Mayor’s decision to axe Sheppard, Finch LRTs will cost
City agreed to reimburse Metrolinx for cash spent already
(Written for Town Crier April 1.)
All aboard: Mayor Rob Ford gives the thumbs up with Premier Dalton McGuinty before making a joint transit announcement March 31. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
The city taxpayers are on the hook for at least $49 million now that the Ontario government and Metrolinx agreed to cancel two previously approved light rapid transit lines for Sheppard and Finch.
Early in his term Mayor Rob Ford announced the Transit City plan for four surface LRT lines on Sheppard, Finch, Eglinton and in Scarborough was dead. His office spent four months negotiating with the province and Metrolinx to spend the allotted $8.4 billion on making the Eglinton LRT underground and converting the Scarborough RT to a surface LRT.
He also sought permission for the city to look for $4.2 billion in private sector funding for a new Sheppard subway.
That deal, announced March 31, included a provision that the city pay Metrolinx back for any costs associated with canceling the previously approved projects. The bill to the city will be at least $49 million, Metrolinx confirmed to the Town Crier on April 1.
“At this time we estimate there are $49 million in sunk costs mostly for work on the environmental assessments, designs or engineering and project management for Finch LRT and Sheppard LRT,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Thomas. “The $49 million (is) for costs we already accrued.
Mayor Rob Ford announced he will seek $4.2 billion in private sector cash to build a new Sheppard subway line. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged $49, cancel, costs, Eglinton, Finch, Joe Mihevc, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor, Metrolinx, million, Rob Ford, Scarborough, Sheppard, subway, taxpayers, Town Crier
City cancels waiting list for free service
Everyone will have to pay for their own service
(Written March 3 for Town Crier.)
This home on Euclid Ave has a disconnected downspout already. The city's making it mandatory for everyone to do the same. Photo by Kris Scheuer.
The city has reneged on a promise to provide free downspout disconnections for almost 900 homeowners in North York.
In a budget-cutting move on Feb. 23, the city voted to end this free service as of March 1.
About 7,000 Toronto households on the waiting list will now have to pay out of their own pocket. What’s more, anyone who doesn’t disconnect their downspout by the mandated time may face court-imposed fines.
The city requires downspout disconnection to avoid sewer back-ups during heavy storms. This forces water run-off from a roof eavestrough to pour into a front yard rather than filter into a road sewer. The lawn absorption also takes strain off water treatment processing plants.
Back in 2007, the city voted to move from a voluntary program where the city offered the service for free to those who requested it to a mandatory one where residents pay.
In response, 37,600 people signed up before the cut-off date and since then, staff has been working their way through the applications.
It got whittled down to under 7,000 as of Jan. 28, but those on the list waited in vain.
Cancelling the free service now will save Toronto $673,000 in operating costs annually and $7.8 million total in capital costs over three years. On average it costs the city $1,000 per resident to provide this service including paying a contractor, contract procurement costs, inspection and administrative costs.
Executive Committee approves canceling vehicle tax
It still needs council approval, and could cost city $64 mil
(Written for Town Crier Dec. 10)
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday agrees with canceling the personal vehicle tax.
Mayor Rob Ford is one step closer to fulfilling his campaign promise to cancel the vehicle registration tax.
“The war on the car stops today,” Ford told the media on Dec. 1. “We will eliminate the $60 car registration tax at the first council meeting in December to take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.”
Ford’s hand-picked executive committee voted to kill the tax at its first meeting on Dec. 9, but that decision comes at a cost of $64 million: $48 million in lost revenue and $16 million to issue refunds to people who paid for their 2011 car registration in advance.
City staff also costed out an option to cancel the tax on Sept. 1 which would cost $48 million in lost revenue but not require refunds.
Ford has announced he can forgo this revenue and still produce a flat-lined 2011 budget, with no property tax increases and no major service cuts. City manager Joseph Pennachetti said his staff will try and achieve those goals, but there’s no details at this stage on how that will be achieved.
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged cancel, car, councillor, Doug Holyday, Janet Davis, Kris Scheuer, Mayor, millions, Rob Ford, tax, Town Crier, vehicle