Sheppard Avenue commuters now have the dubious honour of spending hours on one of the most congested streets in one of the most gridlocked cities in the world. Toronto’s public works department released a list of its top 10 traffic trouble spots, and it leans heavily towards the north end—in fact, only two of the stretches on it were downtown (York Street from Front to the Gardiner Expressway, and Lakeshore Boulevard from York to Bathurst). Sheppard appears on the list five times, and the intersection of Sheppard and Bayview Avenue is officially the city’s worst place to be a driver. It’s interesting to note that none of the problem areas on the list have a streetcar line, which doesn’t bode well for Rob Ford’s characterization of streetcars (and LRTs) as traffic-snarling forces of destruction.
After months of debate and some memorable hissy fits from Rob Ford, city council has voted 24-19 in favour of an LRT line on Sheppard, officially killing Ford’s dream (and campaign promise) of a subway to Scarborough. After the vote, the mayor didn’t stick around to hear the applause and bravos, instead charging “into his office in a flying wedge of aides,” according to the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee (geez, you’d think Ford would be used to embarrassing transit losses by now). We’re sure the mayor won’t be silent for long, though—he vowed during the debate that, win or lose, “this will be a big election issue.” We’re sure we’ll hear all about it during his radio show this week. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »
—The reliably voluble Doug Ford earlier today, expressing frustration with his fellow primates councillors as the Sheppard Avenue transit debate stretches on (he later apologized). Rob Ford also spoke up during day two of the meeting with a familiar refrain: “People want subways folks…subways, subways. They don’t want these damn streetcars blocking up our city!” We’re expecting a few more speeches (and outbursts) this afternoon and—fingers crossed—a vote. [Torontoist]
Some last-minute stalling by Rob Ford and company yesterday meant council broke for the evening before killing Ford’s subway forever voting on transit for Sheppard Avenue. Despite its anticlimactic end, the day’s 10-plus hours of council hijinks was exciting stuff (enough to set Jonathan Goldsbie bouncing, at least). Raymond Cho questioned Doug Ford’s grasp of the English language, Giorgio Mammoliti promised crazy stunts to block an LRT on Finch, and we witnessed the bizarre spectacle of council’s right-wing begging for new taxes while the centre and left politely declined. Today, this always-exciting, often-embarrassing saga should (finally) reach its dramatic conclusion. Stay tuned. Read the entire live blog [Torontoist] »
QUOTED: Josh Colle wonders about Rob Ford’s subway funding plans (and gives a thumbs-up to pie charts)
–Councillor Josh Colle, describing the kind of subway funding information he’d like from Rob Ford before tomorrow’s council vote on Sheppard Avenue transit. If Ford loses (and it looks like he will), he can’t credibly claim that council had unreasonable expectations—on the pro-light rail side we have a panel of experts with numbers and facts, and all Colle wants from the mayor is a measly pie chart. [Toronto Star]
Only a day until the meeting that will determine Sheppard Avenue’s transit future, and councillors with crucial swing votes are still asking Rob Ford to clarify financing plans for his darling subway. Centrist Josh Colle said “it’s in the mayor’s court” to outline revenue tools, and Gloria Lindsay Luby, a conservative councillor who might vote with the mayor if Doug would only shut his trap, says she suggested a referendum on increasing property taxes to pay for transit, but hasn’t heard back from the mayor’s office. Apparently, Ford’s camp has been busy with other, more important matters—specifically, handing out out flyers emblazoned with colour pictures of light-rail crashes. Because nothing raises the tenor of a political discussion like disaster porn. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »
Fed up with know-it-all panels with their “data” and “facts,” Rob Ford has pledged to block the construction of an LRT on Sheppard Avenue if he loses a crucial council vote on Wednesday (which is looking likely). “If we don’t get the subway…we’re not going to waste people’s money and build an LRT,” Ford said on his radio show yesterday. The sour grapes logic suggests Ford is running out of time and options since experts (and more experts) have nixed his subway plan and council has indicated it supports LRT. We only hope the mayor won’t attempt a Tank Man manoeuvre. Read the entire story [Toronto Sun] »
When you actually look at the facts, instead of just dismissing everything as hogwash that you don’t agree with, LRT is the best solution in this corridor.
–Eric Miller, University of Toronto transit expert and member of Rob Ford’s most hated transit panel, with an unequivocal boost for light rail on Sheppard and a sideways jab at the mayor. Miller (who in the past has been diplomatic about Ford’s subway scheme) struck out at Ford for calling the group of experts “biased” and recommending that council ignore their findings. Miller went on, “The mayor recognizes that he can’t win this discussion on the basis of the facts, on the merits of the case, ’cause they aren’t there. So the strategy is then to sling mud and to denigrate the work of the panel.” [Metro Morning]