Editorial Archive

Mayor Tory’s remarks on the Toronto-Ontario transit update report on October 16, 2019

10/16/19 3:19 PM

Almost a year ago, I was elected with a strong mandate across the city and in every ward.

I sought re-election so that I could carry through with the job I had started, to work tirelessly, with other governments, to actually get things done for Toronto.

After years of delay, political squabbling, and debates, I committed myself to working with other levels of government to get transit built.

The people of Toronto have voted for more transit in successive elections because they know it is desperately needed.

We need it because we have a booming, growing city and region, and the only way we can deal with that growth is by expanding our transit network.

And that’s something all the governments and all the political parties seem to agree on in principle.

No political party in the current federal election would argue Toronto already has enough transit.

No political party in the last provincial election ran on a mandate not to build any more transit.

But actually getting on with building transit takes agreement between these governments, and going forward it will take a relentless focus by all governments on co-operation.

Building transit – as we saw with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown – takes a commitment to working together ... not fighting endlessly.

One of the reasons I believe I was decisively re-elected is because people could see in my first four years a willingness and an ability to work together with other governments on key issues like transit and housing.

Last December, we were faced with a provincial government that was committed to uploading our entire subway system.

They were prepared to break up the Toronto transit system and impose a split system that in my view would not have worked for the average rider.

They argued it was about being able to expand transit. We argued the TTC should stay together, in the city’s hands.

But we also knew, especially given the province’s outdated, but nonetheless real legislative power over these things, that we should at least try to sit down with them to see if we could come up with something better.

At that time, and several times since, council made the decision by an overwhelming majority to meet with the province and talk about how we could move forward together.

After almost a year of discussions, I believe we have a way forward that will see close to $30 billion dollars of new transit built in Toronto, right across our city, and will keep the existing subway system in the hands of the Toronto taxpayers who built it up and have the most to gain from making sure it continues to be supported in a proper way that focuses more on state of good repair.

This plan would see us work with the other levels of government to build more transit, including the Ontario Line, which will provide real relief for our existing subway system, and to build the Bloor-Danforth subway extension further into Scarborough.

The City for its part, will be able to spend the more than $5 billion it had previously budgeted for transit expansion, towards urgently needed state of good repair, and to push ahead with other lines in our council-approved transit network plan not currently funded, such as the Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront transit.

The detailed report released today from our City and TTC staff professionals makes the case for why City Council should pursue this plan, why it’s a good deal for Toronto residents, especially those who use transit, and for the City’s long-term finances.

It also explains clearly that the province has agreed to leave the existing subway system as part of the TTC, owned by the people of Toronto – a key requirement of council when we entered into these discussions.

Similar to the Eglinton Crosstown model we see at work right now, the province would build and own the new subway lines and we would operate them as part of the overall TTC.

The City’s portion of funding we were going to contribute to new subway lines will now be freed up to invest billions of dollars in State of Good Repair – money we know is needed over the coming decades – and in the planning and construction of the council-approved Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront lines.

The report also notes sunk costs – money Toronto has already invested in planning the Relief Line and the Scarborough subway – and staff costs incurred in building out the new lines, will be reimbursed to the city.

We have come a long way towards making progress on building new transit in Toronto.

As the report makes clear, details will still have to be worked out with the province around the Ontario Line, but again what is important is the judgment of our public servants – that the Ontario Line as presently contemplated – is viable and, subject to those issues being resolved, a favourable option because of the relief it will provide sooner to the Yonge subway line and the Ontario Line’s earlier connection to neighbourhoods that need more transit.

By extending further north than the portion of the Relief Line approved by council, the Ontario Line will offer an alternative to riders on the overcrowded Yonge subway and serve communities like Thorncliffe and Flemingdon much sooner.

Our officials know, as I do, that the only way to ensure that the transit gets built as soon as possible, and in the interests of the city, is to be a partner at the table with the province.

We have defended our TTC, found a way to move forward on transit expansion, and to invest in improvements in our existing system, and we have done so with an increased financial commitment from the province – that is tremendously good news for the residents of Toronto I was elected to represent.

It also accords with the council direction that our staff were given when discussions with the province began.

Everyone believes we must get on with expanding our transit system – where there is debate is over the same topics there has always been debate – where and how we do that.

I believe our professional City staff through negotiations and discussions with the province have found a path forward that will see more transit built, will see it built as fast as possible, will see the city as a partner in the design and construction of the new lines, and will preserve in the city’s hands the good system we have built thus far.

I want to thank our officials, including City Manager Chris Murray and TTC CEO Rick Leary, along with Michael Lindsay, the province’s transit advisor.

I want to thank Councillors – many who are here with us today - for their ongoing commitment to transit.

They understand the need to make sure we are protecting and investing in our existing system while rapidly expanding our transit network.

I want to thank Minister Caroline Mulroney for her commitment to moving transit forward and listening to our concerns.

And I want to thank Premier Ford for recognizing the need to sit down together and come to an agreement so that we can get on with building transit together.

As a Mayor who was elected to get on with building transit and who was elected on a promise to work with the other governments, I believe this is our way forward and the only way we will ensure, for this generation of Toronto residents and future generations, that transit gets built.

Office of the Mayor
John Tory
October 16, 2019

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