Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, Chair
And Members, Community Development and Recreation Committee
RE: CD6.1 Core Service Review
Parks, Forestry & Recreation
The options outlined in the KPMG Core Service Review of Parks, Forestry & Recreation run counter to the City’s stated Recreation Service Plan principles of Quality, Equitable Access, Inclusion, and Capacity Building. These options are also the direct opposite of what residents said they wanted and needed in the public consultations and surveys. The consultation process established the fact that people value public services and they are not willing to sacrifice the services they need.
Let us look at the principles that are the foundation of Parks, Forestry & Recreation overall multi-year Service Plan:
1. Quality – providing the highest quality of programs and services to enhance the health, quality of life and well-being of residents.
2. Equitable Access – providing equitable recreation access on a geographic and demographic basis for all residents of Toronto.
3. Inclusion – ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to access and participate in programs and services that are planned, delivered and managed to recognize diversity and encourage participation of marginalized people and groups.
4. Capacity Building – providing programs and services of social, economic and physical benefit to all participants and create a sense of community, belonging and vitality.
The principles are founded on the City providing the facilities, and delivering the services and programs.
If the options put forward by the Mayor’s consultants are adopted by City Council, Parks, Forestry & Recreation will no longer be able to deliver on these principles – because the City will have effectively lost control and oversight. Commercial operators and profit seeking companies will be in control.
I question the timing of this Core Service Review for Parks, Forestry & Recreation when the Division is currently undertaking a Recreation Service Plan that is scheduled to report its findings later this fall. Why would decisions be made about service delivery and programming before Councillors have an opportunity to look at the final Recreation Service Plan? Surely Councillors would want to make the most informed decisions possible before they make any recommendations that might negatively affect the City’s recreation programs.
I would also urge Councillors on the CDRC Committee to look at the meagre savings these options would have, and compare them to what the City of Toronto would lose:
• Our children benefit immeasurably from both regular programs and from programs that give them a healthy and safe place to go after school, on weekends and during school breaks
• Our youth benefit from leadership training and summer/seasonal employment
• Our adults enjoy social and recreational programmes year-round, and
• Our seniors welcome the opportunities for social interaction, in addition to obvious health benefits.
• Opportunities and access for the City’s poorest children and families in the most underserviced neighbourhoods.
Time and again on the campaign trail, Mayor Rob Ford insisted that there would be no reduction or cuts to City services. But here we are today, defending and protecting these very services – although, the City’s own public consultations on public services cited Parks, Forestry & Recreation as essential to the health and wealth of our City.
It should come as no surprise that the people of this City do not consider it an opportunity or an option to cut back and eliminate services they want and need from Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
Access to recreation facilities and programs is paramount to healthy communities. I urge the Community Development and Recreation Committee to do the right thing for the citizens of Toronto and reject the KPMG options. Ensure that Parks, Forestry and Recreation programs are open to all the people of this City by directly-operating and delivering these services!