Never A Dull Moment

November 4, 2011

Heads up all you Toronto city council watchers. If you want to witness exactly how the Mayor Ford administration dysfunctionally functions, there’s no better place to start than spending a few hours with the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. There’s intrigue and machinations aplenty. Dastardly double-dealing. Oozing personal antipathy.

And in the end? Invariably a little more of the city has been chopped up or sold off for an ever so slight relief of our budgetary woes. All this and no cover charge to boot.

Yesterday’s gathering could’ve been so very different. There was actually serious consensus brewing, and between two committee members who couldn’t really be much further apart on the political spectrum without needing spyglasses to recognize on another. Councillor David Shiner, committee vice chair and bona fide, shark hating right winger. Last spring, if you recall, he used the committee to bring to a screeching halt the proposed Fort York bridge, citing cost overruns and it being unnecessarily ‘fancy’. This came at the expense and to the surprise of the councillor for the ward the bridge was to built in, Mike Layton, left leaning and most definitely not a member of Team Ford.

Despite this history and such stark ideological differences, these two councillors seemed to have patched things up and worked out a compromise that would see a bridge built not dissimilar to the previous one but at less cost and, more importantly, slightly smaller that opened up more land nearby to be developed. That’s an important point to keep track off as it’ll come back as part of the fitting coda of this story. That just seems to be how the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee rolls.

Now, it’s hard to see what exactly Councillor Shiner representing the administration gave up here to reach an accord on the bridge. There was no disputing the fact that one was needed for the area. The only real nod to the previous design was to ape its appearance. Everything else met Councillor Shiner’s demands: cheaper, shorter and more to city owned property to sell. Even the timeline which would not get the bridge built in time for the War of 1812 bicentennial celebrations at Fort York was just fine and dandy with him. Hard to use the word ‘compromise’ with such an agreement. Sure you can have a bridge but only to my specifications.

It’s not like the councillor went out of his way elsewhere during the meeting to extend a hand to his colleague. Shiner led the charge to defeat an item Layton put forth to exclude bikes from a bylaw restricting chaining or locking items to city property for any length of time. It was the kind of thing that might be OK downtown, Councillor Shiner suggested, but wouldn’t work in his suburban ward. A chaotic scene of bikes locked to fences and bus shelters outside the Finch subway station. And we wonder why bylaw harmonization still hasn’t happened in this post-amalgamation era.

On top of which, Councillor Shiner insisted on pushing through an item that will really only serve to harass the homeless living on our streets; a situation less endemic in his ward than it would be in Councillor Layton’s ward. Is the situation so hunky dory up in Willowdale, no problems there to solve, that councillors like David Shiner have ample time to muck about in other wards, emptily pontificating on things they have only a passing knowledge or interest in? If I understood the councillor correctly, people have no right to sleep on sidewalks if he doesn’t have the right to park his car on them. (The sidewalks, that is. Not the homeless. I think.) Yeah. It was that idiotic of a discussion.

Still, Councillors Shiner and Layton overcame their differences and put forward a motion that would see a Fort York bridge built.

And then, enter the sandman, PWI Committee Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong.

Seemingly not content with what would appear to everyone else to be a victory for his side, the councillor slithered in a two part motion that would, one, direct section 37 development fees to the building of the bridge and two, specifically targeted a property, 53 Strachan to be exact, to be used as ‘leverage’ to get the ball rolling on development in the area.

Whoa, whoa, whoa went up the cry. Where did this come from, asks Councillor Layton. Even Councillor Shiner seemed surprised by the surprise move, immediately jumping in to broker some kind of deal between his chair and Councillor Layton.

Once more, at yet another Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting, a non-Ford compliant councillor gets blindsided by a proposal to push and/or kill a project in their ward. No prior consultation. No attempt to involve the local representative. Nothing more than a deliberate poke in the eye. Take that, consensus.

In the ensuing brouhaha, it’s revealed that among other things at 53 Strachan there’s a youth shelter and a community garden. Councillor Minnan-Wong didn’t appear to know that but might have had he spoken first to Councillor Layton. Why he didn’t, only Councillor Minnan-Wong would know but from the back-and-forth between the two, it seems the committee chair felt Layton had gone public after an earlier meeting between them about getting the Fort Bridge motion onto the committee agenda…

Or some such petty, spiteful bullshit like that. Committee member Councillor Gord Perks suggested it was just simply another example of proving who was the boss of the committee. Marking his territory.

