It’s 5:45 am on a winter morning, and I’m standing at a TTC bus stop, anxiously awaiting the bus. It arrives, full of other commuters making their way downtown to begin their work days. Like many Torontonians, Joseph and I live outside the downtown core. We love our home and our neighbourhood (Don Mills), but living outside the downtown core means that having a car is a necessity. In an effort to be frugal and environmentally conscious, we share one vehicle. This means that one of us is often using the TTC. That said, it was with dismay that we heard about Rob Ford’s immediate decision to scrap the Transit City project on his first day as mayor. We had been eagerly looking forward to the planned Don Mills and Eglinton crosstown LRT lines, as our only current connection to the subway is a series of buses that are often overcrowded and running late.
Ford’s move to cancel the Transit City LRT plan (a plan that has been in the works for years) and instead build a much smaller new subway line (at a much greater cost) seems shortsighted at best, and downright foolish at worst. Toronto is one of the 10 largest cities in North America, and is recognized as being a major world city. Our multicultural city and its many internationally known events (TIFF, anyone?) offer much to tourists. However, when compared to other international cities, our transit system is severely lacking. I have had the opportunity to use public transit in New York, London, and Berlin, all of which have significantly better-developed subway and rail systems in comparison to Toronto.
In this age of enhanced environmental awareness, Ford seems to have forgotten that Torontonians living to the east, west and north of the downtown core often have limited access (at best!) to public transit. He has declared the Transit City plan a “war on cars”. Should we not have a “war on cars”, knowing what we do about the importance of reducing our carbon emissions? This is important from a public health standpoint as well as from an environmental standpoint.
While we certainly agree that the ideal solution (as Ford has proposed) is a much more extensive subway network, it certainly doesn’t seem financially feasible at this juncture. Although LRT does have its cons (yes, it does share the same road space as cars – but wouldn’t the purpose of LRT be to help get more people out of their cars and on to public transit?), we desperately need to push forward with a transit solution to help the “out of downtown” population move around the city with greater ease. In addition to links to York University and Pearson airport, our city needs better east-west transit lines.
My (Joseph) undergraduate studies were in the field of urban planning. I am in awe that despite planning at all levels (municipal, provincial, and federal), this one person can attempt to derail all of that work. This goes beyond simply “making a statement” when coming into office – it is about doing what is right from an urban planning perspective and from an economic development perspective. Toronto currently has the longest median commute in North America at over 80 minutes. This eclipses traffic in LA which is a little under 80 minutes.
Ford says he wants to open Toronto for business. I would argue that by making it harder to move around, and harder for talent to commute into the core we will not be competitive as a world city.
To walk away from the commitments currently in place, we will leave $55 million on the table. This is not a shrewd business move for the city. If I were a business doing business with Toronto, I would think very carefully before ever entering into a business relationship with them again. We cannot afford to have a repeat of of the debacle of digging the Eglington subway line only to later fill it in.
Toronto needs a link to its airport that handles over 30 million passengers annually. Pearson is one of the busiest airports in the world. Continuing for an indefinite period of time without a dedicated transit connection is not only a shame, but foolish as well. We need to make it easy for tourists to come to our city and access our many attractions.
So please Mr. Ford, instead of throwing around the “gravy train” catchphrase (while wasting millions of dollars that have already been spent developing the Transit City plan and proposing a great deal more spending on a new limited subway line), consider the future of our city. Help to continue making Toronto a true world city and making living conditions better for Torontonians.
From the Desks of Joseph Puopolo MBA, BES (Urban Planning) and Dr. Laura Puopolo MD
Let’s talk next steps. It is obvious that Mr. Ford is set in his ways but here is our advice to you.
1. Mr. Ford only represents 1 vote on council – CALL YOUR Councilor and voice your concern. These are all the councilors that are on the fence or not supporting Transit City.
For but with changes:
Jaye Robinson (Don Valley West)
Phone: 416-395-6408 – Fax: 416-395-6439 – email@example.com
Ana Bailão (Davenport)
Phone: 416-392-7012 Fax: 416-392-7957 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh Colle (Eglinton Lawrence)
Phone: 416-392-4027 – Fax: 416-392-4191 – email@example.com
Frank Di Giorgio (York South-Weston)
Phone: 416-392-4066 –Fax: 416-392-1675 – Councillor_digiorgio@toronto.ca
Gary Crawford (Scarborough Southwest)
Phone: 416-392-4052 – Fax: 416-696-3658 – firstname.lastname@example.org
James Pasternak (York Centre)
Phone: 416-392-1371 – Fax: 416-392-7299 – email@example.com
Vincent Crisanti (Etobicoke North)
Phone: 416-392-0205 – Fax: 416-696-4207 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Del Grande (Scarborough Agincourt)
Phone: 416-392-1374 – Fax: 416-392-7431 – email@example.com
David Shiner (Willowdale)
Phone: 416-395-6413 – Fax: 416-397-9290 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke Lakeshore)
Phone: 416-392-4040 – Fax: 416-392-4127 –email@example.com
John Parker (Don Valley West)
Phone: 416-392-0215 – Fax: 416-392-7427 – Councillor_parker@toronto.ca
Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre)
Phone: 416-397-9274 – Fax: 416-397-9280 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gloria Lindsay Luby (Etobicoke Centre)
Phone: 416-392-1369 – Fax: 416-696-4138 – email@example.com
Denzil Minnan Wong (Don Valley East)
Phone: 416-397-9256 – Fax: 416-397-4100 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond Cho (Scarborough Rouge River)
Phone: 416-392-4076 – Fax: 416-696-4159 – email@example.com
2. Call your MPP and namely Kathleen Wynne – Kathleen came out strong in support of Transit City. Let her know she has your support and to speak out stronger against Rob Ford.
795 Eglinton Ave East, Unit 101
Toronto, ON M4G 4E4
3. Contact Dalton McGuinty – He is the Premiere of the Province of Ontario and should speak out and take definitive actions to save Transit City. He needs to be a leader on these issues for Toronto and Ontario
Twitter – @Dalton_McGuinty