Mayor Rob Ford: three years in, has he kept his promises?

ABOVE: Is Mayor Rob Ford keeping his promises? Mark McAllister reports. 

As Rob Ford’s first term as mayor enters its final year, has he kept the laundry list of promises made during the 2010 mayoral campaign?

“People know I’ve done a great job in this city. Look at the city three years ago and look at it now, the city was going downhill and we brought it back,” he said Friday on the third anniversary of his mayoral victory.

During the campaign, he made several bold promises, including scrapping Transit City and the vehicle registration tax.

But have those been promises kept?

Scrapping Transit City: promise kept and then broken.

On December 01, 2010 Ford proclaimed that Transit City – a provincially-funded plan to build light rail transit through Toronto – was scrapped.

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“Transit city is over, ladies and gentleman,” he said, adding “the war on the car stops today.”

But it just wasn’t meant to be: it turned out, Ford did not have the ability to unilaterally cancel the plan. In a legal opinion commissioned by Joe Mihevc, Toronto lawyer Freya Kristjanson found the mayor couldn’t cancel Transit City without the express approval of city council.

The city, province and Metrolinx are moving ahead with Transit City – though with some modifications. And that brings us to the next promise…

Subways, subways, subways: promise partially kept.

One of the Ford’s biggest political victories as mayor was getting city council to agree to extending the Bloor-Danforth subway line into Scarborough rather than building a fully-funded LRT. A recent poll saw his approval rating in the eastern portion of the city skyrocket.

But he wants more subways, folks. In September, he told Newstalk 1010 that Scarborough was “just the beginning” and he also wants to convert the Sheppard LRT into a subway.

Ford has repeatedly said he believes taxes are already too high.  But he did not promise he’d never raise them.  In April, Ford pretended to vomit when asked what he thought about so-called “revenue tools” to fund public transit.

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But in order to pay the $910 million needed to build the Bloor-Danforth extension, he voted to increase property taxes in 2014, 2015 and 2016 while simultaneously increasing development charges.

Vehicle registration tax: promise kept.

In his first council session as mayor of Toronto, Ford cut the city’s $60 vehicle registration tax in a 39-6 vote.  The tax brought in roughly $64 million annually to public coffers.

Slashing councillors’ budget: promise kept.

He also kept a second promise in that first council session by slashing councillors’ budget to $30,000 from $51,300. He won that victory by a vote of 40-5.

Land transfer tax: still waiting on this one. 

One of the key planks of Ford’s 2010 campaign was to cut the land transfer tax. The tax, paid whenever someone purchases property in the city, generated $344.5 million for the city in 2012.

He has yet to succeed in cutting the tax and has hinted he may try and cut it by 10 per cent in the upcoming budget.

Ford said in an interview Friday that he is still motivated to cut the tax but admitted he may have to wait until his next term.

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Contracting out garbage: kind of.

During his campaign, Ford promised to contract out garbage service in the city promising residents they would never be forced to endure another garbage strike as they did in 2009. He succeeded, in part, by contracting out garbage west of Yonge Street.

Ford maintained his goal of contracting out garbage collection in the rest of the city, but admitted that too will have to wait until his next term.

Renegotiating union contracts: promise kept.

During city negotiations with CUPE local 416, Ford was able to wrestle numerous concessions from the public union.

Some of the concessions included being able to freely schedule workers and renegotiating so-called ‘job for life’ clauses.

In announcing the contract, Ford said it was a ”fantastic day for taxpayers of this great city,” according to the Toronto Star.

No service cuts: kind of.

During his 2010 campaign, Ford promised to delivers millions in savings while not cutting service levels. But during the 2011 budget negotiations, he changed that promise to no “major” service cuts.

During the budget negotiation, Ford tabled several large cuts – including cuts to pools, homeless shelters, transit service. A revolt by councillors, led by Josh Colle, however reversed many of those cuts.

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Ford however, characterized the budget as a major win for the city.

“We are spending less money this year than we did last year,” Ford said according, to the Toronto Star. “I think it’s a huge victory.”

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