Mayor Rob Ford’s plan to finance an extension of the Sheppard subway line with private money and higher taxes along the Sheppard corridor is a big change from the way the city has done things in the past, so it’s no surprise that the idea is meeting some skepticism. Here’s a short roundup of what people are saying about the still-vague Ford plan.
- The Globe and Mail points out that there are at least three political hurdles before the money pipeline can open up. First, the city needs to approve higher density along Sheppard (including all attendant local consultations and council votes). Second, the city’s decisions need to survive the dreaded Ontario Municipal Board. After all that, Queen’s Park will need to change some rules to enable the financing the subway needs. Oh, and did we mention there’s a provincial election on?
- The Toronto Star points out that even if the politics all go Ford’s way, it’s not a sure thing that the money exists to finance the subway. Financing something this big, this way, is unprecedented in Canada. If private financing falls through, what’s Plan B?
- Also in the Star, Christopher Hume points out that neighbourhoods along Sheppard may chafe at the towers and traffic that density brings. Maybe locals can be bought off with the promise of easier access to the TTC subway system, but probably not without a fight.
- The unions? All against it, citing the $4-billion collapse of London’s private financing deal. Not encouraging.
- Now’s Enzo Di Matteo points out that we’ve been here before, when Mel Lastman promised that development charges would pay for some of the Sheppard subway. Not so much, as it turned out.
In short, this is the kind of plan where everything needs to go right. If any one of the many, many hurdles isn’t cleared, it isn’t just an athlete doing a face plant; it’s a multibillion-dollar risk for the city. If the mayor and his allies pull it off, it could be win-win. But Rob Ford’s preferred sport is football, not hurdling.
• What it will take to make subway plan a reality [Globe and Mail]
• Doubt cast on Ford’s hopes for subway partner [Toronto Star]
• Hume: Transit too important to be left to politicians [Toronto Star]
• Ford’s transit trope [NOW]
• Ford’s private funding plan will cost taxpayers: CUPE [CTV News]