The Inexplicable Intransigence Of Mayor Tory

astutebusinessman

John Tory came into the mayor’s office touting his serious business and private sector credentials, remember? He saw fit to vilify one of his campaign opponents, Olivia Chow, as ‘that NDP candidate’, just another ‘tax-and-spender’ who didn’t understand the value of our hard-earned tax dollars. Tough fiscal times called for someone with prudent fiscal sensibilities. John Tory, he assured us, possessed that in spades.

Yet here we are, having to square this circle. Mayor Tory’s headlong rush into supporting a much more expensive “hybrid” (everybody’s using quotes for that word now) re-build of the 2 kilometres or so of the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis Street. It’s an option that puts severe limits on future development (and future revenue for the city) of the waterfront area outside of the Unilever site. It’s an option that leaves an elevated expressway running through the downtown core of the city. It’s an option that caters almost exclusively to some 3% of morning car commuters to the CBD and a recent organization calling itself the Gardiner Industry Coalition (or, as I like to think of them, Drivers Inc.)

scratchmyhead

It’s an option that makes fundamentally little sense for more than a few reasons but none so pointedly as its fiscal recklessness. Something candidate John Tory assured us he would, could never be. Corporate titan, astute businessman, private sector player, yaddie, yaddie, yaddie.

Clocking in just under 20 minutes during a deputation given to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday, Alfredo Romano of Castlepoint Numa, the largest private sector landholder of waterfront properties, dismantled each and every argument Mayor Tory and other “hybrid” proponents have made to keep this portion of the Gardiner, save for that tattered flag of, Won’t somebody think of the poor drivers. Watching this [h/t @_JohnTory, no relation], it’s difficult not to conclude that our mayor is less a savvy businessman and more a crass, ham-fisted, self-interested politician.

I especially love this next bit. Mr. Romano points out that the city is also a major property owner down at the waterfront. In his view, maintaining the Gardiner east which essentially the “hybrid” option does, serves to shoot ourselves in the foot. The hybrid option will “take away the value of your own asset”, he told the committee. Reading between those lines, I can’t see any reference to fiscal prudence or sound management practices.

They’re calling this a 100 year decision, laying it on a bit thick, in my opinion. The Gardiner Expressway is barely 60 years old and has been falling apart for a decade or so now. Still, it is a very important decision, one that will affect the future development of the waterfront. Until recently, this city hasn’t been very good at that. So I don’t think it too over-the-top to suggest that how Mayor Tory comes down on this will go a long way to determining how posterity will view his time in office. He’d be wise to reconsider his options on this.

prognosticatingly submitted by Cityslikr

3 Responses to The Inexplicable Intransigence Of Mayor Tory

  1. Alan Barthel says:

    The mayor and council have not done their homework. I’d love to see some discussion of cities that have successfully removed highways that cut up our cities. There are a number of them!

  2. Barry Lipton says:

    Our business magnateMayor with the huge Rolidex of politcal & business connections sure doesn’t give a damn about the taxpayers of Toronto.
    Lets look at a couple of recent City decisions; cancelling the Scarborough LRT lost Provincial funding 1.3 billion; repayment of sunk costs 85 million; operating costs & maintainance a Provincial cost 100s of millions over the lifetime of the line.
    The City has raised taxes for 30 years to pay 3 billion plus for the 3 stop Scarborough Stubway.
    Car drivers complained about construction slow downs on the Gardiner, well our Car Mayor waved his magic wand and there was an extra 2 million to pay for overtime.
    Councillor Mihevic suggested to Alfredo Romano owner of the Keating precinct lands (where the off-ramps for the “hybrid” Gardiner would go) would lose up to 100 million of tax revenue per year for the City. That is 10 billion of lost taxes just in the 4 to 5 acres directly impacted. It would be many times that when you take into account the degraded value of developable land owned by the City.
    So Big Business Brains John Tory is willing to add 1/2 a billion to our tax load that will piss away 100s of billions in tax revenue, development fees, and job opportunities.
    The so called hybrid option would destroy the carefully developed plans of Waterfront Toronto for the West Donlands, Keating Channel Precinct and the Portlands, destroying the recreational value of the area and degrading the potential for good mixed development.
    There is only one response to this problem – TEAR IT DOWN

    This Business Mayor sure can’t see the future, or the 100s of billions of forgone revenue; looks like we got the Negative Option Mayor.
    Every option he proposes is Negative

  3. Roger B says:

    Tory/ First Gulf & the E Gardiner
    So essentially John Tory had been claiming that he had been supporting the more expensive “hybrid” option in order to help First Gulf (Great Gulf) deliver 70,000 (unlikely) financial jobs.
    First Gulf who is asking for billions in government infrastructure improvements before any jobs arrive, also prefers not to wear the Gardiner costs, or anger other waterfront developers.
    While claiming that it supported taking down the Gardiner, First Gulf now claims that the reason it paid BA consultants to produce an (unworkable) plan to maintain and move the Gardiner ramps, was because it was worried that politicians would approve the Gardiner anyways.Their neutral claim is dubious considering that First Gulf, unlike Castlepoint, wants an immediate decision from the car-friendly Works board.
    FG, Castlepoint & lobbyists
    FG was silent on the updated “hybrid” option, until the last minute when it likely thought Works would approve, as per expectations. The lobbyist registry shows that FG’s Duffy was in regular communication with Tory’s staff during this time, while FG’s Goring & Gerofsky worked over Council and city staff. As Tory says, it’s all kosher cuz he doesn’t talk directly to the lobbyists during sensitive times, and uses his staff members as carrier pigeons. One of the pigeons FG used was Gupta, who previously lobbied for Castlepoint.

    Castlepoint’s lack of lobbying power on this project has caused it to be on the losing end of 2 recent lobbying plays on easily influenced Mayors. First by Westfield Group’s Portlands mega-mall proposal for Doug & Rob Ford, and now by Duffy from First Gulf (GG). By comparison there is no record of any communications to date by ‘3C Lakeshore Inc’s’ “blindsided” Pepino (for Castlepoint), who only registered this month. The city also owns land, but its lack of lobbying influence (on itself) means tax payers also get shot in the foot.
    In an honest system neither the city nor developers would need to spend top dollar for lobbyists that act as rainmakers for political campaigns or work for free as a Mayor’s chief campaign policy analyst, just to have the city treat a project fairly, but..

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