Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fact #15: Rob Ford's transit flip-flops have cost taxpayers over $165M in cancellation fees

Update: The final total for cancellation fees is still up in the air (there is still no formal agreement to build the Scarborough subway extension). If it's just the Scarborough LRT that gets cancelled the number will be in the $85M neighbourhood. If Ford gets re-elected and all the lines are killed then the total will be much higher. If Ford loses and we go back to all the LRTs, much of the wasted costs will be avoided.


It's true. When Rob Ford became mayor the city had already approved Transit City, a multi-year multi-billion dollar coordinated program improve public transit across the region. One of Ford's first acts as mayor was to kill off Toronto's share of the work. "Transit City is over", he declared on December 1st, 2010.

Meanwhile, a significant amount of work had already been spent getting Transit City up and running. By unilaterally cancelling the Sheppard, Finch and Scarborough LRTs, and modifying plans for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Ford forced taxpayers to walk away from over $100M in sunk costs (and growing). In addition, taxpayers are on the hook for $65M in cancellation penalties to contractors such as Bombardier. Some of these decisions were later reversed by council, but much of the sunk costs stayed sunk.

His flip-flopping on whether the Eglinton Crosstown line would run fully underground or mixed over/under caused delays and additional wasted money, but that's a bit harder to quantify since the work is still ongoing.

Why should I care?

Residents along Finch and Sheppard are being denied true rapid transit because Rob pulled funding to help cover the cost of the Scarborough subway extension. Sheppard and Finch LRT planning continues, but Rob's insistence that a subway be built (and then Council's override in 2012) has caused delays and uncertainty. Rob says that he is going to build subways along those streets, but in four years he has found precisely $0 to fund construction.

Ford supporters love to rail against the provincial government's $1B gas plant cancellation boondoggle (why the cancellation of an Oakville power plant matters to Toronto politics is mystifying, but what can you do...). At the same time they ignore that a fully-funded, fully-approved, expertly-designed transit plan for the entire city was scrapped so that Ford could buy votes in Scarborough with a three-stop subway extension.

The cost to you? a mere $165M, or $83 per household. Plus the little fact that we still aren't building rapid transit. In 15 years when you're still waiting in the rain for an overflowing Finch bus, take comfort in knowing that Rob Ford flushed your tax dollars down the toilet to buy off Scarborough voters.

How do I know you're not lying?


  1. You make it sound like he changed things unilaterally... as if we the voters and our desires don't matter. Knowing that puts your "facts" in a different light. Also, as to the cancelation of the plant: Was it only Oakville taxpayers that paid all costs associated with the plant?

    1. I wanted a scarborough lrt and was excited that there were plans to extend it to where I live and also plans to build one to utsc. Now there is virtually no chance of either area being served by rapid transit