We do seriously wonder at times about the level of thinking that goes on within the hallowed confines of Toronto City Hall.
Our bemusement on this subject goes far beyond the, in our opinion, astonishing mismanagement of the City’s vehicle for hire file.
Most recently: how on Earth can City bureaucrats even attempt to justify an estimated $65,000 to $150,000 cost for a set of steps in an Etobicoke park? When a concerned and activist citizen could do the job for $550 in a day with a helper (admittedly not ideal steps, but by most accounts perfectly serviceable)? And within a week after being made international laughingstocks, the City geniuses tore down the newly installed stairs and replaced them with an incredibly ugly set of replacement stairs for $10,000. And according to one report, a contractor said he could have built the same new stairs for half that cost. Good God! How can any of these brilliant bureaucratic minds have so little regard for common sense and the value of taxpayer money.
Of course, they come from the same school of incompetent government that, a couple of years ago, created the disastrous Toronto a la Carte “healthy food” cart debacle that bankrupted at least one sucker who bought into the scam and left others in financial ruin.
Then there is the ongoing blight on society that is Toronto Housing Corp. that makes the worst private landlords look like saints in comparison. The worst slumlords in Toronto, if not the country, are the good burghers occupying City Council chairs, so full of self-righteous indignation at the private sector while being willfully blind to their own managerial failings. No wonder the backlog of repairs to City-owned and run housing is in the billions when they say it costs $65,000-plus to build a $5,000 set of park stairs. We guess they and the bureaucrats they are supposed to be managing are too busy calculating their fully indexed, gold-plated, taxpayer funded pension plans to actually do the job taxpayers expect from them: efficiently and prudently spend our money. Or they are having a wonderful time hiring very well-paid new senior managers, empire building at taxpayer and licensee expense.
Don’t get us going on the massive cost and time overruns on major City projects like road work, Union Station and anything to do with the TTC (just look at the cost differential between accessible transportation provided through WheelTrans and taxis).
A major problem is that we doubt one in 10 on Council can actually read a balance sheet or balance their personal cheque book.
Now we get to the mismanagement of the whole taxi and limousine file. Without a shred of documented need, with absolutely zero business justification, on a staff recommendation, Council created the fully accessible Toronto Taxi License while giving Uber a free pass on the accessible requirement TTLs had to obey. Yes, TTLs are gone now, but the monumental financial and human damage this moronic idea caused and continues to inflict is not. The gullible, like the suckers who bought into the Toronto a la Carte debacle, who fell for the TTL fantasy will continue to pay the price of bureaucratic and political incompetence for years to come without a scintilla of relief from the City. Heck, they haven’t even been granted the cold comfort of an apology.
We hasten to add that this incompetence is not limited to Toronto. Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton are Toronto neighbours with their own versions of impoverishing licensed cab drivers and favouring Private Transportation Companies like Uber who happily use untrained drivers using minimally inspected cars with problematic insurance coverage and zero safety equipment while charging unregulated fares.
This situation, the bureaucrats and politicians say, has created a “level playing field.” Seriously? And they assured us a key element of the 2014 report was to ensure the “sustainability” and “viability” of the taxi industry! This is how they do it? By adding up to 39,000 more for hire vehicles to city streets? Really?!
Sadly, our hopes for relief in the now long-overdue report from Tracey Cook, Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, now expected in September at the earliest, are approximately nil, although we would love to be surprised...