It isn’t easy to Maker changes to the City Budget

Pizza Quest: Ward 20, Maker Pizza

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Ward 20 is absolutely massive. It will likely be cut into pieces during the upcoming ward boundary review, so stay tuned. It is densely populated, with a large number of U of T students, and an even larger number of condo dwellers. Ward 20 is very walkable and bikeable. In general, transit needs are well met, at least when compared to the suburbs. Crowding during rush hour is nightmarish, as the core fills and empties.

The pace of development has out-run the city’s ability to catch up, and so density is putting major pressure on infrastructure, transit and traffic, while also affecting access to green space, and community services.

Check out the great community work happening at Scadding Court Community Centre, and in Alexandra Park where they did an incredible job bringing local voices to revitalization.

Neighbourhoods: Annex, U of T, Chinatown, Kensington Market, Queen West, Harbord Village, Alexandra Park, Queens Quay, Maple Leaf Square, City Place, Entertainment District, Baldwin Village, Grange.

 

Councillor: Joe Cressy

Elected in an open seat in 2014, Joe Cressy, 31, made his first Council appearence in utero, as the son of Joanne Campbell: first Councillor to give birth while in office. His father, Gordon Cressy was also a City Councillor. After losing a Federal by-election to Adam Vaughan, Cressy used his experience running a successful 2010 municipal campaign to go back to his roots. That campaign was for best friend, Councillor Mike Layton, and their bromace is not only adorable, but makes for a powerful partnership in Chambers.

Pizza: Maker Pizza

Maker has been tempting us on Instagram and it was really just a matter of time before we finally got our hands on a pie or two. With added shoutouts from Munchies sensation Matty Matheson, we needed to know whether Maker really made the hype.

The pizza scorecard:

What we ordered: Apocalypse Cow and Frank’s Best

Why we ordered: Maker has a menu that is split between Red and White sauce pizzas, we thought it was important to try one of each. The Apocalypse Cow is meaty, cheesy, and spicy, but the flavor is subtle enough that it has high multislice chow down potential – so we ordered a medium. Frank’s Best is a sweeter pizza, with caramelized onions and goat cheese, it’s full of flavour but you would only want one or two slices in one go – so we ordered a small. The flavours in each pizza played off each other nicely.

The score:

Delivery 4/5

Sauce 5/5

Topping selection 5/5

Freshness 5/5

Crust 4/5

Dough 3.5/5

Bang for your buck ⅘

Instagram-ability 5/5

Meets Expectations 3/4

Total: 38.5/44

While there’s room for improvement (mainly the dough which was too soft towards the centre), we were fairly impressed by the freshness of the ingredients and the marvel of having a thin dough and large fluffy crust. Maker lives up to its hype, but its price point and long wait time make it more of a “special occasion” ‘za.

How did it handle a re-heat? Moderately well in the oven, except the basil, which is to be expected. The meatball makes it tricky on the Apocalypse Cow, as you need enough heat to ensure the centre is warm, but the cheese and other toppings don’t burn.

Mak(er)ing Changes Ain’t Easy

We ordered this pizza the same week the budget was being finalized in council. Having hosted a budget explainer event the week before, we were eager to dive into what the budget was setting out for Toronto in 2016.

Rob Ford may be remembered by most for his “recreational activities”, however he left many other less high profile impacts on our city’s processes. When City Council meets, the mayor has the power to choose a specific item from the agenda to bring to the front of the line, to be debated right at the start of the meeting. In an effort to stop opposing Councillors from making changes, Ford made his chosen item the property tax increase. With the rate of increase locked in at the beginning of the meeting, Council members will have no opportunity to argue for expanding funding.

While we may have a new mayor, we have the same problem. John Tory has kept this tradition alive.

With the property tax rate set, the deliberation of how to fund our $10.04B tax supported operating budget must take place within the limits of the outlined budget proposals from the different City departments.

This year, two Councillors dug into the notoriously inflated Police Budget, that is now running over $1B. Councillor Michael Thompson, with extensive experience on the Police Board, put forward motion to cut up to $24M in spending. Thompson was met only with support for his more suggestive motion, requesting urgent action be taken on the cost-cutting measures outlined by KPMG, a consulting firm The City paid a hefty fee to, during the hunt for Ford’s supposed “gravy”.

Ward 20’s own Councillor Cressy managed to successfully pull $220,000 out of the police budget, and have it redirected to crime prevention programs. It can be so difficult to make these changes, as the police are allowed to make a legal argument that if cuts are made to their budget that impede their ability to do their jobs, Council’s decision should be overturned.

Motions to address the lack of childcare subsidies mostly fell by the wayside, save for $1.25M, after an unwavering push to address the mounting issue by Councillor Janet Davis.

The budget is a complicated political beast, and while we have small wins, it’s important to have a critical eye on the process itself so that citizens can successfully advocate for budget allocations next year.

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