Let me get this straight. Last Friday, Mayor David Miller and his TTC Chair Adam Giambrone unveil Transit City, a laudably ambitious plan featuring some nice graphic design courtesy of Spacing magazine’s Matthew Blackett. But there was a catch—the same catch as always.
Like every other new idea at City Hall, Transit City was a plan without money. Unless new federal and provincial funds came through the door, Transit City would be a non-starter. In other words: over to you, Jim Flaherty. One report said Miller and Miller Lite rushed the plan so they could release it before the federal budget.
This counts as clever politics, but little else. It takes months to put together a government budget (just ask Shelley Carroll). By last Friday, the federal budget was already completed, fini, no more revisions. The booklets were at the printer. Jim Flaherty was planning a busy weekend shopping for skates. He’s not going to stop everything and call his staff in on the weekend so Toronto can get some money for a light-rail network it cooked up in a hurry. I would be surprised if the mayor didn’t know this himself.
And yet today, Wall Street Journal, who should know better, are reporting with a straight face that Flaherty’s budget leaves Transit City “up in the air,” having presumably forgotten that it was a pie in the sky from the moment it was announced.
It’s not that Transit City is a bad plan, or that the lack of funding for transit and for cities aren’t real problems. It’s just that the mayor, after months of campaigning for more money, waited until the last business day before the budget to explain what he needed it for. Of course he didn’t get it.