Council rebels against Ford's underground transit vision
Rob Ford's vision for transit in Toronto has come under fire from a variety of important sources over the last 24 hours, the most important of which is surely city council itself. TTC Chair Karen Stintz, who had previously called for a compromise plan on transit development in Toronto, announced via Twitter early this morning that she'd move to call a special meeting of city council to address a letter from Metrolinx asking for clear direction from the City of Toronto on its favoured use of the $8.4 billion in transit funding provided by the province.
The petition to call the meeting includes the requisite number of councillor signatures (24 in total), which means that the city clerk will convene council on Wednesday, at which time it will debate a 2009 memorandum of agreement between the TTC, the City and Metrolinx on the Transit City LRT plan (see below). Should council confirm its desire to proceed with this plan, Ford's unilateral decision to divert all provincial funding to an underground LRT line on Eglinton would be overturned.
The call for the meeting comes after a flurry of criticism has been directed at Ford's current plans for transit expansion in Toronto. Although momentum for a move against the mayor was already starting to pick up in late 2011, a legal report questioning the his authority to cancel Transit City and a failed call for compromise on transit plans have given council renewed confidence that the power to determine the future of transit in this city lies in its hands and must be acted upon.
With a majority of councillors on board to call the meeting in the first place, council will almost certainly vote to revert to the plan that called for above-ground LRT on the eastern section of Eglinton, on Finch Avenue West and Sheppard Avenue East. It may no longer be referred to as Transit City, but it surely won't be what Rob Ford had in mind. One wonders if the mayor is kicking himself for not playing ball with Stintz on her attempt to find some middle ground.
What exactly happens after the meeting is still up in the air. Even with the support of council, will Metrolinx be happy to move forward with a plan that's been rejected by the mayor? Will Karen Stintz survive as TTC Chair given this play against the Fords' interests? It's a strange situation to be sure â and one that probably won't be resolved once and for all at Wednesday's meeting. But, at a minimum, the good news is that a rational and critical discourse about transit planning in Toronto appears to have won the day. At least for now.
Karen Stintz's reply to Metrolinx Chair Robert Prichard
Petition for Special Meeting
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