Metrolinx Declines to Answer, Again

On Monday, February 3, both my recent NOW Toronto article about the Ontario line and my own Q&A with Metrolinx diving more deeply into the issues appeared.

On the same day, Ben Spurr reported in The Star that members of Toronto Council had learned of private discussions between Metrolinx and interested developers about alternative alignments and station sites. These issues are at the heart of many questions about and objections to the OL plans, and in particular the reluctance, if not outright refusal of Metrolinx to entertain alternatives.

With the Star’s article, Metrolinx can no longer claim that they only have one design, or that alternatives cannot be discussed.

At tonight’s community meeting, on February 5, conveniently a few blocks from my home, I asked Richard Tucker, who is in charge of this project from Metrolinx, point blank what alternatives were on the table.

He responded “Is this for media” and I replied “Of course”.

To which, in turn, Tucker said, in effect, I cannot tell you about that.

If I had merely been an interested member of the community unknown to Metrolinx, who knows what he might have told me, but for official consumption, mum’s the word. This is a senior public servant who simply does not understand (or whose bosses do not understand) the concept of openness, transparency and actual “consultation”.

In many ways, Metrolinx is its own worst enemy with its secrecy and refusal to engage in discussions. This is not confined to pesky media, bloggers and community groups. It is commonly reported by members of Council and the Legislature, not to mention privately by professional staff at the city and TTC.

In the absence of any official pronouncement from Metrolinx, I would be happy to receive information from members of Council who were briefed, or via the tried and true “brown envelope”.

11 thoughts on “Metrolinx Declines to Answer, Again

  1. Steve writes: With the Star’s article, Metrolinx can no longer claim that they only have one design, or that alternatives cannot be discussed.

    I thought about the following reading both Spurr’s piece, and Steve’s earlier musings on this, and the absolute mess Metrolinx is making of P3 (something Steve is highly cynical on, but my stance is that we have little choice, but we *have* to get it right) … and my thought is that they don’t have *any* design. It’s all bluff and wishful thinking, hoping that if they ‘show enough leg’ a suitor would be banging at the door demanding first engagement.

    And not only is there no suitor, there’s no funding! None, nada, nix.

    And let me take that further: Some pretty big names in the biz, vertically integrated multinationals, who’d not only build the infrastructure (with apt partners) and supply their own built rolling stock, and *take full responsibility for funding it* (either overseeing second party investors or through their own deep pockets) have looked at this challenge with great interest, looked at the powers that be in Queen’s Park, and said “Nein”. Not with them!

    Hint?

    (I’ll try and be brief, and allow Steve to either let this stand as Fair Use or truncate it as needed)

    PUBLISHED JULY 23, 2018. Globe and Mail

    Ontario’s move to cancel the contract of a German-owned wind energy project represents a black mark for the province in the eyes of foreign investors, Berlin’s ambassador to Canada, Sabine Sparwasser, warned Monday.

    The German government and multinational companies have taken note of Premier Doug Ford’s decision to pull the plug on wpd AG’s White Pines wind project in Prince Edward County, as well as the bill now before the legislature that will allow the province to set limits on what compensation is provided, Ms. Sparwasser said in a telephone interview.

    […]

    The ambassador’s warning was echoed by John Manley, president of the Business Council of Canada, which represents chief executive officers of the country’s largest firms.

    The National Post had similar copy with scathing comment. This isn’t this QP regime wetting themselves and soiling their pants on the left, it’s just as bad on the right.

    Who in hell is going to invest long-term with a bunch of yahoos who haven’t a clue?

    I leave the rant at that for now.

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  2. Less, to no respect for taxpayers is also the same as less to no respect for communities, right? And while Metrolinx/Province can apparently legislate and bully Toronto in to whatever degree of coughing up cash, or tying shoelaces, or whatever, the federal level isn’t so abjectly prone. So folks who are upset about process abuse, lack of info, potential Wa$te of billions, should be in touch with their federal representative/MP. In Toronto that’s Liberal, and while they’ve been part of the problems we’ve had, the minority situation should be meaning better listening. And they need to do better, including on the climate file, which is beyond an urgency now, to an emergency.

    The F* government is Trumpian Foul on this vital survival issue. As there’s theoretical common cause (both city and federal levels saying it’s a climate emergency), the federal level’s cash should be applied with principles of planning, of respect for open process, environment, and of taxpayers, or no funds should flow, beyond maybe vehicles and some maintenance $$ thanks. Real leadership from the feds might include a relief function project or two – bypassing the Province, and I think the federal level can also expropriate, correct?

    If the feds can buy a pipeline …

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  3. Stephen Saines said: “I thought about the following reading both Spurr’s piece, and Steve’s earlier musings on this, and the absolute mess Metrolinx is making of P3 (something Steve is highly cynical on, but my stance is that we have little choice, but we *have* to get it right) … and my thought is that they don’t have *any* design. It’s all bluff and wishful thinking, hoping that if they ‘show enough leg’ a suitor would be banging at the door demanding first engagement.”