Not that it ultimately mattered, as the chair’s item was soundly defeated by the committee. But it managed to cast a pall on what could be considered a minor step forward out from the partisan pissing match that now passes for debate and discussion at City Hall these days. It’s almost as if the more ardent members of Team Ford are allergic to anything that smacks of compromise or cooperation. Concession and negotiation are dirty words. They have the upper hand now so giving in on anything, admitting to any sort of negotiated settlement, is a sign of weakness.

Even in the building of a bridge, they are incapable of anything other than crass politics.

submitted by Cityslikr


Our Summer Farce

July 24, 2011

(Since summer is the season for repeats, a rebroadcast of our post at the Torontoist, looking at the Core Services Review of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. Re-enjoy.)

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The good news emerging from yesterday’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting was that there was no last minute, duplicitous motion put forward by any of the mayor’s men to derail or erase projects in other councillors’ wards. In May, Councillor David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale) nixed the Fort York bridge, pulling the rug from out under Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina). Last month, it was Councillor John Parker (Ward 26, Don Valley West) blindsiding Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) with the news that plans were afoot to remove the Jarvis bike lanes.

The bad news, however, was three-fold.

First, the KPMG core services review report was revealed to be wholly unsatisfactory in addressing our alleged budget crisis. Under questioning from committee members, councillors Layton and Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park), as well as visting (i.e. non-committee member) councillors like Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) and Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), the report and its corporate authors (along with City staff) went limp. It quickly became clear just how narrow the report actually is, offering only the broadest strokes of possible “savings opportunities” (a.k.a. cuts), with little to no examination of the impact or implications of taking such opportunities. (For instance, the health impacts—and subsequent economic burdens—of rolling back fluoridation in the water or scaling back environmental programs were not included in the report that recommended those cuts.) The validity of the report’s comparative analysis with other cities came under question too. Aside from size, why Melbourne, Australia? An entirely different beast, structurally and governmentally; where were the instructive comparisons? And why were no other municipalities in Ontario examined in the report? They suffer under the exact same provincial handcuffs as Toronto does. Wouldn’t that be more helpful?

Even worse was how the subject of waste diversion was handled. The report clearly ignored key relevant numbers—such as the amount of money the city receives from recycling, which brings down the actual cost to us of collection—in assessing the financial benefits of potential cuts. Additionally, KPMG’s suggestion that our target rates were too ambitious was questioned by a deputant who claimed, in fact, the city of Toronto lagged behind almost ever other municipality in the GTA and was still below a proposed provincial target of 60 per cent.

Such deficiencies just begin to scratch the surface of the problems with the KPMG report. After nearly eight hours of listening to presentations, deputations, questions, and answers, it was hard not to come to the conclusion that the report is little more than a big ol’ softball for the mayor to hammer for extra bases. Big, scary cuts will be dangled out at us with no intention of ever implementing them, so that other cuts will actually happen and we’ll all breathe a heavy sigh of relief, telling ourselves that, well, it could’ve been a whole lot worse.

Bringing us to problem number two. The right wing on the Public Works Committee doesn’t give a shit about any of that. To a man (and they were all men) they couldn’t have looked less interested in yesterday’s proceedings if they’d pulled out blankies and pillows and taken a nap right on their desks. At one point of time, three of them—councillors Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Parker, and Shiner—left the room entirely, bringing things to a halt due to a lack of quorum. The questions they asked of staff, KPMG, and deputants were few and far between. Committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong’s (Ward 34, Don Valley East) sole purpose, it seemed, was to run interference for staff and the KPMG representatives when the line of questioning from other councillors got a little too aggressive or demanding.

All of which leads to the third and most damning problem of the committee meeting. After all was said and done—reports given, deputations made, questions asked—the councillors on Public Works voted to punt the report to the stacked-with-mayoral-allies Executive Committee. Except for seeking further information on snow removal (a big item in places like Shiner’s North York ward), street cleaning, and water fluoridation, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee decided to make no decisions or even recommendations on the KPMG report, leaving it entirely in the hands of Mayor Ford and his executive. It is a move that will quite likely get repeated at every committee meeting over the course of the next 10 days or so. There will be much posturing and posing, ignoring of deputations, blowing smoke and spinning narrative, sound and fury signifying nothing, only to have each and every decision handed meekly over to the mayor to deal with as he sees fit. A complete and utter abrogation of responsibility by the majority members of the City’s standing committees.

