For all the sound and fury of last week’s three-day Toronto City Council meeting, not a whole lot got accomplished. Aside from the regrettable decision to — again — kill the bike lanes on Jarvis St., most of council’s other major topics of debate ended in some form of deferral or stark compromise. Nothing was really decided on council’s plastic bag ban, for example. That will come later.
Only the Jarvis St. bike lanes vote was decisive and divisive enough to earn a spot in the ongoing council scorecard, but just that vote alone is important. It stands as Mayor Rob Ford’s first significant victory on the floor of council in 2012.
With the city budget just around the corner and a new chief of staff calling the shots, Rob Ford may have gotten his groove back.
The New Vote
The vote added:
I won’t belabour this. I’ve written about the Jarvis decision once and then again. Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam’s amendment to PW17.9 would have preserved the Jarvis bike lanes which have increased travel times in that corridor by just two minutes in peak periods. It also would have saved the city somewhere in the neighbourhood of $280,000.
Her motion failed because councillors who had previously made well-reasoned arguments in favour of keeping the lanes mysteriously changed their minds.
Back from the summer break, Ford’s team of councillors seems more organized and united than they have in months. He still doesn’t command a majority by any means, but conservative allies who had previously expressed frustration with the Ford regime, like Jaye Robinson and Michelle Berardinetti, are more on side than they were last spring.
At the same time, there are strong hints that the mayor’s office has learned how to horse trade again, pledging support for pet issues so long as certain “mushy middle” councillors play ball on Ford’s big items. This is a skill his office displayed to great effect early on in his term, then seemed to lose.