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Feds, province need to fund subways, Ford says

by Don Peat
and Jonathan Jenkins

Mayor Rob Ford has put the brakes on Transit City but he’s adamant that his subway push relies on the feds and the province funding it.

“If we can’t get federal or provincial money to pay for it, like I said, then it won’t get built,” Ford told the Sun.

The new mayor maintains that ending the above ground, 120-km light rail transit plan in favour of subways, is the right thing to do because it is what “the public” wants.

“It’s the public, it’s not me, I was elected on a mandate, I campaigned on subways, I made it quite clear that if I got elected that Transit City would be scrapped and I’m doing exactly what the voters asked me to do,” Ford said. “People want subways in the city.”

During the campaign, Ford vowed to build a subway across Sheppard Ave. instead of an LRT.

“And that’s exactly what I’m doing,” he said.

Ford said he couldn’t give a definitive answer on how much it would cost to end Transit City but he won’t let it push the city further into debt.

“I’m not going to go to the taxpayer and say we’re increasing taxes 5% or 10% and we’re going to build subways, no that is not going to happen,” he promised.

But a tough-talking Ford also vowed that if the TTC tells him LRTs are a better option than subway building, he won’t listen.

“Above ground transit is done, it’s finished, it’s finished,” he said.

The new mayor’s blunt pronouncement that Transit City is dead was a surprise to rookie Councillor Josh Matlow.

“He doesn’t have the right — to my understanding — to unilaterally set our transportation plan,” Matlow said Friday.

“To be candid with you, I don’t think it was the right thing to do. He should be wise to understand the role of the mayor and councillors before speaking publicly on some policy issues, as we all should because we’re all new to our roles.”

Matlow said he is open to listening to whatever argument Ford wants to make on the merits of subways but so far, he hasn’t heard one that makes financial sense.

“His colleagues shouldn’t be hearing his announcements through the media,” Matlow said.

“He doesn’t help himself by doing it that way.”

But Councillor Doug Ford said his brother, the mayor, will get the council votes to push his Transportation City plan and he’s confident the Sheppard line will get built.