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


Another Chance To Get It Right

October 8, 2013

As difficult as it may be to imagine, given the… surreal? wacky? cartoonish? crazy1I’ve truly run out of adjectives to describe the performance of this current city council over the course of the last three years… this week’s meeting could well turn out to represent the… pinnacle? nadir? defining moment? of its entire term.

Check out Neville Park’s cheat sheet if you haven’t already for a most excellent and entertaining overview of what will be going on over the course of the next 3 or 4 days. As always, there’s a boat load of important matters to be dealt with including the appointment of the replacement for Doug Holyday as councillor for Ward 3. His letter to his former colleagues insisting they tap his choice of Peter Leon who was ignored last week by Etobicoke-York Community Council when they opted for Chris Stockwell should make that debate more intriguing than it really should be.

That item, of course, along with every other one on council’s agenda will be overshadowed once more by the topic of transit. backfromthedeadMore specifically the ongoing, drawn out, forever and forever until perpetuity fight over a Scarborough subway. The serial killer of our political scene that just cannot be dispatched.

Yep. It’s back. Just two short weeks ago it seemed like a sure thing too, resuscitated by an infusion of federal cash. But now, with a provincial short fall and the city manager laying out the barest minimum of property tax increases that will be needed for the city to pony up its piece of the funding pie (for a more realistic picture of what we could be paying to build the Scarborough subway, check out David Hains and Hamutal Dotan at Torontoist), not to mention its biggest booster in an ever steepening pot of brewing scandal, a slight pall has been cast over the subway celebrations.

The kicker is, after all the discussion we’ve had on the topic, the monotonous, endless back-and-forth since 2010, there’s still no rational, compelling reason to replace the proposed Scarborough LRT with a subway in either of its current alignments. youcanbeseriousThe case to do so has remained in its under-developed embryonic state.  An a priori argument, of sorts, stating a subway is the best option for Scarborough because, well, subways are the best. World class. First class.

It’s a heaping dose of head shake, bulging with a bloated sense of entitlement and misplaced resentment, encouraged mightily by excruciating political calculation at all three levels of government.

As Matt Elliott pointed out in his column yesterday, the cost of building this Scarborough subway is going to put an undue strain on the city’s budget for decades to come, threatening other programs and services as well as other transit infrastructure builds, many of them a much higher priority than a subway in Scarborough. Any member of city council who votes in favour of proceeding with this project is doing so out of nothing more than pure self-interest. They are signalling a willingness to jeopardize the city’s best interests for the sake of scoring cheap political points.

responsibilityjpg

That’s what this vote comes down to. It will define their term in office. Let’s be sure to judge them accordingly.

pleadingly submitted by Cityslikr


A Second Chance To Get It Right

October 4, 2013

Hey Toronto.

What do you say we kill this Scarborough subway nuttery once and for all? steakthroughtheheartWith city council meeting next week to consider the City Manager’s subway report it requested back in July, there seems to be a real opportunity to put a fucking nail in the coffin of this nonsense. A silver bullet through its already malfunctioning heart.

We can chalk the underground madness up to a giddy summer revelry. The heat and mint juleps got to our better judgement. Our collective fever’s now broken and we can come to our senses. A little bit self-conscious about our embarrassing outburst of irrationality but, hey, who hasn’t at least once followed a very bad idea down the rabbit hole?

“The purpose of this report,” city staff writes, “is to inform Council that the terms and conditions for supporting the McCowan Corridor Subway have been met crazyfromtheheatwith the exception of the $1.8 billion ($2010) commitment from the Province [italics mine].

“With the exception of”, in fact, negates the very claim that statement makes of all the terms and conditions for supporting city council’s preferred subway route in the McCowan corridor. Not all the funding from the two senior levels of government has been secured and, in an ideal world, that would automatically kill the subway plan and revert back to the LRT. There was a lot of chatter about the poison pill motions that were voted in favour of at the July council meeting that would ensure the city wouldn’t go ahead with building a subway without all the other money it asked for in place.

Taken at their word, a majority of council is obligated to vote against a Scarborough subway.

Yeah. My eye just popped a blood vessel writing that last sentence.

