By now you’ve probably heard about TTC Chair Karen Stintz (pictured) and Councilor Glenn DeBaeremaeker mega-plan for transity in Toronto- OneCity. Royson James has all the details over at the Star, so I won’t rehash them here. But in short – subways, LRT, and a plan that actually works for Toronto. Not just Toronto today, but the Toronto my (hypothetical) kids will live in.
And the cost? Provided that the Feds and Province come to the table, an additional $180 per year (on average) for every Toronto household. Hell, I’ll pay that up front.
There’s a lot to like about this plan – like, say, the use of facts and evidence (take note, Mr. Ford) – but for me, the best thing about this is how it links a desirable outcome (Transit that works!) with a very specific cost. Over the past few decades, the link between public services and taxation has been eroded, largely by irresponsible politicians who continue to promise tax cuts while simultaneously guaranteeing that we can continue to have nice things like healthcare, education, and infrastructure. These things all cost money. If we want them, then we have to pay for them. Obscuring this connection makes it possible to have a real debate between those who believe that taxation is unacceptable and public services shouldn’t exist, and those who see a role for government in our public lives. This is a case of tertium non datur – we either pay for our services, or we don’t get them. This is in stark contrast to Rob Ford’s subway ‘plan’, which basically promised a new subway line with exactly no money to pay for it, and no real idea of how that money could be found.
Nobody likes paying taxes. But if the case is made clearly that a $180 increase will build a transit system that works for the whole city, then maybe people will get on board. And if they don’t, at least we’ll know what the people of Toronto are prepared to pay for, and what kind of future they want. I know what I want Toronto to look like, and I’m willing to cough up the cash to make it happen.
Photo by Beltzner on Flickr.