Help save Toronto's libraries!

Emily sez, "Toronto's new Mayor Rob Ford is 'outsourcing everything that isn't nailed down.' Taking advice from KPMG, a private consulting firm, all social services are at threat including: public libraries, the Riverdale Farm zoo, the High Park zoo, and so much more that makes Toronto a great city. Bike lanes have already been scheduled for costly removal, for his goal of making downtown more accessible to cars, and it looks like this is just the beginning. He wants to privatize everything and turn us into MacDonald's-town."
How could a private company make a profit running a free service that is funded by taxpayers?

The mandate of the private operator would be to reduce the level of public funding that now supports our libraries. At the same time, they need to make a profit. There is an inevitable conflict here which signals bad news for all library users, from children to seniors. First, local branches of the Toronto Public Library would almost certainly be closed. Library users would see higher user fees, fewer books and less access to the information and other vital services our public libraries offer for little or no cost as hours of operation are limited. The cuts to library staff that have been going on for years will be accelerated.

It's also bad news for our city. We would lose a powerful educational and cultural force that opens books and opens minds, taking from Toronto a public service that all other great cities jealously guard.

The Toronto Public Library and its local branches are under threat. (Thanks, Emily!)


  1. Somebody should ask Ford if he should be really taking advice from people who unironically thought this was a good theme song for their company:

    Rewriting the lyrics somewhat: A vision of global strategy! A dream of shutting down your library! We decimate! Then we annihilate! KPMG, we go for the guts, kick you in the nuts! Etc. etc.

  2. This is shocking. I can’t imagine a city that’s not in total budgetary crisis (which Toronto is NOT in) doing such a thing. It’s perverse. A city closing its libraries just seems like cultural suicide.

    That said, I do have some concerns about certain “library” services. I mean, why are the Toronto libraries loaning commercial DVDs and music CDs? Personally I don’t see that as helpful. I’m not entirely sold on people sitting at the library all day browsing the Internet. But none of those complaints make me think closing them is the solution.

    But shutting down the literature end of things? PERVERSE. I wanted to try and give Ford the benefit of the doubt — although neither I nor anyone I know in the downtown core voted for him — but it seems to just keep getting worse and worse. Surely he will go down as Toronto’s worst mayor.

    1. A lot of people are browsing the Internet at the library while looking for jobs, researching things for school, etc. Not everyone can afford a PC, even in 2011.

      1. And remember, we’re talking about Canada, where the telecoms duopoly is hell-bent on making Internet access as expensive as possible, and where a member of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission said, in a hearing on telecom billing policies last week, “What would be so undemocratic about two or three companies control the Internet?” (paraphrasing: check out for coverage). So the TPL’s free Internet access is plainly an essential service for lots of people.

    2. “That said, I do have some concerns about certain “library” services. I mean, why are the Toronto libraries loaning commercial DVDs and music CDs? Personally I don’t see that as helpful. I’m not entirely sold on people sitting at the library all day browsing the Internet.”

      Yeah, and what are they doing loaning commercial books? Personally, I don’t see that as helpful. I’m not entirely sold on people sitting at the library all day reading things, either.

      I think you might need a refresher on the library concept.

    3. I’m guessing that the library is loaning out CDs and DVDs for the same weird reason they’re loaning out books, whatever that might be.

  3. When my family moved out of Toronto in February – not long after Ford’s election – I joked that we would be leaving the place in flames behind us. I had no idea it would come to this.

  4. Seems pointless to write to Rob ford, he doesn’t seem to be a fan of the written word in any form.

  5. I use the TPL. I find many uses for it even though I have access to university libraries (I am a researcher). What’s most important to me about the TPL is not how I use, but how the immigrant community uses it. It is one crystal clear method for how Canadian cultural society can interact with its new inductees.

    To harm the TPL is to harm the immigrant community in Toronto and to harm any attempts at integration that the conservatives tend to whine about.

    To conservatives: If you want immigrants to “integrate”, let them “integrate”, display your “proud” culture in a manner that is accessible to them. The federal govt will not stop using Toronto as a landing city, no matter what damage you inflict to this great city.

  6. Well, somebody voted for Rob (I belong in the U.S. where I could run free with the Repugs agenda) Ford.
    Thinking about it…those are probably not people who use the public libraries or the bike lanes…and probably aren’t sympathetic to those who do.
    Very sad to see how my beloved hometown & such a wonderful city is being used.

  7. I was clear on the fact that everyone in the US has gone COMPLETELY BARKING MAD, but I’m sorry to see that Canada has caught it.

    I was always under the impression that these millenial fever symptoms centered around the actual turn-of-the-century. But it appears there’s a delay of a few years after the infection.

    Apparently we somehow forgot what we learned the last time. Similar, no doubt, to orally passing any fact through a chain of people.

  8. The multinationals went to China and liked what they saw and now they are remolding the rest of their world to be just like China. We are soo screwed. Amazon, the same amazon that selectively censors whatever the Chinese hoipoli want is not a replacement but a grave headstone of what democracy used to be.

  9. Thanks for drawing some more attention to this monster Cory. I know there are a lot of big problems out there in the world, but the people we have asked to protect and improve our city are going to burn it down.

  10. There’s only one problem with this panic. There’s not been any actual discussions or statements on what, if any, services will actually be affected. KPMG was asked to review all services and mark them as core or not, analyze possible savings through service changes and then analyse risk from making those changes.