Perhaps, that’s overly harsh. Maybe it’s a gambit on some councillors’ part to try and make the mayor show his hand, to be the first to go on record saying what he wants cut. Either way, it seems that the committees are telling us that tough decisions have to be made. Just not by them.

resubmitted by Cityslikr


An Addendum

July 16, 2011

Just a quick additional note that I tried to artfully weave into yesterday’s post but couldn’t pull off in any way that met even our impossibly low standards.

We were talking about the arrival of Councillors Mike Layton and Kristyn Wong-Tam into the bigs with their respective battles to save projects in their wards from under the Godzilla steps of Team Ford. The Fort York bridge in Layton’s case and the Jarvis Street bike lanes in Wong-Tam’s. In losing causes both councillors made very favourable impressions.

We failed to make one important point. That is to the ‘why’ these projects came under attack in the first place. Budget overruns were cited with the proposed Fort York bridge. A mix of ideologically thinking and a repackaged election campaign pledge got trotted out in the case of the bike lanes on Jarvis. None of the reasoning actually held up in the light of the day and perhaps it’s just easiest to see it as simply a purge of anything and everything to do with the Mayor David Miller era. (If you’re looking for better analyses of what’s making the mayor tick, you absolutely need to read Ivor Tossell’s piece in the Toronto Standard and Matt Elliott at Ford For Toronto.)

But consider this.

I think it’s safe to say neither Wong-Tam nor Layton could be viewed as reliable allies of Mayor Ford. In fact, opposite camp may be a better descriptor. Downtown pinko left wing kooks. No need expending any political capital trying to woo them.

Instead, they could be used as examples to the other new councillors who are more amenable to the mayor’s way of thinking. Something along the lines of, don’t fuck with us, newbies, or this kind of thing may happen to you too. So, running against unwritten council protocol, in committee a Ford ally blindsides both Layton and Wong-Tam, giving them no real heads-up that the mayor’s aiming to pull the plug on a project in their ward. Grade school, bully boy tactics that has the dual purpose of sticking it to a political foe while warning everyone else who may be getting restless under the mayor’s thumb to stay put and shut up.

Fort York bridge, killed. Jarvis Street bike lanes, removed.

You see what Mayor Ford just did there, Councillor Bailão? Councillor Colle? Councillor Matlow? Councillor McMahon?

It’s instructive to point out that in the lead up to the Jarvis bike lane debate, Mayor Ford went out of his way to hold the Lawrence Heights development item, a big ticket project that Councillor Colle inherited from his predecessor in Ward 15, Howard Moscoe. Yes, the mayor had never been a fan of the development. He’d even campaigned in the neighbourhood last year and vowed to stop it if elected. But note the timeline this week. Mayor Ford holds item, putting a gun to its head. Jarvis Street bike lane debate happens. Councillor Colle remains in deep background during it. When the vote happens, Councillor Colle lines up with the mayor to help tear up the bike lanes.

Recess for lunch. When the meeting resumes, the mayor releases the item and is the only one to vote against it. However, it’s now safe for Councillor Colle to go forward.

That’s some out-and-out gangster shit there. The exact opposite of building consensus. Let’s call it, political extortion, given added oomph that it comes with the very real example of what happens if you don’t play ball with the mayor. Projects just disappear.

That’s just how Mayor Ford rolls, yo.

sippin’ on gin and juicely submitted by Cityslikr


On The Plus Side

July 15, 2011

Lest anyone be dejected that no good came out of this month’s clusterfuck shitshow of a council meeting, take heart. I can think of two things. Or people, as it were.

A couple rookie councillors emerged as genuine, forceful bona fides on the council scene. Both faced their own respective trials by fire over the last few months and stepped up from being hopeful prospects and into full time positions in the majors. While tough to celebrate given the circumstances, it should still be cause for at least a brief round of applause.

As any long time follower of this blog will know, way back when in the summer and fall of 2010, we were not supporters of then candidate Michael Layton here in Ward 19. In fact, we heartily endorsed one of his opponents in the race to replace Joe Pantalone, Karen Sun. Having watched a couple of the debates and briefly chatting with Mr. Layton when he came knocking at our door, nothing about him jumped out favourably at us. Like many constituents in this ward, we looked at the baggage/advantage he carried being the son of a former city councillor and now leader of the federal NDP and stepson (we think) of another former city councillor and current NDP MP with a certain degree of disdain. There was talk of needing a fresh start without any attachments to the past.

That said, having him an elected as councillor was not the worst thing that happened on election night. Rob Ford’s now mayor?! Cesar Palacio was re-elected!?

