Dear Ward 32 Residents,
When I first got elected, my father (a former politician) said to me, “Gone are the days of black and white – you have now entered the world of gray.” And it is true, completely true!
This week I faced a tough decision, a decision that was the most difficult one I have ever had to make at Council. I have been really torn, but after weighing everything, yesterday I voted to convert the Scarborough RT to a subway, with conditions.
This was not a decision based on supporting the Mayor or one Councillor over another. I am a bridge builder and have always tried to work with Council as a whole, regardless of political stripes. This vote achieved wide support right across the board. This was a decision based on long term plans to invest in transit for the City of Toronto. Back in the 1920s, R.C. Harris took much heat pushing for the Prince Edward Viaduct System (Bloor Viaduct) for future subway use – MANY years before there were even trains!
I believe in all modes of transit where they make sense. In November 2012, I voted for LRT instead of a subway on Sheppard as the ridership was not there and a subway did not make financial sense. In this case however, the Scarborough subway does make solid business and transit sense.
Yes, there were valid reasons to support converting the Scarborough RT to an LRT: more stations, lower cost, and previous Council commitments. There were also strong reasons to support a subway that would extend the Bloor-Danforth line by three stops to Scarborough Town Centre. These reasons include more riders, double the capacity and double the life expectancy (75 years!), seamless routing, better traveling speed, and no disruption to the SRT during construction (vs. 40 buses/hr for 4 years with the LRT model!).
I trust our terrific new TTC CEO Andy Byford when he told me “the best long term investment is a subway.” I also listened closely to the Scarborough Councillors who stated very clearly that the strong preference of their residents is for a subway. The motion I supported is for the Scarborough subway with clear boundaries:
Previously, Council has been reluctant to talk about funding transit much to my chagrin! I believe this is an important step forward to reducing gridlock and getting Toronto moving.
Councillor McMahon does not support extending the runway at Billy Bishop Airport.
The vision for Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has always been a local airport to handle short flights with small propeller planes. The tripartite agreement between the City of Toronto, Toronto Port Authority and the Federal Government solidified this conception into a public agreement which was signed by all parties.
Porter Airlies revealed, with no advance notice that it planned to purchase jets which require an 1102 feet (336 metre) runway extension at the Billy Bishop Airport. The runway extension required to accomodate Porter Airlines’ request represents a major change not just to the physical environment and auditory impact of the Island Airport, but a violation of the spirit of the tripartite agreement.
Councillor McMahon encourages Porter Airlines to use Pearson Airport as its base for medium/long haul flights as every other airline wishing to land in Toronto does. She cannot support a small local airport into a second major air traffic hub.
As she has made aware, Councillor McMahon opposes the construction of a casino in our city. She believes that casinos damage the social environment in cities and do not offer the economic benefits they advertise. They negatively affect local businesses and prey on the impulses of the addicted and vulnerable. She believes there are alternative, more innovative and less damaging ways to solve Toronto’s financial troubles. Councillor McMahon has heard from many Ward 32 residents and fellow Torontonians of their opposition to the casino at the five consultations held across the city.
Therefore, Councillor McMahon will not be supporting any proposal to place a casino in our city.
Silverbirch Boathouse—-Moving Forward
Last Thursday we had a very exciting meeting about the Silverbirch Boathouse. The meeting was prompted by news from Parks Forestry & Recreation of a plan to increase public use of the site by issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a private operator to manage the facility. I asked that this process be slowed down and that the community be consulted.
What I Heard at the Meeting:
I was heartened by the high degree of passion and the numerous constructive plans that were offered. After hearing the views of permit holders and residents, I have asked that Parks Forestry & Recreation not issue a RFP and instead investigate options for enhancement and activation that respect the buildings users and heritage. And, Parks, Forestry & Recreation has agreed to do so. No changes will be made to the operation of the facility until Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff develop a strategy to better involve the community to devise a future course of action.
Plans for a RFP and the imminent cancellation of permits have been cancelled.
This decision will ensure that this quiet section of our community remains un-commercialized and peaceful now, and in the future.
I am cognizant that this important and historic building could be better managed by the City. The community wants the Silverbirch boathouse to be run more effectively and transparently, and I believe the answer to this problem is increased community involvement and guidance.
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff will contact permit holders, keen residents and local community groups soon with a strategy for public input and consultation.
There has been a lot of confusion over potential plans for the Silverbirch Boathouse. I want to set the record straight on what is being considered for the building and invite everyone to a meeting to discuss this issue:
March 28 at the Balmy Beach Club
7 p.m. for those with permits for the building and;
8 p.m. for the wider community.
The Parks, Forestry & Recreation (PF&R) division has decided to issue a Request for Proposals to select an operator for the Silverbirch Boathouse. This is in-keeping with a city-wide policy to ensure publicly-owned facilities are accessible to everyone and that public spaces are animated and vibrant. I am working with PF&R to balance the needs of those who have maintained a space in the facility, or are on the waiting list for a space, with those of the wider community who wish to enjoy our waterfront.
At our public meeting on March 28, I encourage you to ask any questions about the process and to give your opinion on what you would like to see happen with this important building. Nothing is set in stone, and I am committed to making sure our community is involved in every step of this process.
Here are some facts about the plans being discussed for the Silverbirch Boathouse:
We are in the early stages of this process. I am a big believer in animating public space and believe a revitalization of the Silverbirch Boathouse will benefit the entire community. Please come and have your say on March 28.
The Beach Metro recently contained an article about the plans for the Boathouse, please read it for more information.