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Councillor kills Fort York bridge in the latest example of war on “waste”—and impending fire sale of city assets

(Image: Wanda Gould)

Fort York is pretty enough, but getting there is fairly treacherous for cyclists and pedestrians. The city had decided to address that by building an $18-million bridge for the feet-and-two-wheels crowd. When the price went up to $22 million, Councillor David Shiner effectively killed it in a committee meeting on Tuesday night. Shiner, echoing the mayor’s regular refrain, says the bridge is too expensive for the city’s current budget—despite that fact that the city had actually budgeted for it. Call us paranoid, but we think this might be about more than just cost overruns.

The Globe and Mail reports:

“Going $4.4 million over budget would require the cancellation of two much-needed bridge rehabilitations,” said Mr. Shiner, who believes the city can find a low-cost alternative—such as expanding foot paths along the Bathurst and Strachan bridges—in time for next year.

He also noticed that the bridge would touch two city properties—one on Wellington Street and another at 10 Ordnance St.—that could be sold for around $75 million combined. “Nobody knew that this little version of the Golden Gate Bridge was going to cost a hundred million,” he said.

Meanwhile, Friday morning brings the non–Royal Wedding news that the city is already looking to sell its first parcel of waterfront land—the Corus Entertainment building at the foot of Jarvis. What’s the connection? As we look ahead to the smoking crater that will be the 2012 budget, the Globe reports that the city is being prepared for a fire sale of properties and assets. (We’re sure the fact that selling off these lands both fits the mayor’s ideology and benefits some of his campaign donors is purely coincidental.)

The sales might briefly balance the books without the tax increases that the Fords love to hate, but if the cost is that the city can’t even build a simple bridge for anyone not on four wheels, then that’s something the mayor’s people need to be honest and upfront about, too.

Ford’s sale of city’s waterfront real estate begins [Globe and Mail]
City halts work on foot bridge to Fort York [Globe and Mail]
Pedestrian bridge to Fort York latest casualty of war on waste [Toronto Sun]
$23 million Fort York bridge rejected in council surprise [Toronto Star]

 

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