I oppose being drawn into a process to help Premier Ford upload Toronto’s subway system, its land value and potential air rights. I support moving forward to improve the existing system, address overcrowding, repairs & build evidence-based transit to connect our city & region.
Last week, City Council debated how to engage with the Province with regard to Doug Ford’s proposed upload of our subway system. In a report to Council, the City Manager recommended that Toronto start a process to share information about the subway, including property holdings, with the Province.
While I’m pleased that Council voted in principle to support our interest in keeping the subway, along with its valuable land and air rights, in the hands of Torontonians, I am disappointed that Council supported moving ahead with the province’s imposed discussions about handing over our subway network. Premier Ford stated that his aim in this initiative is to ostensibly build rapid transit faster and create a more seamless commute from the 905. A more logical starting point for discussion is to pursue those stated aims.
That’s why I moved a motion to engage with the Province on terms that both parties can agree to move forward on:
1. City Council authorize the City Manager, in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to guide a discussion and information exchange process between the Province and the City to further the Province’s stated transit objectives, specifically:
a) more efficient and cost-effective construction of rapid transit projects; and
b) improved regional transit service across the Greater Toronto Area.
Unfortunately, my colleagues chose to share information with the province about uploading; accepting a premise that we have already rejected.
As I wrote to you in my e-newsletter earlier this month, I suspect that Premier Ford’s motive for taking over the subway system is to gain control of the lucrative air rights, and adjacent properties, owned by the TTC. If we lose control of the subways we risk losing control of transit planning, the connection between our surface routes and subways, as well as opportunities to build needed public amenities including affordable housing on public land.
I will continue to advocate for Toronto’s existing subway network to remain under the control of the residents of Toronto who own and paid for them.
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