SWAG Toronto Councillors Oppose Proposed Scarborough Subway

I respect the City Councillors Josh Matlow of St. Paul’s ward and Gord Perks of Parkdale-High Park ward.

It is just too bad they do not respect the wishes of the long-suffering residents of Scarborough.

Who want and deserve a piece of the same subway/ transit benefits and opportunities that Matlow and Perks’ own downtown Toronto constituents enjoy.

You see, currently, most Scarborough residents spend anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes waiting for and then riding on overcrowded and hot buses, just to gain access to the current Scarborough subway stop at the Kennedy station..

Before even hopping on the subway for another 45 minutes to downtown Toronto.

While Matlow’s more affluent St. Paul’s constituents have the options of taking their cars, or biking to downtown Toronto. Or the luxury of walking ( or short busing) to either the Yonge or University-Spadina subway lines, for a relatively much easier and shorter subway transit ride to downtown Toronto.

While also Perks’ more affluent constituents have the luxury of hopping on the Bloor subways lines for relatively easier access to downtown Toronto.

In the downtown Toronto wards of St. Pauls and Parkdale- High Park, many Toronto residents have made it. They are experiencing the Canadian dream and are taking a big bite out of the Canadian/Toronto urban pie.

Many of the residents of the former city of Scarborough, in the outer reaches of Toronto, are immigrants, new Canadians. They are poorer than their St. Paul’s and Parkdale- High Park neighbors. So they have come to Scarborough where apartments and housing are more affordable.

And sometimes where public housing complexes and some neighborhoods are more problematical. Many Scarberians do not have the extra cash flow to own or lease cars. Their only option is public transit. Which in Scarborough means for the most part, waiting for overcrowded buses in Toronto’s freezing cold winters. Or riding the TTC’s hot and overcrowded buses in Toronto’s humid summers.

Many such Scarberians are hard-working intelligent people with foreign professional and academic credentials not recognized by Canadian authorities or Canadian society. Many are non-white. Many struggle with English as a second language. Many struggle with adapting to Canadian culture. They have come to Canada, and especially Toronto, to start again. To make a good and financially secure life for themselves and their families.

Notwithstanding facing obstacles of subtle discrimination, lack of Canadian experience and a tough job market, these Scarberians also want to gain a foothold in the good life that their St.Paul’s and Parkdale-High Park neighbors currently enjoy. They also want to experience the Canadian Dream of owning a nice home or condo in a safe and accessible area for their families, with good schooling and shops nearby.

Common sense, fairness, equity and even morality, dictate that the priorities of public transit should be directed to helping out those in Toronto’s outer lying suburbs, like Scarborough, where public transit is more of a necessity than in Toronto’s affluent neighborhoods of Forest Hill, (St. Paul’s ward) or High Park (Parkdale-High Park ward).

And you would think that such downtown Toronto leftist/liberals like councillors Josh Matlow (St. Pauls) and Gord Perks (Parkdale-High Park) who pride themselves on “looking after the little guy,” the disadvantaged and those most vulnerable in society, would be front and centre and advocating vigorously for better public transit for Scarberians.

Unfortunately, as I have always suspected, such leftist/ liberals like Matlow and Perks, talk the talk. But they don’t walk, the walk.

When push comes to shove, when you strip away their faux concern for the working man, these leftists/ liberals are just SWAGs (smug, white, affluent gentry) at heart.

Both Matlow and Perks are insensitive to the needs of the long-suffering subway-challenged Scarberians —
their less well off neighbors in the northeast of Toronto.

They only care about themselves and the selfish and self-centred needs of their affluent constituents.

Let me elaborate.

In his most recent report, City Manager Pennachetti, stated that assuming the Ontario government would provide the $1.8 billion set aside for Light Rail Transit (LRT) for Scarborough to the Scarborough Subway option, (the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway from the Kennedy station to the Scarborough Town Centre), the City of Toronto would need an additional $1 billion to $1.5 billion to construct the Scarborough Subway option.

