A Few Ideas to Raise Toronto's Revenue by David Ball

Protest? What protest?

I ventured down to Toronto City Hall on Thursday, anticipating a big budget cut rally and some good old fashioned Ford-bashing. However, the only things outside the front doors of City Hall were a couple of neatly-placed barriers, a few disinterested cops and a gaggle of camera-totting tourists. At first I thought protest took the day off, but I was wrong. Protest moved inside, to the second floor committee room.

I managed to attend the first few hours of the nearly 23-hour executive committee meeting, which allowed local groups, business owners, social activists, volunteers, concerned citizens, etc. a chance to voice their opposition to KPMG's suggested cuts regarding Toronto's core and not-so-core services.

Conspicuous by his presence, Giorgio Mammoliti looked slick, smug and genuinely smarmy even before the marathon session began. The controversial councilor slithered around the committee room with his game-smirk firmly on — and over-dressed in a finely cut two-piece suit. My blood boiled every time he hissed into Mayor Rob Ford's ear or leaned back in his chair and arrogantly flicked his pencil in the direction of the deputants, especially during poignant speeches by two members of the Toronto Arts Council.

But his venomous demeanour got me thinking. Other than 67-year-old North York resident Mary Trapani Hynes and her wonderfully sarcastic and spot-on diatribe about how the city can “save millions” by closing all libraries, scrapping public transit and privatizing the TCHC, I didn’t hear anyone offering outside the box revenue earning suggestions to help “save” the soon-to-be “Non-Liveable City”.

Fortunately, I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own. Feel free to pass them on to the Fords:

Pay-parking for all above-ground lots at shopping malls, box-stores and power-centres. Historically, above-ground parking is mostly free, but this should come to an end ASAP.

Amalgamate GO Transit and the TTC. With this in mind, treat TTC service routes as a grid: the further you travel, the more you pay. This model works well in parts of Europe.

Enforce stricter fees on bottled water and soft drink companies that use GTA water sources. Soulless companies such as Pepsi and Nestle drain Lake Ontario and pay very little tax.

You can't fight the Fords over their hatred of cyclists, so:

Pass a law that requires a license for all bicyclists aged 12 and up. Bike couriers won't like this one bit, but aren't a lot of couriers the cyclist versions of asshole BMW drivers? Fine those that are foolish enough not to wear helmets, too. I’ve kissed the McCaul Street pavement three times in the past few years, and my helmet saved my life on at least one occasion.

As a commuter biker, I'm actually all for fining cyclists who drive on city sidewalks; let's get police to actually enforce the law from time to time. I’ve even seen electric bike idiots driving along city sidewalks. WTF? This has to be stopped immediately. If someone is caught driving an e-bike on any sidewalk in the GTA, they receive a $500 fine. 
And here are a few more:

If the city needs money, it could earn serious cash by auctioning off some of Giorgio Mammoliti's suits. He somehow received thousands of votes during the last municipal election, so his outfits are bound to be treasured by his more logically-challenged admirers. We’ll even get Giorgio himself to dry-clean the threads at no extra charge since the level of sleaze stains he produces would be tough to remove.

Better yet, how about fining the man Mayor Ford called “Gino Boy” every time he does something offensive? We could even make the fines retroactive. Mammoliti should be held accountable for past digressions like his creepy “covert” video-taping of alleged anti-Israeli protesters at the Dyke March during this summer’s Pride, or the time he referred to deputants at the executive committee meeting as “members of the socialist party”. My personal favourite is his ingenious idea of turning Toronto Island into a red-light district. Hey, fining Mammoliti for a few more incidents like these would save the city millions!

Produce a reality TV show for The Comedy Network starring notorious funnyman Mike Del Grande. The Scarborough councilor/budget chief has a calculating and heartless brand of businesslike hilarity. It's a sure-fire hit, bound to have advertisers clamouring to buy commercial time.

The pen is mightier than the sword? Sure, but this would make more money:

Doug Ford loves football and pugilism and he has pissed off tough as nails library lovers across the GTA — most notably Margaret Atwood. How about hosting a pay-per-view Mixed Martial Arts bout between the award-winning Toronto author and the pigheaded daddy of a lingerie football league linebacker? My money is on Atwood. But if Ford chickens out, I nominate Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy as his replacement. Who wouldn’t pay to see that giggly, mean-spirited hack get her comeuppance?

After all, it is for a good cause.

Read more of our thoughts on the last Thursday's marathon Executive Committee meeting here.

David Ball is a Toronto-based freelance writer, long-time reviewer and quasi music historian for the late great SoundProof Magazine and past contributor to Jambands.ca. Along with submitting occassional articles for Little Red Umbrella, David also writes for the US-based horror, sci-fi, cult website, Rabid Doll. You can read some of his SoundProof articles here.

Photo: Giorgio Mammoliti


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