Photo by spotmaticfanatic.
The ongoing city workers’ strike? Abuse of process? A mayor drunk on power? Socialism run amok? Cleaning up the Humber River? The haunting terrors of the MFP scandal? Pick your pet political cause of choice and someone, somewhere—or more accurately, one of the city councillors present at today’s debate—will find a way to turn a discussion about streetcar funding into a discussion thereof. Mercifully, the umpteen hours of debate will eventually come to a close, a vote will be held on the actual matter at hand (we’ll skip the introduction of motions that are promptly ruled out of order for being, inconveniently, on one of these other subjects), and a verdict will be rendered.
Today, at a special meeting of City Council and after a fractious debate, our municipal government voted overwhelmingly in favour of funding a purchase order with Bombardier that will replace the TTC’s aging fleet of streetcars with 204 customized new vehicles. Though we are thoroughly pleased with the results of the vote, at the end of this very long day almost nobody came out looking the better for it. Councillor Anthony Perruzza perhaps summarized the feelings in the room best, pleading with his colleagues to focus on the issue before them rather than larger and more politicized debates about the state of governance at City Hall. “Please don’t stand up and say…’because I don’t like the mayor then therefore this deal should die,'” he implored, and in the end they listened. Even some of Miller’s harshest critics—including Councillors Stintz and Minnan-Wong—ended up supporting the bid, a sign that, once the bluster and the pre-election grandstanding (complete with multiple references to the Roman Empire, some by way of Shakespeare) was done, almost everyone recognizes that Torontonians actually do need public transit vehicles in which to get across town. (The six dissenters: Ford, Holyday, Jenkins, Ootes, Shiner, and Walker.)
Tomorrow’s stories will tally the political points won and lost, accord bonuses for the pithiest one-liners, and be replete with prognostications about the impact this will have on various yet-to-be-declared mayoral candidates’ campaign chances. For today, at least, we’ll just daydream about accessible, double-length, fresh-off-the-line vehicles on our streetcar ride home.