Library Board Backs Away from Cutting Library Hours

Inside Toronto

Nov 25, 2011 - 8:05 AM

EDITORIAL: This is the way you affect change at city hall

If there's one thing that can be said for the people of Toronto, it's that they aren't afraid to speak up for the things that are essential to them. When it comes to protecting certain city services, it looks like people power can indeed direct policy at city hall and through constructive, engaging means.We hope all residents take note of this chapter in Toronto's democratic history.What we're seeing is a great example of an engaged citizenry - one that is employing peaceful but enthusiastic methods to campaign for their cause.Case number one: library cuts. Just this week the Toronto Public Library Board decided not to slash branch hours and not to curb the purchase of new materials, even though it meant its budget came up short on the 10 per cent reduction target tasked to them by Mayor Rob Ford. Several weeks ago, the board also tossed plans to close branches which was meant to save money.This decision was directly influenced by the thousands of people who spoke up in support of their local libraries, at consultation meetings, through letters to the editor and via social media online.At the meeting held at Runnymede Library in Bloor West this month, those in attendance were so passionate about the library, they said they'd take a property tax hike if it meant saving the city service.Though it's not a total victory yet (council gets final say on the city's budget over the next two months), library supporters deserve a pat on the back for their persistence.Case number two: city museums. A rumour was floated last week that four of the city's museums may be slated for closure. Councillor Joe Mihevc (St. Paul's West) says he's got it on good authority that Montgomery's Inn in Etobicoke, Gibson House and Zion School in North York, and Market Gallery downtown could become the next casualties of department budget cuts.Though we won't know for sure until next week when the budget is presented, the rumour was enough to spur the Etobicoke community into action. Groups who support Montgomery's Inn and its programs mobilized last weekend at a rally, have launched a petition and are planning a major 'celebration day' this Saturday in an effort to raise awareness of the value the museum brings to the community.Regardless of what happens on these files, this level of engagement is setting an impressive standard. As is the way in which these groups are mounting their campaigns. It's about clearly defining goals and obtaining support from fellow community members. It's about being constructive in providing solutions and a willingness to work with policy makers at city hall.This standard is one residents should always strive to meet, if they hope to live in a city that is truly their own - defined by their interests and their level of involvement.

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