Fort York Bridge

Rob Ford on why the Fort York bridge had to go

There's probably not much point in continued lament over the so-called death of the Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge (there's a new bridge to campaign for), but inasmuch as the whole incident is representative of the way that Toronto's current municipal government works, it's fascinating to read how Mayor Rob Ford applied his customer service strategy to those citizens who emailed him about the now doomed project.

Here's a copy of the stock email response that a number of members of the Facebook group Save the Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge have indicated they received when they contacted the mayor's office.

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From: Mayor Ford Mayor_Ford@toronto.ca
Date: Wed, May 25, 2011 at 2:40 PM
Subject: Re: Save The Fort York Pedestrian Cycle Bridge

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the Fort York Pedestrian Bridge.

While this bridge design is beautiful, Toronto cannot afford a project like this right now. No Federal or Provincial money has been provided for this project, the City of Toronto would have to borrow $22.4 million to construct it. This project has already gone $4.4 million over budget and would take away funding for other planned bridge repairs.

At this time, Council has deferred this project until a more cost effective solution can be provided by staff. After a new design has been completed, it will be submitted to the Public Works Committee for review and consideration.

I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns. Please feel free to contact my office again at any time.

Yours truly,

Mayor Rob Ford
City of Toronto

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The Good

While the responses might not be individualized, Ford seems to have made mostly good on his promise to respond to citizen inquires. That might sound like it's a not a big deal, but get my father-in-law started about all the letters he wrote to David Miller that never received a response, and you get a sense for why this approach is deemed valuable by so many citizens. Seriously, he foams at the mouth.

The Bad

Getting a response is great. Getting a response that misconstrues the facts is, well, problematic. While such misrepresentation might work with some citizens who have contacted the City, presumably many who've taken the time to send an email will have a decent understanding of the issue at hand. Hence...

The Ugly

"The City of Toronto would have to borrow $22.4 million to construct it." I suppose it all depends on how liberally you want to use the term borrow, but given that the bridge was already budgeted for, this comes off as completely disingenuous. It would also be more accurate to say that funding for road repairs is what took away money earmarked for the bridge — not the other way around.


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