Ford Had No Authority to Cancel Transit City (Updated)

Updated January 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm:  The full text of the legal opinion is now online.  This article has been extended with additional material.

On January 29, the Star reported that a legal opinion obtained by Councillor Joe Mihevc, former Vice-Chair of the TTC in the Miller administration, states that Mayor Ford had no authority under the laws governing the City of Toronto to cancel Transit City.

[The report] says the mayor had no business entering into a non-binding memorandum of understanding with the province that authorized a new transit plan, including a Sheppard subway and a longer tunnel on the Eglinton light rail line. It says he further overstepped his powers when he told TTC chief general manager Gary Webster to stop work on Transit City.

Since the mayor had no legal authority to enter into the memorandum of understanding, it shouldn’t be acted upon until council approves it, say the lawyers. Until that happens, it is only an agreement in principle.

According to the report by lawyers Freya Kristjanson and Amanda Darrach, Ford “did not follow the proper procedure for obtaining City Council’s authorization to rescind Transit City and develop and approve an alternate plan.”

“Under the City of Toronto Act, the power of the city resides in City Council. The Mayor of Toronto has very little independent authority beyond his role as head of City Council. Unless specific power is delegated to him, the mayor does not have the authority to speak for the city independently,” wrote the lawyers, from Cavalluzzo, Hayes, Shilton, McIntyre & Cornish.

Ford’s bully-boy nature, his attitude that his “mandate” gives him the power to do anything he wants and ask Council’s blessing, eventually, maybe, has left him in a precarious position.  During the early months of his administration, Council was under his thumb with a then-weak and pliable batch of Councillors who chose not to challenge the Mayor’s office.  If his “Transportation City” plan had gone to Council for a vote, there would have been a big debate, but Ford probably would have won the day.  By taking the quick “I’m in charge” route, Ford left himself open to the challenge which has now surfaced, and at a time when his ability to win votes depends more on consensus building than on back-room, strong-arm tactics.

Queen’s Park, for its part, foolishly signed on to Ford’s plan and proceeded in the absence of Council support, a specific requirement of the Memorandum of Understanding Ford signed with Premier McGuinty.  Metrolinx gives tacit support for the plan citing the benefits of shorter travel times and better ridership without ever discussing the basics — is this an effective use of the money available to build transit, not just on Eglinton, but in the wider context of Toronto and the GTA.

Updated January 30:

The lead counsel on this opinion is Freya Kristjanson who has extensive experience in administrative and public law.

The opinion covers two areas in some detail.  First is the question of whether Council actually approved of Transit City, and then the issue of the powers of the Mayor to act unilaterally without Council’s endorsement.

In July 2007, Council as part of an overall environmental initiative directed that studies for Transit City begin.  Various motions over following years approved work on specific parts of the plan, and some of these were supported by then-Councillor Ford.

Mayor Ford came to office and, before Council had even had its inaugural meeting, announced the cancellation of Transit City and directed that the TTC shift its efforts to his own transportation plan.  In March 2011, Ford signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Metrolinx and the Government of Ontario which purported to be a commitment by Toronto to the new plan.  However, a requirement both of the MOU and the law governing Toronto was that Council must approve the new policy.  The MOU was never taken to Council for a vote.

At this point, I must point out that no amount of whining about whether or not Transit City ever had an up-or-down vote matters.  If as Ford supporters claim, Miller was wrong to proceed as he did, then Ford repeated the same mistake.  In fact, many aspects of Transit City, and especially spending on its projects, were approved by Council, something nobody can claim for Ford’s plan.

The opinion goes into some detail about the powers of the Mayor and Council as this is essential to the discussion of whether what Ford did exceeded his authority as Mayor.  It is quite clear that a good deal of the Mayor’s authority flows from Council, and that he cannot act on his own claiming to act for the City.  The Mayor has a bully pulpit from which he can advocate his positions and, if he does well, to sway Council and public support.  However, he must formally receive that support from Council to act.

During this morning’s press conference, the media asked whether the Mayor had “broken the law” in acting as he did.  To this, Ms. Kristjanson replied that it was not a matter of criminal law as that phrase is normally used.  Councillor Mihevc did, however, raise the question of city staff acting only for and with the direction of the Mayor and not for Council to whom, on paper, they report.  This matter will sort itself out as debate among Councillors evolves and the pro- and anti-Ford factions become clear.  The issue is not to punish the Mayor, but to re-establish the appropriate role for the Mayor and for Council.

