Oshawa mayor wanted Toronto’s Transit City money to fund expansion of the 407

Oshawa mayor wanted Toronto’s Transit City money to fund expansion of the 407

The city of Oshawa, fresh from electing a man to city council without knowing he couldn’t take the job, is now in an uproar over a planned expansion of the 407 toll highway. Why the uproar? The story will sound familiar to Toronto: it turns out that Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal government initially planned to build the highway extension in one big bang but are now doing it in two stages to save money. Come cry on Toronto’s shoulder, Oshawa—we know just how that feels.

Things get more interesting when the Toronto Star reports how the mayor of Oshawa reacted to the news:

In a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty last month, Oshawa Mayor John Henry said the phased approach would have “devastating and crippling impacts.” He urged the government to reroute $8 billion set aside for Toronto’s LRT so the entire 407 extension can be completed by 2013, according to the agreement signed with the federal government in 2007.

In a televised interview shown at the meeting, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned the province to live up to its word. “We expect them to honour their agreement. This story isn’t over yet.”

Hey, Oshawa, we may not be building Transit City anymore, but Rob Ford has other ideas for that money. In fairness, our mayor’s initial transit plan from the election campaign involved raiding money from York Region, but we’re pretty sure that’s no longer in the cards.

The intervention of the feds on this issue is kind of interesting. Apparently, threatening federal investment in a highway serving the 905 is the kind of thing that the finance minister feels the need to intervene in, but when Queen’s Park helps blow up Transit City (Ottawa gave Ontario one third of the cash for the Sheppard LRT line), Ottawa just sits out.

Not that we expected John “Toronto should fuck off” Baird to come to our rescue or anything, but if anyone needed another sign that public transit doesn’t get a lot of public love, well, they haven’t been paying attention.

Durham residents fuming over plan to build ‘half a highway’ [Toronto Star]
Hwy. 407 — a road cut short [Toronto Sun]