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Foes blow the wheels off Smitherman transit plan

By Don Peat and Tamara Cherry

Here’s how George Smitherman’s opponents responded to his “Transit Delivered” transportation plan:

Councillor Rob Ford fired back, saying streetcars and minor extensions of subway lines “won’t get the job done.”

“Streetcars don’t move enough people, they clog up traffic, and they’re still slow,” Ford said in a press release. “It looks like he wants to turn the whole city into St. Clair Ave., and we know quite well that will make gridlock worse.

“George will get Toronto moving even slower. Toronto needs subways, not streetcars.”

Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone called Smitherman’s plan “big on dreams” but short on details.

“Maybe it worked differently at Queen’s Park, but at City Hall you have to have a sense of how you are going to pay for something before you call it a plan,” he said.

Pantalone accused Smitherman of wanting to spend money twice.

“That is just not possible. And public transit is not just a shell game.”

Pantalone hinted again that Smitherman plans to sell off the TTC — which Smitherman denies.

Candidate Rocco Rossi said Smitherman’s plan “turned a peek-a-boo campaign into a peek-a-boo-boo campaign.”

“There is no plan here,” Rossi said Friday outside city hall. “Mr. Smitherman, in essence, is asking you to trust him with a $7-billion mortgage. The same man who blew a billion dollars out the door in eHealth is not going to deliver transit for this city.”

Funding Smitherman’s ideas would require cutting services, Rossi said.

“The gas tax, the Toronto Parking Authority money, the Toronto Hydro money — all of that is currently being used for services at the City of Toronto. He said no new taxes, in fact, he’s saying that’s he’s going to reduce or eliminate the vehicle registration tax. It’s free money everywhere. This is ludicrous.”

Councillor *Giorgio Mammoliti *said Smitherman was showing his true colours by unveiling an “up in the air plan.”

“I don’t think (his plan) is very good at all. He’s clearly not listening to what people want.”

Mammoliti stressed that while he wants to bring developers back into the city, Smitherman’s plan will keep them away.

“By tapping into their resources yet again, they’ll stay away.”

Candidate Sarah Thomson called Smitherman’s plan underwhelming.

“I don’t think he has done his homework. He’s a politician, you’d think maybe he would know more.”

Thomson said the plan seems to be relying on “wishful thinking” when it comes to funding.

“How’s he going to pay for it?” she asked. “No company in North America will finance transit.”