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Morning Brew: First transit tax vote due today, RCMP busts alleged terrorist plot, city throws away $500K in sanitizer, saving the Bluffs, and a Rob Ford cartoon

Posted by Chris Bateman / April 23, 2013

toronto stairsRob Ford's executive committee will consider a report calling for several new transit taxes later today, but it's expected the mayor and several of his closest allies will reject the idea. If the report fails to pass the executive level it could be shelved indefinitely. Is it the group's duty to kick the discussion up to city council?

The RCMP has foiled a plot to blow up a GTA-bound Via Rail train and arrested two people, one who was living in Toronto. Mounties say a specific route - possibly between New York City and Toronto - had been targeted by terrorists but not a specific train. The Toronto suspect, Raed Jaser, is originally from the United Arab Emirates and living in Canada legally, according to The Canadian Press. He's expected to appear in court later today.

The city spent $53,750 washing its hands of $500,000 worth of expired sanitizer this year. The product was meant to be used with other emergency medical supplies in the event of a viral outbreak, but it expired in 2012. Other cities used up their stockpiles to prevent wasting money. What could the city have done with the expiring antibacterial product?

The city is busily propping up a large stretch of the Scarborough Bluffs in an attempt to prevent the geological wonder from crumbling in to Lake Ontario. The city paid $6.5-million for the beach at the foot of the bluffs and promised to build erosion defenses to help the homes above. Access could be several years away, though. An two-year environmental assessment needs to be completed first.

Toronto's job scene is in rude health, according to the city's latest Economic Dashboard report. The jobless rate is at its lowest level since 1990, and that's without casinos. Hooray for jobs.

Also in good economic news, the city's film industry is posting record numbers. That's right, Toronto is so good at pretending to be cities in the United States it's now a billion-dollar industry. Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim was the biggest film to be partially filmed here in 2012, topping Total Recall from the year before.

Finally, Rob Ford is now a metaphor for poor career moves. Job listing site Workopolis is running a cartoon of Toronto's gaffe-prone mayor piling face-first into a CityTV camera on its latest set of newspaper adverts. Ouch.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Dominic Bugatto/blogTO Flickr pool.



Jay / April 23, 2013 at 08:19 am
Tranist vote is dead in queens park (no NDP or Con backing) and at city level it will be filed away. Good day for tax payers, our taxes will not be going up. Finally a mayor that watches taxpayers back. Can not wait to vote for him again in 2014!
Brad / April 23, 2013 at 08:28 am
Oh wow, another Dominic photo for Morning Brew.
I guess he is the only one who submits photos in the blogTO flickr pool?
Craig replying to a comment from Jay / April 23, 2013 at 08:28 am
Jay, I hope you enjoy your ever increasing commute times. Those of us who like to spend their time with their families (and not sitting in their cars) are holding out hope that some politicians will use some common sense and make everyones commute better.
hamish / April 23, 2013 at 08:32 am
We'll see if the con-job continues - the car is subsidized: not that facts matter to some of course. (An older Vancouver study found it was $2700 per car per year).
And within what people assume is the transit-funding report, they don't actually use the word "transit" that much, but rather use "transport" - and that's too slippery as it can include far more roadworks than transit, depending on who's in.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Jay / April 23, 2013 at 08:35 am
So, dumbass, how will the city function without a fully funded transit system? How will people move about and the subway you and the other stupid Fordites want built be funded? By gold-pressed latinum from Ferengi traders who will then sell the city a fully automated construction system that can build subway lines in one year? Or by building a casino and then using said casino profits to fund it?

None of this is going to happen, and you'd better get used to the idea of paying a tax for public transit, like many cities and states in the USA had to implement to get subway and light rail lines funded. Even better, put down that shitty paper you read (you know which one) and pick up something that will really tell you about the world you live in other than than messages like, 'You're being taxed to death'.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Brad / April 23, 2013 at 08:38 am
No, he's just the one that they love to choose a lot (I wish I was chosen sometimes.)
That was quick replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / April 23, 2013 at 08:55 am
Five comments until someone pulled the moron, idiot, dumbass card. Thanks for helping to elevate the conversation, really.
DL replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / April 23, 2013 at 09:04 am
Not sure if you've noticed, but we get taxed pretty damn bad as it is. I'm more upset at the Federal government's unwillingness to reward the Ontario taxpayers who voted their party to a majority, the first one I can recall that has been won without a good showing in Quebec. They owe us. And $12 billion in Federal equilization shortfall is a good start.
Marc replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / April 23, 2013 at 09:23 am
No use getting upset. Some people simply don't understand that things cost money. It's a shortcoming that politicians on both sides take advantage of, and this time Ford fooled his base the best. People like Jay want a balanced budget, reduced taxes and top notch city services. Having a plan to pay for them doesn't factor in.
Wilson replying to a comment from Brad / April 23, 2013 at 09:25 am
The accompanying photo is of Withrow Park in the east end of the city, not quite east enough to be Scarborough though.
Jay / April 23, 2013 at 09:26 am
So the polls show that pubic opinion does not support transit tax, but a few hipsters on BLOGTO make it sound like it is the end of the world. Considering the majority of you live downtown bike or walk to work. It is a democracy if the majority don't support it, it will not happen. That is why the NDP have not shown any support for this, they know they do not have the public support.
Craig replying to a comment from Jay / April 23, 2013 at 09:40 am
First off, I'm not a hipster, nor a downtowner, so you're 0 for 2 on that one.

