Upon receiving news that costs were spiraling out of control on the Toronto York Spadina extension , TTC CEO Andy Byford made several staffing changes.
That was in March 2015. At the time, York Region taxpayers’ allocation of the extra costs was just under $100,000,000. Attending the York Council debate, the York Region Taxpayers Coalition (YRTC) was disappointed to learn that York Region Municipal government didn’t have proper controls in place to ensure taxpayer money wasn’t being wasted.
At the time, Toronto Mayor John Tory believed dollars were indeed wasted. He released a written statement to the public:
“During the election campaign and since taking office, I’ve been clear about the need for much stronger culture of accountability at City Hall specifically in the management of major public infrastructure projects. From time to time that will and should mean personnel changes, as it would with any other organization.”
It’s too bad nobody acted on his strong message. The TTC, the City of Toronto, and York Region Council did a lot of talking about fiscal accountability, but not a lot of action.
Yesterday, the TTC released a subsequent report that costs on this project continue to rise well above forecasted amounts. According to this new report, another $400,000,000 is needed urgently and $160,000,000 of that will come from taxpayers living in York Region.
The TTC report points fingers in many different directions to cast blame to anyone but its own failings. It is clear that when the TTC mismanaged this major infrastructure project, it became inevitable that money was going to be misspent. The blame for this catastrophe lies exclusively with the TTC and the politicians who are failing taxpayers by continuing to write cheques without any accountability.
The YRTC is urging members and York Region residents to consider John Tory’s advice. When our politicians repeatedly bungle major infrastructure spending that should mean changes in personnel starting with their own jobs. As voters, we don’t have the authority to fire the bureaucrats, but we can definitely fire the politicians.
York Region’s Mayors and Regional Councillors apparently had no idea about this problem in March 2015 when it became evident 40% of this project was being funded by York Region taxpayers – and we paid $100,000,000 at that time. They did nothing to implement accountability for how York taxpayer funds were being misspent. Today it’s costing us an additional $160,000,000. This is happening during a period of time when York Region public debt is at historic highs.
It’s time that York Region Mayors and Regional Councillors face the music on their incompetence. Changes at the highest levels are needed.