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Ford moves to kill Transit City

by Jonathan Jenkins

The true blue conservatives in Rob Ford’s incoming administration are moving quickly to kill Transit City, confident they can pressure Liberals at Queen’s Park into funding their subway dream.

The new mayor will sit down with TTC officials today and discuss stopping construction on the $950-million Sheppard East, a Transit City light-rail plan that Ford promised to change into a $3-billion subway project.

Ford spokesman Adrienne Batra would only confirm a meeting is taking place Wednesday. But a source told the Sun shortly after his October election victory the win sent a clear message to the province that conservatives can succeed in Toronto, and Ford will use the spectre of suburban taxpayer revolt to bend Queen’s Park to his will.

“We’re in a good spot. We won, we won big and there’s a provincial election coming (next October),” the source said.

“McGuinty’s already reaching out. I think we’ll get that subway and when we do, the people in Scarborough are going to love (Ford).”

Not surprisingly, Liberal insiders disagree and say driving a stake through Transit City could cost Toronto dearly.

“If they are presuming to think that what their election said automatically translates into what the tea leaves might say for an election 10 months from now, I think that’s probably a bit of an overreach,” a provincial government source said. “Our election will be different.

“There is a danger with the mayor’s and council’s approach that they could end up in a situation which is similar to the city of Ottawa, where they’re ending something but not necessarily doing something.”

Ottawa taxpayers wound up eating a $100 million bill after the city trashed a contract for a light rail line it signed in 2006.

But at the same time, the source said Ontario is not married to any particular kind of transit, as long as transit is built — and constructed in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

“These transit lines didn’t get started because we said this is the way it should be done,” the source said.

“They got started because the city came forward with something. Our overarching goal is to show progress on transit.”

Both Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne and Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig said Transit City is the result of an agreement between the city, province and TTC and that $130 million and $1.3 billion in contracts have already been committed to the Sheppard Line alone.