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City council votes to support tolls

“You rarely have to ask permission to do the right thing.”

This quote comes from an open letter released Tuesday morning, with the signature of five different Canadian mayors attached to it. The letter calls for more municipal power to create city revenue, so that municipal leaders can match infrastructure funding provided by the provincial and federal governments.

In essence, Canada’s biggest cities, including Toronto, were asking for the power to do their part to expand and grow.

This sentiment was much needed prior to the city council meeting Tuesday, where councillors discussed how they would be paying for city services for the foreseeable future.

After much debate, city council approved staff recommendations by staff to generate revenue by using various taxes and tolls. The implementation of tolls is a brave new step for the city – proof that politicians understand the need to create revenue and alleviate congestion on city roads.

Toronto Mayor John Tory proposed the use of tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Express over a month ago, and since then it has received a mostly positive response. The money would be directly funnelled into maintaining and funding transit-related projects, which works to both alleviate congestion on roadways and expand Toronto’s transit network.

City council ultimately voted in support of the mayor’s proposal. Nine councillors opposed the motion.

These tolls, which could be implemented as early as 2020, would affectively alleviate congestion, unlock gridlock, and help pay for the much-needed transit network being built throughout Toronto. A win-win scenario.

Council also agreed to look into a 0.5 per cent levy on property taxes, a four per cent tax on hotels, up to a 10 per cent tax on short-term rentals like Airbnb, and harmonizing and/or increasing land transfer taxes. The city will also be asking the province for a share of the harmonized sales tax.

The debate on tolls will continue in the new year, when city staff will present options for implementation, including cost.

City Manager Peter Wallace made it clear in his presentation on the city budget that council had to approve of some of the proposed revenue tools — if they didn’t, they should be prepared to provide solutions to the $33 billion in unfunded projects the city is undergoing.

“I think it comes down to what level of public service does city council want to endorse,” Wallace said bluntly. He also made it clear that by voting to take tolls to the next level, council can rest assured that city staff will proved thoughtfully.

Other councillors were not so thoughtful. Many ignored the fact that people pay for the use of public transportation and that user fees are popularly used in large cities. However, at the end of the day, even the wary councillors understood the need to make a firm decision or risk being left with a large revenue gap to fill.

And to that brave majority, Toronto thanks you.

How do you choose to heal from a break-up?

I want to start by saying each woman has their own way of handling a break-up. Many will sink into despair, keep their sweats on while digging into the baked goodies. Others deny themselves their sadness, move on quickly and efficiently, only to come tumbling down a week or a month later from the pressure of avoiding those terrible feelings. Some have mastered the art of letting go, and to those woman I commend you — and am admittedly also terribly jealous.

I recently went through a break-up and the amount of advice I’ve received has ranged from downright entertaining to adorably helpful. The amount of times I was told to go and purchase desserts immediately and load up on romantic flicks became funny, albeit a bit alarming.

wallow

Why is it that we must feed ourselves sugar and lament our lost loves so pathetically? Is there not a healthier way to be sad, where you still confront the deep dark blues with grace instead of tears and chocolate stains?

This confession is undoubtedly for other women who are going through a break-up or a loss on how to proceed. I feel I have stumbled onto a method of healing that could be helpful, though I still maintain the path to healing is subjective.

I’ve valiantly decided to not succumb to the bad habits and when I told my friends, they laughed at me because it is apparently an approach many take and fail at the break-up routine. Yes, there may be piles of Kleenexes, but they will not be accompanied by pounds of chocolate. I will probably experience painful realizations, but I choose the comforts of Patti Smith and Dylan Thomas rather than a romantic comedy that makes me wish I could return to a relationship that meant to end.

rumi-the self

Clean comforts are key. Tools of healing that will help usher in a new phase of beauty in your life could range from a new creative hobby to a run through a new hidden path in nature. Only you know the mechanisms that will make you feel alive again.  I want to feel the pains and sorrows, dig into it deeply and understand it. But at the same, it is important to support myself by providing healthy comforts to supplement this pain. A good start could be healthy fresh foods and outdoor exercise in a natural area for the body and meditation, books, music, photography and writing for the mind.

A common thread between these activities is they are all solitary activities. This is purposeful. There is an absolute empowerment in being alone if only we are courageous enough to face it. Loneliness is real and terrifying, but it is also a matter of perspective. It can easily turn from a broken feeling into one that empowers you to truly be on your own with yourself. Being alone helps you to move on from your pain fully because you have left yourself with no other choice and avoidance becomes impossible.

Finding a replacement man or woman to try to fill your heart will only leave you spinning further downwards because you cannot truly share yourself when you are in pieces. The demons from your last relationship will haunt the new one if they are not dealt with and that is not fair to your new and unsuspecting lover. Instead, being your own source of support and self-love is the first step to being ready to move on with someone else in the future.

In the end, it isn’t about distractions or isolation. It is about looking in the mirror and loving the person looking back at you no matter how hard that may seem. I ask, how will you love yourself today? What can you do that will make you feel grateful that you have your insightful mind, your beautiful body and your resilient heart? How do you choose to heal?

patti smith quote