December 12th 2013
The Toronto Sun
TORONTO – Just when you thought you’ve heard the last City Hall debate on “subways, subways, subways.”
Councillor Josh Matlow said Wednesday he wants to hit the “pause button” on the property tax hike to fund the Scarborough subway.
Months after he tried to stop Mayor Rob Ford and TTC chair Karen Stintz from getting council to approve the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway into Scarborough and scrap the Scarborough LRT, Matlow is trying to delay the start of the subway property tax hike by a year to give the city a chance to get more information around the project and its costs.
Matlow — who calls the Scarborough subway extension the “Ford-Stintz boondoggle” — is asking the city’s budget committee this week to scrap the 0.5% tax hike contained in the 2014 budget to start to raise funds for the subway.
“I’m hoping that councillors will choose to make a decision on evidence rather than politics,” Matlow told the Toronto Sun. “There are so many unknowns with regards to the Bloor-Danforth extension that we need the facts before increasing our debt load by a billion dollars and raising our residents’ property taxes.”
The St. Paul’s (Ward 22) councillor said he’s not concerned about restarting the subway debate.
“We need to be guided by the evidence,” Matlow said. “We can’t ignore the fact that we have no idea what the inflationary costs might be, we have no idea who is going to be covering all the operating costs, we have no idea if we’re going to end up having to subsidize the operating costs out of the tax base.
“I don’t think any responsible councillor wants a transit project to turn into a gas plant on tracks.”
Councillor Doug Ford called Matlow’s motion “unacceptable.”
“Josh Matlow is not for subways — he’s for streetcars, we’re for subways,” Ford said. “I think it was pretty clear, council wants to start building the Scarborough line and continue building subways.”
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who opposed the subway, was against revisiting the tax hike to fund the transit extension.
“The decision was made, it was a bad decision but an even worse decision would be to have a further debate,” Minnan-Wong said. “We have to move forward building transit.”
The budget committee is set to debate the TTC budget on Thursday at City Hall.
Council won’t debate the 2014 budget — including the proposed tax hike for the subway — until January.
To read this article in its original form click here.