Rob Ford and co. decide to defer selling a stake in Toronto Hydro, leaving big bucks on the table (at least until January)

Rob Ford and co. decide to defer selling a stake in Toronto Hydro, leaving big bucks on the table (at least until January)

Image: Christopher Drost

Mayor Rob Ford and his friends on the executive committee voted yesterday to delay the decision to sell 10 per cent of Toronto Hydro, a controversial aspect of an “asset monetization” plan that city staffers say could raise $600 million. Most of the executive committee supported the deferral, with a few far-right exceptions (including Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, who sees the sale as common sense—which it’s not).

The Globe and Mail has the details:

Despite a grim outlook presented by the city’s chief financial officer, Cam Weldon, members of the executive committee asked Tuesday for more time to consider the Hydro sale—a move that means the matter is unlikely to be settled before next year’s budget is planned.

“Once it is gone, you can’t get it back,” said Councillor Jaye Robinson, who asked for the deferral until January. “It is a very big decision to sell off a stake in such a key asset.”

Mr. Weldon said the asset sale is needed to cover several large capital purchases in the next five years and because the city is reaching its self-imposed limit on the amount of money it can borrow to fund them.

The National Post adds that Mike Del Grande argued the deferral is the product of people on council that are “uncomfortable about making important decisions.” (He also asked rhetorically, “How much information do you need?”) Of course, the proposal isn’t shelved indefinitely—Robinson simply requested a deferral until the committee’s first meeting of 2012. According to the city’s website, the executive committee meets on January 3.

That said, this is yet another example of exactly kind of rushed decision making—and accompanying rhetoric—that has characterized much of the Ford administration’s actions to date, particularly viz. the idea that the city will fall of a fiscal cliff if something isn’t done quickly. Which makes it all that much richer that Ford’s same council allies supported cutting the vehicle registration tax (a big, fat revenue stream) with the same zeal that they’re now displaying around the need to find some quick cash.

Toronto Hydro sale postponed [Toronto Star]
Proposed Toronto Hydro sale delayed [Globe and Mail]
Rob Ford, executive vote to cash in city’s share of Enwave [National Post]