Toronto

Scrapping Transit City 'short sighted': Miller

Former Toronto Mayor David Miller says the repeal of his Transit City light rail plan is "remarkably short-sighted" and "sad."

Criticizes provincial government

David Miller on Tuesday was appointed to the faculty of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

Former Toronto Mayor David Miller says the repeal of his Transit City light rail plan is "remarkably short sighted" and "sad."

Miller made the remarks in an interview with CBC's Metro Morning on Wednesday one day after he was appointed the Future of Cities Global Fellow by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, which is based in Brooklyn. He said his role there will be to help engineers understand their solutions to urban issues mesh with the public policy context in which they are operating.

Miller also broke from his self-imposed silence on Toronto political issues since leaving office late last year, and was blunt in his assessment of the decision to strike down the Transit City light rail plan, which envisioned a system of light rail lines crossing the city.

'As a resident of Toronto, if I want to go to Finch, I go to Finch. I don't go to Kentucky Fried Chicken.'— Former mayor David Miller

"That's one decision that I think is so remarkably short sighted," he said.

"The people know it. All the polls show across Toronto people understand that to take a transit plan that took 30 years to develop, that was ready to go, that had its environmental assessments done, that literally started construction in one place is not only sad, it's not very smart either."

Miller singled out the provincial government in particular for criticism.

The Liberals announced in their 2010 budget they would be delaying delivery of $4 billion to regional transportation agency Metrolinx, which was tasked with implementing the light rail plan. That move had the effect of pushing back the timeline for the construction of a number Transit City lines.

"And it's not just the city government. You know, the premier slowed [Transit City] down while I was still the mayor and if he hadn't, there would have been three lines underway, they all would have all been under construction, they all had approval, they all had the money," he said.

'I'm a citizen'

The Ontario government has agreed to go forward with a new transit plan put forward by Mayor Rob Ford in which the $8.2 billion allocated to construction of Transit City would be funneled toward putting the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line underground.

The city would then find its own financing for a $4.2 billion extension of the Sheppard subway line.

Miller also rejected the idea floated by the mayor's brother Doug of selling naming rights of subway stations to corporate sponsors in order to raise money for the TTC.

"As a resident of Toronto, if I want to go to Finch, I go to Finch. I don't go to Kentucky Fried Chicken," he said.

In another dig at the current administration, Miller also criticized Ford's repeated usage of the word "taxpayer" when describing residents of the city.

"No, I'm a citizen. I'm a citizen of this city," he said.

"Citizenship is a different relationship with government. It's not purchasing a service. Government is about us working together to build a city for the future."

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