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:
- There is new Federal funding available for this project, equal to 50% of the net capital costs,
- There is a substantial Provincial contribution of $1.8 billion,
- The City of Toronto portion will be a 1.1% – 2.4% tax increase phased in over 3 years,
- The subway is NOT built at the expense of the badly needed Downtown Relief Line, Sheppard LRT, Finch LRT, Eglinton LRT, or the state of good repair funds,
- Nor can there be ANY reallocation from other City services.
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.