    All that’s happened is that they presented the reports last week. Now the city (starting this week) is reviewing the reports to see what changes/cuts are worth making.

    Nobody is talking about shutting down libraries or privatizing them. People are panicking before anything has actually been discussed or statements made. Yes, Rob Ford is a right wing idiot-level politician, however, he hasn’t actually done or said anything yet.

    Also, the bike lane is being moved from a major artery to a street one light over.

    1. It’s important to show support for all the services that are facing the chopping block on Thursday. This isn’t panic. We’re making our voices heard.

      ‘Councillor Doug Ford (Rob’s brother) fumes about the number of libraries in his ward in a recent CFRB radio broadcast. “I have more libraries than Tim Horton’s!”.’ Panic? I think not.

      Yes, a new bike lane is being build one light over. But if we’re in such a budgetary crisis, as the mayor claims, why waste the money? The lane on Jarvis is barely a year old and cost 60K. Now it’s being ripped out and rebuilt a few blocks away. This is careless spending.

  11. Rob Ford is such a big, fat, fuck. I thought Sam Katz of Winnipeg was a slime, but Ford really has outdone himself.

    I read that he wanted to stop pet licencing, which is a source of revenue for the city. It makes perfect sense! I also fail to understand the concept of removing bike lanes.

    I need to go slam my head against my desk for a while, now.

  12. Rob Ford won the election by campaigning on stopping the “gravy train” in city hall. So the first thing he did was to cancel a land transfer tax. The result was to plunge the city finances into a deficit from a surplus left over by the previous “socialist” mayor. Rob Ford then hired KPMG to “find” all that waste. The report just came back and found that 96% of services were essential and there was very little waste in the city. The “socialist” ran a very efficient city.

    So what do you do when you campaign on cutting waste when there is no waste?

    The only good news is that in Ontario we have a weak Mayor system so Rob still needs the support of the majority of council to push through his poorly though out policies.

  13. This is not about saving money, slurping gravy or even rationalizing city services.

    This is about destroying the city you hate.

    And Rob Ford hates Toronto. Hates our parks, hates our bicycles, hates our farmers markets, hates our coffee shops, hates our immigrants, hates our lower than suburban taxes, hates our democratic instincts and our love of our city.

    What Mike Harris started, he sent Robo Ford to finish: The crumbling of Toronto as a ‘smug, self-satisfied, civilized’ place.

    That creepy Liberal who got us into this mess said it best: “Less Stockholm, more Scarborough” (Mr. Slitherman)[]: gotta hate Stockholm… too civilized. Not enough football.

  14. Message from Davis Mirza
    During the 2010 budget season, former Toronto Mayor David Miller faced a projected budget shortfall of more than $800 million, and he managed not only to balance the budget without cutting any services at all, but to eventually show a huge surplus.(Certainly, some Torontonians did not like the Land Transfer tax add-on or increased bus fairs to boost revenue) So why is the somewhat smaller shortfall that current Mayor Ford faces ($700 million) an emergency? Why would this, lesser crisis, require considering slashing whole government departments -including libraries & bike lanes? Obviously, if your mandate comes from suburban voters who are pissed at paying higher taxes (than their downtown neighbours in order to subsidize their un-sustainable urban sprawl) as well as increasing gas prices, a captive Tea Party audience sees City Hall in ‘crisis’, demanding a slash and burn response…and Mayor Ford responds in-kind. Unfortunately in the Mayor’s fervor for restraint, he ends up spending more to “slash & burn” city services than in savings…case in point, with the recent gutting of urban bike lanes;it will actually cost more (close to half-a-million dollars!) to scrap them than to leave the lines on the roads. Regressive, inane, hypocritical-yes…but to justify a budget ‘crisis’ in order to cannabalize & corporatize City services, our “Mayor of the Corporate People” is given a “stop the gravy train” mandate to ram through such unethical public administration. How to stop him? Make your voices heard…make a public deputation @ Toronto City Hall (5 minutes) @ call Community Development/Parks & Rec (do it soon!)…and take to the streets and airwaves to make your protestations heard loud and clear…Don’t Privatize T.O – Corporatize This!!!

  15. I can’t leave that bike lane comment alone. First of all Sherbourne already has a bike lane, so no they’re not “moving it one light over”, they’re upgrading Sherbourne to a protected lane, and they’re eliminating a bike lane that has increased cycling by 1000 riders a day. Secondly, there’s no such thing as a redundant bike lanes. Why wouldn’t we want a lane on Sherbourne, a lane on Jarvis, a lane on Church, a lane on Yonge, etc, etc, etc. We have car lanes on each of those roads, those aren’t considered redundant.

    Back to Libraries (and this is somewhat related), Doug Ford was trying to make the point that there are more than enough libraries in Etobicoke, and he even said that Toronto has more libraries per capita than any other city in the world (this is untrue:, and of course the argument is total bullshit anyway. Why wouldn’t we want more libraries? If they’re not making money, I’m okay with that, public services like libraries and transit aren’t meant to run a profit.

    This is what’s at the core of the problem with the Brothers Ford: They fail to understand the purpose of municipal government. It’s that old thing about how a city should be run like a business. Well it shouldn’t be.

  16. We should remove all subsidies like tax deductions for coal and oil.

    We should bill tar sands exploiters for cleaning up all the pollution they’ve already caused.

    We should bill car manufacturers and stockholders for all the roads already built.


    It turns out they don’t want a free market at all.

    They want profit for themselves and to cripple the rest of society and charge them for the air they breathe.

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