In a bizarre sideshow to the press conference, Councillor Norm Kelly, also a TTC Commissioner, claimed that decisions on the fate of Eglinton and its design were really a matter for Metrolinx, not for Council, because Eglinton is a provincial project.  This ignores the fact that Council has been asked by Metrolinx to make up its mind on the preferred alignment and technology.

Kelly also claimed that an all-subway option would be cheaper, although this is based in part on the assumption of automated control.  The TTC is expected to produce a detailed review of the options in late February, and I will hold off on comments about this issue until there are actual figures and claims to discuss.  If, in fact, either Metrolinx or the TTC has information that would support this claim, it should be made public for scrutiny as soon as possible.

Kelly made the absurd claim that running at grade was more expensive than underground because of the extra cost of maintaining infrastructure out of doors.  He may not have noticed that parts of the subway, not to mention the Scarborough RT, run out of doors.  It is sad, in a way, that this is the best representative that could be mustered by the Ford camp to defend the Mayor’s position.

How will Transit City, or whatever transit plan might be proposed, come before Council?    Although it would technically be possible to introduce the item from the floor of a regular Council meeting, this would require a 2/3 majority vote, something of a challenge at this point.  Either the Mayor or the City Manager could put this on a Council agenda, or a special meeting of Council could be called at the request of at least 23 members (a simple majority).  Which path is taken will depend a great deal on Mayor Ford’s willingness to compromise, or at least to let the issue come for a vote and take his chances on the outcome.


The Star errs in its description of the Mayor’s powers:

Although the mayor did receive some new powers under the City of Toronto Act that took effect in 2007, including the authority to appoint the deputy mayor and standing committee chairs, “Generally, executive and legislative powers rest with full council,” says the lawyer’s report.

In fact, the power to appoint the Deputy Mayor and standing committee chairs (and, therefore, to ensure Mayoral control of the Executive Committee) was conferred on the Mayor by Council through Chapter 27, Section 40 of the Municipal Code.  Council can amend this at any time (changes to the code happen so often that there is a long list of amendments on the City’s website that have not yet been folded into the consolidated online version).

What Council granted, Council can take away.

The TTC is a separate agency and the Chair is not appointed by the Mayor, but by the Commissioners from among themselves.  The Mayor has de facto control over this through the allegiance of his supporters on the Commission.  If Council chooses to reconstitute the Commission, the Mayor could lose control of the Chair’s appointment.

51 thoughts on “Ford Had No Authority to Cancel Transit City (Updated)

  1. Many of the councillors are also rookies at the job, and don’t fully understand the “powers” they have, being coached by others. However, some of the veterans on council may have just gone along with the rest and did not exercise what they can really do as well.

    Steve: To do anything at Council, you need a majority. Once a non-Ford faction has that, then a little thing called “democracy” limits the powers of the Mayor. David Miller had the support of a majority of Council, but Rob Ford has slowly alienated what he had, and given others reason to think twice before blindly voting with him.


  2. This might make for an interesting Commission meeting on Tuesday, with the Eglinton Crosstown update on the agenda.

    I’d think questions to TTC staff about why (and by whose authority) work has stalled on the other Transit City lines in favour of Eglinton would be in order.

    Can any councillor ask questions at commission meetings, or just commissioners?

    Steve: Councillors attend by leave of the Commission, but to deny it would invite the wrath of Council’s new majority, tenuous though it may be.


  3. If we want to play this game, it can be argued that council never explicitly voted for Transit City, either, so Mayor Miller had no mandate to enter into an agreement with the province. Not that I would agree with such an argument, but there must be a faction of non-GTA Liberal MPPs, looking at the $8 billion price tag for Transit City and thinking of ways to plug other budget holes with it; especially since Toronto can’t seem to get its act together. This could not be any bigger of a fiasco.

    Let’s not make this about Ford. Let’s make it about getting something built.

    Steve: Actually, Council did vote for Transit City on various occasions, including one where it declared the plan to be its “top priority”. There is a lot of mythology about the Miller years and the Ford people choose to remember those days selectively. Yes, this must be about getting something built, but Ford will do everything in his dwindling power to block anything other than his own plan.


  4. I am glad that no one pushed the mayor’s lack of authority last year. If he had wanted to, he could have rammed a motion through council. After watching him for a year and seeing what his plans(?) really mean there is a much better chance of getting his plan derailed and getting back to something better. I don’t believe that the Left didn’t know what he was doing exceeded his authority but were waiting for a more favourable time to challenge him. And it is much better if he gets challenged by the mushy middle or the near right the those who are to the left of Stalin.


  5. I remember all the arguments about whether or not City Council actually voted for Transit City in the first place. I would love it if you could address how that does or doesn’t affect this analysis of Ford and why.

