The Toronto Sun’s Don Peat:
Budget Chief Mike Del Grande says he was just giving left-leaning councillors a taste of “their own game playing” when he called for the removal of $16.4 million from the plan to revitalize Regent Park.
In a move opposition councillors likened to firing a “torpedo” into Regent Park, Del Grande asked Toronto’s influential executive committee last week to divert funding for affordable rental units in the area to a shovel-ready project at Finch Ave. W. and Weston Rd.
Del Grande’s move enraged Councillor Pam McConnell, who represents Regent Park, and in the end, the committee voted to decide on the issue at city council next month.
But Del Grande conceded he will support the original staff recommendation to leave the money in Regent Park.
The Star’s Daniel Dale confirms that Del Grande’s motion — one he intends to ultimately vote against — will cost us, the vaunted taxpayers, a fair amount of money. Because the budget chief supported a deferral motion by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, Del Grande’s motion will go to the City Manager, who will draft a report to council. Who will then, I guess, summarily reject it.
The City Manager, Joe Pennachetti, whose name will be on this report, draws a salary of more than $300,000 per year. His time and attention does not come cheap.
The worst part of all this is that even if we accept Del Grande’s claim that left-leaning councillors were “playing games”, that doesn’t excuse his behaviour. This is straight-up kindergarten “two wrongs don’t make a right” stuff. It’s not complicated: Del Grande is a guy who spent the last eight months telling us, as part of the core service review and budget process, that we had to get our fiscal house in order. That we had to make hard choices to save money. He shook his damn piggy bank again and again and again.
And now he’s got city staff working on a report for literally no reason beyond spite.
Ignore the bleeding heart stuff. (Though a politician musing about halting construction on a poor person’s home just for the hell of it seems a mighty good reason for a heart to bleed.) Let’s look purely at the business side: the Regent Park revitalization is, at the core, a large-scale financial transaction with dozens of public-and-private-sector partnerships moving things forward. There are hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in these projects. It’s a mini-economy supporting hundreds of jobs in Toronto. This is not something responsible and mature people play games with.