TTC chair, staff excluded from transit planning
The office of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has hired a former councillor to help build a business case for extending the Sheppard subway, circumventing city staff and his own TTC chair who are already paid to do such work.
Former TTC vice-chair Gordon Chong, who was also a councillor in the old city of North York, will be paid $100,000 per year as the CEO of Toronto Transit Infrastructure Limited, a long-dormant TTC body that has now been revived. It is not clear if he will stay on for a full year.
The group also includes the mayor's brother Coun. Doug Ford and Coun. Norm Kelly, who sits on the TTC board. It will try to secure funding from a $1.2 billion federal public-private partnership program for the Sheppard extension. The meetings of the company will not be open to the public.
"A business case along the lines that we're discussing — financing for a subway — would normally be done by the city of Toronto," said TTC general manager Gary Webster, who doesn't appear to be on board with Ford's plan.
"The mayor's plan is a different plan. It's a plan based on a different policy, a different approach to transit in the city," he said.
No comment from mayor's office
TTC Chair Karen Stintz said the decision to exclude the TTC from the process to secure funding wasn't hers.
"It was an application for federal Canada funding. And so it was deemed by the mayor's office that this was an appropriate way to move forward," she said.
Jamie Kirkpatrick, a Toronto transit watcher, said he doesn't expect to hear why.
"Well we have all tried to talk to the mayor's office. We know he doesn't answer our calls," he said.
The mayor's office wouldn't comment on the matter.
The $4.2 billion Sheppard extension is one of two major parts of Ford's transit plan, the other being a 25-kilometre light rail line along Eglinton Avenue, most of which will be underground.
While the full cost of the $8.2-billion Eglinton Crosstown line will be borne by the province, there is no guaranteed funding for the Sheppard extension. Ford said he hopes to finance it through public-private partnerships and funding from senior governments.
Yeah, it's ridiculous that Ford has hired an outside consultant to work at a company - with his brother as director - in order to fund a subway that is clearly not in the city's best interest. And apparently they can have meetings without disclosing information to the public. Nonsense.
Quite frankly I think Mayor Miller's socialist government was fairly clean, easy to read and understand, and he ran his budgets fairly. I disagreed with mayor Miller as well, because I don't think streetcars for every community is a good plan, but he ran a clean ship and I respected him for his clear leadership and his care for the less well off.
The problem with Ford and typical right wing mania is that they pretend to be above the fray. They're "respecting taxpayers" about as much as a mafia boss would respect the illegal loans they collect with blood on their hands. There is no respect for taxpayers above and beyond any other party, it is just a different set of priorities. So he cuts the car registration tax.. Big deal, he's still giving out contracts to friends of his campaign without proper bidding. There is no respect for taxpayers, its clearly just a different set of priorities.
But again, the right wing has consistently tried to make some issue of the fact that THEY respect taxpayers more than others, usually by cutting taxes for the elite and ultra wealthy while cutting services and funding from poorer communities. That's not respect to me, or most left leaning people, or middle class Canadians. But all he has to do is one simple gesture, like getting rid of a car registration tax, and he appears as if he's for the common guy.... It is a disconnect that voters will hopefully see in the future.
Meanwhile, I think Ford has done a good service to Toronto on one issue. I'm happy Transit City has been reorganized into giving rapid transit a real chance. Transit City is not, was not, and never would have been RAPID TRANSIT. AND something else is good for Toronto, while I don't want a Hudak government it is entirely likely this fall. If that is the case, a Hudak government isn't going to pull funding from a conservative right wing mayor by the name of Rob Ford. Conservatives will support Conservatives for political reasons. If Ford had to become mayor, right now was a halfway decent time for Toronto to have a right wing lapse. It will be better to have cooperation to get these major projects done, because these kinds of investments transcend a mayoral administration and will set the tone for growth for many decades to come.
Toronto will end up on the road to better transit even with Hudak this fall, I think. So DESPITE them, Toronto shouldn't face the same circumstances as it did under Harris in the 90's and the stupidity of filling in Eglinton subway's first construction hole. Rob Ford wants subways and better quality LRT, and Hudak isn't going to cut something his fellow conservative wants when he's trying to build support in the GTA.
This may be Toronto's first time to not be punished by provincial conservatives for decades on the issue of rapid transit development in the city. While I don't support these governments, Toronto is not going to be hurt too bad on the issue of transit this time.
At the end of the day, most of the political capital was spent by Mayor Miller and Premier McGuinty. If it weren't for these two individuals, there would have been no Eglinton LRT. Ford just came in and altered it slightly and said they'll put it all underground. Miller and McGuinty are responsible for the substance, Ford is going to be responsible for the style. Hudak will hopefully let it happen by proxy simply because he doesn't want to appear to oppose Rob Ford as he tries to build support in the GTA.
I still have a very positive feeling about what Toronto's future will look like, it looks rosy to me no matter what, regardless if politicians are in office that I don't always agree with. Luckily there won't be a repeat of the Harris mistakes for transit in Toronto (I don't think).
Last edited by Brandon716; 2011-Apr-08 at 04:31.
To be proven wrong should be celebrated, for it is elevating someone to a new level of understanding.
1) Will Rob Ford (or the companies in which he or is brother have a vested interest in) stand to benefit finanically from an extended Sheppard Subway?
2) Will any of Rob Ford's major campaign contributors (I'm thinking developers or land owners along Sheppard) benefit substantially from a Sheppard Subway?
3) Will the deal with the private sector to help build this subway be a good deal for the City, or will it be given to one of Ford's buddies (or even worse, campaign contributors), with rediculous conditions, similar to what Harris did with the 407?
If any one of these questions can be answered with 'yes', then we have a serious problem on our hands...
Let me detail how I think this will play out: Ford has hired a private consultant to make the business case for the Sheppard Subway. The business case will come back pretty weak, and as a result the City will need to offer up strong financial incentives in order to get any private sector company to even think about investing in it. Naturally, most companies with common sense would turn it down, because no one wants to lose money. The only companies left are ones that have personal or business ties to Ford. Ford turns to the City and says "we only have one bidder left, we're going to have to sweeten the deal for the private sector in order to get them to invest". As a result, the deal becomes and absolute steal for that company that has ties to Ford, and the subway turns from a City infrastructure project into what's basically a handout for a private company that Ford will ensure sees a hefty profit from this venture.
Ford wins. The company that has ties to Ford wins. The City loses bigtime.
If (or when) Ford is unable to secure financing for his Sheppard extension plan, I'll bet he'll try to spin it as him saving the city $4.3 billion.
If this line keeps losing money then only run it during rush hour. The busses aren't too packed outside of that time anyway.
Last edited by kEiThZ; 2011-Apr-08 at 12:33.
Because, let's face it, no private investor is going to offer up any type of cash for a project that everyone knows will not be profitable, unless they have absolute insurance (ie a fixed 407-type internal deal) that it'll make them money. This profit will come very much at the expense of the Toronto taxpayer, and by the time the sh*t hits the fan, Ford will be long gone from politics, miles away from facing any sort of accountability.