    I guess the argument is that since council didn’t vote for it, then those things shouldn’t have happened. Though I hope the real answer is that even though they were started without a vote, it still requires a vote to make changes (and maybe even parts of what he cancelled were actually voted on?)

    Steve: Council voted on several occasions to fund engineering work and Environmental Assessments for parts of Transit City. They voted to submit these EAs for approval to Queen’s Park. They even at one point declared that TC was their “top priority”. The idea that the TTC, Adam Giambrone and David Miller committed huge resources to projects without any Council approval is a total fabrication. Councillor Ford even voted in favour, when he was there, for some of the authorizations.


  6. This is an interesting development, although litigation against the mayor and his decisions might not be very useful in this case. Such litigation can easily drag on till the end of 2014 and beyond, meanwhile a new mayor will get elected and the outcome of litigation will become irrelevant.

    Steve: I hope that the existing Mayor and his policies will become irrelevant well before 2014.


  7. Many people thought that Transit City was being forced upon us.

    Let’s take the West Waterfront LRT … it essentially was going to be an extension of the 509 to Long Branch Loop.

    Transit City Map

    TTC gauge and Transit City gauge were different. So between Union and Ex loop … how was the WWLRT cars going to operate? so we change the tracks to TC gauge, what about the 510 Spadina?

    According to the PDF, it looks like it would go up to King Street to Roncesvalles/Queen/Queensway.

    Same gauge issues on the 504 (King Street West) and 501 (Queensway/Lakeshore Boulevard).

    501 and WWLRT can’t operate on the same streetcar.

    Whenever I mention this any time, I was told sssshhhhhh, don’t talk about it.

    There is a tunnel that the 501 goes through from Humber look to get into Lakeshore Boulevard. Wouldn’t it be EXPENSIVE to expand that?

    New streetcars coming are supposed to be TTC gauge so Humber Loop AND Long Branch Loop are going to stay.

    Steve: How can you have two different gauges running on the same route? (501/504/509).

    Steve replies: Miroslav, you have raised this bogus point before. WWLRT would run with “TTC” streetcars, not with Transit City equipment assuming it ever gets built. It is an extension of the city’s streetcar system, although it is part of the Transit City package (which oddly enough does not include the eastern waterfront lines). Your argument rests on a false premise and has no merit at all. Please don’t raise it here again because I will just delete the comment.


  8. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    Edmund Burke (disputed)

    While it is certainly hyperbole to describe Ford as “evil” the principle is the same: Incompetence or stupidity or any number of other descriptors will work just fine.

    It certainly seems like everything is rapidly coming to a head and not just with the Eglinton LRT. While I certainly wouldn’t care to speculate as to what the outcome will be for any real world infrastructure, its hard to see Ford coming out of this a winner.

    And its getting harder and harder to see a route for him to be re-elected.

    Steve: But it will be fun to watch him try and learn exactly what the term “mandate” means when he no longer has one, real or imagined.


  9. I personally want to hear the expertise of more lawyers and judges.

    Steve: Judges do not comment on issues like this unless a case is brought before them. I am sure various lawyers will have fun debating this over coming weeks.


  10. Just because a “majority” of councillors would support Stintz’s compromise, doesn’t mean that they’d support the Transit City brand.

    They should go back to a “Transit City”-like plan, but simply returning to “Transit City” makes many people think no progress has been made.

    Steve: It is very unlikely that simply going back to TC is what will be pursued. We all know that parts of that plan needed work anyhow, and we might as well get them right the second time around. There are still a few issues on Eglinton, notably the design from Black Creek westward through Mount Dennis.


  11. My question is this: What can be done now? Can the Council order the money to be restored to Transit City at this point – I was under the impression that the money from the Province is committed to Eglinton alone.

    Steve: It’s the Province’s money and they get to say where it will be spent. However, Council can make a clear statement of what they would prefer, and Queen’s Park had better fall in line. After all, they agreed to underground Eglinton on the basis of a worthless agreement with the Mayor. Can they ignore a motion passed by a majority of Council?


  12. I’ve been of this opinion from the start. The Province should not have changed plans last year based on that MOU until and unless Council voted and approved it as well. At the time I was bothered by the fact that Council never had their say, and also that the provincial Liberals changed tack so easily.

    But in hindsight, it may have been for the best after all. It’s funny though, that all of a sudden, the Province wants to hear a unified voice from city council before doing anything this time around. Too bad we lost a year though.


  13. Steve said:

    “I hope that the existing Mayor and his policies will become irrelevant well before 2014.”

    That outcome seems increasingly likely. However, it will be a result of a Council vote or a series of votes, rather than a court ruling.