Even assuming that ain’t going to happen, the city manager’s table for the necessary property tax increases to pay for the city’s portion for the subway build, .5% in each of the next two years and .6% the year after that, dedicated solely to the Scarborough subway, should give many of the councillors pause.bestcasescenario

Let’s call those numbers a best case scenario. It doesn’t include cost overruns, interest rate increases, credit rating changes, capital maintenances, etc., etc., that the city would have to assume with a subway (that it wouldn’t with the LRT). We’ll refer to the city manager’s numbers as ‘for starters’.

Even if they were spot on, these property tax hikes will pressure not only other demands for revenue tools to build more necessary transit infrastructure throughout the GTA as part of the province’s Big Move but for the basic ongoing operations of the TTC and its capital budget for things like state of good repair. The TTC chair is already demanding more money for the transit system after years of a flat lined budget from the city and fare increases. In an atmosphere where voters are still only very reluctantly willing to consider new taxes and levies to go to enhanced transit infrastructure, saddling the public with property tax increases for a vanity project of dubious need seems counter-productive to the wider goal.

Never mind the kind of pressure this would put on the rest of the city budget. You start with a .5% property tax increase for the Scarborough subway, how much more will council be willing to stomach to help pay for other basic city services and capital outlays? takeastepbackGoing into an election year, it’s difficult to imagine many councillors signing up for the kind of bump needed in order to avoid cutting programs and other infrastructure needs.

And that’s what this is all about, all that it’s ever been about. Next year’s election. A handful of councillors have bought into the notion that being on the bad side of the Scarborough subway issue will imperil their political future. Fearful in the face of an angry Ford Nation, they’ve traded in common sense for a slab of red meat to feed their constituents. They’ve jeopardized the city’s transit planning prospects for nothing more than individual advantage.

But I truly believe they’ve miscalculated.

The biggest proponent for the Scarborough subway has put himself into an awkward position, re-election wise. Mayor Ford has held steadfast in his view folks can only afford a property tax increase of .25% and not one per cent more. Clearly, that’s well short of what’s needed. droppedtheball1So, he’s either going to have to get behind a tax increase he’s made a career of railing against or be a subway supporter in name only, unwilling to cough up the dough to make it happen.

While logic hasn’t always been the strongest suit of those supporting the mayor, I think there’s another factor his council colleagues need to consider going into next week’s transit debate. Just how potent a force is Mayor Ford going to be in 2014? With the news of his occasional driver and full time friend Sandro Lisi’s arrest Tuesday on drug related charges and today’s whammie about the police following the mayor’s movement with air surveillance, it’s increasingly impossible to see him remaining a viable candidate outside of his hardest of hardcore support.

So let’s move beyond the crass political calculations of this transit debate where one of the variables is the mayor and his Scarborough Deserves A Subway legion. In a letter to the city earlier this week, Metrolinx once again points out that the preferred option remains the Scarborough LRT. More stops providing better access to more people. No property tax increases to build it. No money burned in sunk costs. All costs overruns and other financial changes picked up by the province. Ready to go now and not 5 years down the road.

Andy Byford, the TTC CEO, has been very emphatic if diplomatic in pointing out that the next subway Toronto actually needs is a relief line, bereasonableproviding transit users in the north and east of the city (including, yes, Scarborough) a less congested route into the downtown core that by-passes the already at-capacity Yonge line. It could easily be called the Scarborough Relief Line. Here, Scarborough. There’s your subway.

A genuine do-over has presented itself to city council next week. An opportunity for councillors to re-right a previous mistake, made with the worst of intentions but under a lot of self-inflicted duress. That’s a situation that doesn’t happen very often in life. Let’s make the most of it and put this sad, sorry spectacle behind us.

 — hopefully submitted by Cityslikr


Only Sure Thing Is There’s Never A Sure Thing

September 27, 2013

The sounds of much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth could be heard this week in reaction to John Lorinc’s Spacing piece, noooooooSubway Nation rises again. “There’s little doubt,” Mr. Lorinc writes, “that this long-awaited federal contribution marks a check mate move for Mayor Rob Ford. Barring a criminal charge relating to Project Traveller, he will walk away with next year’s race…”

Hmmm.