Certainly Mr. Layton did not assume office with any air of entitlement. I think I’d even go as far to call him tentative, not an immediate presence in council chambers. He seemed to go for the slow rollout, getting his sea legs, learning the ropes. I softened toward him when he hosted a town hall gathering during the lead up to the budget battles. Admitting that he was new to the process and didn’t have all the answers, he brought in former budget chief Shelley Carroll to help explain to the gathered residents what to expect when council began debating the budget.

Councillor Layton’s first mini-splash came during a subsequent council meeting when, in the middle of speaking on something or other, he was set upon by Councillor Doug Ford who took a rare turn to actually speak out loud, blustering and burping the usual nonsense that flows forth from his gob. Layton held his ground, effectively counter-punching until Brother Doug ran out of steam and plopped himself back down to his seat.

The feistiness flared up again Wednesday when Layton attempted to get Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong to commit to tearing up the Jarvis Street bike lanes only after the alleged protected lanes on Sherbourne Street were functioning. As is his way, Minnan-Wong avoided addressing the issue by spuriously accusing Layton of spearheading the building of the Fort York bridge, in place years before Layton was elected. Layton angrily called Minnan-Wong on his crap and demanded a retraction. Minnan-Wong complied in his typical weasel fashion to which we have become accustomed.

Ah, yes. The Fort York bridge. Councillor Layton’s nasty introduction into the politics of the Ford era. At last month’s Public Works and Infrastructure committee meeting, Ford loyalist, David Shiner, greasily sandbagged Layton with scant advance notice, that they were taking the bridge back to the drawing board and the issue was as good as dead. Layton scrambled to get the necessary 2/3s majority vote to bring it to council for debate but, unsurprisingly, fell short. Tough lesson learned but battle stripes earned.

The Public Works and Infrastructure committee also initiated Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam into the rough and tumble, oily manner of city politics, Ford style. Like Mike Layton, she too was blindsided at the very last minute about a project under threat in her ward. You might’ve heard about it. The Jarvis bike lanes? Mousy but obedient councillor, John Parker gave her about a 5 minute heads-up, after all the deputations had been heard, that plans were in the works to remove the lanes. You don’t have any problems with that, do you councillor?

Like Layton, Councillor Wong-Tam fought an uphill, losing battle in defense of the well-being of her ward but in so doing helped expose the members of the Ford team as mean-spirited, small-minded and categorically unable to defend their positions. When she submitted her 3 motions to save the bike lanes on Jarvis or to ensure they were not removed before the promised Sherbourne lanes had, in fact, been established, Wong-Tam simply embarrassed Councillor Karen Stintz who stood up to try and poke holes in the motions. I don’t know if Stintz didn’t do her homework or was simply performing a half-hearted gesture of solidarity with the mayor but she ended up doing herself or her side no favours. With each hard return from Wong-Tam of Stintz’s goofball queries, it became painfully obvious that, despite being the veteran in the exchange, Councillor Stintz was simply out of her depth and out her league.

So what, you’ll say. At the end of the day, the ill-informed and malignantly intentioned won out. Hoo-rah for the losing side and their hopeless causes. But I happen to think strong character is best forged in defeat. Winning is easy especially if it’s achieved through deceit and, let’s call it what it was, treachery. It’s how you handle yourself and what you learn when you come up short that ultimately counts. Councillors Layton and Wong-Tam were tested and met the challenge. I think we got a couple of keepers on our hands.

happily submitted by Cityslikr


The Real Swing Factor In Trinity-Spadina

April 20, 2011

[Yesterday our email inbox contained a message that so nailed how we were feeling about the federal campaign going on in our riding that, with the author’s permission, we wanted to share it with all of you. Plus, it gave us the day off to head out and enjoy our lovely spring weather.]

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I am exasperated!

Today I read yet another article about how the Liberals and the NDP both need to court the centre-right condo vote in order to win Trinity-Spadina. But the “conservative condo vote” has been mentioned for almost a decade as a swing factor, only to disappear when the votes are counted. It is a cliché and it is wrong.

The real swing voters in Trinity-Spadina are independent progressives.

The NDP does not own the progressive vote in Trinity-Spadina, and cannot take it for granted. Many progressives grimaced as the NDP dithered over the long gun registry, or adopted the Tory anti-tax talking points on the Green Shift, or called for cheaper fossil fuels, or sided with conservative unionists who fear environmentalism costs jobs. These progressives really like Olivia Chow, but they also worry that the NDP is perhaps less a party of urbanists and environmentalists, and more that of culturally-conservative rural unionists who think Toronto pinkos can go to hell.

