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Duly Quoted: Karen Stintz on Transit Funding

TTC Chair says council "did leave the door open" for raising new money to pay for transit expansion, even though council didn't actually support any new fundraising mechanisms.

“It was and remains up to the Province—not the City of Toronto—to decide how it wants to pay for its transit intentions for the GTHA region. The majority of my council colleagues decided to follow the lead of Mississauga and other GTHA councils by not endorsing any particular transit tax.”

TTC Chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) on this week’s city council meeting, in which council voted in favour of introducing new taxes and levies to pay for transit in general, but declined to actually endorse any of the proposed revenue tools in particular. They rejected about a dozen of them, and neither supported or rejected three others (sales tax, development charges, and a corporate tax cut rollback).


  • XXX

    “…The majority of my council colleagues decided to follow the
    lead of Mississauga and other GTHA councils by not endorsing any particular
    transit tax.”

    You know who else council decided to follow by not endorsing any particular transit tax? I’ll give you a hint: he has been saying no to new taxes for quite a while now. That’s right Karen! Council decided to follow Rob Ford!

    • Dinah Might

      Much like one barrel followed the other barrel off Niagara Falls.

    • Nick

      “Not endorsing” is not the same as retching, XXX.

  • Sarah Thomson

    To vote against all funding tools and take no responsibility for what the city needs is both opportunistic and irresponsible — this political move shows Councillor Stintz’s raw and ugly ambition and lacks any true leadership. She complains out of one side of her mouth that we can’t build subways without funding and then out the other refuses to back any funding tools. I’m disgusted…

    • dsmithhfx

      Karen Stintz voted no on all the “reject” funding motions, as did six other councillors across the spectrum, according to Nick’s link^^^ (I find the chart visually misleading, but that’s how the motions were worded). So not only did she not “vote against all funding tools”, she voted against rejecting any funding tools.

    • Manana

      Do you know what is really opportunistic?

      Creating a DIsqus user ID just today and using it for the sole purpose of campaigning,

      Or telling a bunch of people you just met that you’re going to entrap someone and then take a picture of them so you can use it in your campaign.

      Or creating a Facebook group pretending its in favour of the DRL, yet using it for your campaigning and then get called out for doing so by Steve Munro.

      • IJustGotToBeMe

        Sarah always has been and always will be a loser. Any political aspirations she thought she had are over. She’s just to stupid too realize it.

      • Pretty Please

        Can you go back to the Sun and Post please.

        • Manana

          Haven’t been there in years. Unlike Thomson I’m not a opportunistic spammer.

  • OgtheDim

    Funny how she says this about the same debate where she pigeon holed Rob Ford on his Globe and Mail piece supporting a parking tax.

    Playing politics.

    The only councillor who came across with any sense of leadership yesterday was Matlow.

    • dsmithhfx

      You don’t get to be leader unless you play politics. For better or worse, that’s how it works.

      • Testu

        My problem with Karen Stintz is that she seems far more interested in playing politics than making sure the service she represents actually works.

        She was perfectly willing to meet the mayors nonsensical 10% across the board budget reductions. She did this (partially) by dropping the crowding standards back to pre-2003 levels on a transit system that is seeing more riders than ever. She literally set a major component of the TTC back by a decade for the sake of getting in line with the mayor.

        • dsmithhfx


        • Manana

          How false your comment is.

          The TTC wasn’t asked to cut its budget by 10%, but its subsidy from the city by 10%, ie 1 /10th of 30%

          • Testu

            Please explain exactly how the comment is false, I’m clearly referring to the city’s budget for the TTC.

            Karen Stintz was tasked with reducing the TTC’s line item on the city budget by 10%. Regardless of the amount of money the TTC recovers from fares this is a 10% cut in their budget from the city.

            Seeing as other departments and services managed to avoid such a cut (e.g. TPS) Ms. Stinz seems to have hobbled the service she has been tasked to represent on council for the sake of political expediency. It’s even more galling now that the mayor has completely lost control of the council and the budget for the last year. There was no reason to cut the service, lots of reasons not to, and the political value of the move is completely nil.

          • dsmithhfx

            We need to move on. I didn’t (and don’t) agree with those cuts, but since then Stintz has proved her mettle as chair of the TTC, and earned our respect — the hard way. This week she did a courageous and principled thing. That the rest of council failed to follow her (or anyone’s) lead is hardly surprising.

          • Testu

            We don’t need to move on, we need to get the idea that playing politics with our transit planning is going to have serious negative effects on the city.

            Yes, Ms. Stintz led the charge to re-instate the Transit City routes (after they had been improperly cancelled). She then tried to push the one city transit plan, it was a nice idea but there was no way to pay for it.

            Now, as soon as we being moving forward with what remains of TC she re-opens the debate about a Scarborough subway line, one that had already been rejected twice due to the cost. This leads in to council debating where they think transit lines should go and what type of train to use (something they have no business doing) rather than how we’re going to pay for what we have and are already building.

            Metrolinx has clearly said (twice now) the Scarborough plan will not change again. Re-opening the debate has added a bunch of noise to an already complicated issue and it completely overshadowed the whole purpose of the most recent council meeting (transit wise).

          • dsmithhfx

            I disagree that converting the SRT to subway rather than LRT is an unreasonable tradeoff for securing Council endorsement of transit funding. As for what transpired at the meeting, we may only speculate on the causes. Putting the blame on Stints to settle an old grudge does you no credit.

          • Testu

            It’s unreasonable because the proposal has been rejected twice by the TTC itself and Metrolinx has stated in no uncertain terms that it will not be revisiting the plan. It is not productive to bring it up again. It is however divisive as hell and once again has the usual collection of Scarborough councillors trying to obstruct something unrelated to get their pet subway line run.

