I'm getting a little tired of John Tory critics picking apart his "Smart Track" proposal as "risky" and "dangerous" simply because he hopes to finance it with tax-increment financing or TIF.
Such a plan could fall well short of paying the city's $3 billion share of Tory's plan, forcing taxpayers to pay in other ways. John Barber is the latest to offer his condemnation.
Here's the truth: it doesn't matter if TIF will pay Toronto's entire share of Tory's Smart Track plan or any new rapid transit line plan. If TIF fails in the future to do so, the money will have to come from elsewhere. How was that ever not going to be the case?
From Olivia Chow's campaign (when Warren Kinsella was running the war room), we only heard attacks on Tory for somehow flip flopping on his proposal to make a Yonge Street relief line his top priority. Tory's not flip flopping; he's simply fleshing out a plan that works. Her campaign hasn't attacked Tory's financing plans (that I recall at least), because they aren't talking about their own financing much at all.
To build the kind of relief we need on our subway grid, we either need to electrify and re-purpose existing rail stock to create the relief sooner. Or we build it elsewhere from scratch and take many more years to do it.
Tory at least showed he can think creatively by rightfully using existing rail lines to better integrate TTC with GO and produce the results we desperately need much faster and probably cheaper (as using existing surface lines instead of tunneling through the city is cheaper by definition.)
The idea is sound and even inspired Chow to copy it for a good chunk of her own transit plan.
I like Chow's overall transit positions more. I admit they will cost city taxpayers billions to fully implement. Her plan to expand bus service by 10% will also cost even more. She hasn't fully explained how she'll finance all these ideas either. David Soknacki, whose transit plan is very similar to Chow's plan, at least has admitted his proposals will mean big tax increases and fare increases.
But to say Tory's plan is somehow "dangerous" for taxpayers while offering no equal criticism to Chow's plan or Soknacki's plan, is disingenuous and just plain wrong.