So You Say You Wanted A Subway, Eh?

October 9, 2013

When Scarborourgh city councillor Paul Ainslie stood up yesterday to announce that after much deliberation he had decided to vote for returning to the signed Master Agreement with the province and begin building the LRT extension to the Bloor-Danforth subway line, poodlesit kicked Mayor Ford and his councillor-brother Doug to life and up onto their haunches. Howling indignantly, both men vowed electoral retribution on their colleague for his betrayal of the transit-deprived residents of his and the other 9 wards of Scarborough. Later, on-again, off-again bestest friend of the mayor, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti attempted to revise history and say that Councillor Ainslie was trying to defy the 2010 mandate given to Mayor Ford who’d been elected almost exclusively on a platform of Subways, Subways, Subways.

He wasn’t.

But no matter.

After the council vote in favour of the Scarborough subway (presumably the council approved one running up the now-dubbed McCowan corridor), I say this time around let’s actually make the Scarborough subway an election issue in 2014. Not in the sense of trying to stop it in its underground tracks. letsdothisNo, no. It’s been voted on. We don’t change transit plans once they get approved, do we.

Instead, we start talking turkey. Just like Councillor Ainslie did when he stood his ground against a wall of nonsense and invective, insisting we make a decision based on facts and evidence. It’s all well and good to blithely promise subways with vague notions of how we don’t have to pay for them. Now we’ve got some concrete numbers, some actual costs we have to talk about. Property tax increases. Debt obligations. Shit we did not have to take on if we’d stuck with the original LRT plan.

Already Mayor Ford is trying to wiggle out from behind the obligation side of the equation, saying he’ll find a way to only bump property taxes .25% next year, half of what was recommended by the city manager. This, despite having had more than 3 years to come up with such magical math. stepbackOffering up some laughable solution, he will attempt to vilify anyone pushing a higher increase than that and prove to be something of an unreliable ally to the 23 councillors who helped deliver him “his” subway.

Or the mayor just might use the recommended .5% increase to argue for a lower overall property tax hike that will result in cuts to programs and services, as well as jeopardizing other capital expenditures the city also faces. Then those 23 other councillors will have to face a very unappealing election year choice of coming out in favour of higher taxes or reductions in services and expenditures. I want to see the likes of Councillor Vincent Crisanti knocking on doors in his ward way up in Rexdale, about as far away from Scarborough as you can get while remaining in the city, and explain to his constituents exactly what they’re getting in return for the subway in Scarborough. Ditto, Councillor Ana Bailao in Ward 18.

I want to see all the subway proponents now have to start selling the nuts and bolts of the Scarborough subway to their constituents. Tell them what it’s going to cost on their tax bills. In terms of the services they may have to do without. The infrastructure needs that may well have to be delayed just that much longer.

Hell’s yeah, let’s make this an election issue. Let’s start talking about fiscal prudence and responsible city building. buttheadsThe subway’s a done deal but the devil’s in the details. Let’s start spelling out those details, what we’re getting, what we’re sacrificing to get it, how much it’s going to cost us to get it.

Led by Mayor Ford this council somehow just committed to a nearly one billion dollar infrastructure investment lacking oh so many of those important details. Now we must insist all those who voted in favour of the subway start filling those details in. We should all pitch in to help them do it. The following 24 said Scarborough wanted subways. Let’s make sure they explain to their voters exactly what they’re getting.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr