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Newsstand: September 23, 2013

The good news: it's not raining. The bad news: it's cold. In the non-weather-related news: the feds promise money for the Scarborough subway, a Trump Tower unit generates very little interest, motorcycle drivers might soon be paying for parking, and the Leafs get scrappy.

newsstand jeremy kai spring 4

Ottawa will help cover the costs of the much-debated Scarborough subway extension, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged on the weekend. Harper joined Mayor Rob Ford at a meeting, billed as a photo op, to promise federal support for the subway extension—there are no details yet on how much money that support will involve, or on what conditions will be attached to the funding. “[Finance Minister Jim Flaherty] and I, subject of course to the normal approvals process, have set aside funds to ensure the financing of Toronto’s plan for the Scarborough subway extension,” Harper said. Further details are expected today.

Things are looking increasingly bleak for Toronto’s troubled Trump Tower. The latest confidence blow? Just a single bid was placed on a residential unit up for auction in the building this weekend—and it was below the minimum. Ritchies Auctioneers will take the $550,000 bid to the seller of the unit; similar units in the building are currently listed by the developer at $1.6 million. Makes Toronto rents look cheap, for once.

Motorcycle and scooter drivers in Toronto may soon find their free ride on parking coming to an end. The City’s transportation staff are considering a proposal to end free parking for scooters and motorcycles at meters and machines, and council will consider the matter at a meeting on October 8. Requiring motorcycles to pay between 25 and 50 per cent of the regular hourly rate to park in specialized parking spots would generate up to $250,000 each year, a City report stated.

Apparently, Sunday night’s also all right for fighting. The Toronto Maple Leafs met the Buffalo Sabres in a pre-season hockey game last night, and things got somewhat messy. Leaf Phil Kessel got into it with Sabre John Scott, Toronto’s David Clarkson earned himself a ten-game suspension for coming off to bench to join his teammate, and the goalies eventually joined the fracas. Fortunately, Kessel took a break from throwing punches to score two goals, and the boys in blue won 5-3.


  • iSkyscraper

    I’m pleased that the feds are finally, finally ponying up some real mass transit dollars for Toronto so that the big projects can be tackled. The ones that are too massive and far-reaching for local and even provincial dollars to handle on their own, the real legacy stuff that comes around once in a lifetime. The funding for the new Downtown Relief Line makes me proud that my family has long voted Conservative…

    ..oh wait, they’re funding the Scarborough boondoggle? All that political capital and arm twisting, wasted to redeliver transit to a spot that already had a fully funded rail line ready to go?

    And this, my friends, is the damage a low-intellect mayor can cause with his low-information voter bloc. Everyone thought Ford was harmless, Ford would cut some waste but do no real harm, what’s the big deal, lay off the guy already. Oops.

    Now Toronto gets a small extension to the subway to replace service it already had — an upgrade, and a fine one in isolation (no subway is a bad subway), but not the best use of rare extra dollars in the big picture.

    What does this do to relieve congestion? Nothing. Should the ridership never rise to above what the LRT would have handled, it will have been a complete waste. Should the ridership grow to fill the higher capacity of the subway, as proponents heartily believe — well, that’s great, but what happens at Yonge-Bloor station now? Downtown is still located downtown, where this subway does not go. The city needs more subway lines radiating from the core, not the endless conversion of existing lines into commuter rail and especially not extensions (Sheppard, Scarborough, Vaughan) that only overload the Yonge line further.

    A smarter mayor would have put through the funded Transit City lines and said thanks to the province, and then chased the feds to get the Downtown Relief Line going. Now Toronto has no Downtown Relief Line for another generation, and no cheap LRT lines to easily extend in the future to reach the zoo, the suburban BRT lines, etc. because they’ve either been torpedoed or buried or put off.

    Ford will crow mightly over his “achievement”, but I mourn yet again for my hometown and its myopic and dysfunctional leadership.

    • Testu

      no subway is a bad subway
      This isn’t entirely true. The city (TTC) is on the hook for the ongoing operating costs of this line, no matter how much ridership it has, or how much money it loses per rider. With the LRT the province was paying for the ongoing operating costs of the line.

      So this federal money is actually going to end up costing the city and further stretching the TTC’s already limited funding. To me that sounds like a bad subway.

  • iSkyscraper

    I disagree. It was Ford who stirred the pot over the last few years about subways, subways, subways, triggering embarassing town hall meetings and creating both false victimhoods and false expectations. When he lost out on his Sheppard subway he simply transferred his idiocy to Scarborough.

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if, say, John Tory had become mayor in 2010 that Transit City would have quietly proceeded (just like Spadina) and that we would all be talking about a DRL today instead of Scarborough.

    • John D.

      Agreed that Ford deserves the lion’s share of the blame here. With schoolyard bully persistency, he simply planted his feet and refused to budge on his pet issue, reality be damned. And in the end, he got his way. If the whole sorry episode weren’t an utter debacle, it might almost be impressive. I certainly never thought he’d get this far, or that Harper would be willing to oblige him.

      And yet, Stintz, Wynne and the others are actually worse in their way: When an irresponsible demagogue builds his “case” on a mountain of bullshit, it’s not unreasonable to expect the adults in the room to step in and smack him down. It’s certainly what they should have done, but instead of alerting the public to the man’s blatant, shameless lies and demagogy, they chose to chase after him in the end, apparently motivated by the prospect of grabbing some votes. It’s a shocking dereliction of duty, and what’s worse (from their perspective, at least), it won’t even gain them anything. The sort of person who’s inclined to credit Ford for this is never going to vote for anyone who’s not an out-and-out far right nut.

    • Robert California

      When the Scarborough subway came back to life Ford was politically neutered from the fallout of the crack scandal, was bleeding staff and was routinely losing votes on the council floor. It came back to life because Stintz has mayoral ambitions and De Baermaeker decided he liked the idea of getting re-elected and both realized that Ford had correctly read which way the wind was blowing for a couple years. Ford is a populist he does not have his own agenda, he wants a subway because enough voters want a subway that it is his interest to want one.