            I have no grudge against Ms. Stinz, I’m pointing out that she has a history of putting political plays ahead of the interest of TTC/the people it serves. I don’t think this is a positive thing and my posts have been explaining why.

          • Manana

            a) The TTC did not cut as much as was asked of them
            b) Your comment was false because you made it seem as if they were asked to cut their budget by 10%, when it fact what they were asked to cut was more like 2.5%
            c) The late night service that was cut on those routes was only put in as a gimmick by Giambrone and it never panned out.

          • Testu

            Okay, it looks like you’re not actually reading what I’m writing. I did not say the TTC’s budget, nor was it implied, I said “the mayors nonsensical 10% across the board budget reductions.” which is pretty clearly referring to city’s budget for the TTC.

            Also, I was referring to the crowding standard, which is why I said crowding standards and not blue line routes. The route cuts aren’t ideal but they arguably have a fairly minimal impact on the service. The crowding standards affect everyone that uses a busy route and makes the overall TTC service considerably worse.

            We could go back and forth about how the city should spend money and whether deficit spending is a good idea with near 0% interest rates but suffice it to say that we probably disagree. The city budget is not like your family’s budget and deficit spending is not like using a credit card for things you can’t afford.

            The point being Ms. Stinz backed the mayor and made cuts with significant impact on the service when it was not necessary to do so.

          • Manana

            Those were not blue line routes that were cut. Blue line is a total separate network, a grid.

            Those were late evening service and the ridership numbers were studied and they were appallingly low. Those cuts meant the TTC can focus its efforts elsewhere. No one is more crowded now. In fact, service was increased elsewhere.

          • Testu

            Are you doing this intentionally? I’m not talking about route cuts. Any of them.

            Read this:
            Effective February 12, 2012, TTC will be reversing service improvements implemented by
            the Ridership Growth Strategy to surface vehicles, causing more crowding and offering
            less-frequent service on approximately 35 routes during peak periods and 60 routes
            during off-peak periods. During peak periods, the crowding standards for buses will be
            increased by approximately 10 percent. At off-peak times, the crowding standards for bus
            and streetcar routes will be increased for frequent service by about 25 percent.

            From here:

            That’s what I’m talking about.

          • Manana

            I’ve used the TTC for 15 years now, everyday. Both buses and streetcars. Yes they are overcrowded in rush hour but that is a relative term compared to other countries. We don’t move further back in buses and streetcars. We block doors on subways. If we did all that then the 10% would not even be noticed.

          • Testu

            That’s nice, and I don’t entirely disagree that the impact of crowding could be reduced. What exactly does that have to do with what we were discussing though?

          • Manana

            It means tough times call for tough measures. How else do you expect the city to pay off the deficit?

          • Testu

            This is getting way off-topic so I probably won’t get into it too much.

            Why does the city need to pay off the deficit when interest rates are historically low? At the moment it costs the city nearly nothing to carry debt. There is no benefit to cutting programs that residents use for the sake of reducing debt when the impact of the cuts (increased costs due to congestion) is grater than the cost of maintaining the debt.

            These time are no tougher than we make them. Killing/cutting services largely used by lower income residents will make a far worse impact on the overall quality of life in the city then maintaining some debt will. There is far more to be gained by improving city services and reducing problems with transit congestion than there is in paying off our debt right now.

            Again, this is not your family budget. The city being debt free is not really a priority as there is no endgame for the city’s finances (no retirement to save up for, etc.).

          • Manana

            Because its good fiscal policy to pay down a deficit. Credit rating agency Moody’s even commented on the approach and recommended the city follow through with it.

            There are services in this city that we either do not need or should be paying for like use of rec fields, which are charged in the 905.

            As for operating budgets of the TTC, a) its not the model of efficiency. Please don’t bring up fare recovery since fare recover is not a sign of efficiency. Its just a sign of high or low fares. b) Its time the province restarted operational loss sharing.

            And there is nothing to back your claim that those services you are going on about are “largely used by lower income residents”.

          • Testu

            You’re right, it doesn’t look like anyone has a demographic breakdown of TTC use although parks and rec and community services have pretty well documented usage demographics. However, I’ll drop it since I’m not willing to start digging up stats to make a point that you brought up.

            The TTC’s efficiency is irrelevant here, unless you plan to account for the efficiency of every service and department the receives an operating subsidy from the city. Not that that’s a bad idea but it is outside the scope of what we were discussing. And you’re the one that brought up fare recovery, not me.

            I believe that the overall failure of the 10% across the board cuts in the 2012 budget and lack of cuts in the 2013 budget suggest that budgets cannot be cut without significant negative results for the residents that use those services (and pay taxes for them). Since I believe that the city operates for the good of its residents and not ultimately for its own sake, “good fiscal policy” as explained my a credit rating agency is less important than maintaining a livable city. Especially when as explained before, the cost of maintaining the debt is lower than the costs associated with the negative effects of the service cuts. (e.g. what the Toronto Board of Trade has to say about the cost of congestion).

          • dsmithhfx

            Regardless of passengers’ lack of courtesy and common sense, there is frequent and severe overcrowding on many, many bus, streetcar and subway routes. This was exacerbated by the budget cuts, and Stintz’ diversion of restored funding to wheel trans over the express will of Council.

          • Manana

            WeelTrans is an ever growing ballooning problem. Its operating losses are are 95%, ie 5% of its operating budget comes from fares. People are now using it for purposes it was not intended to service. And to make it worse, the TTC is spending scarce capital dollars in making stations fully accessible, meaning the general service and wheeltrans overlaps in many areas on things they offer.

    • Lee Zamparo

      Yeah Matlow was my fav councillor that debate as well.

  • Brian MacLean

    Cue Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata.

  • andrewsmyk

    Not voting or remaining silent is the new way to “endorse” policy…