It’s kind of like living in a time lapse photography sequence these days, following along with the twists and turns of the city’s ongoing and perpetual transit debate. In three years, we‘ve been able to catch a glimpse of decades after decades after decades of toil and strife, where talk almost always trumps action. Weren’t paying attention first time around? Fear not. There’s always another kick at the can. Always.
Word emerged yesterday that the dreams of more Scarborough subways weren’t dead. Such rumours were apparently exaggerated. The province’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, Glen Murray, and the city’s TTC chair chatted openly about the possibility the door hadn’t yet closed and that there just might be some way to work out the details of finding the extra cash necessary to convert the proposed Bloor-Danforth LRT extension at Kennedy to a subway. What’s another half billion to 900 million dollars generated by as of yet agreed upon revenue tools when there’s by-election outcomes and mayoral aspirations at stake?
Look, at this point, I almost (almost) couldn’t give a fuck what kind of transit gets built in Scarborough as long as it leads to the How You Going To Pay For It conversation. There’s never been any logical reason to build further subways either along Sheppard or as an extension to the existing line there. Lord knows, there’s certainly no compelling economic reason to do so. It’s always been about divisive political posturing, pure and simple. Subways, subways, subways. The people want subways.
Or the latest idiocy to tumble out of a councillor’s mouth about the issue. “The province needs to step up to the plate, otherwise they will be letting down the people of Scarborough,” mewled Councillor Michelle Berardinetti. “You can’t go to residents with revenue tools and not even deliver a subway.” You see, Scarborough deserves subways because, well, subways. Subways, subways, subways.
But if you think the province is acting any more sensibly, get a load of Minister Murray’s thoughts on the matter. “We’ve certainly been flexible in the past and will continue to be when it comes to accommodating a municipality,” the Globe and Mail quotes him saying. “It will be over my dead body that Scarborough goes wanting for high speed, rapid transit. I’m not prepared for people in Scarborough to miss this round…”
Flexible. Isn’t it adorable how the minister positively frames being politically craven and calculating. If this Liberal government at Queen’s Park hadn’t proven to be so ‘flexible’ at the outset, if they hadn’t immediately caved to our new mayor’s 2010 unilateral decision to junk Transit City, we wouldn’t still be having this conversation three years on.
And what the fuck is he talking about with the Scarborough ‘wanting for high speed, rapid transit’ and the ‘miss this round’ business? This kind of bullshit only serves to further unfairly diminish LRTs in the already dim view of some and continues to put the notion of subways on this entirely unwarranted 1st class pedestal. It’s technology porn and completely warps the conversation.
Every time you think (no, hope and pray) you see a little ray of sunshine on transit – hey, maybe this time, maybe this time, maybe, maybe, maybe – the dark clouds of naked ambition roll in. It’s enough to make you think we get transit built only when it’s expedient for a critical mass of politicians. The most cost conscious of mayors has been joined by elected officials covering the entire ideological spectrum essentially telling voters in Scarborough that when it comes to getting them their subway, money is no object. In this, they are all tax-and-spenders minus the taxing part.
You’d think that after the scandals that continue to plague them, the Liberal government might shy away from such obvious pandering and willingness to throw money around in order to shore up support for ridings that are in play. Change of leader, change in approach. It most certainly is not business as usual.
But maybe their calculus factors in one other variable. If, as a voter, public transit in Toronto is your big issue and you find the Liberals’ ‘flexibility’ on the subway versus LRT question counter-productive, where do you turn for a better solution? Both Hudak’s Conservatives and the NDP have been content to stand on the sidelines, with fingers crossed, hoping the government self-immolates, occasionally shouting BOONDOGGLE as their sole contribution to the conversation.
You don’t like how we’re going about building transit, the Liberals might ask. Ask them how they’re going to do it. And, of course, neither opposition party will provide a satisfactory answer. They’ll shrug and yell BOONDOGGLE again.
Who could blame them really? There doesn’t seem to be any negative consequences to not building transit. Posturing will suffice. It doesn’t really cost much out of pocket. The problems will get worse but after many of the politicians have moved on to other careers. This city’s history is filled with characters dedicated to inaction on the transit file, so the current players including our mayor, TTC chair, premier, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Queen’s Park opposition parties aren’t going to stand out as exemplary villains in this story.
They’ll just be joining the ranks of murderers’ row. The long line of politicians who put their own self-interest before the city’s. It’s not a particularly exclusive club.
— fit to be tideingly submitted by Cityslikr