Top candidates talk transportation and city’s financial health
Forum at Board of Trade moderated by John Tory
By Kris Scheuer
(Written June 21 for Town Crier.)
Six top mayoral candidates faced off on development, transit and city-building at the Toronto Board of Trade this morning.
John Tory moderated the debate that was hosted by the Urban Land Institute and attracted over 150 property owners, investors, developers, lawyers, architects, planners and engineers.
Less than 10 minutes into the debate came one of the first heated exchanges between mayoral candidates Rob Ford and George Smitherman seen as the frontrunners in recent polls.
“I can’t believe George Smitherman would have the nerve to come here and run for mayor of the city when he blew and squandered $1 billion when he was the health minister?” Ford said.
Smitheman retorted, “The allegations of $1 billion expediture on E-health counts the time when your father’s (Douglas) colleague Elizabeth Witmer was the minister of health in the province.”
Ford, “My dad passed away three year’s ago. Thanks.”More on topic, the candidates focused on their transit plans.
Rocco Rossi said, “We have the world’s best 1970 subway system yet it’s 2010. It’s high time we did something about the transit system.”
But he said subways would take a long time to build. First he wants to pay down the city’s debt and then, along with the province, build new subways.
Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone said it’s time to move forward now with the current Transit City plan or light rapid transit with new European style streetcars.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said the city could save $700 million by uploading transit to the province. If that fails, then create private-partnerships to run transit.
Ford focused on ways to save money while still building subways rather than streetcar lines.
“For the St. Clair right of way, we budgeted $43 million and we are now at $120 million. For the largest purchase in the Toronto’s history of the subway cars we sole-sourced to Bombardier for $750 million when Siemens could have done it for $550. We could have saved the taxpayers $200 million right there,” he said.
Sarah Thomson also pushed for subways rather than LRT, which she’d pay for with rush hour tolls on the Gardiner and DVP, provincial funding, developers building subway stations and a city subway bond for dedicated funding.
A big focus was on streamlining the development process.
Mammoliti has promised to reduce the city’s planning department.
“There’s no reason we can’t use the planners of the developers instead of City of Toronto planners,” he said.
But he also touted that Emery Village in his ward is a successful city within a city.
Ford lauded the Woodbine Live project in his ward.
That’s when Thomson, the only woman on the stage, piped in.
“Has anybody noticed that they all have the biggest project? Which is quite funny I find,” she said to laughter and applause.
Ford said if communities don’t want development, it shouldn’t happen.
“I am opposed to Lawrence Heights (redevelopment),” said Ford, who attended a June 20 protest about the proposed revitalization project, adding that the protesters are absolutely opposed to government housing in their backyard.
Smitheman interjected, “You misstated the intent of what Lawrence Heights is all about which is taking the existing foundation of rent geared to income units and adding a mixed (housing) environment, which we have done in Regent Park.”
Mammoliti, chair of the affordable housing committee, said he has championed these issues and Smitherman is trying to take credit for something he hasn’t done.
“You are a piker on this,” Mammoliti said to laughter.
Smitherman took another parting shot at Ford, who likes to talk about how he’s running the family business Deco Labels & Tags.
“You said today speaking of red tape (you) deal with it everyday as a businessman. I think for $100,000 a year you should be a fulltime politician,” Smitherman said. “Maybe you owe the people a repayment for something.”
There are dozens more debates to come before the election is Oct. 25.
As Mayor of Toronto I would end the practice of taking a subway train out of service in the middle of the route and kicking all the riders off the train. I would tell the TTC to take the train out of service at the end of the route. This practice seems to happen during evening rush hour when the riders are tired.
As Mayor of Toronto I would start a downtown express subway service calling it the Bloor and Danforth via downtown line using the Lower Bay station during rush hour. This would cut down the rider congestion the Yonge and Bloor platform.
The cost of putting this in would be minimal since it is already in place.
This was originally in operation for less than a year when the subway was originally built but was abandoned because riders at the time felt it was too complicated.
Riders are more educated now and would work.
I talked to the Toronto Transit Commission or TTC about this and was told that it was too much work for them.
It might be a little more work but it would save a lot of money for the taxpayers and time for the riders.
Tibor, so how would this downtown express subway work? It would run from the lower Bay station how far (what stations)?
Would it be non-stop then between Bay and the end destination?
There would be costs for more trains and staff, would there be a special fare for this service?
In terms of taking a train out of service mid-route, it makes sense to do that at the end of the route – I agree. I assume it is either due to staff scheduling (someone ending a shift) that a train comes off service or that it happens when the timetable is moving from a subway every 3 minutes to one every 5 minutes, so subways are taken off line at that time.
According to Wiki “In 1966 when the TTC experimentally ran trains whose routes included portions of both the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth lines”
“This was in service from February to September 1966 as part of an ‘interlining’ experiment, in which the TTC ran trains along three routes, with one matching the subsequent Bloor-Danforth line, and the other two combining parts of the Bloor-Danforth line with the Yonge-University line”
“Interlining was discontinued because of the confusion and delays, although it has been argued that it was politically motivated and that the experiment was sabotaged by the TTC, perhaps even designed to fail from the start. Much of the infrastructure for interlining is still present on the system, and older stations still have signs informing passengers of each train’s next destination, although they no longer change. While St. George and Bloor-Yonge Stations remained operating upper and lower platforms for the two crossing subway lines”
I would bring this system back and make it work by putting a management team in place that are not afraid of a challenge and the rest of the management there will be other less challenging jobs they could do.
The 1966 subway map is on my web site;
Tibor, so after looking at the 1966 map and reading your comments, tell me if I have this right. Does the Interlining system allow you to go north-south on University say and then stay on and travel east or west without changing trains? I.E start at Queen’s Park travel north and then stay on as it travels east from Bay station towards Woodbine, for example?
Or would you still have to change trains when travelling from the Yonge/University line to the Bloor-Danforth line, which is the case now?
According to the 1966 map located on http://tiborsteinberger.ca/downtown_express you would pick up the green line north at Queen’s Park which would switch to the east bound Bloor/Danforth tracks bringing you to Woodbine station.
This will cut down people congestion at the Yonge/Bloor platform.
Having a more direct route to downtown core for the east/west trains would provide more convenience for the riders during rush hour.
The most important point is that it’s already built and ready to go.