It was a plan to build public transit (‘Moving Toronto Into the Future’), modest in the sense of seeming achievable in a reasonable time frame and at a feasible cost. Both levels of government, municipal and provincial, were on board and, despite a scaling back of projects by the province in the face of the 2008 recession (brewing bad blood between Queen’s Park and City Hall that would open the door to bad faith actors intent on killing the proceedings), work was begun in 2009. Continue reading →
Once upon a time there existed a relatively peaceable and stable territory known by the name Metro Toronto. It consisted of 6 duchys, made up of one city and 5 other burgs and sticks, and for over 40 years (that’s 400 in children years!), it managed capably if not spectacularly, even once garnering the faint praise of a garrulous (ask your parents) English knight! Residents were content and lives ran smoothly, more or less. The garbage was collected. Potholes filled. The trains ran on time on enough of a consistent basis that few kicked up much of a fuss. Continue reading →
So twice within the last 2 weeks, Scarborough Centre MPP and Economic Development Minister, Brad Duguid, has come forward to help bail out Mayor John Tory when bad news kept on coming about the proposed one-stop, “express” subway to the Scarborough Town Centre. “The critics, it’s time for them to take a rest,”he stated after news about woefully low projected ridership numbers broke earlier this month. Then this weekend, after the mayor took media heat over nearly a billion dollar increase in the project’s price tag, the provincial minister demanded that all the downtown elitists need to stop their yapping.
“I’m very confident the people of Scarborough will get their subway.”
And by ‘the people of Scarborough’, of course, Minister Duguid meant ‘the politicians of Scarborough’.
Ever since the Ford camp blared ‘Subways, Subways, Subways’, local politicians of all stripes and at all levels have basically co-opted the slogan rather than confront it. They have convinced themselves that campaigns have been fought and won on the subway issue as if it were the only variable that mattered to voters, city-wide, province-wide, country-wide. The Scarborough subway. The defining issue of every election since 2010.
So no matter how ridiculous the project gets the more planning that goes into it, no matter how much money the fucking thing’s going to cost, how damaging it’s going to be to the wider transit network, nothing is too good for the politicians people of Scarborough. They deserve another subway stop. If you stand opposed, it’s for no other reason than you hate Scarborough and refuse to take your elitist head out of your downtown ass.
Like one of those comic book movies with a cast of thousands of supervillains, it’s hard to pick your favourite bad guy in this sad saga. So many too choose from! The one irony in all this is that the guy who raised the curtain on this shitshow, the late Rob Ford, may have been the least worst offender. While always politically calculating, he seemed to actually believe, owing to his solid grounding in ignorance fed by an extreme disinterest in much to do with public transit, that if you were going to build public transit, subways were the only way to go. He didn’t know any better. Everybody else most surely does. They know, and they don’t care.
For me, the real face of this mess is Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker. There is no nonsense he won’t spout, no gratuitous shot he’s unwilling to take, no number too fabtabulist for him to cite in support of a Scarborough subway. He’s the go-to guy to say the questionable things that need to be said in order to push a major infrastructure project that otherwise possesses absolutely no merit. The kind of things that only someone lacking any sense of self-awareness or shame would be able to say with a straight face.
The thing is, Councillor De Baeremaeker wasn’t always a subway champion. He loved LRTs. He was a big fan of Transit City that promised to deliver more higher order transit to more people in Scarborough than either variation of a subway would.
Unfortunately, when push came to shove, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker decided his political future was more important than the future of public transit in Toronto. He’s not alone. Liberal premiers, ministers, MPPs and MPs all took the easiest, most craven route, as did many of those running election campaigns against them. Mayor John Tory fell into place too.
It’s just Councillor De Baeremaeker’s conversion was so obvious, so unprincipled, so thoroughly… greasy, and he stands so smugly defiant in his posturing as Captain Scarborough that, while he’s certainly not the biggest player in this unfolding scandal, he’s most certainly its chief enabler.