Secondly, which polls? The ones I've seen are split or are within the margin or error. And iirc, Horvath said she would like to see taxes increase on corporations to pay for it. The PCs seem to be the only ones that have said no (a qualified no, but still a no).
Treackle replying to a comment from Brad / April 23, 2013 at 09:42 am
No, Neil Ta submits photos as well.
Bruce replying to a comment from Jay / April 23, 2013 at 09:45 am
No use getting upset some people don't understand that there is more to making city planning choices than, "I want this so everyone else should pay for it". People like Marc have been so spoiled throughout their lives and have such a strong entitlement mentality that they can't stand anyone who says no to them.
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Alex / April 23, 2013 at 10:17 am
How does this vote matter at all? Any taxes or fees imposed will be done by the province. The NDP may say they're against them now, but they know they'll get stomped in the next election and I hope they're smart enough to realize that a Liberal minority is better than a Con minority. They'll probably end up bargaining for something and then support the fees. The current NDP provincial party may be full of short-term thinking idiots, but hopefully they have enough brain cells collectively to make the right decision on this.

In their defence, why don't the Libs just raise corporate taxes by a percent or two as part of the transit fees to get the NDP on board? Businesses will benefit from this just as much as everyone else, so they should pay their fair share. Especially since we keep lowering corporate taxes and all they do is sit on the money.
reeder / April 23, 2013 at 10:21 am
"Toronto's job scene is in rude health"

What strange phrasing.
the future replying to a comment from Alex / April 23, 2013 at 10:33 am
'in their defence, why don't the Libs just raise corporate taxes by a percent or two as part of the transit fees to get the NDP on board? Businesses will benefit from this just as much as everyone else, so they should pay their fair share. Especially since we keep lowering corporate taxes and all they do is sit on the money. '

This is exactly what will happen
British Idiom replying to a comment from reeder / April 23, 2013 at 11:23 am
Rude health is a British idiom for very healthy. But I've heard it here in Canada quite often (perhaps you are a young person?).
the lemur replying to a comment from reeder / April 23, 2013 at 11:24 am
Not really. 'Rude' in the older/less common sense of 'robust'.
Jacob replying to a comment from Craig / April 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm
No use getting upset. There's some people who don't understand there's more to city planning than "This doesn't directly benefit me right now, so I don't want it." They live mentally isolated from the community at large, and seem to forget that everything they benefit from on a daily basis (their roads, their health, their education, etc) was paid for with tax dollars.
McRib replying to a comment from Bruce / April 23, 2013 at 03:21 pm
how do you think the government pays for stuff?
Bruce replying to a comment from McRib / April 23, 2013 at 03:34 pm
Should the government pay for this stuff? Has the government already bought more stuff than we can pay for? If we can afford it today will we be able to afford it if interest rates rise by 100 or 200 basis points? If not what we will have to give up down the line to afford this stuff? Are the justifications being bandied about for these costs plausible? Is there other stuff we could do that would be cheaper but possibly have a better cost benefit ratio?

"How Bad Is TTC Service: A First Quarter Report... Service reliability, as I have written many times, is primarily affected by a lack of proper vehicle spacing starting right from the terminals, and this occurs even on days when there is no traffic, no inclement weather, no surges in passenger demand. Service management is haphazard on many routes, and at times non-existent. Stop spacing is the least of their problems. [Steve Munro]"
Jay / April 23, 2013 at 04:19 pm
Can't believe people are asking the Libs for MORE taxes. Health tax has put ~$15 Billion into their coffers. Small business tax has gone up almost 30% under them. They got a ~$3 Billion boost for harmonizing the HST. They also brought in Eco taxes, WSIB taxes .. The list goes on. If the Libs did not squander
Billions on their own political fortunes there would be plenty of money for transit in Ontario. The love affair of Torontonians from the core is what is driving this Province to bankruptcy and the root cause of a lack of transit funding. Because of this Toronto gets what is deserves - nothing!
Craig replying to a comment from Jay / April 23, 2013 at 04:53 pm
As I always asy when numbers like this get thrown around

[Citation Needed}
Yes replying to a comment from Jay / April 23, 2013 at 06:25 pm
Those downtowners all they want to do is spend and tax the rest of us to death. Well those days are over, we got a great mayor watching our back.
Taxes / April 23, 2013 at 06:44 pm
Canadian families are now spending more money on taxes, than on food, clothing, and shelter combined, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute.