    Steve: Better that it be Council taking control of the city rather than any drawn-out court process.


  14. Hi Steve

    I cannot believe what I am seeing unfold here. Ford is an ass! I have never such a display of amateurism in the 40+ years that I have watched city politics unfold. Never in the history of our city have I ever seen someone so unworthy of office. I hope that this tub of crap is allowed to twist and turn for the remaining years that he is mayor.


  15. I think that Transit City supporters do not understand that streetcars/LRT are not a substitute for building subways/elevated rail/high frequency commuter trains. They are a local method of transportation for short distances, basically a high capacity bus, and are fairly slow, and should be used as a feeder for other services. They are suitable for minor routes like St. Clair, Waterfront West (where the Lakeshore GO train is the main route), possibly the Scarborough-Malvern line (#86/116 bus), possibly Finch West (#36 bus), Hurontario, and the Kitchener light rail. They are not suitable in my view for Eglinton/Sheppard (intended to be a substitute for Hwy 401 and Bloor-Danforth) or Don Mills (substitute for DVP and Yonge line) which are main through routes which need subway. Neither are they suitable as a substitute for high frequency GO service which has been totally ignored by the Miller/Ford administrations.

    Building light rail on Sheppard East is akin to the MTO deciding that the section of Hwy 401 east of Don Mills should have traffic lights to save money. Fortunately the MTO is not crazy enough to do such things, but the fact that 401 is very heavily used and has no decent transit substitute strongly suggests that subways are needed. Although I don’t believe that subways will actually reduce congestion due to population growth, at least they will slow growth in congestion; also subways will fill up and become overcrowded too. How many major cities in the world have underused subway lines (excluding very short lines like the existing Sheppard, and lines 3bis/7bis in Paris), even if they were considered white elephants when they were first opened?

    Cities are creatures of the provinces, so whether Ford “has the authority” to change the Transit City plans is irrelevant.


  16. Transit City was never presented to city council for a proper debate and vote, along with alternatives, BEFORE it was made public, or shortly thereafter.

    Since the city is not paying for TC, or whatever it is now, Ford/Miller didn’t need to go to council.


  17. I doubt Ford rolled out of bed and cancelled the plan all by himself. Someone must have provided him with some form of advice on what he could do and how he could do it. Who was that individual or group?

    Steve: His policy advisor, Mark Towhey, had a personal blog (long gone) that included an anti-TTC screed, and he certainly would have fed into the mix. Also, some of the pro-subway crowd were among Ford’s supporters including advocates for the Sheppard subway in more or less the form Ford announced it (he even used one of their graphics complete with a misplaced station proposal).


  18. Miroslav, with the utmost respect, are you choosing to ignore Steve’s replies to your comments on gauge issues, or did you misread them? Because you are operating on a false premise, and Steve and others have called you on this point multiple times. By raising this point again, you are either being startlingly obtuse, or you are not arguing in good faith.

    Yes, the Waterfront West LRT project was announced as part of Transit City. NO, it was NEVER, at ANY TIME, planned to be constructed using standard gauge and Transit City LRT vehicles. It was ALWAYS planned to be an extension of the legacy streetcar network, using TTC gauge and the new streetcars that were just unveiled. It was, essentially, an upgraded streetcar line, offering private right-of-way operation east of Dufferin and centre of the street reservation along Lake Shore Boulevard, but it was connected to the legacy network and would have operated out of their carhouses using legacy equipment on the legacy gauge.

    Can we be any clearer on this point? Now, will you please correct your assumptions, here, and refrain from raising this bogus point again. You are wrong from first principles!


  19. From the day that the MOU came out, it was clear that it meant nothing until it had been voted on by council. Ford downplayed that point and did his little “I am in charge” song and dance, but don’t you just love the irony: if Ford went right away to council to have them vote for it back then, it would have passed and the MOU would be complete. To bring it before council now, and Ford would be hard-pressed to get it approved.

    Steve wrote,

    “It’s the Province’s money and they get to say where it will be spent. However, Council can make a clear statement of what they would prefer, and Queen’s Park had better fall in line.”

    McGuinty has said repeatedly these past couple of weeks that they need a firm request from Council to make a change. So there it is: the MOU is a no-go until Council approves it, but if taken to Council, it won’t get approved but they will give the province a new but firm direction it is waiting for.

    So why are we all still waiting?


  20. So if the oxymoronic “Memorandum of Understanding” resumes its life as a napkin, would not this invalidate the downloading of Transit City cancellation penalties to the city? Specifically, those of shrinking or cancelling the Bombardier LRT order. And because even a half-wit would rather pay for LRTs and receive them rather than pay for them and not receive them, (I almost erased that sentence), does this not make LRT for Finch the obvious, I mean only choice?

