Two ways Toronto can learn from Calgary-The Calgary Herald

Jason Markusoff
Hall Monitor
The Calgary Herald
February 13, 2011

Because, as Albertans will readily point out, ideas also flow west-east.

1) LRT can be your friend: While southeast Calgarians are begrudgingly being forced to settle for bus rapid transit instead of superior C-Train, Toronto's mayor has determined LRT simply won't do for his subway city.

Rob Ford has walked away from a three-government plan for light-rail lines stretching out to parts of Toronto subway doesn't touch. If it's subway the people want, then subway they'll get, he's decided -- even though for the price of seven
new stops on the northeast Sheppard line Toronto could extend it by 26 stations and still have $2.5 billion left over. Like in the BRT vs LRT debate in SE Calgary, it's a question about whether something less than gold-standard transit will do.

To many Ford critics, including Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, the mayor's distaste for LRT is based on problems with the single-car light-rail streetcars that compete with (and confound) car traffic. But the Transit
City blueprint for LRT is more like the Calgary model: off the streets on wide arterial medians, and grade-separated where it's easier (and affordable). It wouldn't be one-car streetcars, but multi-vehicle trains like in Cowtown.

"LRTs do not constitute a war on cars," Hartmann says.

"If fact, Calgary has learned the LRT helps get cars off the road, making it easier
for motorists."

(More tale of two city mayors: Rob Ford railed against the new St. Clair streetcar line because its construction snarled the road for ages, it snuffed out traffic lanes and made some left turns difficult. Naheed Nenshi was excited to take ride the
St. Clair 512 en route to a radio interview Wednesday.)

2) Mo’ councillors, mo’ problems: Nenshi said in his Canadian Club speech last week that he does in one respect feel bad for Rob Ford — that having 44 councillors to wrangle rather than Calgary’s 14 must be impossible.

Ford promised during his campaign to slash the council size down to 22, in line with the number of federal MPs the megacity has. Would councillors really want to thin out half of their rank, and duke it out with each other to do the same job for twice the constituents? Doubtful.

Few would ever propose bringing Toronto to 14, either. But consider the numbers now: Calgary aldermen each represent about 78,000 people, while Toronto councillors each have 58,000 constituents. Bringing the T.O. ratio in line with Calgary’s would create a 32-member council. And keep in mind that Calgary’s population grows faster than the city of Toronto.

As Originally Published: Two ways Toronto can learn from Calgary