December 1: Mayor Ford derails the Transit Expansion Plan

Newly elected Mayor Rob Ford, on his first day in office, ordered the TTC to stop work on Transit City, a fully funded network of light rail lines that would bring fast, reliable transit to all four corners of the city. Toronto’s new Mayor said he would build subways instead, without revealing how this much more expensive option would be financed.

Within minutes of the announcement, TEA staff sit down to figure out how to respond, given that TEA has been one of the loudest supporters of Transit Cit during the 2010 municipal election and that TEA has been a long time advocate of building a LRT network to connect all corners of the city.

We decided three things:

1. Mayor Ford had set up the issue as subways vs. LRTs. We knew we had to focus on this, even though the real choice was LRTs or nothing (TEA supports subways, but only if there is the money to build them. There was absolutely no indication that the Federal and Provincial governments were going to fund the dramatically more expensive subway plan Mayor Ford was talking about. Which meant the real battle wasn’t subways vs. LRTs, it was the provincial LRT plan vs. doing nothing).

2. We had to have one-on-one conversations with Torontonians across the city, with a focus on those neighbourhoods along the LRT lines going to be cut (Finch West, Eglinton, Sheppard East).

3. This would likely be a lengthy campaign that would require hundreds of volunteers to get the word out.