(Written for the Town Crier Dec. 15)
Several residents refuse to believe Transit City is dead.
In December, days after Mayor Rob Ford announced that Transit City is no more, local activist Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler organized a grassroots campaign in North Toronto to save Transit City, including the Eglinton light rapid transit line.
Chaleff-Freudenthaler took his “save Transit City” petition to the streets in North Toronto’s Ward 16. In December, he continued to canvass every ward affected by the Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton LRTs.
“The goal is to bring high quality, accurate information to people at their doors and communities,” he said.
On Dec. 1, the day he announced Transit City is dead, Ford met with TTC general manager Gary Webster and asked staff to look at costing of various underground options for transit including having the Eglinton LRT completely underground.
Webster will report back in January.
Councillor Karen Stintz, now the new TTC chair, has told the Town Crier on four occasions since the Oct. 25 election she expects light rapid transit along Eglinton to proceed underground.
“I expect when the plan is reviewed, that there won’t be any changes to Eglinton,” she said Dec. 10.
She’s one of several councillors who have been bombarded with over 6,000 emails pushing for a transportation plan to proceed.
“Most of the emails I’ve gotten are to save the Transit City plan,” Stintz said. “They (emails) are similar in nature, which lead me to believe there’s an organized campaign going on.”
Newly elected Councillor Josh Colle campaigned on Transit City especially the Eglinton LRT and is advocating for it.
“I’ve gotten a lot of emails in support of Transit City,” Colle said. “For me in my ward, there’s support and concern for the Eglinton line.”
“My residents are of the mode of, ‘Oh no. Not again.’ It’s like deja vu for them. There’s a sense of mistrust and being jaded,” he said.
Whatever happens next, Chaleff-Freudenthaler wants people to be part of the decision.
“I’d like (Ford) to consult in communities,” Chaleff-Freudenthaler said.
The response? While some residents want subways and other LRTs, the consensus is the city should move forward now with a transit plan, Chaleff-Freudenthaler said.
“Most people just want rapid transit.”
The province and regional transportation agency Metrolinx approved the Eglinton, Finch, Sheppard and the replacement of the Scarborough RT. The province has spent at least $130 million so far on environmental assessments and tunnel boring machines for Eglinton LRT and signed contracts for over a billion.
What Residents Have to Say About it
A Facebook campaign to save Transit City has resulted in over 6,000 emails being sent to councillors, Mayor Rob Ford and various other officials.
“We have gotten over 6,000 emails, which is way more than an issue since I’ve been elected,” said Joe Mihevc, who’s been a city councillor for 18 years.
While most of the emails have the same tone, many had personalized messages. Here’s a sample of four such emails minus the names of residents who sent the correspondence.
“Streetcars and light rapid vehicles cause congestion and create traffic back-ups that lead to emissions and greenhouse gases,” wrote one resident. “Facts also show that subways cost far more and take much longer to build, which is why we should have started to build them 30 years ago. However, it’s not too late to start today.”
Another man emailed, “As a Torontonian and TTC user, I am very happy Mr. Ford wants to make more subways…Our roads are already filled with traffic, it’s time to go underground.”
A gentleman wrote Dec. 6, “Mayor Ford declared that the war on the car is over, yet ironically the cancellation of Transit City will wage war on public transit users, particularly those who do not live near a subway and who can not afford a car.”
Another resident emailed Dec. 10, “Stopping Transit City will result in millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money wasted…Mean more deaths due to smog as more Torontonians will co
As of Dec. 10, St. Paul’s Councillor Mihevc had received 6,466 emails of support for Transit City’s LRT plans and seven emails pro-subways.