Councillors express concern about SmartTrack plans
WATCH: The process has begun for Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan to get provincial and city council approval. Dave Trafford has the details.
TORONTO- Two city councillors are expressing concerns about John Tory’s SmartTrack plan after an initial report went before the city’s executive committee Thursday.
Councillor Janet Davis said she was worried the city wouldn’t have enough input in the development of the SmartTrack design and financing.
“I’m hoping that the plan isn’t just for the city of Toronto to rubber stamp Metrolinx’s plan,” she told reporters Thursday afternoon.
“If we’re going to finance a portion of it; if we’re going to be responsible in anyway, then we need to have real and meaningful input from the public and from council before this thing is finalized.”
The staff report says the city, along with officials from the province and Metrolinx, will work together to study the project and figure out what will and won’t work.
When the design and business case is finalized by the province, according to the report, it will then be presented to city council.
The report calls for an additional $1.65 million in city funding over the next two years, on top of the $750,000 approved by council in December. The report notes the city should ask the province and Metrolinx to include certain requirements, including 15 minute or better service, all-stop service in both directions, and 10 stations along the route.
Pennachetti’s report says part of the money is needed to study and analyze the proposed Eglinton Avenue West corridor from Mount Dennis station to the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre, where tunnelling may be required.
But Councillor Gord Perks questioned whether further study of the Eglinton Avenue West corridor might interfere with current plans for light rail transit in the area.
“We’re about to make the same mistake on Eglinton. We’re about to tell the staff to go spend millions of dollars studying how to cancel one transit plan to build a tunnel underground some day.”
But Tory said the western part of SmartTrack is integral in Toronto to Mississauga.
“The studies are going ahead, on SmartTrack, as proposed,” he told reporters. “It connects people to an immense number of job opportunities in Mississauga and will help to develop the west-end of the city.”
Tory campaigned on the $8 billion transit plan that piggybacks on provincial GO Transit lines. Tory said the seven stop transit line would run west-east across the city including a stop at Union Station.
But former mayor and current councillor Rob Ford said he won’t support the plan or the mayor’s budget.
“I haven’t found anybody who supports this, I call it back track, because it’s a backwards step in transportation that we need in this city. We need subways,” he told reporters. “This is not what people want. People want subways in this city.”