Group urges city to fight sub­way up­load plan

De­fend Toronto does not want prov­ince to own TTC sys­tem

Toronto Star - - NEWS - STE­FANIE MAROTTA STAFF RE­PORTER BEN SPURR TRANS­PORTA­TION RE­PORTER

“There has been no pub­lic de­bate be­cause we haven’t had the chance to do that.” JOHN SEWELL FOUNDER OF DE­FEND TORONTO

A lo­cal ad­vo­cacy group is call­ing on the city to op­pose Premier Doug Ford’s plan to have the prov­ince take own­er­ship of the TTC’s sub­ways, say­ing the process is un­nec­es­sar­ily hasty.

Last week, Mayor John Tory rec­om­mended the city co-op­er­ate with the prov­ince’s re­quest for a TTC in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to cor­re­spon­dence ob­tain by the Star.

The prov­ince asked for the city’s writ­ten con­sent to pro­ceed with the joint dis­cov­ery process by Dec. 13.

De­fend Toronto, an or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by for­mer mayor John Sewell to con­tend with the prov­ince’s pro­pos­als for the city, sent a let­ter to the mayor and coun­cil­lors on Wed­nes­day ask­ing the city to re­ject the prov­ince’s plan and pre­pare to take le­gal ac­tion if the prov­ince makes an “at­tempt to as­sume control of the sub­way.”

“I think the big thing we want from city coun­cil is to say to the prov­ince, ‘We want to keep the sub­way sys­tem, and we don’t want you to own it,’” Sewell said in an in­ter­view.

In the let­ter, De­fend Toronto asked that coun­cil adopt 10 mo­tions to curb the prov­ince’s plan ahead of a meet­ing on Dec. 13 where the in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing agree­ment will be dis­cussed.

Those mo­tions in­clude re­quest­ing the prov­ince demon­strate how tak­ing own­er­ship of the sub­way is nec­es­sary to achieve its goals on im­prov­ing the ser­vice.

“There has been no pub­lic de­bate be­cause we haven’t had the chance to do that,” Sewell told the Star, not­ing the prov­ince has asked for a de­ci­sion while the newly sworn-in coun­cil is barely up and run­ning.

Sewell said the prov­ince should not be con­cerned with mat­ters of mu­nic­i­pal trans­porta­tion.

With MPPs re­sid­ing far out­side of Toronto, he said those mem­bers would not be able to weigh in on the city’s trans­porta­tion needs.

“They don’t have any com­mit­ment to the sub­way,” Sewell said. “If you live up in Thun­der Bay, why do you want to see your tax dol­lars go to the Toronto sub­way sys­tem? You don’t. So if they own it, they get to make all those de­ci­sions and they don’t have a great in­ter­est in it.”

Sewell said his or­ga­ni­za­tion has not re­ceived any re­sponses from coun­cil mem­bers.

But he said that De­fend Toronto in­tends on speak­ing with coun­cil­lors over the next few weeks.

At a press con­fer­ence at city hall Fri­day, Tory de­fended his po­si­tion, say­ing shar­ing in­for­ma­tion with the prov­ince should not be in­ter­preted “as go­ing along with up­load­ing.”

He ar­gued the ex­er­cise would al­low the city to bet­ter un­der­stand the prov­ince’s in­ten­tions as well as give the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment a voice in any fi­nal de­ci­sion.

“My chal­lenge at the mo­ment is I don’t know what up­load­ing means. And I think you have to go to the ta­ble to find that out,” Tory said.

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