Pennachetti said that this sum could be funded provided that the City increase taxes of 1.1% to 2.4% over three years and that the federal government provide the balance in cash, between, $418 million to $660 million.

Pennachetti also reported that whereas the LRT option would cover a larger geographic area, include seven stations and come at a lower cost, the subway extension option , with only three stations, would have higher speed, higher quality service, higher ridership and no transfer for passengers from one mode to another at Kennedy station.

In other words, the subway option is a superior mode of public transit — higher speed, higher quality service, higher ridership and no transfer for passengers from one mode to another at Kennedy station.

Mayor Ford, for the first time, has gone on record supporting an increase in Toronto taxes by 0.25% to fund specifically the Scarborough subway option.

It is significant to note that TTC Chair Karen Stintz, after reading the Pennachetti’s report is also very supportive of the subway option.

The same article reported, “TTC chair Karen Stintz was optimistic the plan outlined by the city manager’s report would secure “the right subway” for Scarborough.

“I think council is in the position to finance this construction over the next 30 years,” Stintz said. “I think it is encouraging that the mayor is recognizing that subways cost money and that the taxpayers might have to pay for subways in the city.”

Stintz said she expected the province to honour its commitment to providing the $1.8 billion for a replacement to the Scarborough RT and that the project would be eligible for federal infrastructure funding because it would be considered a new project.

It is also interesting to note that this past week-end, Federal Finance MinisterFlaherty was reported to have confirmed that there is some infrastructure funding available for a Scarborough subway, provided the Toronto City Council could agree on such an option.

So to recap.

The City Manager and City officials believe that the Scarborough subway option is a better transit option than the LRT.

As noted above, potential funding for the subway option appears to be available, in terms of federal infrastructure funding, ($400 million to $600 million), the ability of the City to borrow a manageable $400-500 million, and the City raising a modest tax increase over 3 years.

Also add the support of the Ontario government, Mayor Ford, TTC Chairman Karen Stintz, the Scarborough councilors and the current federal government.

What also should really clinch it, for you lefty Scarborough Subway deniers, is that none other, than the Prime Minister in Waiting, the wavy-haired Justin Trudeau, is also in favour of the Scarborough subway.

Notwithstanding the above, Councillor Josh Matlow, is still vehemently opposed to a subway for Scarborough.

Contrary to all the above positive evidence, that such a Scarborough subway option is doable, reasonable and the fair, equitable and right thing to do as above noted,Matlow argued, (as I contend, irrationally and selfishly) that the subway push defied pro-taxpayer logic, as follows:

“(The report says) taxes would have to go up and the city would go dangerously into debt to pay for a plan that doesn’t make sense,” Matlow said.

“It would serve fewer Scarborough residents, cost a billion dollars more and when it comes to it — either a subway or an LRT would be completely grade separated — so I don’t see why’d we spend a billion dollars more to do that.”

Matlow argued this isn’t the LRT versus subway debate the city plunged into last year.
“This is about what makes sense on this specific route,” he said.
“If you look at the evidence, a reasonable person concludes, that it’s not worth a billion dollars of higher taxes and deeper debt to pay for it.”

And Councillor Perks is not much better when he also argued, contrary to the evidence and quite irrelevantly,

That Ford was rejecting the city manager’s plan by not committing to the full tax hike.”So there is no plan for funding a subway,” Perks said. “There is no such thing as a discount subway shop.”

Both Matlow and Perks should be ashamed of themselves.

Under the false guise of arguing incorrectly that Toronto would go dangerously into debt or face enormous taxes, these Councillors are putting the selfish interests of themselves and their affluent constituents over the interests of some of Toronto’s most needy residents, who desire and deserve good and effective public transit.

That is, subways, subways, subways.

It is about time that Matlow and Perks and their affluent constituents, show the respect to the Scarberians, that they deserve.

It is time to Man up, Matlow!
And Perk up, Perks!

And stop being so SWAG!!!

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