John Michael McGrath over at Toronto Life’s blog does some digging and gets some new information on the province’s attitude toward transit negotiations:
The alpha and omega for city planning is “what the province will let us do.” So LRT loyalists were happy when Queen’s Park, through Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne, said she wanted a full council vote on Ford’s proposal, contradicting the mayor. However, more recent conversations with Wynne’s office show a softening on what had been a hard line. Wynne’s press secretary Kelly Baker told The Informer that while the Province would still hope for a full council vote, “we will respect the local decision-making process” at the city.
Councillors allied with Ford have already starting banging the “Council never voted on Transit City” drum (Here’s Peter Milczyn doing just that), something which is only true if you ignore all the times Council did vote on various aspects of it.
That the province is playing softball on this one is disappointing but understandable. They don’t have much to lose, and I’ve never got the impression that anyone in McGuinty’s cabinet has a particular passion for transit in Toronto. In an election year, staying at arm’s length and giving Toronto what they want seems like the right strategy.
Still, though, as much as I think McGrath does a great job with his article, tearing down the arguments Milczyn is making with gusto, I think (and hope) he might be oversimplifying the direction this new transit plan will take. It’s far from a done deal. The funding levels available just don’t lend themselves to an easy solution, unless you take Eglinton off the table completely. And that still feels suicidal to me.