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Metropolitan Toronto Column: The Vote Will Be Dual-Purpose In Monday's Municipal Elections

Page 7, by Stanley Westall

Votes in the Metro-wide election next week have a dual purpose. In each municipality, they will decide the constitution of the local Councils for the next two years.

They will also decide who sits around the horseshoe at 67 Adelaide Street, in the lofty sea-green chamber dedicated to Metro business.

This fact has not been given the prominence it deserves in local election campaigns. The Metro seat is regarded almost as a bonus for being popular at home. To those who think this way, the present position of the east-west subway should be a startling disillusionment.

Two men and one woman, representing three lakeshore municipalities with a total population of 35,929 and a total assessment of $76,857,534, threaten the start of the $200,000,000 Bloor Street subway. They are Mayor Donald Russell of New Toronto, Mayor Gus Edwards of Mimico and Reeve Marie Curtis of Long Branch.

They have an undeniable right to the position they have taken. They are backed by their Councils, which initiated legal delaying actions. In Mayor Russell’s case he can claim to be supported by his electors, who have returned him by acclamation.

It could be argued that as individuals they have exercised no more than one vote in their own Councils in deciding to press for legal curbs on Metro’s subway enterprise.

But it is in Metro that these issues are threshed out. And it is from Metro that the two Mayors and the Reeve return to their Councils to give leadership. That leadership will be a quality much in demand this week.

On Wednesday, New Toronto will have the opportunity of deciding if it wishes to take the subway issue to the Supreme Court of Canada. It if favors this course, it could be six months before a decision is handed down — six months at least before a steam shovel could begin work on University Avenue.

“It seems a little silly, maybe, to go ahead, but we’ll have to take our solicitor’s advice”, said Mayor Russell yesterday.

Mimico was given its legal advice last night. “We will make no decision until after the election”, said Mayor Edwards. “We have until the end of December to make up our minds. We have something more to do at the moment than make up our minds on important matters like this in a hurry. We have battled the inconsistency of this plan for six months; we will not surrender when it looks as if the tables might turn.”

Long Branch takes counsel’s opinion on Wednesday. “We wouldn’t go to further legal expense unless there is some chance”, said Mrs. Curtis. “But people around here feel very strongly about it.”

If their councils decide not to spend more money on litigation, the representatives of Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch will be able to appear in Metro Council with much the same message brought to the last meeting by Reeve Albert Campbell of Scarboro. He withdrew his township’s opposition to the subway because the principle on which he had fought did not seem to be appreciated by a majority of his voters.

And this is what would follow:

Metro will [sic] pass an expropriation bylaw representing a green signal to the men who will begin construction of the subway.

The TTC will call on its consultants to prepare detailed plans and contract drawings. Machinery involving the hiring of a labor force of hundreds will begin to turn. Professional engineers and draftsmen will be engages.

Further delay, on the other hand, will cost the TTC thousands of dollars every month, just holding the nucleus of its subway-building staff in readiness. Already, the price of steel has risen. Labor costs could soar again.

“They’re no longer fighting on an issue”, said TTC chairman Allan Lamport. “It’s case of a straight no, they don’t want the subway. They must take the responsibility for it.”

In the next two years, many important decisions will have to be taken by the Metropolitan Council. The Reeves and Mayors, the city’s two leading controllers and the city aldermen who head the poll in each of the nine wards will have to bear the responsibility for them.