These swing progressives are the people who voted for Adam Vaughan over the NDP-endorsed Helen Kennedy municipally in Ward 20 (Jack Layton had reportedly threatened to “bury” Vaughan if he ran against Kennedy – nice!). These are also the people who voted for Karen Sun over Jack Layton’s son in Ward 19 last year. These alone represent about 12,000 T-S votes, or one-fifth of the voting electorate. These are the people who will decide the results in Trinity-Spadina, not the “conservative condo vote.”

And yet the condo cliché remains. Here’s the Toronto Star talking to Sean McCormick, an inexperienced Fordesque fiscal conservative who had been bizarrely endorsed by the federal Liberal T-S riding association in last fall’s municipal election for Ward 19 councillor. Not only did McCormick place third, even with the supposedly-mighty conservative condo vote, he was so incompetent that he defaulted on his campaign financials, the only front-running council candidate in the City to do so. (Liberal donors to McCormick’s campaign: according to City bylaw, this default means you are no longer eligible for the City’s 75% donation rebate). Bad enough that these Liberals endorsed an incompetent candidate, but the real stupidity is that they are chasing after conservative voters in Trinity-Spadina, and not progressives.

Clearly, the T-S Liberal riding association is still gripped by the dead hand of Tony Ianno, who was the Liberal MP from 1993-2006. He is famous around here for the contrast between his ruthless hold on power locally, and his lack of presence in Parliament. In 1988, he pioneered some disgraceful practices in the nomination process, practices that William Johnston said “strike at the legitimacy of the most fundamental process of our democratic system.” In 1996, as the feds were turning over harbour commissions to municipalities elsewhere, Ianno fought to create the Toronto Port Authority and put it under federal control. One of its first acts was to sue the City of Toronto for a billion dollars, and the TPA has been a continuous “fuck you” to the city ever since. In 2003, Ianno also pioneered new ways of getting around his own party’s campaign finance law, by creating a secret trust fund that was described in the Montreal Gazette as “a recipe for corruption.” In 2006, he shut down campus polls at U of T, the same thing Iggy slammed the Tories for doing in Guelph. To top it off, Ianno now faces stock manipulation charges.

After this Liberal stronghold fell to the NDP in 2006, you might have hoped the Trinity-Spadina riding association would seek a fresh face who could win back progressive Liberal voters. Next door, in Parkdale-High Park, the Liberals replaced a similarly defeated, similarly uninspiring Liberal with progressive Gerard Kennedy, who was able to defeat the popular and hard-working NDP MP Peggy Nash and retake the riding (some people say, “what a waste,” but why shouldn’t voters get to choose between good candidates?). You might also have thought the T-S riding association would be especially sensitive to the fact that their former MP was now facing an OSC probe during a recession caused by securities shenanigans.

Instead, just weeks before the 2008 election, the Liberals replaced their irritating former MP with Christine Innes, the MP’s wife. If you’re a registered Liberal but can’t remember when you agreed to this nomination, it is because you were not exactly asked. The couple apparently decided this between themselves. “It’s my time,” said Innes. This reminds me of how Andersen Consulting changed its name to Accenture following the Enron scandal.

The role of a riding association generally does not come up in election coverage. And perhaps the distastefulness of the Ianno/Innes family compact is simply how the sausages are made. Voters are also expected to vote for the party and not the local representative. But who advocates for the community’s priorities in a party’s caucus if not the MP? Who sets the direction of a party in Parliament if not its caucus? And as the TPA issue shows, federal politics can indeed be local. MPs matter.

Christine Innes seems quite nice, and she is not her husband. But she is not a fresh start either, and her riding association’s overtures to hard-right fiscal conservatives should worry Liberal progressives. Is Ms. Innes herself centre-right politically, or does she just think the voters are? Either way, how can progressives trust her?

Why won’t the Liberals nominate a progressive in this progressive riding? Where’s our Gerard Kennedy? Where’s our Martha Hall Findlay?