I’m hoping Mr. Lorinc states that as some sort of heads-up warning shot, a little chin music to stiffen the resolve of those grown complacent, thinking the mayor’s political future will destruct under his own volition. Focus, people! This bad dream isn’t over yet.

He’s too astute an observer of the political scene here in Toronto to honestly believe that statement. That this particular moment in time, more than 13 months before the actual election, will prove to be the defining moment in securing the mayor his re-election. This transit situation has been too fluid to imagine a sudden hardening in place. chinmusicAnd Mayor Ford, well, he hasn’t shown himself to be the best in protecting leads.

Here’s a politician who took an electoral mandate in 2010 and trampled his way to surprise success for the first year of his term before squandering it with a potent mixture of hubris, over-reach and chest-beating triumphalism. Since that time, he’s established that he can take a punch like George Chuvalo, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. He has a solid base that hasn’t abandoned him yet. But that’s about the extent of it. Now suddenly, he’s snatched the ring from Frodo and has an undefended line straight to Mordor?

I think already this week since the fed’s announcement of funding for the Scarborough subway and Lorinc’s Spacing article, some loose threads have shown along the hemline of Mayor Ford’s cloak of invincibility.

The $660 million in federal funding seemed to secure the certainty of the city’s Scarborough subway proposal to replace the LRT. It also immediately exposed city council’s need to come up with nearly a billion dollars of its own to put some skin in the game as many of the subway’s supporters like to say. georgchuvalo(For a crazy good analysis of the full costs of the Scarborough subway, David Hains’ post in the Torontoist is a must read. Click now. Go, read it. I’ll still be here when you get back.)

Back in July when council precipitated this whole transit fiasco, Mayor Ford would only agree to a .25% property tax increase to be dedicated to the Scarborough subway which, everybody else knew even in the best case scenario of funding from other levels of government, was woefully inadequate. It seems the mayor is holding tightly to that number despite the obvious shortfall.

So when city council meets next month to debate the issue, the mayor is either going to have to champion the subway but go on record as being not willing to pay for it or he is going to have to get behind a higher property tax increase. That one’s going to be tough because, while Mr. Lorinc suggests that subways were “the centre piece plank in his 2010 platform”, I don’t remember it quite that way.

Rob Ford’s centre piece plank in his 2010 campaign platform for mayor was about money. robfordsuperheroTransit was a hastily drawn up throw in when the campaign team realized his candidacy was actually being taken seriously. He was the numbers guy, stopping the gravy train, representing the little guy tired of being nickel and dimed to death with tax increases and money grab fees.

Now he’s going to hold the subway trophy above his head in 2014 and tell Ford Nation, oh yeah, about those additional property tax increases?

I get the concern that logic and reason don’t always apply to the supporters of Mayor Ford. Cognitive dissonance and magical thinking tend to be a way of life. But, come on, every house of cards eventually collapses.

On top of which, recent polls suggest that the subway preference in Scarborough isn’t nearly as maniacal as its most ardent supporters insist it is. shellgame1Already soft, what happens when the true costs, ridership numbers, coverage become a campaign issue? When voters are being inundated with what they’re getting versus what they’re giving up?

This goes right to the matter of the mayor’s slam dunk re-election. Much of that supposition rests on the belief with both the mayor’s supporters and biggest detractors that somehow 2014 will play out just like 2010. That the 47% of votes he collected in 2010 are somehow an unmoveable bloc. That the power of incumbency will only play a positive role. That Mayor Ford will face no serious opposition in a candidate a plurality of Torontonian can rally around.

While I’m uncomfortable making any sort of prediction about an elections that’s still more than a year away, I will confidently suggest 2010 will be nothing like 2014.

Take former Scarborough councillor David Soknacki’s open musings about running for mayor. dejavuA pro-LRT, right of centre suburban candidate with past experience but no office to have to give up to run full tilt right to the end. How rock solid is Mayor Ford’s support to withstand an attack from not one of the usual suspects who is constantly calling into question the mayor’s fiscal credibility?

