Porter Airlines revealed some big plans yesterday: the airline wants to add 15 new routes to its repertoire, eight Bombardier jets to its fleet and over 300 metres to the runway at the Island Airport. Though many Torontonians would welcome the convenience of more routes out of the downtown hub, it’s going to take a lot more than a few free cookies to convince residents and politicians that the added noise and pollution are worth it. Below, five need-to-know facts about the proposal.
All stories relating to Karen Stintz
After more than a year of debate, Toronto’s still-hypothetical casino will soon face a crucial test. A long-awaited city staff report is in (though, unusually, it’s missing a firm yay-or-nay recommendation), and council could vote as early as next month to either kill the idea forever or invite bids from casino developers. For influential Torontonians hoping to sway the decision, now’s the last chance to come out for or against a downtown gambling den—which explains why so many have spoken up in recent days. Below, a guide to how the pro-casino and anti-casino teams stack up.
The Toronto Star has officially ruined any chance of Rob Ford returning from his vacation in Disney World with his ethical troubles behind him. The city’s paper of record reported yesterday that Ford’s still sending letters to lobbyists soliciting donations for his football charity, even though similar fundraising tactics triggered the conflict-of-interest saga that nearly saw the mayor booted from office. As per usual, Toronto’s politicos responded to the story both with angry tirades and expressions of staunch support. We round up the best below.
Just when we thought city hall couldn’t get any more childish, Rob Ford and Karen Stintz decide to stand in the same room and trade tweenage insults through the press. The background: this week, Ford publicly scorned the TTC’s recent $50-million, sole-sourced contract for the newsstands, bakeries and cafés in the subway system; Stintz says she twice tried to call the mayor to discuss the deal, but never heard back. Yesterday, when Stintz found out the mayor was holding an impromptu press conference, she hustled to Ford’s office to observe. After a Ford staffer asked why she crashed the scrum, she replied, in pitch-perfect passive aggression, “I just want to hear what the mayor has to say. I don’t hear from him directly.” For his part, Ford vowed he left a message for Stintz as soon as he heard about the deal and offered to show reporters his cellphone history, triumphantly declaring, “cellphones don’t lie.” Maybe they don’t, but it seems like at least one of these politicians is fibbing. [Globe and Mail]
While city hall spent a decade debating what to do with the Gardiner—Demolish it? Bury it? Raise it?—the expressway fell into ruin. The perils of chronic indecision
Torontonians spent most of the last decade studying, researching and letting their imaginations run wild with plans and proposals to boldly transform the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway corridor. There was never any money to devote to the project, but never mind. Everyone weighed in. Let’s bury it! No, let’s turn it into a grand avenue! Design guru and public optimist Bruce Mau, in a fit of contrarian exuberance, proposed raising it even higher. Others suggested a cable-stayed double-decker version. Well, here endeth the lesson: while we were rapt in our salon-style discussion of the Gardiner’s bold future, it fell into ruin. So did our civic dreams. From now on, decisions will be made on the basis of affordability, expediency and convenience, not great design or
A report from the engineering firm IBI Group, commissioned by the city and made public in late October, called the Gardiner “a significant hazard to public safety.” It found that the regularly scheduled visual inspections conducted by city staff—in essence, little more than standing beneath the Gardiner and looking up—had greatly underestimated the extent of its deterioration. In areas where the spot checks turned up nothing, the report found hundreds of metres of cracks as well as signs of delamination—the process by which the steel rebar embedded in the concrete begins to rust, causing it to expand and break the roadbed apart from the inside.
The people driving the agenda for the city are more likely to come from outside local government than inside. This was the year our premier, rendered virtually impotent by a minority legislature, up and quit without warning. And our mayor, who listens to no one and refuses to build consensus on council, has created a city hall power vacuum.
What follows is Toronto Life’s list of the real influence peddlers—the people who, either publicly or behind the scenes, have had the greatest impact on the city. We looked for people whose power was broad enough to be felt across different sectors, or else so palpable in their immediate field that it somehow changed things for the rest of us. We looked for people whose ability to alter public opinion, raise money, rally troops or simply get stuff done was both formidable and undeniable. The result is a carefully calculated and highly opinionated look at power in the city in 2012.
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The 10 best Toronto Halloween costumes this year (including what Karen Stintz and Margaret Atwood wore)
Although one Maple Leaf had trouble finding an appropriate Halloween costume, there were still plenty of great disguises this year. We rounded up the best of those donned by local politicians and celebrities, as well as our favourite Toronto-centric costumes from Twitter (including a baby dressed up in a Toronto Life–approved get-up).