    And although this is more a time for drawing lines in the sand rather than on a map, what is cheaper? A separate carhouse for Finch or running 8km of catenary and track down the Newmarket sub for LRT movements to Eglinton and thus use the carhouse at the Kodak lands. At least until there is a Jane connection.


  21. Before everyone gets excited, it should be remembered that this is a legal opinion from counsel, not a judgement. It has moral force, but nothing else.

    Steve: But it will also stir debate and a strong challenge at Council. The full text will be released later this morning, and I will comment on it later today.


  22. The more I read about this Transit issue, the more I am coming to believe that the Transit City plan was seriously flawed. Too many holes in the design which was, at best, only a conceptual design. I do not believe any of the estimated costs of TC.

    NOTE: I thought TC was a great idea away back then.

    If City Council’s votes on authorizing preliminary engineering and EA was a go ahead for TC we have a real problem. It’s as goofy as Ford’s instructions to TTC to stop work on the Sheppard LRT or his insistence that the Eglinton CT should be 100% underground.

    Then there is Metrolinx, which should be running the show, who ordered low floor LRV’s for the Sheppard LRT, which now will be used in a tunnel.

    Steve: You won’t get any argument from me on the idea that TC was flawed, but it’s a question of degree, not of fatally, beyond-all-hope problems with the plan. The whole purpose of detailed studies and EAs is supposed to be to sort out the problems and develop an acceptable scheme. The TTC has to bear a lot of blame here because they developed a plan, but then refused to budge on some details leaving themselves open to criticism. Among the most outrageous examples was their insistence on keeping the south end of a Don Mills line on the surface all the way to Danforth, even though this would have very serious effects on the neighbourhoods through which the line would pass. Moreover, the TTC’s treatment of the Downtown Relief Line as a total waste of money caused them to ignore the option of taking the DRL north to Eglinton (the portion of the route that would require significant infrastructure regardless of mode) and running LRT north from there. That said, TC is still a good idea although it deserves changes in places as we have discussed at length in these pages.

    Council voted for TC at the conceptual level, and then voted specific monies for work on individual lines. This was only for design and EA purposes, and if there was a serious problem with costs or practicality, Council would have had plenty of chances to fix things without throwing out the whole plan.


  23. This has probably been discussed more thoroughly elsewhere on this site, but (assuming a scenario where we ultimately revert back to a version of the Transit City plan) I’d be interested to know what the amount of water over the bridge is here. Both in terms of wasted time (how behind are we?) and money, because of the ‘cancellation’ of TC, ‘MoU’, investigations into private funding opportunities? What has all this cost us?

    Steve: The Sheppard LRT would already be under construction and would have opened in about 2014 probably all the way from Don Mills to UofT’s Scarborough Campus. The Finch LRT could have been ready in the same timeframe, but it had already been delayed by Queen’s Park to stretch out the spending over a longer period. The schedule for Eglinton has not been affected yet because the portion of the line where detailed design and construction are now underway is common to both plans. Preliminary design work on the other lines (Scarborough RT extension, Eglinton-Malvern, Jane, Don Mills and Waterfront West) is not as complete as it might be otherwise, but most of these projects would not be built within this decade based on provincial funding limitations.


  24. Andrew says:

    January 29, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    “I think that Transit City supporters do not understand that streetcars/LRT are not a substitute for building subways/elevated rail/high frequency commuter trains. They are a local method of transportation for short distances, basically a high capacity bus, and are fairly slow, and should be used as a feeder for other services. They are suitable for minor routes like St. Clair, Waterfront West (where the Lakeshore GO train is the main route), possibly the Scarborough-Malvern line (#86/116 bus), possibly Finch West (#36 bus), Hurontario, and the Kitchener light rail. They are not suitable in my view for Eglinton/Sheppard (intended to be a substitute for Hwy 401 and Bloor-Danforth) or Don Mills (substitute for DVP and Yonge line) which are main through routes which need subway. Neither are they suitable as a substitute for high frequency GO service which has been totally ignored by the Miller/Ford administrations.”

    You are correct in that they are not a substitute for subways where subways are warranted, but there is no new corridor that warrants subways. St. Clair, Spadina and the Harbourfront lines are one end of LRT; Eglinton is close to the other end. St. Louis operates a Light Rail system that is 74 km long and has 37 stations, an average of 1 every 2 km. The line acts as a downtown subway and a commuter rail line at the same time. It carries 52 000 ppd with 2 car trains of 90′ long vehicles on a 6 minute headway. GO carries about 60 000 ppd on Lakeshore West and about 45 000 ppd on Lakeshore East according to the last set of numbers I could find.