More than that, let’s atomize next year’s race down to the council level. What happens when Scarborough councillors running for re-election outside of the immediate area where a subway might be beneficial get assailed by opponents pointing out that their constituents are getting none of the pluses while paying their share of the costs? The Norm Kellys. The Mike Del Grandes. The Michelle Berardinettis. Paul Ainslies and Gary Crawfords.

Beyond Scarborough, what do incumbents in York, North York and Etobicoke tell their voters about asking them to pay additional property taxes for a subway that in no way will help them. In fact, it’ll probably set their transit needs back decades. hediditAnswer me that, Councillor Vincent Crisanti in Rexdale. Councillors Giorgio Mammoliti, Frances Nunziata and Anthony Perruzza in York. Councillors Mark Grimes and Peter Milczyn in Mimico. Budget Chief Frank Di Giorgio. Budget. Chief.

Campaigned on just the right way, the Scarborough subway could fracture this whole suburban as one myth that everyone seems to have accepted as fact based on just the past election.

From a transit perspective, the Scarborough subway is nothing but bad news. But I also fail to see how it’s all good news for Mayor Ford’s re-election chances. The electoral landscape may’ve changed, it’s just far too early to tell to whose advantage.

wobbly submitted by Cityslikr


Now Comes The Fun Part

September 23, 2013

Scarborough subway.shhh

Two words I never hope to write again. Ever.

Today the federal government announced they’re putting their skin into the game to the tune of $660 million for the city council approved subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line all the way up to Sheppard Avenue East. At first blush, it would seem that seals the deal. Scarborough gets its subway built for all the wrong reasons.

Damn. Scarborough. Subway again. Damn. Again.

On Metro Morning today Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a Johnny-come-lately supporter of a Scarborough subway brandnewday(OK. After this post I hope to never write that phrase again.), called today’s news a ‘game changer’. He may just be right but like the subway he’s touting, for the wrong reasons. Or at least unexpected ones.

The provincial government, who seems to have been entirely side-stepped on this move from Ottawa, might look at this and see no further political gain from any insistence on ‘their’ subway line being built. They helped bring the feds to the table. A Scarborough subway will now get built. One way or the other, they will be providing the lion’s share of the funding, so they can rightly call it a victory.

Given the fractious relationship that’s developed between Queen’s Park and City Hall especially over this issue, however, I think anyone believing things will get quietly wrapped up in such a peaceful fashion are as deluded as those who see this project as a solution to the woes Scarborough transit users face. It’s not just the mayor I’m referring to on this point. elbowingThe TTC chair’s rather belligerent approach with the province can’t have made any friends.

So we really shouldn’t expect the Liberal government to simply shrug its shoulders, sign a cheque and assure us no harm, no foul, should we? This is where the play really gets rough. We now go into the corners, elbows up.

Here’s our contribution to the subway, the province tells the city. $1.4 billion plus the nearly half billion more going into the Kennedy station redesign and rebuild. Let’s call it $1.8 billion, shall we?

That’s already $400 million the city now has to make up.

Don’t forget the sunk costs already gone into the Scarborough LRT plans. And if we go with the council subway plans the feds are backing, the current SRT’s lifespan will have to be extended now to the better part of 10 years and then torn down completely. We might be looking at over a quarter billion dollars in additional money by some estimates that the province can rightly say are on the city.

And this is before we get to calculating our direct portion of the subway project we need to pony up through an additional increase in property taxes. payup1We know where our mayor stands on the matter, and going into an election year? How many incumbents will be willing to go to the electorate campaigning for either/or additional property taxes/service cuts to offset the costs of building the Scarborough subway?

That’s why I’d hesitate making any predictions about how today’s news is going to affect the outcome of upcoming elections. To date, the debate’s all been about fuzzy hypotheticals and wishful thinking coloured in crayon on pretend maps. Things just got real and it’ll be interesting to see how politically expedient an embrace of subways will be when the discussion turns to actual costs everybody’s going to be paying – payup1not just in terms of money in the form of property taxes but in cuts to other services we might suddenly be looking out to fund this one particular project for one portion of the city.

