Toronto

'What's the rush?': Citizen coalition asks city to put brakes on province's TTC takeover talk

Defend Toronto wants a 'nuanced and consultative conversation' on the Ford government's subway upload plan amid a request from the province for TTC information by next Thursday.

Defend Toronto wants 'nuanced and consultative conversation' on subway upload plan

'If it's a bad idea, you try to rush it through before anybody has the opportunity to think about it,' says Defend Toronto steering committee member Doug Earl. 'And that's what Doug Ford is doing here.' (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

When it comes to the province's planned takeover of Toronto's subway system, a coalition of concerned residents is hoping city council puts on the brakes.

In an open letter to councillors, non-partisan advocacy group Defend Toronto — formed in the wake of Premier Doug Ford's surprise mid-election council cuts — is raising concerns that the province is "proceeding so quickly" that members of the public aren't fully informed and won't have the opportunity to present their views to city council.

The group's concern stems from a Nov. 29 letter from Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek to Mayor John Tory, obtained by CBC Toronto, which calls on Tory to provide consent by Dec. 13 — the date of next week's council meeting — to share city information about the TTC's assets and the cost of subway operations.

"Whenever a government is claiming it must act so quickly that the public cannot address elected officials, one knows there is serious trouble ahead," the letter from Defend Toronto continues.

Steering committee member and Toronto resident Doug Earl puts it this way: "What's the rush?"

"If it's a bad idea, you try to rush it through before anybody has the opportunity to think about it," he added.

"And that's what Doug Ford is doing here."

The province maintains the planned upload will help it "implement a more efficient regional transit system and build transit faster," according to a statement from Bob Nichols, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation.

'That's not consultation'

But while the goals may be clear, the process and timing are less so.

"I don't know what uploading means," Tory said during a Friday new conference where he stressed his wish to support the province's information-seeking in hopes of securing more clarity on the plan.

The proposal dates back to Ford's time on the campaign trail, which the government has steadily built on since the June election — including a promise to consult municipalities first.

In August, Ford appointed special adviser Michael Lindsay to "efficiently and effectively deliver" the plan. Last month, Yurek appeared on CBC's Metro Morning, again reiterating the province's desire to upload the building, planning and infrastructure of Toronto's subway system, calling it a "better way to go forward."

Though Tory stressed the high number of questions swirling around the upload, the plan did come up in his most recent face-to-face meeting with Ford on Thursday.

"I take him at his word that he said this is going to be a collaborative process," Tory said.

Coun. Josh Matlow questioned that train of thought, given Ford's swift and surprise mid-election council cuts.

"It's pretty rich of Doug Ford to suggest consultation coming from the province about uploading, after he's already announced he intends to do so," he said.

"That's not consultation."

In his statement on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation, Nichols said the province is "committed" to engaging with the city.

As for the speed of the plan, he said it is "premature to speculate on the timing or details."

Earl maintains the process is moving too quickly.

"We're calling on city council to try and slow things down if they can, so we can have a more nuanced and consultative conversation about whether not this is a good idea," he said. 

About the Author

Lauren Pelley

City Hall reporter

Lauren Pelley is a CBC reporter in Toronto covering city hall and municipal affairs. Contact her at: lauren.pelley@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.