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Ford 'loyalists' on new TTC commission

By Tess Kalinowski
and Paul Moloney

The new Toronto Transit Commission will look radically different than the TTC’s outgoing board, the Star has learned.

The incoming members are expected to support Mayor Rob Ford’s desire to abandon the $8.15 billion Transit City light rail project and advocate for subways instead.

According to sources, only two city councillors from the David Miller-era commission will continue on the new edition, expected to be chaired by Councillor Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence).

Peter Milczyn (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) and Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, York Centre) will return to the TTC.

Sources say the nine-member slate includes Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1, Etobicoke North); Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12, York South-Weston); Norm Kelly (Ward 40, Scarborough Agincourt): Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East); Cesar Palacio (Ward 17, Davenport) and John Parker (Ward 26 Don Valley West).

Losing his seat is Councillor Joe Mihevc, a passionate streetcar advocate and former commission vice-chair who supported George Smitherman against Ford in the election.

Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) said he was told he’s out because of his support for Transit City, a 120-kilometre network of light rail streetcars that would run down the middle of major streets.

“I conclude that … the primary consideration is loyalty,” he said. “Loyalty to his agenda seems to be the primary commitment that the mayor is looking for, not public transit expertise or experience. Loyalty to his agenda means cancellation of Transit City.

“The indication that was given to me was that they want a strong majority on the commission to make sure the mayor’s desire to kill Transit City would happen.”

Mihevc said Transit City had emerged through studies as a better, less expensive option than subways.

“We have gone through this as a city, we spent tens of millions to study the options and figure out the most cost-effective way to get maximum public transit and the best ridership and cost. This was the plan that came forward.”

Minnan-Wong wouldn’t comment on the appointees, or confirm that he had been chosen.

“I really don’t have anything to say. I guess the striking committee will make their recommendations to council, so I’m just not going to comment,” he added.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said council is to approve new commissioners Wednesday. When that happens, they will meet right away to select a chair and vice-chair.

Stintz couldn’t be reached for comment but her office said she can’t confirm the new membership. Earlier this week, Ford named her as his choice for TTC chair.




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