Everybody loves getting stuff. It’s the paying for it discussion that gets thorny. And we just walked into the Scarborough subway bramble.

Scarborough subway.

It’s probably not going to be the last time I commit those two words to the page.

so-so-so-tiredly submitted by Cityslikr


How May I Help You To Help Me?

September 19, 2013

So as the Scarborough subway saga continued to weirdly and depressingly unfold yesterday in and around Queen’s Park wheresthemayor– essentially, This subway-No. This subway. – the man right at ground zero of the debate, he who declared Transit City dead and cast all future transit projects in Toronto underground, Mayor Rob Ford was conspicuous in his absence.

At least, absent from the raging transit debate. Instead, the mayor was out on the hustings making mayoral house calls, totally not campaigning during a whistle stop tour of a Toronto Community Housing apartment in Rexdale. A little electoral trick-or-treating, handing out fridge magnets, business cards and free advice in return for friendly photo ops and voter folks’ complaints, concerns and issues and in no way a shoring up of a data base.

I’ll get right on that, the mayor assured everyone he talked to, whether or not it was fixing a leaky fridge, a crack in a garbage chute or recovering someone’s hearing aid that had fallen down the drain. soaringToo bad the mayor didn’t bring his adjustable wrench with him. He could’ve retrieved it himself.

This, of course, is what earns him the accolades of having that common touch, of looking out for the little guy. Customer service, am I right? You have a problem, call the mayor. He’ll be right there on your doorstep to sort things out.

That would be all warm and fuzzy if we were living in Mayberry and our biggest concern was Goober having more than a coupla pops and driving his truck through the front window of Floyd’s barber ahop. But it isn’t and we don’t. fullerbrushmanToronto’s a big-assed cosmopolitan city with complex issues that can’t be sorted out by a one man door-to-door crusade.

Really? The mayor should be ‘hands on’ and get out there to personally deal with a stray cat problem in the Beaches? It hardly seems like an efficient use of his time and the resources of the mayor’s office. And Mayor Ford is all about efficiencies, isn’t he?

His Fuller Brush Man’s schtick was revealed for all its emptiness yesterday when he discovered a perfectly serviceable gym at the Weston Towers that was closed for use. Making his patented vow to get to the bottom of why and get the gym opened up, the mayor was then informed by the TCHC CEO Gene Jones that the gym wasn’t in use because there wasn’t any money in place to pay for programs.

Ooops.

Mayor Ford has spent parts of the last week, popping into various committee meetings to help vote down improved gladhandservice level recommendations going directly to city council for debate on next year’s budget. Too many councillors would be spending like drunken sailors without his eagle-eyed oversight on things like, say, programs that would keep the gymnasium at Weston Towers open. The left hand, it would seem, isn’t entirely sure what the right hand is doing even though it’s constantly raised to register a ‘no’ vote.

That’s if I don’t want to be too cynical about it. The truth is probably closer to the assumption Mayor Ford goes out to make his rounds of glad-handing and customer servicing to put on a public face of caring about things like housing and social programs even while his votes at council are doing the exact opposite. Look at the mayor promise to single-handedly fix the damage and problems he himself has voted to create. Just like the firefighting arsonist who burns shit down in order to try and save it from going up in flames.

He is Shiva the Destroyer. He is Vishnu the Preserver. sweptundertherugHe will vote against any sort of Hug-A-Thug but will move heaven and earth to make sure your gym is open so he can do a photo-op lay-up. No questions, please. That’d be rude.

What Mayor Ford does in his respect for the taxpayers promenade with the media in tow is not customer service. It’s self-serving, giving the appearance of helping others when, in fact, the only thing getting help is Rob Ford’s image as a looker out for the little guy. It may not be official campaigning but it’s most certainly p.r. campaigning. And as revealed yesterday, it’s nothing but false advertising.

not buying itly submitted by Cityslikr


Our Own Worst Enemy

September 18, 2013

hanghead

*sigh*

No wait. I said I wouldn’t get despondent. No travelling down that gloom route. There’s an upside. There has to be an upside.

