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Five good decisions John Tory has made
1. Putting poverty back on the agenda
After two homeless men died outdoors in early January, Tory responded swiftly, ordering the opening of warming centres and declaring that the Public Health Department needs to be more pro-active in calling extreme cold-weather alerts. His 2015 budget invests $8 million in new hostel services, as well as $17 million in other social supports, and he’s enlisted Councillor Pam McConnell to draft a poverty reduction strategy. It’s a major step forward no matter your political stripe.
2. Reinvesting in transit
Within six weeks of taking office, Tory reversed many of the service cuts made by his predecessor, Rob Ford, investing some $95 million in public transit and making the TTC free for kids under 12. The downside: he broke his campaign promise not to raise fares, calling for a 10-cent hike to pay for the service improvements. He also dinged the TTC’s most loyal riders, those who use Metropasses, with the biggest increase.
3. Restoring trust in the mayor’s office
Tory has made good on his campaign pledge to meet regularly with City Hall media. He releases a daily schedule and holds lengthy press conferences at which he routinely exhausts reporters’ questions. It’s basic stuff for a big-city mayor, but the public was deprived of this kind of transparency during the Ford years.
4. Shifting gears on car culture
We don’t know how effective the mayor’s crusade against illegally parked cars has been, because the police won’t give us the stats to compare to previous years. But Tory gets points for trying to update T.O.’s driving culture, even if it smells like a bit of a cash grab for a financially struggling city. Anecdotally at least, drivers seem to be starting to understand that blocking lanes during rush hour won’t be tolerated.
5. A dose of humility
Even if you don’t like his politics, it can’t but warm the heart of any civic-minded Torontonian to hear Tory repeatedly describe his job as a “privilege” and an “honour.” Tory is no statesman, at least not yet. But his humble attitude is a welcome change from the haughty entitlement exhibited by Ford.
Don’t miss: Five bad decisions John Tory has made.
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