TORONTO – Ontario Liberal MPP Mike Colle is getting his exercise during this election campaign.
Colle lead a group of walkers on a 20-kilometre trek Wednesday afternoon along Toronto’s Eglinton Avenue to promote a light rail project that is scheduled to go under the avenue, creating a second east-west transit corridor to take strain off existing subway lines.
The new LRT — a $8.2-billion project scheduled for completion in 2020 — has special significance for Colle, who may finally see the project he has worked on for his 23 years in politics come to fruition.
Colle first worked on the underground east-west transit line when he was a Toronto city councillor, from 1998-1994. The project got the go-ahead. Digging began for a new subway. Then former premier Mike Harris cancelled the project in 1995.
My constituents have been saying that they don’t want to see the same things happening that happened years ago,” Colle said, as he walked along the avenue.
In addition to the underground portion, Colle wants Toronto MPPs, and city councilors, to use the opportunity to develop the street above, with a coherent plan for parks, businesses, and better planning for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
Some concillors are taking note. Toronto Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents a ward south of Eglinton Avenue, joined the walkers. So did Coun. Josh Colle, who is the MPP’s son and represents a ward north of Eglinton Avenue, which is also represented provincially by his father.
“We have to think of what we want the street to look like,” Matlow said as the walkers stopped for a coffee and water break near Younge Street. The new LRT will, it’s hoped, attract new business and development to the area, he said.
As the city expands northward, the LRT line, and the businesses that go up around it, will become all the more important, said Coun. Josh Colle.
“This is the new centre of the city as the city expands,” Colle said as he surveyed the many Caribbean shops along the western portion of Eglinton Avenue.
Toronto MPPs Eric Hoskins (St. Paul’s) and Laura Albnese (York South-Weston) also joined in for a portion of the walk. Hoskins’ riding is south of a portion of the proposed LRT and Albnese represents the riding that the westernmost portion of the project will pass through.
As she walked, Albnese recalled that one of her constituents phoned her, saying that he bought a house close to Eglinton Avenue 20 years ago because a subway was suppossed to go in. He’s still waiting.
“It will be a tremendous moment, a victory moment, when anything like a subway is built,” Albnese said.
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