Getting Transit Expansion Back on Track
March 23: Sheppard East LRT gets Council approval
City Council voted 24-19 to build a Light Rail Transit (LRT) line on Sheppard Ave East at a Special Council Meeting held on March 21 and 22nd, 2012. This was a great success for TEA's 14 month campaign to bring rapid transit into the suburbs.
February 8: City Council Supports Revised Transit Expansion Plan
In an unprecedented move, a majority of City Councillors request a special meeting to discuss a revised provincially funded LRT Plan that would bring fast, reliable light rail to Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough, effectively killing the Mayor’s subway plan. The special Council meeting starts with TEA hand delivering 24,000 letters and petitions. Council sends a clear signal to the Province that City Hall supports the LRT plan and wants the province to proceed.
January: A Year of Canvassing leads to Results
January 2011 to January 2012
TEA sent out front-line campaigners 5 days a week almost every week of the year to knock on doors across the city and talk to people about the LRT plan. Over 13 months, we knocked on over 80,000 doors and had conversations with at least 40,000 Torontonians.
During these months TEA connected with thousands more Torontonians at over 100 community events. TEA also sent emails to our growing membership asking them to sign our online petition.
Twelve months after our conversations started, two things became clear: the more Torontonians learned about the LRT plan and how it compared to the Mayor’s subway plan, the more they wanted the LRT plan; Mayor Ford had failed to present any viable way to fund his subway building ideas and people were beginning to question his plan.
January to April: Volunteers Canvass to Spread the Word
Every Friday for the next 12 weeks, 15-20 TEA volunteers come to the TEA office late in the afternoon to get ready for the next week’s information canvassing focusing on Finch West and Sheppard East. New volunteers are given simple training about how to talk to people about transit expansion. Experienced volunteers drop off letters and petition signatures they collected from the previous week, pick up blank petitions and flyers and exchange ideas about how best to connect with people.
During the week, teams get together and connect one on one with people. Some go to a TTC bus stop and talk to people as they wait for their bus. Others, get on the Finch West bus and talk to people about the LRT plan that Mayor Ford cancelled. As a result, thousands of people sign petitions and letters asking City Council to bring back the LRT plan.
This intense information canvassing lasts until early April when it becomes clear Council will not be making a decision soon and that we are in a marathon, not sprint.
January 4: TEA launches its public engagement campaign
TEA staff worked extra hours during the holidays to launch a new map comparing the cost of subways vs LRTs and a call to action. Within days volunteers started flooding our office wanting to help.
December 1: TEA Strategizes to keep Transit Expansion Alive
Within minutes of Ford's announcement, TEA staff sat down to figure out how to respond. We decided three things:
1. Mayor Ford had set up the issue as subways vs. Light Rail Transit. We had to focus on this, even though the real choice was LRTs or nothing because there was no funding for Ford's dramatically more expensive subway plan. (Learn more)
2. We had to have one-on-one conversations with Torontonians, especially in neighbourhoods along the LRT lines that would be cut (Finch West, Eglinton, Sheppard East).
3. This would be a lengthy campaign needing hundreds of volunteers to get the word out.
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.
Election Campaign 2010: TEA Supports Transit City
TEA is one of the strongest supporters of Transit City during the 2010 municipal election. This is not surprising since TEA has been a long time advocate of building a LRT network to connect all corners of the city.