    A St. Louis type LRT running longer trains, say 4 cars on a shorter headway, say 3:00 could easily carry GO’s numbers and provide 2 way service. Granted they could not operate on mainline rail but LRT does have the ability to provide GO train levels of capacity and speed.

    Unless you are talking ONLY about the TTC’s legacy LRT system check out the facts before you make a blanket statement. It would be difficult to implement an LRT system on the Lake Shore or Milton lines because of the heavy mainline rail traffic on parts of them; however, Metrolynx owns outright the Weston, Newmarket, and Uxbridge subs and I believe the Lakeshore lines from Mimico to Pickering. Perhaps it is time to look at something besides what we are familiar with. Maybe it is time for a paradigm shift. I can’t believe I used that phrase but this time it fits.

    Steve: And I should point out that if anyone is ignoring GO, it is Queen’s Park which dribbles money into GO’s budget every year rather than embracing widespread expansion of service. Always in the future, never today. GO itself fouls things up by refusing to address its possible market within the 416, a market it cannot properly serve because it is too busy providing barely enough capacity for the 905.


  25. Regarding City Council’s approval of Transit City:

    1) There is the plan as a whole encompassing all the proposed LRT lines such as Jane, Waterfront West etc. As mentioned already there were approvals by City Council or EA’s etc. But what about the Toronto Transit Commission itself? Did the Commissioners ever vote for Transit City as a whole?

    If so, then that would have been the plan of the Commission and Rob Ford would have had no authority to order all work by TTC staff to be stopped. (Also the TTC is not the same as other city departments so the mayor doesn’t have the same authority directly or indirectly via the City Manager. All he has is the ex-officio right to sit on the TTC or appoint someone in his stead.)

    2) Wouldn’t the lines that were slated for construction (such as Eglinton, Sheppard, and Finch) have had approval by council?

    Steve: Transit City was before the Commission on March 21, 2007. The report recommended that the TTC:

    “Endorse the Toronto Transit City – Light Rail Plan as the basis and priority for rapid transit expansion in the City of Toronto …”

    The Commission approved the report (see minutes).

    As for the new plan, it is entirely likely that direction to work on Mayor Ford’s Transportation City was given somewhere other than a public Commission Meeting. I don’t think that the TTC has ever formally rescinded its support for Transit City, but simply assumed it was a done deal via the Mayor’s actions.


  26. Hi Steve,

    For Andrew, check Calvin Henry-Cotnam’s site and you can see what Robert Wightman is talking about … And as for my query, Steve, how much of this would have been ready for the Pan-Am games? Are we stuck with buses from other communities now because of, dare I say it,once again, delays? And I do remember during the election, one of the papers pointed out that Mr. Ford did vote in favour of the TC plan in several votes.

    Steve: Yes, Ford has voted in favour of TC elements on more than one occasion. Probably nobody had told him to be opposed to it, yet.

    As for the games, there was a good chance we would have the Sheppard LRT to the aquatic centre at UTSC finished. It’s still uncertain whether the Spadina line will be open to York U in time. Other venues suffer from being all over the place — a good political decision but a horrible one for organization and transportation.


  27. Steve, One more enquiry for today …

    A few months ago there was a huge lottery win that was contested by someone. If I remember correctly, OLGC paid out the others involved up to the point where the money was being contested (with the possibility of more to come). Using this example, why couldn’t the city approach the province and request to begin construction of the tunnel section of the Eglinton LRT from Brentcliffe to Bicknell (I think), as this has already been agreed upon everywhere? It will take a few years for this construction project and as the rest of it is agreed upon at council, it can be straightened out as it goes along. Just wondering. Thanks.

    Steve: That is exactly what is happening, but with the start at the west end, because the tunnel is common to everyone’s plan. As for the rest, the immediate debate is which version to design east of Brentcliffe and west of Black Creek, and a bit further out, what to do with the leftover money, if any.


  28. Hi Steve.
    It has been fun watching the comments in the articles in the “Star”. You know someone is trying to stuff the comments when new posters show up who, by coincidence, all support Ford. It’s nice to know that they are probably the only ones who do.


  29. Rob Ford keeps parroting “I did what the taxpayers want”. This taxpayer wants rapid transit ALL over the city of Toronto, not just in one small section. This taxpayer wants Transit City. Will Rob Ford listen? No, because its something that he disagrees with.