It’s time to drop the conservative condo cliché, and its time for the Liberal riding association to pull its head out of Tony Ianno’s ass. Independent progressives are the real swing voters in Trinity-Spadina, and we are the ones who should be courted.

submitted by John Bowker


The Meter’s Running

January 19, 2011

Parking my ass down on a chair in committee room #1 at City Hall to take in the view of the first Toronto-East York Community Council meeting of the new year, look at all these shiny, fresh faces in action. Councillors Fragedakis, Bailão, Matlow, McMahon, Layton, Wong-Tam. Such a relief after being subject to the grizzled, grim visages that occupy desk space on the Budget and Executive committees. Cllrs. Del Grande, Shiner, Thompson, Kelly, Pelacio. Del Grande, Shiner. Did I mention them already? Yeah well, slap an eye-patch on either of them and we’ve got our very own Rooster Cogburns minus the infinitesimal traces of empathy displayed by the fictional cowboy. The Toronto-East York Community Council also includes 3 of my 4 favourite councillors, Cllrs. Vaughan, Davis and Perks who is serving as the council chair.

In case you don’t know, community councils serve as a direct contact between citizens and City Hall. Members from council sit and listen while people depute. Depute. Didn’t even know that was a word. There are 4 community councils throughout the city and, while they were given some power over local matters like by-laws and permits with the City of Toronto Act back in 2006, they still seem to operate more at an advisory level than an actual hands-on enforcement body.

Armed with information from their respective deputations – fun fact, the word ‘deputation’ can mean the group or person who deputes as well as both the act of being deputing and the state of being deputed. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, ya thesaurus loving kooks! Each Community Council will then take their recommendations on their respective local matters to the full city council for further consideration and an eventual vote.

More or less.

Civics pseudo-lesson over.

During the course of a deputation regarding a planned condo development out on King Street West, the subject of parking came up. A lot. (Pun not intended but not shied away from either.) It has been my experience watching public debates on proposed high(er) rise developments throughout the downtown core of Toronto that parking is up the list of resident and business concerns. Which comes as a surprise to me, frankly. Density intensification, public transit concerns, these things I get. But parking?

Of course, business owners will beat that drum, intractable as they are in the mid-20th-century mindset that cars equal sales. No number of studies suggesting that may not be the case will convince them otherwise. Local residents, too, are leery of new apartment/condo developments not only because of increased congestion but because of the premium it puts on their street parking. In the face of these fears, developers claim that there’s seldom a dearth of parking spots in their new buildings as those buying condos downtown don’t seem to want them. Hear, hear. I say. Urban dwellers reducing their dependency on the automobile. That sounds about right.

Not so fast, says Councillor Pam McConnell, our Katherine Hepburn’s Eula Goodnight I think for no real good reason other than I’ve still got True Grit-ish things on my mind. She says that those buying condos pass on parking spots not because they don’t own cars but to save money. Councillor McConnell claims that spaces in the condominiums comes with a price tag anywhere from $20-30 K. Why pay that when you can buy a six month street parking permit for $60?

Wait. I’m sorry. What? Sixty dollars for six months of parking! Are you sure about that, Councillor McConnell? It’s 2011 not 1980. Nobody living in the downtown core could be paying $10/month for parking. You must have your facts and figures wrong.

Checking the city’s website and it turns out that the councillor’s numbers are, indeed, off. With no access to off-site parking, a resident will pay just under $15/month for their first vehicle. It’ll cost them under $40/month for any subsequent vehicles. If a resident wants to park out on the street just for the convenience of it, you know, they have access to off-site parking, they’ll be out of pocket slightly under $50/month. That’s about $12 a week, under $2 a day, to park on the street simply as a matter of convenience.

How’s that for your Gravy Trains?! In fact, if you want to guest street park your gravy train outside your house, the city merely asks you to hand over $21.18 for a week. That’s $3 a day for those of you not good with the long division. To park on a street in downtown Toronto.

The War on the Car indeed.

Now I know that parking is a mystifyingly visceral topic, driven more by some ancient sense of entitlement than by good economic/environmental sense. I own a car therefore I am allowed to put it right here at no extra cost to me whatsoever. It just seems outrageous that a city as purportedly under the fiscal gun as our current administration claims it is simply gives away huge tracks of its public space for peanuts. Yes, I called on-street parking ‘public space’ and I’m not the only one. In fact, I lifted the idea outright from a much smarter writer on city stuff over at Urbanophile. Parking on a city’s streets for chump change is not some inalienable right.

We’ve talked about this before and much brighter minds than ours deliberate over the concept of proper pricing for parking to maximize profits while mitigating congestion and the resulting environmental impact. But it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that Toronto, at least in terms of its handling of on-street parking, is simply acting as Santa Claus to drivers. If you own a car, you better be prepared to pay for it. That includes the real cost of parking. And the price of that is a lot more than pennies a day.

indignantly submitted by Cityslikr