Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2019
City councillor Josh Matlow talks with CP24 in this file photo.
A Toronto city councillor says that Premier Doug Ford is only
interested in taking over the subway system so that his government can
gain control over valuable real estate and sell lucrative air rights to
pad their own coffers.
Toronto-St. Paul’s Coun. Josh Matlow made the comment to CP24 on
Wednesday afternoon as he discussed a petition he has launched to rally
support for keeping the subway system “in the hands of Torontonians.”
“What I am concerned about is that Doug Ford is making all these
political promises rather than evidence based commitments. He wants to
go in like a fire sale, take away our land and our air rights along the
subway corridors and once that is done it is gone forever,” he said.
“What I would rather see is that we move forward with evidence-based
plans, improve transit, provide relief, build out more connections to
different regions but do it in a way that makes sense.”
Premier Doug Ford has indicated that his government will be able to
build new subway infrastructure more quickly if they control the subway
due to its ability to amortize capital costs.
Matlow, however, said that he believes Ford’s government is only
interested in Toronto’s subway for its “very valuable land and air
rights,” which could be sold to developers.
“Doug Ford has been spinning that he wants to upload the subway to get
transit built. The fact remains he can build transit right now if he
wants to,” he said. “There is no correlation between taking over the
existing subway and expanding the subway or any other kind of transit.
The subway has been expanded to Vaughan and they didn’t need to take
over the subway to do that.”
According to the ground rules for talks between the city and the
province regarding a subway upload, a total of three options are being
considered: Ford’s proposal for a full takeover of subway
infrastructure, a second option where Ontario would only take ownership
of future subway projects and a third option where the province would
assume responsibility for the delivery of future subway projects but
would not actually own the infrastructure.
While a number of councillors have spoken out against any subway
upload, Mayor John Tory has said that he is willing to support the
proposal, but only if it is proven to be “in the best interests of the
people of Toronto, including transit riders and employees.”
For his part, Matlow told CP24 that the city shouldn’t be participating
in discussions around a potential upload, which he likened to “handing
over the code to our alarms.”
“I don’t believe that they are there to negotiate in good faith,” he
said of the province. “I think that that Toronto will be duped into
believing that they are.”