Torontonians awoke Wednesday to another installment in a series of ambitious but controversial transit plans. Unlike its predecessors, the City of Toronto’s Transit City and the Government of Ontario’s MoveOntario 2020, the new OneCity plan proposes to rely on the property tax base rather than the strained provincial budget as its primary source of funding. This alluring but flawed program is a further example of the politics-driven planning that has dominated Toronto transit discussion in recent years.

OneCity was unveiled by two councillors, Karen Stintz and Glenn De Baeremaeker, respectively aligned with the right and left factions on City Council but both hostile to Mayor Rob Ford. Stintz, as chair of the TTC, launched a coup that humiliated the mayor by removing his allies from the commission when they attempted to replace the Transit City light rail plan with underground rapid transit lines. This announcement is intended to further marginalize Ford by proposing a new scheme involving tax hikes to fund transit expansion without consulting the vehemently anti-tax mayor’s office. Unsurprisingly, the reaction from the provincial government and Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli was dismissive, given the desire to draw a line under the tumultuous debates that have thrown transit planning into disarray in recent years. Studies are complete and contracts are being signed for the current Transit City projects, and the province will not risk further delay.

Nevertheless, the OneCity plan has reshaped the ongoing debate about Toronto’s transit future. Its willingness to explore subway expansion is a dramatic shift from the exclusively light rail Transit City plan. Moreover, the endorsement of a property tax increase to expand the TTC’s capital budget by councillors that span the political spectrum suggests that the prospect of new funding sources is less fantastic than it had previously appeared to be.