TTC Street Car Deal at Risk


Bombardier RocketTHUNDER BAY – The Bombardier contract with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to build Street Cars for the City of Toronto may have hit a major road block today. The Globe and Mail is reporting that Rob Ford, the new Mayor of Toronto will scuttle the deal. This was reported last September on NNL – Click for story.

The G&M reports, “ ‘We just had a meeting about subways,’ Mr. Ford told reporters after speaking to Gary Webster, chief general manager of the TTC. ‘I just wanted to make it quite clear that he understood that Transit City’s over. The war on the car is over. All new subway expansion is going underground. That’s pretty well it’.”

Ford campaigned on a platform that he would cancel the street cars.

The issue was raised in the Ontario Legislature today by Michael Prue MPP from the New Democrats.

Michael Prue: My question is to the Premier. Published reports indicate Toronto’s new mayor will meet today with TTC management and slam the brakes on the much-needed light-rail public transit plan. Will the Premier please be clear and explicit to Legislature and the people of Ontario: What is his government prepared to do to ensure Transit City gets built?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: We’re going to sit down and meet and we’re going to talk. There is a new mayor; there is a new council. The fact of the matter is, they have being duly elected as part of a democratic exercise. We’re going to sit down and find out what it is they would like to do. We’ll talk to them about what we would like to do, and we’re going to work as hard as we can to find some common ground. I believe both sides are interested in promoting public transit. Both sides want to invest in more public transit. We’ll talk about the details in terms of how we’ll get there.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: Allowing Transit City to be scuttled would be a very grave error on this government’s part. After years and years of waiting, people saw a plan to make their daily commute a little easier. Then the province started backtracking on funding. And now the city wants to back out of the plan, a plan that will provide good jobs for hundreds of workers at Bombardier in Thunder Bay for years to come. Given what’s at stake, why isn’t the McGuinty government taking a strong, clear position on saving Transit City?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: If the new, duly elected council, led by their new mayor, comes to us with something different, a different representation on behalf of the people of Toronto who elected that council, is my friend honestly suggesting that we tell them to go away, that we’re not prepared to listen to anything they have to say, that they are entirely, exclusively and unremittingly bound to the work of the previous council? I don’t think. I just don’t think that’s the way democracy works. Again, we’ll sit down, we’ll meet, we’ll find common ground and we’ll find a way to continue to build public transit not only in Toronto but throughout the province.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: This former mayor and this present MPP thinks that Transit City contracts have already been signed. Work has started. Yet the McGuinty government appears ready to sit back and watch Transit City be stopped dead in its tracks at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayers of this province. People in parts of Toronto harshly remember the Premier who killed the Eglinton subway. Does this Premier want to go down in history as the one who helped to kill the Eglinton LRT, or will he do the right thing and join with New Democrats to save Transit City?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: If we follow this through to its logical conclusion, the NDP are effectively saying they do not accept the results of the recent municipal election in the city of Toronto. That’s what they’re saying. They’re saying that the new council does not have the legislative and political authority to make decisions regarding the future of public transit in the city. I think he’s got it wrong, and I think we’ve got it right. I think our responsibility is to sit down with the duly elected new council and the mayor to find that common ground. My colleague the Minister of Transportation has made it perfectly clear that if there are changes to be proposed connected with the original plan, and there are costs associated with that, those will be visited upon the council and the people of Toronto. That will be an important factor for them to take into account. But again, we’re going to bring a lot of goodwill to this discussion. We’re committed to more public transit.

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