Ward 16’s councillor talks transit plans
But quiet on possible appointment to head transit commission
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 22)
Councillor Karen Stintz may be mum on whether she’ll be the next TTC chair, but she has plenty to say about transit.
The Ward 16 rep is rumoured to mayor-elect Rob Ford’s choice to replace outgoing TTC head Adam Giambrone.
And while Stintz has said she’d like to serve on the transit commission she’s not saying if the rumour she’ll be its next chair is true.
Coincidentally, Ford’s communications rep Adrienne Batra was meeting with Stintz this afternoon directly before the Town Crier sat down with Stintz in her city hall office.
The TTC is a challenging portfolio with no shortage of controversies and opportunities but Stintz says progress can be made on the problems of the past.
“We can make a difference and improvement in customer service,” said Stintz. “(TTC) effects people’s lives everyday and it effects how to get home on time, to work on time.”
She’d like to see cleaner stations, the implementation of the regional electronic fare PRESTO card and with it the re-examination of zone based fares. Plus that provincial investments are used to build a TTC system for both present and future needs. While Stintz says Torontonians can expect to see some changes to the existing Transit City plan, she is committed to the Eglinton LRT line which will run underground from Keele Street to Laird Drive.
“The Eglinton line does fit in with the vision spoke about, which is subways where possible. And the Eglinton line is mostly underground,” she said. “In my discussions with mayor-elect Rob Ford, he views (the Eglinton LRT) as an important line as well.”
Ford also campaigned on asking the province about making the TTC becoming an essential service which would take away the right of transit workers to strike. While riders who were stuck during the surprise April 2008 walkout have been pushing for it for the last two years, others have pointed out that it could result in higher labour costs as wage disputes will be settled by an arbitrator.
“We’ll make a decision at council whether to ask the province to declare the TTC an essential service,” she said.
Another issue close to her heart in is the vacant TTC lands at the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton.
The rezoning is in place, now the city needs to transfer any lands for sale to the city-agency Build Toronto.
All of Ford’s council committee and chair appointments will go to city council when it meets Dec. 7 and 8 for final approval. However, as the TTC has its own board it will be its member that elect the commission’s chair.
Stintz said the new mayor will likely make his choices known for key committee positions sometime this week.