OP-ED: Toronto’s unrealistic “Net Zero” plans
OP-ED: Toronto’s unrealistic “Net Zero” plans

Do Torontonians actually trust their Council to create a “Net Zero” program which reduces emissions without decimating the downtown core? The same Council that voted for “Net Zero” while increasing the number of licensed vehicles for hire by a factor of fifteen – from 5,500 to 86,000?

Before the Soviet Union fell, I recall laughing at a joke about an inspector visiting a farm to conduct an inventory. He demanded the farmer tell him how many potatoes would be harvested. 

“Potatoes? So many potatoes, they will be piled as high as God’s knees!” the farmer enthused. 

“Now, Comrade, you know there is no God,” the Communist inspector corrected him. 

“And you, Comrade, know there are no potatoes!” the farmer replied. 

Listening to Toronto City staff explain to the Vehicle for Hire (VFH: taxis, limousines and rideshare) industry that all VFH vehicles will need to be 100% electric by 2030 is like having an extended conversation with Communist Inspector who knows there are no potatoes, but is determined to write the Potato Report anyway. 

No one knows for certain that the vehicles, the batteries, the charging stations or sufficient electric power to the grid will even exist by 2030, but the laws are being written now. 

“How many vehicles for hire does Toronto have now?” was one of the first questions asked. Surprisingly, staff replied with a rambling, convoluted explanation detailing why they did not have that number. 

(Taxi News wrote the Media office when the video conference ended, and they responded with April 17 numbers: 79,537 rideshare vehicles, 6,710 Taxis and limousines.)

“Will Toronto consider an absolute cap on rideshare vehicles, or will it continue to allow an unlimited number of rideshares?” It appears Toronto has no intention of ever returning to the day when 5,500 VFH was deemed by professional transportation experts to be the correct number of vehicles for the market. The question of why Toronto needs 86,000 VFH cruising for fares when it used to have 5,500 is not part of the Net Zero process, surprisingly. 

Will insurance companies provide insurance to 100% electric vehicles for hire? Staff had no answer to this question, and pointed out that insurance is a provincial issue. In fact, one of the largest providers of insurance to taxis in Toronto has already noted there is no money to be made insuring electric taxis because a minor accident which damages the battery forces them to write off the entire, expensive vehicle. 

“Instead of a $1,500 repair, we’re writing off an $80,000 vehicle. We can’t do it,” I was told. 

So, there’s that. 

Still, Toronto staff are working diligently and conscientiously on the Net Zero file. They were practical enough to propose exempting Wheelchair accessible vehicles. They are proposing a “grant” program which would see licensed VFH drivers receive funding to offset the cost of their licenses. This would not take effect until all current license fee reductions have been clawed back; and there is, in fact, no money in any area of Toronto’s deficit budget to fund such grants. 

However, the idea of an offset grant is a nice idea, in the same way a pile of potatoes reaching as high as God’s knees is also a nice idea. It’s just that neither of them exists in reality. 

This is the government Torontonians trust to supply an energy grid and charging infrastructure to keep downtown Toronto moving in winter weather when even one stalled car can cause gridlock for blocks? 

Perhaps the most inadvertently hilarious question was from an attendee who wanted to know if Toronto would consider adding a “fuel efficient driving” module to VHF driver training. 

Again, I laughed, recalling a taxi owner once exclaiming, “If bureaucrats think there is ANYBODY who wants to spend less on fuel than taxi drivers, they are dreaming!” 

One common theme between Soviet farmers growing potatoes and taxi drivers converting to 100% electric vehicles is this: they both must do whatever government dictates to stay in business. 

It just helps so much when things are not imaginary.

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