The Long-Term Financial Plan will be considered by the City’s Executive Committee on March 19, 2018, in report EX32.1.
The City of Toronto is experiencing extraordinary success. Toronto sits at or near the top of international rankings for quality of life, safety and tax competiveness. These rankings are validated by the rate of incoming investment, sustained population growth, and that the city is an economic anchor for Ontario and Canada. Toronto fully lives its motto of “diversity our strength.” Toronto is a magnet for immigration. Our experience and success in living together is a global asset.
At the same time, as with all global cities, Toronto’s success is paired with significant challenges.
Our road, transit and active transportation options are not sufficient to move goods and people efficiently. This has been exacerbated by an extended period of underinvestment. The City, along with provincial and federal partners, have insufficiently invested in the state-of-good-repair for existing infrastructure and critically needed new capacity. The resulting network gaps and congestion impose economic loss and cause frustration with overcrowded roads and transit every day. These impacts are region-wide, but most acute and costly in Toronto.
The same forces that support economic success contribute to economic and social displacement affecting residents. The widening gap between well off and poorer neighbourhoods are well documented. Steep increases in costs of home ownership and rental, along with stagnant incomes for many families, inadequate adjustments to provincial housing benefits and gentrification of housing stock have contributed to an increased need for affordable housing. Striking increases in the need for homeless shelters appear to be driven by inadequate physical and mental health services, challenges in settlement of refugees and other newcomers and a lack of supportive housing options. Acute gaps have been revealed by a dramatic increase in opioid overdoses. Public investments are required to address these growing, urgent pressures.
Toronto City Council has long worked to address these very significant needs through positive and proactive strategies, especially over the past several years. These strategies are approved by significant majorities at Council, receive considerable public attention and have the potential to address historic gaps.
State-of-good-repair investments are underway for transit and road assets. An integrated transit network plan is also in place. Council has adopted a staged approach to new transit investment and will soon be considering full funding for SmartTrack. Provincial funding is facilitating planning work on a relief line and Line 1 subway extension. Planning and design is underway on a waterfront transit network.
City Council has also addressed new and ambitious social policy objectives. Key examples include the stabilization of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) capital investments, working towards transit equity by lowering transit costs for social assistance and disability support recipients, improving social housing by providing increased and appropriate levels of operating and capital funding and increasing the number of temporary and permanent homeless shelter spaces. Council has approved plans for services improvements and modernization for nearly every City division and agency including, for example, investments in parks, recreation, and greenhouse gas mitigation.