Monday, September 20, 2010

Amalgamation, and Election Year Anger in Toronto

My latest New Geography article. Toronto election year anger is a side effect of amalgamation, rather than a knee jerk reaction against big government.

Despite Toronto’s international reputation for livability, all is not well in the city. Many politicians and pundits blame the outgoing city council, and Mayor David Miller. While they’ve done their share of damage, the city faces deeper, systemic problems. The source of the problem is more fundamental than stifling bureaucracy, or the stranglehold of the public sector unions. These are symptoms of the institutional sclerosis caused by the amalgamation of Toronto and surrounding areas into the new Toronto Megacity...(continue reading)

Monday, September 13, 2010

NDP and Greens Back Fiscal Restraint in Winnipeg, While Tories Back Expensive Toy Trains

Light rail transit is seen by many progressives as the transportation method of the future. Despite numerous studies that question the alleged social, economic, and environmental benefits of light rail, they continue to advocate for it. Many studies, including an authoritative study by the US Government Accountability Office, have demonstrated that bus rapid transit is a far more efficient than LRT.

While academics and non-partisan advocacy groups continue to document the benefits of BRT, for some reason Conservative municipal politicians are embracing LRT. Calgary City Councilor and Mayoral hopeful Ric McIver and Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brian have been long time LRT backers, and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz jumped on the bandwagon awhile back.

Shockingly, Katz is now being opposed in his attempt to introduce LRT to Winnipeg by NDP Mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Even more surprising is that she has garnered an endorsement from Green Party leader Elizabeth May. That's right. The NDP and Greens are supporting efficient transportation policy, while a partisan Tory Mayor (endorsed by at least one Tory MP) is advocating for billions of dollars in capital expenditures. It seems that the Tory strategy of strategic capitulation (read: selling out) is backfiring in Winnipeg. I haven't had a chance to look into the rest of her platform, but I would imagine that I'll wind up supporting her at this point. She may be bad on every other issue, but she probably couldn't spend the savings from scrapping the LRT system if she tried. Besides, it's time for the grassroots to send Tory sellouts like Katz a message: show some fiscal restraint, or your base will stay home--or vote for someone who will. Even if it's a New Democrat.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What Does $600 Million of Provincial Transit Funds Get You?

The City of Ottawa just received confirmation that the Province will kick in $600 million to fund the city's light rail transit exansion. What will they get out of that? A Twelve kilometer extension. Yes, that's right. For the price of 1000 state of the art hybrid buses, they get a measly 12 kilometers added to the light rail line. Sorry. I lied. They don't even come close to getting it for $600 million. The total price tag is $2.1 billion, and that is before the inevitable cost overruns. In other words, for the price of tripling the number of buses in the OC Transpo's fleet, they're getting a glorified monorail extension.