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Listen to people, not Sheppard panel, Ford says - Toronto SUN

March 15, 2012
Don Peat
Toronto Sun

“Hogwash” is how Mayor Rob Ford describes the Sheppard Ave. transit advisory panel's work.

A tough-talking Ford made the comments just before he climbed aboard the 85 Sheppard East bus at Don Mills Station - the current end of the Sheppard subway line that he still hopes to extend.

“We know what the expert panel is going to say, it is just a bunch of hogwash,” Ford said Thursday. “I listen to the people out here, not a handpicked, biased panel.”

Although city council meets next Wednesday to cast a vote that could derail Ford's subway plan, he showed no signs of backing down from his pro-subway stance during his trip along Sheppard Ave.

Ford says he advocates an incremental approach where a few stations would get built at a time, starting with expanding the subway out to Victoria Park.

“Get a shovel in the ground, build a couple stations and just keep moving ahead as time goes on,” he said.

Ford shook hands with transit riders at Don Mills station, many who cheered him on for his subway push, before climbing onto the bus and riding a few stops to Victoria Park Ave.

There he joined a few dozen pro-subway protesters from Subways Are For Everyone (SAFE) as they waved at cars and held signs that said “Honk 4 Subways.”

As the Sun reported Thursday, the expert panel, commissioned by council against Ford's wishes in February, will endorse a return to the Sheppard LRT rather than Ford's push to extend the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Town Centre. The panel had a final meeting at City Hall on Thursday in the city manager's office.

One source said the final report, set to be released Friday, will encourage council to give city staff the ability to start working on revenue tools to help build transit for the future beyond the Sheppard line.

Gordon Chong, the man Ford tapped to find a way to build the Sheppard subway extension and the lone subway advocate on the panel, didn't attend Thursday's meeting.

At a press conference at nearby Hickory Nut Park, Ford vowed to “get the shovel in the ground” to start building the Sheppard subway extension incrementally.

“We have a billion dollars, let's get the shovel in the ground,” Ford said. “There is too much talking going on and not enough doing, I'm a doer, let's get the shovel in the ground and let's start building subways along Sheppard,
let's get the job done."

Councillor Norm Kelly told the small crowd that Scarborough has been waiting for subway construction for over 40 years.

“Let's get back on track, every report of the TTC for the last 40 years except one has pointed to a Sheppard Ave. subway,” Kelly said.

“I don't think that an LRT future is in the best interests of the residents of the City of Toronto.”

He said he'll be asking city council “to give us the chance to make a case for building the Sheppard subway.

“In making that case for the Sheppard subway, we will have pointed to the model that will build subways right cross Toronto for the next two decades,” Kelly said.

Jamie Kirkpatrick, the transit campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said Ford's comments blasting the panel were “disrespectful” to those who spent a month doing the report.

“I'm sure the panel made its decisions based on facts,” said Kirkpatrick — who sat in on most of the group's meetings.

As originally published here: http://www.torontosun.com/2012/03/15/listen-to-people-not-expert-panel-ford-says

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