Based on Rob Ford’s habitual muteness and flights into gaffe territory, sometimes we wonder if his camp has any communications strategy at all. Not true, according to Globe and Mail city hall bureau chief Kelly Grant, who got her hands on over 150 pages of internal memos from Ford’s office (through a Freedom of Information Act request—they weren’t volunteered). The memos span from when Ford took power until May of this year and formed the basis for Grant’s revealing account of the mayor’s press strategy in Saturday’s paper. Here’s a look at five things we learned from the piece (including why Ford’s council allies seem to act as his spokespeople):
OneCity, Karen Stintz’s surprise (and surprisingly ambitious) transit plan for the masses, died a humiliating death on council floor yesterday. By the start of yesterday’s council meeting, the plan was stumbling, having already been relieved of its property tax–based funding model and whittled down to two proposed lines. And one of those proposals, replacing the Scarborough RT with a subway instead of an already-approved LRT, didn’t even have enough support to make it to debate. Sure, there are a few vestiges of the blockbuster plan still floating around: council voted to designate the eastern waterfront LRT a priority, city staff will explore Stintz’s property tax–based funding model for a report in October, and public consultations on a city-wide transit strategy are set for the fall. However, OneCity as a whole has been proclaimed dead by the city’s newspapers (the word “derailed” seems to be a crowd favourite, though we give kudos to the Toronto Sun for also working in “DoneCity”). [National Post]
When announced, the far-reaching OneCity plan seemed full of moxie and momentum, but political realities have forced Karen Stintz to dial it back significantly. Rather than seek a staff study of the entire OneCity plan at this week’s council meeting, the TTC chair will only ask council to designate two priority transit projects (the subway extension to replace the Scarborough RT and a new waterfront east LRT). That leaves out any talk of the other 21 lines and—more importantly—the proposed property tax–based funding model, which had opponents from both sides of the political spectrum. On Metro Morning today, Stintz went on the defensive when host Matt Galloway questioned why she was “peeling back” the project to two lines for now, insisting the vision was “still there” and she’d planned on introducing tomorrow’s motion from the get-go. But delaying a commitment to a funding model until October at the earliest has stolen much of OneCity’s energy—and legitimacy. We’re inclined to agree with Galloway, who compared the downsized version of the plan to Rob Ford’s poorly received subway dreams: “transit ideas without a funding model—that’s a movie we’ve seen before.” [Toronto Star]
Another day, another twist in the OneCity saga. On Wednesday, TTC chair Karen Stintz publicly mused that she didn’t have the council votes to move a study of the blockbuster plan forward, but now she’s sounding more chipper. “I think we will be successful in having a study of OneCity approved,” she said yesterday after a meeting with Rob Ford’s chief of staff, Amir Remtulla, and Earl Provost of councillor relations. However, Stintz refused to say whether she and TTC vice-chair Glenn De Baeremaeker will keep pushing for the two per cent property tax increase dedicated to transit, an idea that councillors from both the right and the left have attacked (Adam Vaughan recently called it a “half-baked proposition”). Given Stintz’s silence, it’s possible she and De Baeremaeker have agreed to scrap the funding model for something more palatable to council. Or not. At this point, the future of OneCity remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a maroon TTC jacket. [Toronto Star]
OneCity may have launched a thousand op-eds and fired up Torontonians, but the ambitious transit plan is losing momentum after only a week. Fresh on the heels of the province’s dismissal, Karen Stintz admits she may no longer have enough council votes for the next step: getting approval at the July council meeting to move forward with a staff study of the plan. (Shelley Carroll, who previously said she would support further study of OneCity, has changed her mind, while fence sitters include Josh Matlow and James Pasternak.) Stintz now feels that she and her allies’ oath of secrecy worked against them when it came time to find wider council support. “Some of my colleagues were surprised and I regret I hadn’t taken more time to walk through the details with them,” she told the Toronto Star. That’s the thing about big secrets: the fewer people you tell, the less risk someone will spill the beans—and the greater risk of alienating those who aren’t in on the mystery. [Toronto Star]
Now that OneCity, the mega-proposal that promises transit for all, has been ceremoniously unveiled, it turns out the province won’t get behind the project. When it comes to Toronto’s transit, “the train has left the station and we are proceeding with the plan as it is,” says Minister of Transportation (and transit cliché enthusiast) Bob Chiarelli. The minister says he doesn’t want to reignite the debate over already-approved plans, including the toxic quarrel over transit on Sheppard.
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With cloak-and-dagger plans, alliance building and power shifts, Toronto politics has veered into epic poem territory of late—and Karen Stintz’s new OneCity transit plan is one of the biggest shockers to date. It’s ambitious. It’s detailed. It looks way out into the future. And it leaves Rob Ford grumbling from the sidelines once again. If there’s one message to be had from the $30-billion kick in Ford’s face, it can be summarized thusly: council’s been futzing around with transit issues long enough and there needs to be a far-reaching plan, with a real funding model, immediately. Now that the covert plan has dropped, here’s the lowdown on what the papers, politicos and pundits are saying about it: