What's a city to do?
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has boiled down the debate over the city's budget to a choice between safe streets and pretty gardens.
"The taxpayers have been very, very clear," he told reporters Thursday when asked what cuts he'd favour. "They want a clean, safe city. That's a priority. So if you are going to say am I going to hire someone to water plants or am I going to hire a police officer, obviously we are going to take a police officer," said the mayor, a long-time critic of the cost of tending the greenery at city hall.
Consultants have scoured the city's books for savings and the fruits of their labour - eight reports that divvy up more than 150 services into essential and non-core categories - have rolled out over two weeks. The findings are being scrutinized by council committees, while members of the public - many representing interest groups - are waiting hours for a few minutes to speak their mind, for the most part opposing the cuts.
The city is staring down an estimated $774-million funding gap in next year's budget, and the mayor has drawn the line on tax increases at 3 per cent. That's provoking a debate about how the city should spend its limited cash. Are flowers a frill? Should the city get out of parking lots and business licences, even though they bring in revenue?
It's no secret Mr. Ford is looking to shrink city government, but so far he is staying mum on the "tons of gravy," he says the consultants have found. Here are 10 options that have Torontonians talking.