December 12th 2013
A mid-town councillor wants to press “pause” on the Scarborough subway and take a 0.5% property tax hike earmarked for the project out of next year’s budget.
Councillor Josh Matlow argued that city council had “imperfect” and “incomplete” information leading up to an October decision to approve an extension of the Bloor-Danforth line.
At that time, council endorsed a 0.5% property tax hike in 2014, 0.5% in 2015 and 0.6% in 2016. In addition to sunk costs on an aborted LRT project, estimated at $85-million, and cancelled vehicle contracts, “even more troubling are potentially more expensive unknowns and/or unfunded items associated with the subway extension,” Mr. Matlow wrote in a letter to the budget committee.
He thinks the city should revisit the issue in 2015, after the next election. He plans to bring his proposal forward to city council if it fails at budget committee.
“Ultimately, I have sincere concern that the Bloor-Danforth subway extension is a gas plant on tracks,” Mr. Matlow said in an interview. “It’s a billion-dollar boondoggle. It was based on politics rather than evidence and this is council’s last opportunity to make an evidenced-based decision.”
Budget Chief Frank Di Giorgio seemed ready to listen.
“If he wants to put it off for a year and give relief on the land transfer tax, I’m open to it,” he said.
After the federal government announced funding for the extension in September, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hailed the deal as “historic.”
“I promised when I was elected mayor that we would build subways. And, folks, that’s another promise made, and another promise kept,” Mr. Ford said.
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