The Streetcar Factor
Streetcars don't count as infrastructure?
Phillip Hong
23 June, 2009
I am not amused by John Baird. The perennial loud-smith has done it again, calling Toronto's streetcar project "inappropriate" for federal infrastructure funding and telling the largest city in Canada to "f-word off". The Transport Minister and former provincial cabinet minister was quick to point out that streetcars will not be built in Toronto itself, and short-term jobs will not be created anyway.
Frankly, I would not be surprised if Baird was never a regular streetcar rider; and the commuters of public transit in Toronto will be quick to reciprocate the swearing, care of Ottawa, in the next election. It is simply pig-headed to talk in such defiance, knowing that Thunder Bay will benefit from the streetcar contract, and then saying it would not help anyone right now.
If our dreams were timed to their original commitments, and politics weren't as dirty, then the subway extension to York University and Vaughan would have been open right now. And those "new streetcars" would have been delivered in 2010. Next year.
Instead, our representatives in Queen's Park and Ottawa are quick to play games, elections and "liar, liar, pants on fire". The lack of forward-thinking in government means that the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay won't be churning out any new streetcars until Minister Baird decides not to continue his big-ego attitude towards this issue.
Excuse after excuse. "Not enough Canadian content", "this funding is allocated to roads and bridges", "the City of Toronto should bump up future construction and find the savings to fund the contract". Anything to avoid saying "fat chance", since the electorate would not be happy hearing that.
Toronto has enough roads and bridges to choke itself from smog. Public transit is an investment that covers more than just Toronto. There is an increasing need and want for fast, efficient service.
And all Baird wants to imply is "streetcars are not infrastructure".
Semantics? You've got 'em.
Phillip Hong, a Woodbridge resident, is a an endless tourist. Check out the interesting experiences of his journeys on The Travelling Briefcase.
Editor: Phillip Hong
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