Earlier this week, John Tory announced his new and revised transit vision for Toronto. On reviewing it I felt like John had been writing his transportation policy on an etch-a-sketch. If someone opposed a particular policy or John discovered he was out of touch, he would just shake his etch-a-sketch and something new would appear.
I like John Tory. I've even supported him in the past. I have also supported the electrification of GO and improved integration with the TTC. However, likeability does not a transit plan make and GO is a provincial line, whatever name you stick on it. And John is running for Mayor not Premier this time around.
As Mayor you are one of 45 members of Council. You must work with your colleagues and their competing agendas to deliver results for the people of Toronto. Amidst much public wrangling, Council actually delivered transit results that match plans with funding. We have shovels and tunnels in the ground extending the subway to Vaughan and building a new LRT tunnel under Eglinton, and, the Bloor-Danforth subway extension into Scarborough has been approved.
Along comes John Tory with an etch-a-sketch vision and no reliable funding. For months, John has claimed that his number one priority for transit expansion would be a new subway line to relieve pressure on the overcrowded Yonge line. Then he shook his etch-a-sketch and poof, it's gone. Relieving congestion on the Yonge line moves to the back of the bus. Same thing happened with his positions on the Gardiner and the Eglinton Connects; it seems like he can't make a decision and when he does, he waffles. Fortunately he has an etch-a-sketch.
To fund the electrification of GO, Mr. Tory announced that he would use something called Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIFs leverage potential future revenue from property tax increases. If there's a downturn in the real estate market or another recession, taxpayers are on the hook. It's an approach that Metrolinx determined as too risky. They gave it failing grades for ease of implementation, and overall impact on behaviour and network performance.
A transit plan with failing grades may be good enough for John Tory, but it's not what Toronto needs. And it's not good enough for me. Taxpayers can't be rolling the dice on John's latest etch-a-sketch vision.
John Tory's GO plan is projected to cost $8 billion -- the total cost of the Downtown Relief Line. My plan to build that line is feasible and funded. It will relieve the Yonge-University-Spadina line and help move people from core to corners as 'one city'. Gambling with taxpayer money on Toronto's real estate market to electrify the GO line is pure folly. Let the Province electrify GO without putting Toronto taxpayers at risk.
It's one thing to have mystical visions and multi-coloured maps of notional transit nirvanas to distribute at press conferences, it's another thing to get results at Council and have a plan for fighting congestion. Only my plan is funded. Only I will make the Downtown Relief Line priority number one. Only I have a track record of success.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: