Mayor’s decision to axe Sheppard, Finch LRTs will cost
City agreed to reimburse Metrolinx for cash spent already
(Written for Town Crier April 1.)
All aboard: Mayor Rob Ford gives the thumbs up with Premier Dalton McGuinty before making a joint transit announcement March 31. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
The city taxpayers are on the hook for at least $49 million now that the Ontario government and Metrolinx agreed to cancel two previously approved light rapid transit lines for Sheppard and Finch.
Early in his term Mayor Rob Ford announced the Transit City plan for four surface LRT lines on Sheppard, Finch, Eglinton and in Scarborough was dead. His office spent four months negotiating with the province and Metrolinx to spend the allotted $8.4 billion on making the Eglinton LRT underground and converting the Scarborough RT to a surface LRT.
He also sought permission for the city to look for $4.2 billion in private sector funding for a new Sheppard subway.
That deal, announced March 31, included a provision that the city pay Metrolinx back for any costs associated with canceling the previously approved projects. The bill to the city will be at least $49 million, Metrolinx confirmed to the Town Crier on April 1.
“At this time we estimate there are $49 million in sunk costs mostly for work on the environmental assessments, designs or engineering and project management for Finch LRT and Sheppard LRT,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Thomas. “The $49 million (is) for costs we already accrued.
Mayor Rob Ford announced he will seek $4.2 billion in private sector cash to build a new Sheppard subway line. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged $49, cancel, costs, Eglinton, Finch, Joe Mihevc, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor, Metrolinx, million, Rob Ford, Scarborough, Sheppard, subway, taxpayers, Town Crier
City and province to make joint transit announcement
It’ll include Ford’s privately-funded Sheppard subway plan
Plus provincial cash for Eglinton and Scarborough LRTs
(Written for Town Crier March 30. March 31 UPDATE.)
Mayor Rob Ford's plan includes $4 billion in private sector cash to build a Sheppard subway. Town Crier file photo.
The city and province are both climbing aboard a new transportation deal that will be unveiled tomorrow morning.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed on March 30 that the provincial government, its transportation agency Metrolinx and the city are moving full steam ahead with the plan outlined by Mayor Rob Ford.
“We have an agreement that will see major transit expansion in the City of Toronto,” Stintz told the media at an impromptu press conference this afternoon. “It is a real win for both the city and the province and I am really excited about the announcement tomorrow.”
That announcement to take place at the TTC’s Wilson yards at 9 a.m. on March 31 will be to confirm the province is still committed to its original investment of about $8.4 billion.
The provincial cash will be spent on a fully underground and expanded Eglinton LRT and to turn the Scarborough RT into an above ground light rail transit route.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged announcement, cash, city, Eglinton, Karen Stintz, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor Rob Ford, plan, private, province, Scarborough, Sheppard, subway, Town Crier, Transit, transportation, TTC
New mayor has shown a push to privatize city services
(Column written Mar 4 for Town Crier.)
Mayor Rob Ford has been in office for more than 100 days now and one trend that’s emerging quite vividly is his preference for privatization and partnering with the private sector.
Exhibit A: the mayor campaigned on contracting out garbage in an effort to save money and avoid strikes.
On Feb. 7, the city announced it had given CUPE Local 416 a 90-day notice that it plans to privatize all recycling collection in city parks, half of the city’s litter collection, plus garbage pickup in 165,000 residential homes west of Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border.
City staff will report back on the issue in April and go to council for a vote in May.
So far, the city estimates it can save $8 million if this move succeeds. Interestingly, right-wing think tank C.D. Howe Institute and U of T released a report before the municipal election outlining how Toronto could save $49 million by privatizing garbage citywide. The Ontario Waste Management Association, made up mainly of reps from private sector waste haulers, gave $50,000 toward that study.
I’d like to see the upcoming city staff report explain potential savings in further detail, given some full-time city workers have a “jobs for life” provision in their contract that guarantees them city work if their positions are contracted out. And while the mayor is moving in this direction to avoid strikes, like the 39-day episode in the summer of 2009, there’s no guarantee a private sector contract will mean no strikes. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged community, garbage, housing, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor Rob Ford, privatize, Sheppard, subway, Toronto, Town Crier, Transit
City defers Woodbine, Wellesley and Greenwood plans too
TTC will proceed with 2nd exits at stations when cash available
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 28)
The TTC has postponed building second exits at 4 subway stations until sufficient capital cash is available. Tristan Carter/Town Crier file photo.
The city has deferred all plans for controversial second exits at Donlands, Woodbine, Greenwood and Wellesley subway stations due to budget shortfalls.
The Toronto Transit Commission had originally recommended deferring three of the projects though not Donlands as it was scheduled for 2013, but councillor Mary Fragedakis pushed to include it as she thought it was important all four stations be dealt with together.
“Once the TTC capital (budget) has sufficient funds, we will reconvene a meeting for the Donlands and Greenwood communities,” said Fragedakis of the two stations in her ward. “This has only been deferred — not cancelled.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said that the commission decided to put these projects on hold in order to complete other more pressing issues.
“We have $2.3 billion in unfunded capital budget for the next 10 years, so state of good repair are priorities and Ashbridges Bay (streetcar) car barn is a priority,” said Ross.
“We will come back next year or the year after to look at restoring funding,” he said.
Strathmore Boulevard resident Lisa Dymond, who has been pushing for alternative locations to the Donlands project, said she hopes the delay will encourage the TTC to revisit other options.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged budget, deferred, Donlands, exits, Greenwood, hold, Kris Scheuer, second, stations, subway, Toronto, Town Crier, TTC, Wellesley, Woodbine
Mayor Rob Ford promises to deliver new Sheppard subway
Says if private cash not available, private sector will step in
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 17)
Mayor Ford wants to help pay for his Sheppard subway expansion plan with a public-private partnership. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier file.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is moving forward with a public-private partnership to fulfill his election promise to extend the Sheppard subway.
The city has submitted a proposal to Metrolinx, the provincial agency that looks after public transit funding in the GTA, to adjust its plan for the route from LRT to subway.
Ford was short on details at a 3 minute and 21 second press scrum, that also covered his health after an operation to help pass a painful kidney stone and his brother Doug Ford’s proposal to give the mayor veto power.
“I said I’m going to build subways. I am going to build subways,” Ford told the media this afternoon. “People know you can’t always rely on government to build subways and that’s where the private sector will come in.”
Neither Metrolinx nor the mayor provided details requested by the Town Crier on the cost of the city’s proposal for a Sheppard subway. However, Ford’s election platform does refer to a $3 billion Sheppard subway with 10 stops between Downsview and Scarborough Town Centre to be completed by 2015.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed to the Town Crier the city will try to use the existing funding envelope of about $1 billion from the province and feds for Sheppard and then get the rest from the private sector.
“The discussion are at very high level now,” she said. “The Big Move has been approved by the Metrolinx board so if they make any changes it would be made by their board and then they would make those amendments and then the city would carry forward with its plans.”
Former TTC chair Joe Mihevc said the private sector would have to kick in $3.6 billion to keep the mayor’s plan on track.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged Joe Mihevc, Karen Stintz, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor, Metrolinx, Rob Ford, Sheppard, subway, Toronto, Town Crier, Transit, TTC
Mayor Ford pictured here Dec. 1 when he announced Transit City was dead. Photo Kris Scheuer/Town Crier file.
Mayor Rob Ford will outline his plan this afternoon on how to fulfill his election promise of a new Sheppard subway.
CBC reported this morning that the city proposed a plan to the province’s Metrolix on how to fund the Sheppard subway line.
The Globe and Mail also has a story with details on how the private funding could work.
The mayor’s election platform on a Sheppard subway was costed at $3 billion for 10 new stops between Downview and Scarborough Town Centre. Part of the mayor’s new plan may include having the private sector pay for design and construction costs of the new subway and the city selling air rights to developers to build along new subway stops.
He’s holding a press scum at 1:15 at city hall. Usually these deals allow 3 questions of the mayor, but I will be there and report back after the announcement with as much detail as I can. I will be supplementing the article with info from other sources as well as from Mayor Ford.
Check back this afternoon for more…
Click here for update as promised.
City construct projects on time and within budget
This is one of Posen’s promises, if elected
(Written Aug 6 for Town Crier.)
Photo courtesy of Shimmy Posen.
Ward 21 candidate Shimmy Posen wants to fix city hall from the inside.
“We all know city hall is broken,” said Posen, who has a degree in political science. “We see it with cost overruns and delays with St. Clair right-of-way. We see it with the (2009) garbage strike and every dollar wasted.”
“The main issue is we need to address inefficiency in public transportation,” said Posen, who supports subways along Eglinton rather than the approved light rail transit.
“We need to reject the short sighted Eglinton LRT and build a long term subway instead,” said the local resident.
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged 21, candidate, city, Eglinton, hall, Kris Scheuer, Posen, Shimmy, subway, Town Crier, ward
Transit board approves options for Greenwood and Donlands 2nd exits
(Written July 15 for Town Crier.)
TTC now looking to buy 9 Linnsmore or another property nextdoor as a spot to build second exit for Greenwood subway station. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
The TTC has agreed to adopt a community’s proposal for a new exit planned for Greenwood subway station.
But there’s one caveat: It could still involve home expropriation.
The neighbourhood near Greenwood and Donlands station got up in arms in July after the TTC announced plans to build new exits for both subway stations involved expropriation.
The transit commission’s original plan was to buy or expropriate a pair of homes on Strathmore Boulevard including 247, which is owned by Danny and Grace Calia. They have lived there for 51 years, and don’t want to move.
After outcry from the family and neighbours, the community presented a new option at a July 12 public meeting. The TTC has now adopted the option as the go-ahead plan: expropriating property on Linnsmore Crescent instead.
The emergency exit would be located on Linnsmore across from Greenwood station’s current exit/entrance.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged Amabile, Bruna, Calia, Danny, Dymond, emergency, exit, expropriation, Grace, Greenwood, Gus, Kris Scheuer, Linnsmore, Lisa, second, Soula, station, Strathmore, subway, Town Crier, TTC, Vagenas
TTC plans new emergency exits for Donlands, Greenwood stations
Plan requires buying, and possibly, expropriating Strathmore Blvd homes
(Written for Town Crier July 12. UPDATE.)
Artist rendering of new proposed Donlands exit. Courtesy of TTC.
Bruna Amabile is concerned the TTC plans to force her parents Danny and Grace Calia to leave their home at 247 Strathmore Boulevard.
Proposed Greenwood station exit is planed for where Danny and Grace Calia live now at 247 Strathmore Blvd. Image courtesy of TTC.
The transit commission is planning to build a pair of emergency exits on Strathmore for the Donlands and Greenwood stations and this involves tearing down four houses.
One of those homes is at 247 Strathmore.
“My parents have lived in this house for 51 years, before a subway was even built in the area,” said Amabile, who lives on Strathmore two doors from her parents. “I’d like to believe (TTC) will seriously consider alternatives put forth by the community.” Continue reading
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged 247, Brad Ross, Bruna Amabile, Danny Calia, Donlands, exit, Grace Calia, Greenwood, Kris Scheuer, Lisa Dymond, meeting, station, Steve Martin, Strathmore Boulevard, subway, Town Crier, TTC
Sellors a candidate to replace retiring by Coun. Walker
Walker endorses his former assistant Sellors for Ward 22
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier March 25)
Chris Sellors announced his candidacy March 11. Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
Chris Sellors has decided to step out of the shadow of Councillor Michael Walker and try to take over Ward 22 from his retiring his former boss.
“I will take his methods and build on them,” said Sellors, who started volunteering with Walker in 1997 and has the councillor’s endorsement. “I will remember what he has taught me, but I am my own man.”
Sellors was hired as the constituency assistant for the St. Paul’s councillor back in 2001 and became Walker’s executive assistant in 2005.
“I was over the moon,” said Sellors. “I was so honoured.” Continue reading