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Federal budget a ‘step backwards’ for cities: Miller [ cbc ]

Days before the budget, the Toronto Transit Commission revealed its ambitious $6-billion plan to build a network of streetcar lines across the city over the next 15 years — but it was contingent on the federal and provincial governments providing more than two-thirds of the money. Without any promised funds from federal coffers, the plan is left up in the air. Ottawa also rejected Miller’s call for one of every six cents collected from GST to go to cities. It’s not the mayor’s first rejection, and he says he doesn’t plan to give up yet.

• Live within means, Toronto told [ Toronto Star ]

There was some good news — the Conservatives extended by four years the Liberal program to share federal gas tax revenues for municipal priorities such as roads, public transportation and water. That commitment, which now runs until 2014, means an extra $8 billion.

“They asked for a sharing of the gas tax in the budget today. We’ve extended that sharing,” Flaherty said, adding that Ottawa will pump a record $33 billion into infrastructure over the next seven years.

“Of course, the major metropolitan areas like the GTA will share in that,” he said.

The budget also creates a “Building Canada Fund” to be allocated to provinces and territories on a per capita basis for improvements to highways, public transit, sewage treatment as well as cultural and recreational facilities. This fund starts at $572 million this year, rising to $1.7 billion a year by 2013.

But municipal leaders hoping to get a share of the GST revenues, or a new federal fund to pay for transit expansion — two demands worth $7 billion a year — were left disappointed. They even failed in their bid to have the gas tax funding made permanent.

What’s in it for us? [ Toronto Sun ]

Like Miller’s light-rapid transit plan or not, it was an affordable idea that deserved discussion. Harper and Flaherty didn’t suggest something better — as in a commitment to a massive subway expansion. Other than passing on some cash to the province, they appear to have done nothing for Toronto.

• Feds ‘failed cities’ [ Toronto Sun ]
Flaherty pledges $39B over seven years for provinces [ cbc ]
• GTA famillies feel budget impact [ Toronto Star ]
• In Liberal suburbia, Tories still have some selling to do [ Globe and Mail ]
• A ward name by any other name [ Toronto Star ]
• Ward numbers ‘meaningless’ [ National Post ]
• City spends record $18.8M on council [ National Post ]
• Costs of running T.O. [ Toronto Sun ]
• Work on Junction Trail to start in summer [ National Post ]

photo from Toronto Star



  1. So “days before the budget” the TTC comes up with a plan for the federal government to spend between 2 and 4 billion dollars on a particular project in Toronto and is surprised that they came up empty handed? Sorry, to most people that looks like a poorly executed and somewhat childish publicity stunt than an attempt at a serious plan for municipal transportation policy.

  2. Well, with a budget like this, at least we’re guaranteed that the Conservatives will not win one single seat in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. This is good, because it basically eliminates any chance of them forming a majority government next time around. I shudder to think where they would take this country with a majority…

  3. Sorry, to most people that looks like a poorly executed and somewhat childish publicity stunt than an attempt at a serious plan for municipal transportation policy.

    Since when are you “most people”?

    Like Flaherty would give anything to Toronto anyway. It was him, Eves, and Harris that tried their best to destroy Toronto in the first place.

  4. Since when are you “most people”?

    Wow, stunning. Do you have a degree in rhetoric?

  5. Not as stunning as your statement — pulled out of thin air — that “most people” view the Transit City announcement as a “childish stunt.” Care to back that up with actual support, or did you just make it up?

  6. Yes, I made it up; however I’m fairly cognizant that “policy wonks in Toronto” doesn’t equal “most people”.

    I think Transit City is an OK idea, not a great one, but OK whatever. But let me throw it back to you, hoping that this won’t lead to another attempted smackdown: do _you_ think announcing a municipal transit plan _several days_ before a budget is about to be announced is a good way of getting the money?

  7. Why the assumption the purpose of announcing the the last business day before the federal budget was to get money?

    Isn’t it safe to assume that Miller and Giambrone know that the budget was already determined when they made their announcement?

    Could the point possibly have been to stimulate discussion?

  8. David,

    The big-city mayors across the country have been pushing for a federal transit strategy (as well as the whole 1 cent of the GST thing) for several months, if not years, now. The CBC story’s specific epitaphic mention of the Transit City plan was just sloppy writing.

    It certainly would be unreasonable to expect specific funding for a project like Transit City, but some level of funding for a national transit program was a totally reasonable expectation. Unfortunately it’s not one that lines up with the votes the Conservatives hope to buy. Instead they’ve decided to back away from any federal involvement in helping municipalities and the majority of Canadians living within them.

    This shouldn’t be surprising, as thickslab rightly noted–despite Flaherty’s current talk about taking care of cities being the provinces’ not the feds’ job, he certainly didn’t think the province should take responsibility for them when he was in provincial office.

  9. David, none of the Transit City ideas were new. They weren’t announced just before the budget. They were announced months and, in most cases, years ago through the Ridership Growth Strategy and the mayor’s election platform (Eglinton was supposed to be a subway line until Harris killed it so I suppose LRT on Eglinton is kinda new.)

    And though you’re right that there was an element of politicization involved in the timing of the announcement, the job of our local representatives is to be the advocates for Toronto. When Transit City was released it made national news. That’s part of sustaining public transit’s place on the national agenda.

    Unfortunately, the minister of finance has a well-documented hate on for our city.

  10. seriously this budget sealed it for me. i’m not gonna vote for conservatives when i still had a remote chance before. i wouldn’t have expected direct funding for transit city or anything (especially since it was released so late!), but with all the talk (and well, what’s happening in reality), i would have expected the budget to reflect more on strengthening the cities. some sort of national transit program and city building emphasis should have been on the budget.