Get Off My Lawn! (Unless You’re Here To Cut It)

July 26, 2013

Hey old people of Scarborough’s Ward 36. Hey old people throughout Toronto’s inner suburbs. scaredoldmanHell, hey all you people of Scarborough and the inner suburbs of Toronto.

I am willing to pay for the city to continue cutting the grass on those public strips of land you’re now being forced to maintain under threat of a fine. It’ll only cost me a fraction of a cent, I imagine, in terms of a property tax increase. I’m fine with that.

The only thing I ask in return?

A full and frank discussion about the relationship between taxation and public services. You can’t have the latter without the former, and try as we have been for the past 3 years or so to believe otherwise, to imagine that our public sector was so bloated with excess that all we had to do was squeeze a little bit, nip and tuck, tighten our belt and we wouldn’t notice a thing? itllcostyouIt’s now costing Mrs. Miranda Masih an additional $20 a pop to have both her and the city’s grass cut.

Why risk a $200 fine when, for pennies a year, we could have the city keep doing what it’s been doing? That’s how taxation works. We pool our resources to provide residents with services they want and need in a more cost-effective way. It’s called economies of scale and is all the rage in the private sector.

This isn’t about some magical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We’re not talking a bottomless well of nice-to-haves, as Mayor Ford called them. As a city, we need to regularly sit down and hash out what’s important to us, what’s important for the future welfare of this place and for those who will be decide to call it home.

But to pretend we can have it all and not pay for it or take it from somebody else, well, that’s just not working out particularly well for anyone right now. scaryoldmanAs residents of Ward 36 in Scarborough are discovering to their extra grass cutting displeasure.

They really should call their councillor, Gary Crawford, and ask him about his nearly unwavering support of the mayor’s keeping taxes low and no service cuts guaranteed mandate. The math behind all that and how it’s led to a cut in a service the city used to provide. That equation was always untenable and one side of it had to eventually give way.

While they have Councillor Crawford’s ear, Ward 36 residents might also want to ask how his support for a largely unfunded subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line is going to further put stress on services the city provides to them. tightfistedA subway is more expensive to build and run, so both capital and operating budgets will face increased pressure and, in turn, property taxes will inevitably go up. First, they asked you to cut more grass. Next you’ll be expected to shovel your sidewalks and windrows.

Everyone for themselves, in other words. DIY. Pay to play if you think our tax burden is too much to bear, if you’re sick and tired of being nickel and dimed to death.

To my mind, it’s a recipe for a pretty nasty and unappealing city. A collective approach will get much more done and cost us each individually much less. Unfortunately, too many of us have only discovered that the hard way.

angryoldguy

 

Update

According to the Toronto Star’s David Rider, it seems playing the old and cranky card trumps common sense. The creaky, squeaky wheel does get oiled. Turns out, taxes can be kept low and services untouched. My bad.

head-shakingly submitted by Cityslikr