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Toronto mayoral candidate David Soknacki scrums with the media outside Mayor Rob Ford's office at City Hall on Feb. 14, 2014. (CHRIS YOUNG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Toronto mayoral candidate David Soknacki scrums with the media outside Mayor Rob Ford's office at City Hall on Feb. 14, 2014. (CHRIS YOUNG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Let Toronto communities choose to pay for some services: Soknacki Add to ...

Toronto mayoral candidate David Soknacki wants to look at giving Toronto’s community councils the ability to “buy more (or less)” of certain services, like leaf collection – and vary taxation levels for each to reflect that.

The former Scarborough councillor and budget chief released a discussion paper Friday titled “David vs. Political Gridlock,” which includes a variety of proposals intended to “heal the wounds” caused by amalgamation.

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He submits a variety of ideas, including one that looks at allowing each of Toronto’s four Community Councils (Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York and Toronto/East York) to determine their own levels for certain public services.

“I believe this is a great, strong city. I also believe that one size doesn’t need to fit all for everything,” Mr. Soknacki said Friday. “But I think we can make the city fit our neighbourhoods.”

Under his proposal, certain property-related services, like mechanical leaf collection, enhanced sidewalk snowplowing, or even forestry, could be increased or decreased – with current levels acting as a baseline – depending on each community’s needs. Taxes would be increased or decreased to reflect service.

“There might be some new services, like mechanical leaf collection that people won’t really care about downtown if you’re living in condos,” Mr. Soknacki’s campaign manager Brian Kelcey said. “But residents in forested neighbourhoods in Scarborough, might see the advantage of having that service.”

Essential services that are city-wide, like police, fire and ambulance, would remain as is. And others, like libraries, (“where people could just drive across town to take advantage of the service,” Mr. Soknacki said) also wouldn’t be included.

The idea is still in its preliminary stages, and only intended to start a conversation about amalgamation and its effect on the city, Mr. Soknacki said.

He said it’s “absolutely not” intended to be seen as the first step towards de-amalgamation.

“De-amalgataion would be five planning departments, five garbage collection services, five park departments,” he said.

“What we’re talking about is allowing individual communities, when they feel that there is something important enough to set them apart, to have the ability to make those changes. They’re still very much part of the same family.”

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