THE FEDERAL & PROVINCIAL GOV’TS ARE ABOUT TO INVEST HEAVILY IN TORONTO TRANSIT

<Ontario Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli, (left), & Amarjeet Sohi, the federal Minister of Infrastructure & Communities; PHOTO – Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star>

<‘NEXT STOP: SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW’, editorial cartoon by BRIAN GABLE, Globe and Mail/Toronto/2017>

After years of pleading, finally the two senior governments have recognized the necessity of improving transit infrastructure in TORONTO. The city will get $4.89-billion from the federal government, and that will be matched with $4.04-billion from the province.  That’s about $9-billion altogether.

$9-billion won’t be enough to build everything on TORONTO’s wish list, but it’ll be a significant boost (covering about 75%) to priorities such as the Scarborough subway extension, Smart Track, the Line 2 subway relief connector, the Eglinton East LRT, and the Waterfront LRT.

<The light at the end of the tunnel – upcoming federal & provincial elections/2018 may have something to do with governmental largesse.  I wonder.>

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WITH A MUNICIPAL ELECTION ON THE HORIZON, WHAT HAS TORONTO’S MAYOR, JOHN TORY, BEEN DOING?

– restored adult decorum to City Hall after four years of Rob Ford’s chaos
– negotiated with the taxi industry and legalized Uber
– welcomed the first Lyft ride program outside the United States to the city
– sped up the rebuilding of the Gardiner Expressway project

– introduced raccoon-proofed green garbage bins
– got $150-million from the province to plan a Downtown Relief Subway Line
– endorsed a controversial one-stop Scarborough subway extension

– delivered the Bloor Street separated bike lanes after every survey imaginable
– repaved and/or added bike lanes to Richmond, Adelaide, Woodbine & Wellington Streets
– first time that I can remember – Montreal, Vancouver & Toronto, Canada’s three largest metropoli, have begun working together to solve mutual problems
reduced transit fares for people on the Ontario Disability Support Program; free rides for kids under 12; restored suburban bus services cut by the Ford administration
– initiated the King streetcar transit pilot project to speed up commutes – an immediate hit with riders, not so much with business owners

– kept residential property taxes below the rate of inflation (2% increase) – lowest in the Greater Toronto Area
– launched the Open Door program as an incentive to developers to build affordable housing
– increased funding for the rent supplement program
– marched every year with city councilors in the Pride Parade
streamlined Invest Toronto, Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance & city’s economic development division
– doubled the number of companies in Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE)
– kept his promise to keep Toronto Hydro a public institution

– promoted towing & ticket blitzes for traffic lane blockers
introduced full-time traffic wardens & a bike lane policing brigade
– shepherded first stage of The Bentway Skating Trail under the Gardiner through council
– supported Safe Injection sites for those addicted
– developed a climate change plan

– successfully passed city budgets with a minimum of council fights
kept his promise to hold at least one weekly press conference
– appears monthly on a CP24 television call-in show
championed the tech, film, and television industries

– developed good rapport with Prime Minister Trudeau & an on-and-off good rapport with Premier Kathleen Wynne

In a year-end interview with The Toronto Star, Mayor Tory has promised to work more closely with downtown councillors if he’s re-elected in 2018.  He’s proven himself a consensus builder who doesn’t go too far left or too far right – but in his first term he often seemed more allied with right-leaning suburban councillors.

Downtowners voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Tory in the previous election.  If history repeats itself, residents of the city’s core will no doubt expect their priorities will be among his priorities.

A TSUNAMI OF SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS HITS PRIDE TORONTO – THE MONEY POT IS DRYING UP

They shouldn’t have done it, but they did. Pressured by ‘politically correct’ demonstrators, PRIDE TORONTO decreed that police cars, police floats and uniformed officers would be banned from the Pride Parade, beginning in 2018.

The result: donations & corporate sponsorships year over year have plunged; last year’s SURPLUS of about $1-million fell, creating a DEFICIT of $500,000; revenue from donations and fundraising dropped from $758,015 in 2016 to $106,565 in 2017; corporate sponsorships fell from $2,269,180 in 2016 to $1,506,804 in 2017.

This is a huge blow to a relatively small, but important organization, which means a lot to the LGBTQ community in particular, and the citizenry at large. The Pride Parade is a highlight of the year, and a huge money-maker for the City of TORONTO and businesses large and small. Fumbling it in this way is both regrettable – and unacceptable.

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