Mayor John Tory blasted for saying it's 'unusual' for Toronto parents to live without a car

Mayor John Tory’s quip is drawing criticism online and at city hall, with critics saying data proves he's wrong.

Councillor says data proves mayor's statements are 'wrong and misleading'

Mayor John Tory vowed kids will be able to ride the TTC for free for as long as he's mayor, but a quip that it's 'unusual' for parents to get by without a car is drawing the ire of many. (CBC)

Mayor John Tory's quip that it's "unusual" for parents in Toronto to not have a car is drawing criticism online and at city hall.

Tory made the comment during a morning news conference Wednesday where he vowed children would continue to ride the TTC for free for as long as he was mayor. He rode a TTC bus full of young students to the event.

"I met a couple of kids on the bus and we were talking about the fact that their parents don't have a car at all. That's unusual," Tory told reporters.

Tory continued to note things are changing — change driven in part by kids who have grown up riding transit — and that he sees that as a positive thing for Toronto. But the suggestion that this isn't already a reality across the city was met with scorn online.

Many who get by without a car called the mayor's statement "out of touch," "myopic" or worse.

At city hall, Coun. Gord Perks said "suggesting that it's unusual for a family in the City of Toronto to not have a car is both wrong and misleading."

He points to 2011 data, which comes from research by the University of Toronto commissioned by the city, that shows 23 per cent of Toronto households don't own a vehicle, while that number is actually 45 per cent in downtown core. Even in the inner suburbs the numbers range from 13 to 27 per cent.

Meanwhile new car sales numbers show a dip in sales in Ontario. In the city, car-sharing companies are increasingly catering to Torontonians, including families, who are opting not to own a vehicle.  

Perks warns not considering those people's needs threatens the city's decision-making.

"It leads us to the wrong conversation about how we build our transit system, how we make our streets more bike-friendly and pedestrian safe — how we achieve Vision Zero," he said.

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.