By Jason Leach
Published June 25, 2009
The ongoing streetcar saga in Toronto appears to be reaching a critical moment as the federal government refuses to join forces with the city and province in seeing this marvelous new streetcar plan move forward.
Apparently, some arbitrarily chosen rules are more important to the government than the creation of thousands of jobs in Ontario. Talk about shortsightedness and infexibility.
In my job we operate with the understanding that basic guidelines and regulations are in place; however, they are not necessarily set in stone. A favourite slogan in our office is "there's always possibility for an exception".
Right about now would be a good time for our federal government to quit micromanaging and also adopt the same mentality. That doesn't mean that rules can be flaunted, but it means that as long as the basic motive and goals are being met, it is possible to arrive at the desired destination in more ways than those concocted up in some government boardroom away from the realities of life in Canada's biggest city.
I would love to see the projects that have been approved in other cities for comparison sake. Odds are pretty good that the number of jobs being created by the TTC-Bombardier deal are not being matched in other cities.
It's easy for most of small-town Canada to whip up a list of meaningful work that can be completed by 2011 - but Toronto is not Tobermory. It's extremely short-sighted for our government to derail such a fabulous project for Toronto.
Most places in Canada don't rely on transit the way Toronto does. To punish that city simply due to the fact that it's a different place than anywhere else in the country is frustrating and smacks of ideology trumping reality.Of course, there is the behind-the-scenes issue of our transport minister having a track record of blocking light rail projects, but I'll allow other bloggers to tackle that topic.
The fact is, Canada's cities know their own problems and solutions far more intimately than some politician sitting in Ottawa. Toronto has met the objectives of this stimulus plan - creating jobs quickly and stimulating the economy. In fact, their plan will create jobs for many years, beyond the arbitrary 2011 deadline imposed by the government.
Our cities send a ton of money to Ottawa and get a fraction in return. The least our federal leaders can do is recognize the fact that city councils and local politicians understand what their communities need more than the Ottawa clan.
After all, there's always the possibility of an exception to any rule. Let's hope that someone in Ottawa will stand up for the thousands of jobs and real improvements to the TTC being proposed by Toronto.
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