“Taxes are far and away the largest and fastest-increasing expense in the average household budget,” said Charles Lammam, Fraser Institute associate director and co-author of the Canadian Consumer Tax Index.

but hey the downtowners want to put more taxes on us, ridiculous.
the lemur replying to a comment from Yes / April 23, 2013 at 09:11 pm
That mayor thinks he can fund transit by finding efficiencies, which he hasn't found enough of so far to make a difference. (Didn't we find out early in his term that the city actually runs a pretty tight ship, according to a major global auditing firm?).

Is he still relying on the private sector to pick up the tab for new transit? How's that working out?

And those non-downtowners who demanded a subway for their sparsely populated outskirts - how were they proposing to pay for it?
the lemur replying to a comment from Taxes / April 23, 2013 at 09:12 pm
If taxes are your biggest expense then you're doing something wrong with your spending and investing. I think Rob Ford the part-time company bookkeeper would tell you that.

What other stable, reliable source of transit funding would you suggest?
lol replying to a comment from the lemur / April 23, 2013 at 09:57 pm
Don't you worry the issue is dead in city council, it will take 2/3 of the council to bring it back. Which there is not enough votes. good day indeed.
tommy replying to a comment from Taxes / April 23, 2013 at 10:15 pm
"report from the Fraser Institute"

There's your first problem.
Jay / April 24, 2013 at 05:47 am
@lemur - You're missing the point. The point is there is enough tax revenue available now. The Cons at the federal level have given billions in tax breaks to corporations with no direct return. The Libs at the provincial level have brought in billions with tax increases and squandered that new revenue. And as for the efficiencies at the city level, at no time did anyone say those efficiencies would be enought to fund hundreds of millions in transit upgrades. People are just fed up with runaway spending and waste at all levels of government by all political stripes. They need to get serious and get their financial house in order before coming to us for more taxes. This is not a left / right issue. The money is there for all three levels of government to pay for transit and infrastructure today.
Niklas / April 24, 2013 at 08:31 am
Throwing out sanitizer.. I'm so glad the 14k I just paid in taxes went to something useful..
How about this? replying to a comment from the lemur / April 24, 2013 at 08:36 am
Here's a source of transit funding that I think Toronto should explore: A class action suit against the Liberal Party of Ontario personally naming all senior members of cabinet and the two premiers for Malfeasance in Public Office, Criminal Negligence & Conspiracy to defraud the public related to the decision to cancel gas plants seeking the remedy to recoup the funds from the named individuals, the OLP and other remedies including forced revocation of any perks, privileges or pensions that said party members are entitled to.
the lemur replying to a comment from Jay / April 24, 2013 at 08:57 am
So the money is there, it's just that the provincial Liberals have to stop wasting it on other things and the federal Tories have to start giving a damn about Toronto? I think we're in for a long wait.
the lemur replying to a comment from How about this? / April 24, 2013 at 08:57 am
Class action suit? Sounds expensive. Who's going to pay for that?
the lemur replying to a comment from Niklas / April 24, 2013 at 08:58 am
You paid $14K in taxes to the city? That doesn't seem right.
jake / April 24, 2013 at 10:13 am

Well what's Ford's plan? If he's gonna vote down new taxes to pay for necessary transit, then what's his alternative? He promised to turn up millions and millions of dollars in "gravy" during his mayoral campaign, yet once he was in office his auditors couldn't find even a fraction of that. Then he swore up and down that new transit could be paid for by the private sector through public/private partnerships, and so far he doesn't seem to have found anyone in the private sector even remotely interested in the scheme.

Gridlock in TO is nuts, and it's only gonna get worse as omnipresent condo towers drive the population density up. The TTC is jammed during commuting hours. The city needs to expand transit, and someone has to pay for it. So what's our so-called mayor's plan?
Nope...transit is making a miracle comeback replying to a comment from Jay / April 24, 2013 at 07:36 pm
Sorry Cons, but the transit file is just waiting for the Libs to get a solid majority again. Then we are going to tax and spend our way to the finest transit system money can buy!

$$$ CHOO CHOO!! $$

(hahahaha...suck it Hapless Hudak losers)
My God there NOTHING you cna't make more expensive??? replying to a comment from Jay / April 24, 2013 at 07:37 pm
I'm not voting for him again...this is NUTS!!!

Half a mil for rotten gel? I want my vote back!
Here Comes The BOOM, Etobicoke replying to a comment from Yes / April 24, 2013 at 07:54 pm
"Those downtowners all they want to do is carefully watch our finances, well those days are almost gone because we got a crooked mayor watching our back"

I agree, "YES", the Mayor HAS been holding the city hostage with all his illegal wrangling and carrying on and backroom shenanigans. Personally, I can't believe he didn't get fired for taking bribes from all those lobbyists!

But as you point out, the Ford era is almost over and then we can get back to running this city like a business again. Can't come too soon.
That;s a stupid idea. replying to a comment from How about this? / April 24, 2013 at 07:55 pm
Um...yeah. A REALLY stuuuupid idea. Did you ever finish grade eight???
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