Council transit debate to continue in fall
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012 10:14AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 11, 2012 10:53PM EDT
Toronto’s future for public transportation was again the focus of intense debate at city council Wednesday, but any decisions on a controversial transit plan will have to wait until the fall.
A two-day council meeting got underway Wednesday morning and featured several motions focused on grooming the city’s transit plan, including one from TTC chair Karen Stintz that asked councillors to support the creation of two priority lines: a subway into Scarborough and a light-rail line along the eastern waterfront.
That motion was later ruled out of order. It was part of a watered-down version of a 30-year $30-billion plan called OneCity, which Stintz, along with Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker, released earlier this month.
Stintz’s original plan called for a property tax increase devoted entirely toward public transit and the creation of six new subway lines, 10 light-rail transit lines and a number of new bus routes crossing the city.
Despite the fact that Stintz’s motion failed to make it through council, city staff will look at transit options as part of a report on transit funding that will be presented to council in October.
Stintz said the initial plan was only a starting place, meant to provide a broad vision for transit in Toronto and to get people talking about the options.
“I think this is a big win for the city, if we can build a transit vision that is funded and that is the motion we have before us, to begin the debate on a transit plan,” Stintz told reporters.
The plan garnered some harsh criticism from opponents Wednesday.
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti questioned why council was, again, debating transit after it already voted to defeat a subway plan presented by Mayor Rob Ford.
“I’m really sick and tired of seeing the flip-flopping on transit in this city and I don’t think it’s fair to the residents,” Mammoliti said. “You have the same individuals who killed the mayor’s vision on subways, earlier on this term of office, now coming up and doing exactly what he wanted.”
When the OneCity plan was first released, Ontario Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli said the Ontario government couldn’t support it and the mayor opposed a property tax increase.
After this reaction Stintz refocused her energy on two “priority lines.”
Toronto city council already approved a new transit strategy in March, which focused on light-rail lines and called for the Scarborough RT to be upgraded to rapid transit.
The Ontario government approved that transit plan and has begun moving forward with the transit strategy.
The approved plan includes building light-rail lines along Eglinton and Finch Avenues, which are expected to be completed by 2020. It also includes the replacement and extension of the Scarborough RT and building a light-rail line along Sheppard Avenue.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford rebuked the transit plan at the time, which replaced his own unfunded plan to build a Scarborough subway. He also rejected the OneCity plan and its call for increased property taxes.
Ford called the OneCity plan “irresponsible” and “unaffordable” and vowed he would not support it.
The council meeting continues Thursday.
With files from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson