Sixth-graders press Mayor John Tory on paying for promises
Anya Rodine and Chloe Brussé question council's insistence on keeping property tax hikes below inflation.
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Mayors are often taken to task at public meetings, but rarely by the sweet voice of a sixth grader.
Two students from Mountview Alternative Public School delivered public deputations about the 2016 budget at City Hall Tuesday morning, where nearly 60 citizens signed up to have their say on how the city should spend and save this year.
Sixth grader Anya Rodine had stern words for Mayor John Tory, who she says has failed to tell the public how he proposes to pay for political promises like SmartTrack.
“If he does not decide how to pay, we’re going to end up with a crisis on our hands, which is why we should raise taxes to help Mayor Tory come through on the promises he’s making,” she said.
Rodine added she and her classmate have learned that Toronto’s property taxes haven’t always kept up with inflation and they think taxes should be raised to pay for the things the students care about: public libraries, swimming pools, outdoor skating rinks, the High Park Zoo, transit, dedicated bike lanes, child care, Toronto housing and the bylaw department, as well as officers to ticket cars that park in bike lanes and dog owners who let their dogs off leash in on-leash areas.
“We don’t understand why all the other areas but the police have to cut their budgets when crime is going down,” she added. “We think police are important, but not more important than all the other areas.”
Asked afterwards how she came up with her speech, Rodine said that all her fellow students gave input and their teacher, Kim Fry, wrote it for her.
Chloe Brussé, another student in the same class, spoke next, telling councillors how she wanted better funding for the TTC to prevent parents from arriving home late from work because of transit delays.
After the deputation, Rodine said she thinks it went well and she was happy she was able to answer the questions councillors asked her after her speech.
“I think that they might listen,” she said.
“Our whole class thought the same thing and because we’re kids -- and usually kids don’t do this -- they want to hear what we think,” she said.
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