for capital investments, not to stave off planned service cuts.

The money, part of $19-million in spending endorsed by council as part of Tuesday's budget debate, was earmarked to "prevent route reductions." But as an independent body, the transit commission gets the final call on how those dollars will be spent.

Councillor Stintz, a supporter of the mayor, voted Tuesday against using part of the city's $154-million surplus to save service. Mayor Rob Ford urged council to protect the surplus and direct it to paying some of the $700-million cost of new streetcars ordered by the previous council.

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"Ultimately the commission will decide, but given that this $5-million is not sustainable funding, my recommendation to the commission is it should be used for the streetcars as intended," Councillor Stintz said Wednesday.

Failing that, she said the money should go to pay for new buses needed to service the routes that have been saved or to maintain Wheel-Trans service for dialysis patients until a longer term solution is reached.

"To put it back on the buses will only mean that 10 months from now we will be cutting that service," she said. "I don't believe that is in the best interest of the TTC. It is not in the best interest of our riders. From my perspective, this is not the way you build a sustainable transit system."

Councillor Stintz said she made her intentions clear to her colleagues on the council floor before they voted on the measure – part of a package of introduced by Councillor Josh Colle to save a number of programs from budget cuts.

She noted that only one member of the commission, North York Councillor Maria Augimeri, supported Councillor Colle's motion.

Responding to outrage from its riders, the TTC voted last month to use $5-million in savings to maintain service on some of the city's busiest routes that were on the chopping block in order to meet the city's demand for a 10 per cent budget cut.

Provided the commission gives its support to her recommendation, the remaining service reductions will take place as planned on bus and streetcar routes beginning in February, Councillor Stintz said.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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What services were saved


$5-million to the TTC earmarked to prevent service reductions, although the commission has the final say on how the money is used

Child care

$1.7-million to restore the city's rent subsidy for school-based child-care centres

$670,000 to keep three city centres open

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Parks and Rec

$1.3-million to keep free child and youth programs at the city's 21 Priority Centres

$260,000 to keep 10 arenas open in off-peak hours

$683,500 to keep city programs at five school pools after programs at two other pools saved at budget committee

Community grants

$2.3-million to maintain funding for remaining grants under the Community Partnership Investment Program after arts grants were saved by executive committee


$1.97-million to keep three city shelters open


$510,000 for mechanical leaf collection in suburbs


$3.89-million to prevent further cuts at Toronto Public Libraries


$50,000 to restore city's 25-per-cent share of funding for the Immigrant Women's Health Centre


$323,000 to keep three jobs at the Toronto Environment Office to implement the Climate Action Plan

$325,000 to reinstate Live Green Toronto community animators, which help local groups with projects such as tree planting, rooftop gardens, and energy and water conservation

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Toronto City Hall bureau chief


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