Toronto could save money if it closed some zoo and farm attractions, eliminated the Toronto Environment Office and scaled back grass cutting and other services in city parks, according to the latest KPMG report on the city’s core services.
The report was released Thursday and looks at the programs and services that fall under the Parks and Environment Committee (PEC), which has an annual budget of about $187 million.
It is the fourth report released this week, and follows ones for the public works and infrastructure division, the economic development division and the community development and recreation division.
The reviews are part of a core services review requested by Mayor Rob Ford to help the city find ways to shave costs because of a 2012 operating deficit of $774 million.
The consulting firm recommended that PEC’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation section reduce the frequency of grass cutting, tree planting and litter pickup at city parks, as well as eliminating community gardens and some zoo and farm attractions — such as the ones at High Park and Riverdale Park.
Coun. Paula Fletcher said Torontonians will be shocked about the proposed cuts.
“That’s what we get calls about all the time, all summer long, and it [KPMG] also contemplates ending flowers in our parks,” she told reporters Thursday. “Wow! This is really a scrooge special from KPMG. I think people will be up in arms over this.”
KPMG also recommended PEC eliminate its Toronto Environment Office, which has a gross budget of about $11.5 million.
Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said the Toronto Environment Office is the part of the City of Toronto that helps deliver the programs that clean the air and help provide a healthy environment.
“So you get rid of Toronto Environment Office you get rid of the city’s capacity to deliver cleaner air and reduce energy use,” he said. “Torontonians don’t want to live in a city where clean air and a healthy environment are considered gravy.”
The gravy comment refers to Ford’s “stop the gravy train” campaign promise last fall about the alleged wasteful spending at City Hall.
To the view the report, click here.
With files from Melanie Ng