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Letter to the Economic Development Committee Regarding the Sale of City Assets

 

June 30, 2011

Councillor Michael Thompson, Chair
And Members, Economic Development Committee
100 Queen Street West
10th Floor, West Tower
Toronto, Ontario
M5H 2N2

Dear Councillor Thompson,
And Members of the Economic Development Committee,

Re: Item # ED5.2 – Toronto Prosperity Initiative: Establishing The Path To Growth

On behalf of Local 79, I wish to comment on the Toronto Prosperity Initiative Advisory Committee and the recommendations contained in their report, Toronto Prosperity Initiative: Establishing The Path For Growth.

Local 79 is vehemently opposed to the selling of City assets, and questions the logic behind the advisory committee’s premise that selling City assets would be a path to prosperity for Toronto. The economic growth of Toronto will not be enhanced one iota from the sale of Toronto Hydro or Toronto Community Housing Corporation or Toronto Parking Authority. Not only is the report extremely vague about what the money from the sale of these assets would be used for, it fails to present any semblance of an economic plan that would indicate that the goal is economic growth and prosperity.

Need I remind you of the result when the Harris-Eves government sold the 407 highway at what was considered a “fire sale” price. They sold out the taxpayers who owned and used the highway. The price paid for that foolhardy action is that Torontonians, and other users, if they can even afford the tolls, continue to pay for what was once a publicly owned asset, day in and day out. Most Ontarians cannot afford to pay the high tolls and therefore do not have the use of a highway that once belonged to them!

We find it is astonishing that the committee describes public private partnerships as a “best practice” for procurement of large capital assets, given the collapse of one recently in the City of Toronto- the Lion’s Arena. Other examples of public private partnership disasters come to mind including the Brampton Hospital fiasco and the London Underground. There is a mountain of evidence internationally that public private partnerships have fundamentally been about giving private investors and financiers high returns with low risks, at the long-term expense of taxpayers and the public. This will not benefit the residents of Toronto.

 It is of concern to Local 79 that the Advisory Committee was not particularly representative of the economic sectors or the residents of Toronto. We believe that a much more thorough and representative process would have produced a better report.

 The recommendation that the City adopt a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is frankly puzzling in the context of a report whose stated purpose is to enhance the growth of prosperity for Toronto. KPIs are an evaluation method, not a method for creating economic prosperity for the city.

Local 79 is urging the members of the Economic Development Committee to reject the staff recommendations regarding the report from the Toronto Prosperity Initiative Advisory Committee. Selling capital assets is a one time exercise, and when those assets are gone, they are gone forever.

Toronto City Councillors are the trusted custodians of the assets of the people of Toronto, and should not be in the business of selling key resources!

Yours truly,

Ann Dembinski
President

c.c. All Toronto City Councillors

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