  30. I find it intriguing that people keep saying transit is needed to reduce congestion on the 401 and other highways. In fact, better transit will only reduce the growth of further congestion on transit, highways and local roads.

    We are not going to have less congestion then we have today. Our city is just that poorly planned.

    Steve: For some time now, I have been quite blunt in talking about this. Anyone who claims that their transit plan will reduce or eliminate congestion is lying. At best, it will prevent it from getting worse by accommodating growth (e.g. GO Transit in the Lake Shore corridor — the QEW is still packed). Traffic will always backfill any capacity we create by trips diverted to transit because there is more demand than supply. Hence, always congestion. Then there’s the small matter that the origin-destination patterns for the road-oriented GTA are not particularly suitable to service by transit.


  31. Chris Brown said: “Too bad we lost a year though.”

    Chris, when it comes to public transit funding, Toronto has lost about 16 years (since 1995). When it comes to public transit planning, Toronto has lost 30 years if not more (depending on which corridor and plan you are looking at).

    When you look at a plan like Network 2011, and realize that 2011 has passed without the network being built, it gives you an idea of how much time & energy Toronto has wasted on public transport plans that have never been built.

    So what’s another year? If we don’t change the way we do things, this “lost year” will be part of the next lost decade.

    Regards, Moaz

    Steve: And don’t forget that before Network 2011, there was a 2001 version. No black monoliths were involved.


  32. One needed tweak for an LRT on Eglinton may well be on the surface portions. We need to start to make the major roads safe for biking too, and why can’t we place the transit and the ROWs near the curbs, leaving a bit of space for cyclists too. I think Paris has done something like this, and it could perhaps leave space and ease flows on the rest of the road, and thus reduce an irritant to drivers, and they can play whatever games they like in the centre, and not blame transit, peds, or bikes for their problems and delays.

    Meanwhile, yes, please, let’s reformulate this Transit Ommission to one that has most of the politicians actually using transit.


  33. At last, the operating costs for grade-separated versus surface transit will now be compared in as close to an apples-to-apples scenario as we have ever seen. About time subways got the same scrutiny as other more lowly surface modes.


  34. OgtheDim says:

    January 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    “I find it intriguing that people keep saying transit is needed to reduce congestion on the 401 and other highways. In fact, better transit will only reduce the growth of further congestion on transit, highways and local roads.

    “We are not going to have less congestion than we have today. Our city is just that poorly planned.”

    I would argue exactly the opposite. Sure it would be nice to have lots of wide boulevards like University Avenue but this would only encourage more automobile traffic. I have just spent 11 months travelling in the US and in most cities and towns the amount of space in the downtown devoted to cars was easily 10 times that in Toronto. In how many of those cities is there a high demand for residence and business space? Not many.

    Toronto has the largest number of tall buildings under construction by a large margin and the second largest number in existence. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable but somebody likes our poor planning. Perhaps our narrow downtown streets and rigid grid system combined to make transit more viable than in other cities.

    While there is congestion on many roads it is still possible to drive through downtown Toronto relatively easily if you don’t mind staying off the main streets. I argue that Toronto’s planning, whether good planning or good luck, is working pretty well. This is not to say that there can’t be improvements, there always can, but let’s be thankful for what we have and work to make it better.

    The major planning problem is not in Toronto, especially the old city, but in the suburbs that have followed the flawed American plan to worship the private car and design cities that are not pedestrian, transit or bike friendly. The congestion problem is not so much getting into the downtown as getting around Toronto and moving between the different suburbs. Toronto cannot control the development in Vaughan or Mississauga.


  35. Steve:

    I have great respect for your approach where you wait for the “facts” before jumping to conclusions. I on the other hand am more emotional. I’m pretty certain (as I am sure you are) how the “Norm Kelly equation” will turn out. In that spirit, I think it is interesting to make the following calculation. Fordists want to “invest” $2B in burying the outer portions of the Eglinton LRT. They plan on recouping their investment, passing the break even point and making a cost savings from the lower expenses of operating fully underground with ATO. In Toronto that has meant one Operator rather than two (on the SRT), but maybe in this age of austerity it might mean none.

    Assuming that a person year of an Operator’s time is costing, all in including benefits, overhead, senior management input and any other costs that Fordists can think of, approximately $100,000 and assuming 100 trains on the system per year (I think that is high, but I have allowed two shifts per day and 50% more for weekends) and assuming that the savings is 2 operators that means that the savings are 200 person years of salary per year. This means that the break even point would be 100 years. Now in Ford’s defense, I have not allowed for wage inflation.

    (I was going to stop writing these silly comments and join the Ford camp, but before I could take two steps in the “right” direction I found my way blocked by Uncle Joe.)