[hangs his head]

Nope. Just not feeling it right now. Today’s transit information flow could only be more disheartening if representatives of all three levels of government announced they were getting out of the public transit business altogether and, Oprah-like, everybodygetsacarwere giving us all a car to make up for it.

Actually, I’m not sure that wouldn’t be better news than what we heard today.

The Battle of Subway Press Conferences, pitting Premier Kathleen Wynne on one side, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak on the other. Wow! Two mid-week transit announcements, fighting it out for media supremacy. Must be big news a-coming! Come on, come on. Spill, already!

*sigh*

[hangs head]

The only thing we’re any the wiser about now than we were earlier today is the roster filling out the panel we absolutely don’t fucking need but were told about last week headed by Anne Golden. Now, no disrespect to Ms. Golden or the other members I know of – Paul Bedford, Cherise Burda of the Pembina Institute, Gordon Chong even – I believe you’ll be operating with the best of intentions. But we’ve already heard what you’re going to wind up saying to us. Transit expansion costs money. pissingmatchThat money doesn’t grow on the trees lovingly nurtured by the private sector. The only way to get this done is through taxes, tolls and other sources of revenue that must come straight out of the wallets of us taxpayers.

We know. We know. We’re just hoping somebody has a better idea.

That somebody won’t be PC leader Tim Hudak, if you were wondering.

His press conference was even less necessary than the premier’s. Essentially he strode to the mic to tell us the Liberal’s Scarborough subway was stupid face. The one championed by the TTC chair Karen Stintz and city council back in July was better and that a Queen’s Park ruled by him would fund it through… You all know where this is going right?… finding efficiencies.

How do these people keep a straight face? It’s almost like their sole intention with any of this is to make the public even more cynical and jaded. They know we know they are trying their damndest not to build transit if it means siding with new taxes and tolls. iknowiknowiknowWe know they know we know. But somehow, we keep up this fucking pretense of earnest hope that those we elect as our representatives will actually show some leadership and make the hard choices that need to be taken.

That’s hardly possible, though, when we insist on electing people like Councillor Michelle Berardinetti to city council. It takes some doing to top the bullshit inanity of the provincial transit press conferences but Councillor Berardinetti did her level best to do so.

At issue? High Occupancy Vehicle lanes along Eglinton Avenue East in her ward. Seems they are driving non-HOVers around the bend.

I’ll let the councillor speak for herself. She does wild-eyed, babbling indignation so much better than I do.

“HOV lane’s are designed to drive motorists off the road and all it does is serve to drive motorists insane. It’s not working. You’ve got two lanes that are backed up half a mile and you’ve got one that is completely underused. I think that we should remove them.”

But wait. It gets better.

angrydriver

 “We have one of the worst transit systems in the world.”

“What’s the alternative for drivers right now? To jump on the transit system? The TTC? Are you kidding me? They’re not going to do it because it is a deplorable system.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Michelle Berardinetti. Your councillor for Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest.

Now it would be easy to just lay on the horn and blare away at the quality of our politicians but they are simply doing our bidding. If those we elect are cheap, short-sighted and always on the look out for easy solutions to complex problems, it’s just a sad reflection of ourselves. If our transit is substandard, the system deplorable, there’s nobody to blame for that aside from us. outofmywayYou get what you’re willing to pay for, and recently, well, we haven’t been willing to pay for much.

Aside from one shining moment in our city’s history, from the end of World War II until the 1970s – transit’s greatest generation – it seems Torontonians have always been something of penurious lot, both with our wallets and attitudes toward public transit. It comes natural to us. A 1912 plebiscite to raise funds for a Yonge Street subway was rejected by voters. The late-50s saw court battles over extension of the Bloor-Danforth and University lines.

We want transit that will make Toronto ‘world-class’ (or, a little less grandiosely, make our lives more pleasant) but we don’t want to pay for it, spending inordinate amounts of time bending over backwards trying to figure out ways how not to spend money. No number of expert panels or public consultations will alter that fact. Until we come to grips with our continued cheapness in mind and money, all we’re going to do is what we’ve being doing for the better part of a generation now. Talk about it.

shame

*sigh*

[hangs his head]

sadly submitted by Cityslikr