Why is it that so few decent songs have been written about Thursday? Monday is pretty well covered. Friday has a decent variety. What is so wrong with poor old Thursday? In the news: Adam Vaughan officially sets his sights on federal politics, Rob Ford rails against travel expenses, there is no big pay raise in the cards for councillors, the pedestrian tunnel to the island airport will be delayed … again, and the Gardiner will be closed this weekend.
City Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) officially launched his candidacy for the Liberal nomination in the upcoming federal Trinity-Spadina byelection with an event at Madison Avenue Pub yesterday. Should Vaughan secure the Liberal nomination, he will face Joe Cressy, who was previously announced as the NDP candidate in the byelection. Vaughan was supported by former Toronto mayor and federal Conservative cabinet minister David Crombie at his campaign launch, where he vowed to bring his fight for affordable housing to the federal level if elected to Parliament. No doubt, Mayor Rob Ford will be utterly devastated to see Vaughan leave City Hall.
Yesterday, the executive committee voted against a motion that would have seen both councillor and mayoral salaries raised by 12 per cent. The committee chose instead to raise salaries in line with inflation, which results in a hike of between 1.5 and 3 per cent, which—if approved by council—will go into effect in January. City Councillor Georgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West), who opposed a pay increase of any kind, says that Torontonians should be in charge of politicians’ raises, with an arm’s-length panel polling voters about the issue and reporting back to council.
The executive committee also made recommendations that city councillors should provide financial details of all funding received from outside groups for trips abroad. After Mayor Rob Ford criticized Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s (Ward 34, Don Valley East) recent trip to Vietnam—which was chiefly funded by the Canada-Vietnam Friendship Association—the committee made the decision that all future travel expense reports should contain travel costs funded by backers. Ford also railed against the annual travel and conference expense budget for municipal bureaucrats, which hovers at around $6 million. “There’s no excuse to having staff spend $6 million on travel. Mark my words, I’m going to be on to that,” said Mayor Ford. You hear that gravy train, Mayor Ford is back on your tail.
The Toronto Island airport pedestrian tunnel was slated to open in August, but recently the Toronto Port Authority pushed back its completion date into 2015, citing the unusually harsh winter that has just passed as the main reason for construction delays. While workers have been forced to spend endless hours hacking away at built-up ice in the two main tunnel shafts, the National Post reports that delays were imminent long before the winter due to problems with contaminated soil and an inability to work around the clock because of the city’s noise curfew. The port authority has long been aware of these problems, which also include having to contend with removing metal leftovers from a previous tunnel-building project that was abandoned in 1935. So, why are we just hearing about these other legitimate reasons for delay now? Well, because no one asked about them specifically, of course.
Finally, be warned that the eastbound and westbound lanes of the Gardiner Expressway will be closed from Carlaw Avenue to Highway 427 for spring maintenance from 10 p.m. on Friday to noon on Sunday.