    Steve: Something that is often missed in all the talk about saving on labour is the small army needed to keep the line running and the infrastructure maintained. Yes, it is possible to run ridiculously good service at 1am because you’re not paying anyone to drive the train (e.g. Vancouver Skytrain), but that does not eliminate the many other staff needed to look after the system. Many of these are from skilled areas that can command a decent wage and won’t put up with crap about how they’re overpaid. They can get a private sector job at top dollar in Alberta if they want to live in the middle of nowhere.

    Finally, there is the whole question of how a line would be paid for. If it’s a public sector show, then the capital cost vanishes into the general provincial and/or city debt, but that still has an interest burden. If it’s a PPP, then the builder wants to make back their investment through some sort of lease/operate agreement. Imagine what the TTC’s operating deficit would look like if the capital debt were part of the equation either directly or via a PPP agreement. Metrolinx and Queen’s Park are big on this sort of thing, and I am sure there are would be bidders whispering in their ears. Is any of this happening in public? No.


  36. Hamish wilson wrote:

    One needed tweak for an LRT on Eglinton may well be on the surface portions. We need to start to make the major roads safe for biking too, and why can’t we place the transit and the ROWs near the curbs, leaving a bit of space for cyclists too. I think Paris has done something like this, and it could perhaps leave space and ease flows on the rest of the road, and thus reduce an irritant to drivers, and they can play whatever games they like in the centre, and not blame transit, peds, or bikes for their problems and delays.

    This has been suggested before but Eglinton Ave East is not a major Parisian boulevard – east of Don Mills and especially from Victoria Park to Kennedy there are numerous strip plazas on both side with multiple driveways to parking lots in front of the the storefronts that would be cut off, requiring some means of access across the LRT line. It seems much simpler to run the LRT line down the middle. There is already a wide median down much of Eglinton so there would be minimal impact to road capacity as far as I can see. I could see the line run on one side of Eglinton between Leslie and Don Mills and perhaps as far as the DVP, but after that down the middle. I could see street landscaping and other treatment that could make it more pedestrian friendly and perhaps calm the traffic, as now it looks and feels like an expressway. Perhaps as the street get redeveloped, one could see the strip plazas replaced with 3-5 story low-rise building build close to the street w/o the parking lots in front and that would also help to change the dynamic of the street.

    In any case, I do hope the proposal to return the Eglinton line as it was originally conceived goes to council. While Ford says “taxpayers want subway”, I will remind him and my councillor that this taxpayer wants something that make sense (surface LRT) for my neighbourhood.



  37. Mayor Ford’s response to the legal opinion is that he’s talked to the voters, who want subways, which is what he has a mandate to deliver. Of course voters want subways: as a means of transit they’re much nicer than buses or streetcars. No traffic jams, more frequent service, stations where you can wait indoors away from any nasty weather – what’s not to like?

    But just because we want something, doesn’t mean we can afford it. And Toronto definitely cannot afford the cost.

    Perhaps someone should send the mayor a copy of the old Rolling Stones classic:

    “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”


  38. In response to Robert Wightman,

    I guess I look at Toronto congestion as being something that goes beyond the downtown core, both in its scope and in its affect on our lives monetarily and health wise. The monetary health of this city is dependent upon the critical mass of individuals who live here; that requires free flow of movement between its sections and suggesting that congestion isn’t an issue because it doesn’t affect the downtown as much is short sighted.

    The planning was poor in the inner suburbs and beyond is a given. But that bad planning will make the life of people who live in the core more difficult moving forward.

    We do not live in silos.


  39. I was disturbed by one sentence in the Conclusion section of the legal opinion, because it is both wrong and it indicates an omission in the opinion:

    “No delegation with respect to Transit City has occurred.”

    This is wrong, as clearly noted in the legal opinion itself. The ‘Mayor’ (i.e. the Mayor’s office) was charged with pursuing Transit City by previous directives, of 21st. March, 2007 and others noted above. Until City Council rescinds or modifies those charges, they stand, obligating any mayoral incumbent to follow them. By not pursuing the Transit City directives from council Mayor Ford is clearly delinquent in his responsibilities to both council and the previous City Council votes.

    I believe that the opinion should have noted that merely by not following the previous votes, Mayor Ford should be held in contempt of Council. The foregoing speaks nothing of his being held in contempt of council for signing the MOU, etc..

    Both omission and commission, as it were. I think that the report should have addressed omission. (And by commission, I do not mean Commission, of course 😉 )

    Steve: The lack of delegation meant in the opinion refers to any power to change the City’s commitment to Transit City.


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