DAVID RIDER/TORONTO STAR Mayor Rob Ford walks past red-shirted firefighters in the city council chamber Wednesday who were there lobbying council not to take five fire trucks out of service and close a Runnymede fire station. Council later voted to delay the changes to at least July 1.
Ford, who could any day be ejected from office by an appeal court, mustered campaign-style enthusiasm Wednesday for a $ 9.4 billion plan that council had just enlarged by $ 12 million, on top of $ 7 million from Ford’s executive and $ 1.3 million added by the budget committee.
“Every single member of council can be happy with the small compromises made in it, because even with those compromises we have turned the corner . . . we’re on the right path, the path protecting the taxpayers of this great city,” Ford said.
Asked about his decision to vote for a compromise brokered by some of his erstwhile allies feeling heat over a plan to mothball five fire trucks and the Runnymede Rd. station, Ford — fresh off a media offensive against the firefighters’ union — said council leftists were kept in check.
Red-shirted firefighters cheered quietly when council voted 39-6 in favour of a $ 3.1 motion by a Ford ally, Councillor Paul Ainslie, for 83 firefighter positions and 15 fire prevention officers until July 1, pending the results of an efficiency study and an insurance underwriters’ review.
That added 63 positions to the Ford-approved plan submitted and defended by Fire Chief Jim Sales after the administration ordered him to freeze spending. Ford himself appeared angered by the compromise Tuesday.
Taxpayers are being burdened with so many councillors’ pet projects, “We ought to call this the Ikea monkey budget,” he thundered. Holyday worried that council, including Ford and other allies, was sending senior bureaucrats the message their plans will be trashed if a union objected to them.
“I guess it says: ‘If you’re going to come and want to make any changes here, and they involve the union, you’d better get the union onside before you come to council, because if you don’t, you run the risk of what happened here today,’” he said.
• $ 1.163 million extra for student breakfast programs
• $ 894,450 to cover inflation in community grants.
“The big victors of this budget were the children of Toronto,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc, who estimated that needy kids across the city would get 1 million more $ 1.50 breakfasts in 2013. “This is going to improve absenteeism and their score results and decrease the amount of misconduct and delinquency that we see in our schools.”
“I congratulate Councillor (Janet) Davis for achieving 264 more child-care spaces but there are still approximately 22,000 families waiting for spaces,” Maguire said.