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That time Rob Ford voted to create Transit City

by Jonathan Goldsbie

Tuesday morning, at a Queen’s Park media scrum, Mayor Rob Ford declared, “As you know, there was never a vote on council for Transit City, and if there was I’d like to see that.”

Well, Rob. Okay.

At its meeting of July 16-19, 2007 — four months after Mayor Miller and TTC Chair Giambrone unveiled Transit City at a press conference — City Council voted to set the plan in motion. As part of the “Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan,” Council adopted the following pdf, p. 8:

… that City Council direct the initiation of appropriate environmental and engineering studies for the Transit City plan and request the General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission to submit to Executive Committee in 2007 a schedule for the completion of aforementioned studies and a financial plan including funding sources and revenue tools.

That’s about as unambiguous as these things tend to get. In this context, “studies” refers not to exploratory reports but rather to formal documents that are required to proceed with a major project of this nature.

The final vote on the Climate Change Plan (of which the above was a component) was a unanimous 37-0, with Councillor Ford being present and voting in favour pdf, p. 29:

Although it was only one part of a much larger report, it’s not as though the whole Climate Change Plan was simply rubber-stamped, with Transit City just sneaking in there. The meeting minutes indicate that eight different members of Council (Pantalone, Del Grande, Rae, Minnan-Wong, Walker, Carroll, Davis, and Lindsay Luby) put forward motions to amend various aspects of the Climate Plan, which suggests that councillors had scrutinized the report and knew what it contained before they voted on it. If anyone had any objections to Transit City, they didn’t put them forward on the record.

Was this a substitute for a full debate on Transit City? No, it wasn’t. Nor does this by itself mean that Council approval would now be required to change direction. But if it’s a question of moral authority — as it has been framed — then, yes, City Council as a whole (including Rob Ford) signed off on Transit City.