Every year, in advance of the City’s budget-setting and approval process, I solicit input from Capital Ward residents about what they would like to see changed (or kept) in the upcoming budget. The Mayor does the same on a citywide basis. In an election year, this formal exercise starts later than usual, but with all the debates, questionnaires and doorstep conversations, an election campaign is a fairly comprehensive budget consultation exercise in itself. So I feel I have a pretty good sense of what people are thinking and feeling.
However, what I hear during an election tends to be very general: More funding for transit, hold the line on wages, support affordable housing, stop widening roads, etc. This is helpful as broad guidance, providing a general sense of your priorities, but really useful budget direction needs to be more specific.
For example, what programs or specific projects do you feel should be maintained or boosted, and by how much? Why are they important? Which programs should be decreased or eliminated, and why? Are they a luxury or counter-productive? I want to hear your arguments for and against budget items because I will have to weigh them against the arguments I hear from others. Ultimately, I must present a credible argument to Council in defence of any proposed cuts or increases.