Rossi hits Smitherman where it hurts: the National Post

Rossi hits Smitherman where it hurts: the National Post

Rocco Rossi: special to the Post (Image: Rocco Rossi)

Readers of Monday’s National Post were greeted with what’s become a regular feature of this city’s newspapers: the increasingly acrimonious debate over the future of Toronto’s transit system. Except—and here’s the new part—this time, the byline is Rocco Rossi. The mayoral candidate is taking George Smitherman to task for the costly promises in his transit plan.

Smitherman’s “plan” will have a devastating impact on Toronto’s operating budget. When he uses this money for his transit scheme, he will have to cut programs and services in order to balance the budget, as the city cannot legally run a deficit. Toronto is looking at a substantial $415 million in cuts to services and programs.

Additionally, when Smitherman redirects the gas tax transfer money of $315 million entirely to transit projects, as he has promised to do, funding for roads in Toronto will decrease and the gas tax funding from Ottawa will be put in jeopardy because of misuse.

Toronto voters have watched their candidates for mayor offer up ever-larger amounts of money to burn on the altar of subways, with a variety of different plans to pay for the idea: road tolls, selling Toronto Hydro, and even renting air rights. All of these plans have, to be charitable, a lot of question marks attached to them. Rossi’s attack probably means we can now expect candidates to attack each other not on who loves subways most, but who’s going to spend the most money on tunnel love.

Rossi’s subway plan: $450 million a year. Smitherman’s plan: $7 billion extra, on top of Transit City. Watching two of Toronto’s biggest mouths carp about who’s writing the biggest cheques: priceless.

• Rocco Rossi: Smitherman plan will drain services [National Post]