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article imageSubways or LRT? Toronto council approves TTC Chair's motion Special

By Andrew Moran     Feb 8, 2012 in Politics
Toronto - Following Toronto Transit Commission Chair Karen Stintz's petition request, city councillors held a special city council meeting Wednesday to discuss the future of transit. Will the city focus on subways or the LRT?
Should Toronto Transit Commission Chair Karen Stintz be “ashamed” of herself? Is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford a “dictator?” Is Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty a “deadbeat?” These were the remarks flown around inside of the council chamber Wednesday as councillors debated the future of transit in the city.
Digital Journal reported of the special city council meeting Wednesday morning. During the first three hours, it was a question and answer period between councillors and Toronto transit officials.
On Wednesday afternoon, councillors inserted their opinions on whether council should approve of a transit plan right away – basically a model of former Mayor David Miller’s Transit City or current Mayor Rob Ford’s burial of the Eglinton line – or defer it for another month in order to read further reports, listen to the experts and debate the matter.
From left to right: City Councillors Norm Kelly  Mike Del Grande and Shelley Carroll.
From left to right: City Councillors Norm Kelly, Mike Del Grande and Shelley Carroll.
“We’re here today to debate Toronto’s future, but we do not have reports, we do not have studies and no evidence. I guess we are here to listen to each other and decide who sounds better,” said Ford in his opening remarks following the morning’s recess.
“The people of Toronto have spoken loud and clear; every single poll that has come out people say they want subways. They don’t want streetcar city, they don’t want Transit City, they don’t want David Miller’s plan. They want subways.”
A poll released last week suggested that a strong majority of Scarborough supports burying the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown transit line, while only 41 percent of those in the downtown area supported the mayor’s plan.
City Councillors Adam Vaughan and Gord Perks having a conversation during a city council meeting.
City Councillors Adam Vaughan and Gord Perks having a conversation during a city council meeting.
Ford introduced a motion Wednesday that would have included an expert panel that would review extending the Eglinton Avenue line east of Laird Drive. Council did not pass the mayor’s motion; 19-24.
Councillor Doug Ford told the chamber that the people of Scarborough should remember Councillors Raymond Cho and Glenn De Baeremaeker in the next election because they did not support subways.
“The people of Scarborough have to remember these two,” said the mayor’s brother in front of a crowd that was in awe of his comments. “I think the people in this room have this sense of cultural entitlement down here. They get elected and they forgot we had the largest referendum in Canadian history and that was called an election, folks. [Ford] had a clear mandate to move forward with subways and not streetcars.”
Vice-chair of the TTC and City Councillor Joe Mihevc provided councillors with information regarding other cities that utilize the LRT. He also issued studies and reports that were conducted for the last several years relating to Transit City.
City Councillor Joe Mihevc addressing city council during a special city council meeting on transit.
City Councillor Joe Mihevc addressing city council during a special city council meeting on transit.
Mihevc told reporters during a scrum that he believes his colleagues are finally starting to listen to their residents, who he says do not want a delay and want rapid transit now.
“We’re at a burn rate of $1 to $2 million a month by the plans to underground the Eglinton LRT east of Brentcliffe. Money is being wasted and now we have an opportunity to do the right thing, tell the province want council wants,” stated Mihevc. “At the end of the day, it is not the mayor who speaks for council; it is council that speaks for council. The mayor needs to represent that after the vote is taken.”
City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, former mayoral candidate and strong ally of Mayor Ford, said the fight is not over yet and based on recent polls, the province “would be absolutely nuts” to not give Toronto the subways the City asked for.
City Councillor Josh Matlow addressing city council during a special city council meeting.
City Councillor Josh Matlow addressing city council during a special city council meeting.
When asked as to who the province should listen to if the mayor and the council hold differing views, Mammoliti responded that the province should listen to the voters and the people that want subways instead of the LRT.
“There are people that care about subways; 80 percent of them right now are saying subways,” explained Mammoliti during a scrum. “And that’s who the province should be listening to and that’s what every single MPP should be taking note to. If they don’t, they’re absolutely crazy.”
He added that LRTs have been an “absolute boondoggle” for the city and cited St. Clair Avenue West as an example. Mammoliti urged everyone to speak to small business owners in the area “who have lost their shirts” because of that line.
A packed city council chamber  including members of the press  Torontonians and public and private o...
A packed city council chamber, including members of the press, Torontonians and public and private officials.
After the vote was taken, City Councillor Maria Augimeri carried a piece of paper with her and asked reporters if they wanted to know who voted for Transit City. In her records, Augimeri announced that Councillors Mike Del Grande, Mark Grimes, Raymond Cho, John Parker, Chin Lee, Cesar Palacio, Norm Kelly, Mammoliti, Frances Nunziata, Peter Milcyzn and Michael Thompson supported Transit City.
“These people all voted for Transit City and they did so on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2009. 10 of these people are telling you today not to vote for it; they voted for it in fact,” said Augimeri.
When asked by the media about Mammoliti’s comments about the province ignoring council’s decision Wednesday, Augimeri replied that he wouldn’t have said that if he were on the other side of the debate.
“I believe the TTC is there to deliver transit for the city of Toronto, that’s what it’s there for,” stated Augimeri. “It’s done it for many, many decades and it will continue to do so.”
Moments after 7 p.m., council voted 29-16 in favour of Stintz’s motion to not bury the Eglinton line and create the Finch West LRT.
More about Toronto city council, Toronto transit commission, Rob Ford, Subways, lrt
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