City council OKs taxi reform, Augimeri as TTC chair

Toronto City Council names Maria Augimeri as the new chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, and approves a new set of rules for taxis as it works through a list of motions.
Toronto city council sat on Feb. 19, 2014 to vote on motions including new rules for taxis and the appointment of a new TTC head. (Steven D'Souza/CBC)

Toronto City Council named Maria Augimeri as the new chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, and approved a new set of rules for taxis in the city as it worked through a list of motions Wednesday night. 

Toronto city councillor and newly elected TTC head Maria Augimeri. (Courtesy of Maria Augimeri/Twitter)

Augimeri, a member of the TTC commission and the councillor for Ward 9 (York Centre), narrowly defeated Josh Colle, the only other nominee, of Ward 15 (Eglinton-Lawrence) by a vote of 23 to 21. 

"I am my own person and I make my own decisions," Augimeri told council ahead of the vote. 

She said she will work to reduce crowding, especially on streetcars and buses, and will call for more funding from Queen's Park and Ottawa. 

Augimeri will hold the post until the end of November. Her appointment clears the way for predecessor Karen Stintz to run for mayor

Colle was Stintz's choice for the job — though some say that support could have cost him votes.

"It certainly didn't help him that Coun. Stintz, in one breath, says she doesn't want to politicize the TTC yet in the next breath wants to put in her own pre-selected candidate in," Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong told CBC News, who voted for Augimeri. 

Colle was also supported in the open ballot by Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Coun. Doug Ford.

The mayor had earlier tried but failed to nominate his brother for the job. Coun. Ford was not eligible because he does not sit on the TTC board.  

Council earlier voted in favour of a new set of rules for taxi cabs, which include an extra charge for passengers who vomit in or otherwise "soil" a cab, the ability for drivers to ask for fares up front, and 290 new licences for wheelchair accessible cabs.

A new set of rules for taxi licenses, to be phased in over the next ten years, requires that each cab's license must be held by the person driving the car — a victory for drivers who have fought a long and bitter battle over the issue, but a defeat for owners, agents and brokers. 

Other items on the agenda were postponed until Thursday. They include: 

Alcohol rules during Olympics Coun. Mike Layton's motion to allow bars to sell alcohol starting at 6 a.m. for the duration of the Sochi Games. The spirit of this motion is to allow businesses to cash in as people gather to watch the games, particularly the finals in men's and women's hockey.

Social media use during election A motion calling for rules that would prohibit council members from using their official city social media accounts for campaign use. The spirit of this motion is to draw a clearer line between official city accounts for constituent use and accounts councillors use as they run for election.

With files from Steven D'Souza and Steven Bull


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