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Tory's Toronto

Metro's Matt Elliott, formerly of Ford For Toronto, keeps the light shining on Mayor John Tory's city hall.

Fact check: Giorgio Mammoliti is just plain wrong to call downtown Torontonians moochers

Matt Elliott has six reasons why Mammoliti's claim doesn't hold water.

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti is arguing that downtown is subsidized by the suburbs.

Torstar News Service

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti is arguing that downtown is subsidized by the suburbs.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti thinks Toronto’s downtown is subsidized by the suburbs. He’s wrong wrong wrong.

Mammoliti, who represents Ward 7 in Etobicoke, made the claim last week as part of his efforts to fight an approved plan to redraw the city’s ward boundaries and add three new wards in the downtown core to account for population growth.

“By going ahead with 47 wards, there will be too much weight given to the downtown part of the city that is already unfairly subsidized by the rest of the city,” he wrote in a statement on his website.

So Mammoliti thinks downtowners are a bunch of moochers. Let’s count all the ways he’s wrong.

1. He’s wrong because of economics. According to the city’s TOCore planning report, downtown — defined as the area bounded by Bathurst Street to the Don Valley Parkway, and the waterfront up to Dupont Street — accounts for 33 per cent of jobs and 51 per cent of Toronto’s GDP.

2. He’s wrong because of city tax revenue. A Metro analysis of Toronto’s property tax system in 2015 found that the three wards in the downtown core – representing just three per cent of Toronto’s land area – contribute about 25 per cent of total tax revenue in the city. Downtown’s Ward 20 contributes in excess of four times more revenue from residential property taxes than Mammoliti’s Ward 7.

3. He’s wrong because of growth. The core accounts for 37 per cent of the city’s residential development pipeline and 45 per cent of non-residential. The downtown population is projected to double between now and 2041.

4. He’s wrong because of major infrastructure spending. All of the major transit projects that currently have fully committed funding are in fact suburban projects. The list includes the Eglinton Crosstown, the Scarborough subway, the Spadina subway extension and the Finch West LRT – a billion dollar project that just so happens to run right through Mammoliti’s ward.

5. He’s wrong because of parks. There are 0.4 hectares of parkland per 1,000 residents in the downtown core, way below the city-wide average of 2.8 hectares. The reason downtown has seen a flurry of new park openings this summer isn’t because downtowners are getting spoiled – it’s because the downtown has been neglected for years.

6. And beyond all the numbers, Mammoliti is wrong because he’s perpetuating divisive nonsense that needlessly pits downtown against the suburbs.

Like it or not, downtown and the suburbs are bound together. While there’s a lot of value in talking about reforms that would allow for better local governance, there’s no value in painting one side as a bunch of moochers.

It’s worth noting too that Mammoliti’s comments emerged from his opposition to a ward boundary review process that only seeks to improve an unfair status quo. Downtown residents already have fewer representatives on council than the population warrants – without changes, things will only get worse.

Under current boundaries, the city’s largest ward will be three times more populous than the city’s smallest by 2026.

Unlike Mammoliti’s subsidization talk, that would really be something worth complaining about. Anyone who stands against a plan to fix this democratic imbalance has lost the right to talk about fairness.

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