Posts Tagged: mel lastman


9
Mar 12

Forget building transit, let’s just talk endlessly and yell at each other

All Fired Up In the Big Smoke’s Daren Foster, who attended a transit town hall put on by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition  in Scarborough last night:

Nearly two and a half hours later, we were pretty much right back where we started. People wanted subways. People were owed subways. World class cities have subways. Scarborough demanded their piece of that transit dream.

But there was no one there to tell them how that could happen. It was all vague notions, untested theories and a whole lot pie in the sky projections. I’d be plenty pissed too. I just think the crowd turned their ire on the wrong target.

Which wasn’t their fault in the least. The real target wasn’t in the room. He’d skipped the meeting, encouraging the anger while sidestepping any responsibility for it.

via Seething In Scarborough « All Fired Up In The Big Smoke.

For OpenFile Toronto, David Hains covers more of the details. The short version: unrealistic promises and mostly fact-free rhetoric has whipped up some Scarborough residents into a frenzy. The prospect of light rail transit is the hated villain, while Rob Ford’s subway dream stands as the hero.

After the meeting, Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy — adding credibility to the proceedings by serving as a panelist — summed up the mood with a tweet: “Scarborough residents would prefer NOTHING, NADA, over light rail transit.”

There seems to be an unconscious desire from some in this debate to return to the transit planning status quo that existed prior to 2007 and the announcement of Transit City and MoveOntario 2020. During that time, the TTC continuously drew and redrew subway lines on various maps. They bounced through Network 2011 and RTES and other plans that promised a whole lot of subway construction. Sometimes politicians would make election-time promises that they would build pieces of whatever plan was on the books at the time.

But even though the city stuck with this subways-to-the-suburbs strategy for decades, very little happened.

It was only through Mel Lastman’s relentless enthusiasm for North York that we got a 5.5 kilometre subway line on Sheppard Ave, and that’s proven to have had a net negative impact on TTC operations. The city will be subsidizing it for decades.

The city did come close to getting an Eglinton subway, but Premier Mike Harris infamously filled in the already-dug hole, scuttling the line as a budget-saving measure. And while that was undoubtedly a mistake, it’s worth noting that, by the time Eglinton got canned, the only part of the plan funded was a stubby five-station line running from Eglinton West station to York Civic Centre.

Had Harris not stopped construction, the mourned Eglinton subway could have made for a similar story as what we’ve seen on Sheppard: a too-short, under-utilized line requiring huge annual subsidy. With no money to pay for an extension.

The city had to shift its focus away from subways and toward LRTs not because of some ill-defined ideology but because the subways-first strategy was a complete and utter failure. It was all talk and no action.

And now, in Scarborough and other parts of the city, we’re seeing what looks like angry demands to return to that. Despite the raucous demand for subways coming out of last night’s meeting, the prospect of new taxes or revenue tools were roundly shot down. For subways, there’s talking – and yelling! – but no plan. No action. No money.

Save our Gordon Chongs

Speaking of things for which there is no plan and no money, it turns out the mayor isn’t going to pay Dr. Gordon Chong and the other consultants who worked on his Sheppard Subway report.

The Toronto Star’s Royson James:

First, they didn’t take Gordon Chong’s advice on how to pay for the Sheppard Subway. Now they won’t pay him.

And consultants the ex-city councillor hired to make the case for Mayor Rob Ford’s subway dreams are owed $80,000 they may never collect.

That’s the bankrupt state of the TTC subsidiary Mayor Ford created to promote his subway plan.

via TTC subway study ran out of money, Gordon Chong and consultants still owed more than $100,000 | Toronto Star.

Sometimes analogies are too obvious.


15
Sep 11

Toronto’s unpopular mayor

A new Forum Research poll has the mayor’s approval rating at 42%. This is crazy low for a municipal politician, especially one who is not even a year into his term of office.

I’ve thrown together a quick chart which shows his previous favourability numbers as also reported by Forum Research along with some comparisons to former mayors David Miller and Mel Lastman, compiled via a variety of sources. In summary: his numbers don’t compare very well. Ford’s about as popular right now as a guy who had been in office six years, had pushed through two unpopular new taxes and was staring into the face of a municipal workers strike that would see garbage pile up in public parks for a month.

And Ford hasn’t even got to the big cuts yet.

The Toronto Star’s David Rider looks at the steep drop for Ford support in the suburbs:

Half of Etobicoke-York respondents approve of “the job Ford is doing,” down from 58 per cent in June. In Scarborough, his support is 49 per cent (down from 59 per cent); 43 per cent in North York (down from 69 per cent) and only 30 per cent in Toronto-East York (down from 44).

via Toronto News: Ford support plummeting, poll suggests – thestar.com.

That 26 point drop in North York is crazy.

The obvious retort to this kind of thing is just to fold your arms and say polls don’t matter. Which, sure, is true. As the mayor said yesterday, the only poll he cares about is the one on election day. But behind the scenes, this is a mayor who has built his political power on the premise that he is a very popular and well-liked guy in suburban Toronto. With that premise looking shaky if not shattered, there’s no compelling reason for certain councillors to always look so intently to Giorgio Mammoliti’s thumb when items come to a vote at council.

It’s probably no surprise that the release of this poll coincidences with news that certain councillors will oppose the mayor on key items related to waterfront development and the upcoming budget process.