Friday, September 6 Commentary
Toronto city hall has thrown in the towel and will no longer force the owner of a house in Habord Village to tear down a $200,000 addition to their Victorian Home on Brunswick Avenue.
This is a case that goes back to 2006. An elderly couple, the Tseng's live in the house owned by their daughter. The back of old house was sinking and needed repair so they just went ahead and got it done.
The very premise that the Tseng's didn't know they needed a building permit sounds far fetched to me.
The house is owned by the daughter of the elderly couple. She happens to be a lawyer...a Harvard trained lawyer at that who lives in New York city. You mean to tell me that a lawyer doesn't know or doesn't even inquire about the need for permits to build. I'm not that gullible...but apparently the OMB is. This agency has become the boil on the backside of most cities in Ontario and it's time Premier Wynne lanced the boil.
This Scarborough subway story just gets weirder by the day.
Earlier this week, Ontario Transportation minister Glen Murray unveiled plans for Queen's Park to go solo and spend 1.4-billion dollars to replace the Scarborough RT with a subway from Kennedy station to Scarborough Town Centre...the exact RT route. But there would only be two stops in between.
The chief planner for the city, Jennifer Keesmaatt has now jumped in saying an awful lot of people living in Scarborough will have a subway running through their community but won't use it because they'd have to travel too far to get to a station.
Glen Murray comes back and says...don't worry about it...we can stick a few more stops in there and still not go over budget because we built in a 30 percent contingency budget in that 1.4-billion dollar envelope.
Ending the subway at Scarborough Town Centre would also mean that the LRT being built along Sheppard would be a line going nowhere....no longer would there be a connecting point...people would have to bus it down to the town centre.
And now the capper: there is a consultants report to Metrolinx which says the exact same route that Queen's Park wants would take 5 more years of planning and then 5 years to build...that probably won't begin until Queen's Park and Toronto rework their master agreement on transit...the deal that still says the only agreement they have is to build an LRT not a subway.
There's a regulation at Queen's Park designed to compensate those MPP's who live 50 kilometres outside of Toronto to claim nearly 21-thousand dollars to maintain a home here in the city.
The intent was to make sure MPP's who live hours away had somewhere to stay while the Legislature is in session.
Now let me tell the story of Peter Shurman, whom I have known for decades. When Peter left his talk show job here he ran and won for the PC's in Thornhill where he lived but he doesn't live in the riding anymore. He and his wife bought a place in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Peter will often fly back and forth in his own plane. He also maintains a Toronto apartment and as the regulations stipulate, he is entitled to collect a housing allowance of nearly 21-thousand dollars to pay for that apartment.
The Wynne Liberals are in political spasm over this...even though it is clear he broke no rules. PC leader Tim Hudak has asked and Shurman has agreed to stop claiming the housing expense.
The Liberals and Tories agree, the regulation must be changed so it sounds as though they'll agree to reword it so that if the riding your represent, no matter whether you live in it or not...but if the riding you represent is within 50-kilometres of Queen's Park you will not be able to claim housing allowance period. That's the way it should have been written at the outset.
As for Peter Shurman...politically the optics look terrible. Here's the PC finance critic constantly snipping at the Liberals for spending beyond its means and he's saying that his 1-hundred-12-thousand dollar-a-year job is not enough money to maintain his principle residence and an apartment in Toronto. True enough but coming from a politician it just won't fly. Shurman, whom I have known to be an honourable man with a great deal of integrity, is going to take a political hit for this. I wouldn't be surprised if Tim Hudak moves him out of his finance critic role because suddenly he's become a big target.
Oh and for you Rob Ford fans. The Mayor tells Joe Warmington he's too busy and won't be coaching football in the fall.
I'll just leave that alone...let it hang there for a bit....so his critics can clear the cereal out of their nostrils.