Digging Under Ford Transit Plan to Find Truth, or, Ford Faerie Fantasy Finalized

The Ford plan envisions 32 kilometres of new subways at projected cost of $9 billion - funded by faeries.

The Ford plan envisions 32 kilometres of new subways at projected cost of $9 billion – funded by faeries.

I saw Andray Domise, councillor candidate in Ward 2, at the Black Canadians mayoral debate last week. He seems like a pretty well put-together dude, I thought at the time. Today on Twitter, I noted he was commenting on the Ford rapid transit plan released earlier today. His thoughts aligned quite nicely with mine: we agree Ford must believe in “Faeganomics” – the confidence that fiscal faeries who have yet to bestow their kindness onto our civic leaders will magically drop $9 billion in our laps to pay for Phase 1 of the madness the mayor has proposed.

Why is it little better than bluster and pixie dust? Because the way he wants to fund these lines sounds an awful lot like the “plan” he had when he pledged to kill the Transit City plan agreed upon under David Miller. Here are the projects in Phase 1:

1. Burial of the eastern end of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (from Laird to Kennedy), which is currently under construction;
2. Extension of the Sheppard subway from Don Mills to McCowan (to connect with the new Bloor-Danforth extension “built” by Ford during his current term as mayor), instead of the surface LRT that’s already approved and funded along the same route;
3. Construction of the eastern section of a downtown relief line connecting Pape and Queen stations; and
4. Building a subway from the nearly-completed Finch West station to Humber College, instead of the surface LRT that’s already approved and funded along the same route.

After squashing the LRT projects on Sheppard and Finch and redirecting that money to subways, Ford somehow thinks the private sector (through development charges, sale of “air rights” above new stations and public-private partnerships) will fund a huge chunk of this plan, along with asset sales by Build Toronto and the city along the corridors, targeting natural year-over-year tax revenue growth from a couple of sources to transit, and big bucks from the two senior levels of government.

This is all malarkey, of course. 

I can almost see the little faeries Rob must be conferring with who have convinced him that taxpayers don’t need to contribute to the upkeep of the city, ever. In fact, if the city just had no taxes at all, we’re pretty sure everything could continue to run — the buses, the power lines, sewage, roads, garbage pickup, property assessments, municipal program delivery — because the taxpayer needs to be insulated from any responsibility! The private sector is so excited about Toronto, they will pay for any shortfalls after the faeries rain their pixie dust on the voters just long enough to secure Ford more years.

That’s how seriously we should take his transit proposals. 

In the real world, reallocating funding that’s already approved for lines already approved needs to be changed and then approved — by the provincial government. How confident are you as a Torontonian that this guy could sit down with Premier Kathleen Wynne and get anything of substance accomplished? At the end of the day, sensible people come to sensible conclusions. Quibble with her approach and direction if you want, but if I’m in a “Who’s More Sensible” debate pitting Wynne against Ford, it’s a one-word argument — and Wynne doesn’t lose.

What I would love the media to do is focus on the plans of all the mayoral candidates, instead of giving Ford a disproportionate amount of airtime (one of the main problems with the media coverage during this election cycle, from the start to the present). John Tory, Olivia Chow and David Soknacki have their own ideas and they should be compared and contrasted, not just Ford’s plan blasted.

Even though it’s full value for the withering criticism and barely muffled laughter at the “rationale” and “funding strategy” in today’s announcement.

 

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