T.O. stimulus cash better than nothing

Toronto finally gets its long awaited federal stimulus funds and people still find time to cry.

Ottawa’s recent $200 million in stimulus funds was met with some hoopla and Toronto’s mayor David Miller trying to put on a brave face. Mayor Miller should be happy the city received something after basically blowing the city’s first attempt at stimulus cash with a cutesy ploy.

Ottawa basically begged Miller during the summer to resubmit the city’s initial stimulus fund application and he instead chose to stick to his moral guns. He tried to secure one-third of the $1.2 billion price tag for new streetcars, which would be built in Thunder Bay, through the stimulus fund. While every other Canadian municipality decided to put forward infrastructure projects for roads, bridges, sidewalks, water and wastewater projects our mayor decided to get cute and try and get a portion of his precious streetcar deal paid for.

Making streetcars in Thunder Bay does not translate to immediate stimulus construction in Toronto for local area firms and workers, does it?

Making streetcars in Thunder Bay does not translate to stimulus construction in Toronto for Toronto area firms and workers, does it? So, once his initial plan failed the city magically found money within its own TTC capital budget, needing to put off six other projects to do so. Imagine that, the city had the money and debenture space all along for the streetcars.

Think about, what if Toronto’s application had been submitted earlier, how much more could have the city received? How many more projects could have been covered and possibly started? It certainly would not have been less. Was it worth embarrassing the city and adding fuel to the myth that Toronto is completely self-centred and also justifying the hate on the rest of  Canada has for us?

It is silly and misguided for pundits and critics to think the infrastructure stimulus fund should have been designed to meet Canada’s municipal infrastructure deficit which sits at just over $123 billion, yes… $123 billion, let alone all of Toronto’s needs.

Before this recession Canadian governments had started lining up that infrastructure deficit in their sights. It took decades of mismanagement to get to those infrastructure deficit depths and it will take at least just as long to climb out of it.

Toronto should be happy that 500 needy projects are getting the necessary cash and not just one “apple-in-a-mayor’s-eye” one.


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