Tiny magic unicorns set to finance city’s subway extension

Following on the Globe story below, the Toronto Star’s Tess Kalinowski and Robert Benzie have a few more details:

Under the mayor’s plan, Sheppard would be paid for using a combination of development charges and tax increment financing, an innovative tool former finance minister and key Spadina subway extension proponent Greg Sorbara introduced in 2006.

It enables municipalities to borrow against the future property tax revenue of land that is improved by having a subway nearby.

The key is you have to designate the land as such before any infrastructure is built.

via City eyes private partnership to extend Sheppard subway – thestar.com.

If – big if – land around subway stations is such a cash cow, we can only assume that the city is literally foregoing hundreds of millions of dollars a year because of underdeveloped areas surrounding existing stations.

I’m not saying that this is a plan doomed to failure, but I’m very skeptical that Sheppard stations will have ridership that offer the kind of return-on-investment that justifies huge infrastructure costs.

For reference, approximate daily ridership on mid-line Sheppard stations is 7,780, 5,600 and 2,330, for Bayview, Leslie – despite the IKEA! -, and Bessarion, respectively. (2008-2009 figures)

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