“Fuck Toronto” or so says John Baird for the city’s request for money to buy new streetcars. How dare Torontonians try get their greasy paws on some federal dough. Of course the Con response is to say that Toronto’s request didn’t fit the program, therefore, no money would be forthcoming. Toronto tried to find a way to make this funding happen, but the Cons just wouldn’t budge. If you can’t fit new transit into the (arbitrary) rules of the stimulus plan, then you aren’t getting any money.
Wait a sec though, what’s this? Kitchener-Waterloo gets $160 million for rapid transit?! What? That’s right kids, Spacing and Steve Munro have the goods on a federal announcement to fund K-W’s new LRT project:
“No sooner had Waterloo approved the LRT line, but local Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear announced that Ottawa would contribute $160-million to the project whose total estimated cost is $790-million. This took Regional Chair Ken Seiling completely by surprise. Support also came from Kitchener MP Stephen Woodworth who pointed out that this money will come from the “Build Canada Fund”, not the ‘Stimulus Fund’ and therefore the project is not constrained by the latter’s March 2011 cutoff.”
Of course, not to be outdone, the province lined up behind the same project:
“Meanwhile, the Liberal MPP for Kitchener, John Milloy, announced that Queen’s Park will provide two-thirds funding for this project. If you do the math, this leaves Waterloo Region with a comparatively small cost, roughly 1/6 of the total. The project also has support from local Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer. Bipartisan enthusiasm for transit is a refreshing change from Toronto where transit projects are used to score political points by the right wing of Council.”
Now, I don’t want to begrudge K-W its fancy new transit line, if anything, having more transit lines in medium-sized cities 1) obviously helps reduce air-pollution and 2) probably helps more Canadians to see transit as a truly national (as opposed to big city-only) issue. But why is it that other levels of government find it so difficult to write a cheque for Toronto’s transit needs? Why use one set of rules and one fund for K-W and another set of rules for another fund in the case of Toronto? Here’s a clue, these are from the 2008 federal election:
and here’s K-W and environs:
Now, as to why the province is so eager to fund transit in K-W, it may not be as straightforward, but I’m guessing that McGuinty and Co. are far more worried about the Cons making gains in that part of the province than in Toronto.