    In other words, Rob Ford’s “plan” to build the Sheppard Subway extension all over again.

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  4. They did the same thing with the issue of bus service we talked about before… tried to keep it hidden until they were fully exposed and forced to answer publicly. Metrolinx’s governing body is a total sham and needs to be disbanded.

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  5. My dear friend Hamish asked: “…and I think the federal level can also expropriate, correct?”

    This question is answered in Sections 91 and 92 of the BNA Act, which assigns the powers of the provinces vs. Ottawa. To quote from Section 91:

    “It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces…”

    And Section 92 states:

    “In each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated, that is to say…

    Local Works and Undertakings other than such as are of the following Classes, —

    Lines of Steam or other Ships, Railways, Canals, Telegraphs, and other Works and Undertakings connecting the Province with any other or others of the Provinces, or extending beyond the Limits of the Province”

    In other words, unless the subway extends as far as the USA or another province, it is exclusively under provincial jurisdiction. No expropriation law, or any other law of the federal government is valid.

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  6. Thanks Kevin. I was hoping that the federal level – which at times shows a bit more sense – could do a ‘Doug’, and take over from the Metrolinx/Cons, to provide sensible relief, which for me is on-surface (mostly) through the Don Valley, up to Thorncliffe, with a few options. And have a surface Relief to Eglinton done for just a few billion, relatively quickly to meet the Line 5 opening. Dealing only with the Conservatives is a challenge, and wouldn’t it be nice if it were about saving money?

    Meanwhile, I noted in some press today, the Ontario Line map that goes with Ms. Mulroney and the project now has a change from the line used by the Metrolinx folks on the Wednesday consult. The new map shows only a straight line through the core – no real turns, no real jogs up to Queen or down to King or anything but straight ahead, like the progress our Dougtator will be making on this overdue project.

    It does seem pretty fluxed up, though we do need to get up to Eglinton and do need Relief. And yes, it’s quite possible most people won’t really notice nor care that the new line may be unrelated to reality, but check in next week eh?

    Steve: The map may show a straight line, but the stations are still a mixture of King and Queen locations. Someone at Metrolinx does not know geography (not for the first time), or something’s in the wind that has not yet been announced. It is impossible to hit those stations on Queen and serve both East Harbour and the Ex without jogging back and forth.

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  7. As someone from Metrolinx or the Minister’s office will emphatically (though superciliously) inform you, all these alleged jogs required to hit the necessary stations are the product of outmoded thinking and old technology. In our brave new hydrogen-powered post-Euclidean world, all it needs is a clear vision and iron determination, and the line will be straight.

    Oops, that’s more Nietzsche. Oh well, close enough.

    Steve: Cue the opening music of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, a suitably pompous introduction for this organization.

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  8. Steve said: “The map may show a straight line, but the stations are still a mixture of King and Queen locations. Someone at Metrolinx does not know geography (not for the first time), or something’s in the wind that has not yet been announced. It is impossible to hit those stations on Queen and serve both East Harbour and the Ex without jogging back and forth.”

    I suspect that they finally realized that the parking lot along Mill street has already been spoken for and that they wouldn’t have a north tunnel portal for the bridge over the Don. As a result, they are quietly shifting the alignment back to what the city was proposing.

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  9. Hamish wrote: “And have a surface Relief to Eglinton done for just a few billion, relatively quickly to meet the Line 5 opening.”

    Here is where my dear friend Hamish touches upon the politically incorrect elephant in the room. Which is the fact that the day after the Eglinton Crosstown opens, there will be a large number of people wanting to transfer at Yonge to go downtown. But there is zero capacity available during AM peak hours, so these people are not going to be able to do that.

    Perhaps Steve has seen a plan to deal with this problem, but I have not.

    Steve: No, nothing is in place.

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  10. Kevin Love said:

    “Which is the fact that the day after the Eglinton Crosstown opens, there will be a large number of people wanting to transfer at Yonge to go downtown. But there is zero capacity available during AM peak hours, so these people are not going to be able to do that. “

    Presumably a lot of those people are already transferring at Yonge from the bus services that the Crosstown will replace. I also assume the Crosstown will pick up some people who currently walk to (in this case probably a very small number would switch) or get a ride to Line 1.

    Are there any projections about how many *extra* passengers Line 5 will bring to Line 1?

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  11. Andre S. said: “Presumably a lot of those people are already transferring at Yonge from the bus services that the Crosstown will replace. I also assume the Crosstown will pick up some people who currently walk to (in this case probably a very small number would switch) or get a ride to Line 1.”

    I suspect that Kevin is referring to the riders who currently take the bus to Line 2 to reach Yonge but would decide to take Line 5 to Yonge once it opens.

    Like

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