In early August, before he called it quits on his doomed, largely self-funded bid for the mayoralty, David Soknacki awed more than a few Torontonians—including us—when he promised to cut waste in the city’s annual $1-billion police budget. If elected, he said, he would lead a process to reduce that amount by about $65 million, and all without affecting the number of officers on Toronto’s streets. The savings would then be reinvested in transit, infrastructure and other services. “If we can fix the police budget, we can fix Toronto’s budget,” he said at a press conference. “And if we can fix Toronto’s budget, we can afford to build the city we want.” Even with Soknacki out of the race, this remains one of the year’s more compelling policy proposals, because police funding is overdue for some kind of review. (It consumes more property tax dollars than any other city service.) For the moment, though, the idea seems to have fallen out of favour. None of the other candidates have shown much willingness to take on the Toronto Police Association, whose members are a force to be reckoned with during municipal campaigns.
WOULD IT WORK?
At the very least, the timing would be good. With the end of the current electoral cycle, the terms of four Toronto Police Services Board members—including councillors Mike Del Grande, Michael Thompson and Frances Nunziata—will end. Whoever is elected mayor will be entitled to one of those spots. (Rob Ford opted to appoint Del Grande in his stead.) Around the same time, the board will be negotiating a new contract with the Toronto Police Association, giving the mayor an opportunity to propose and potentially implement cost-cutting changes.