Mayor Rob Ford silent on buried Sheppard subway report

Mayor Rob Ford silent on buried Sheppard subway report
Published On Wed Feb 15 2012 Daniel DaleUrban Affairs Reporter
Mayor Rob Ford refused Wednesday to discuss the TTC report that argues there is a poor case for the Sheppard subway extension he desires. Ford received the report a year ago, Royson James reported in Wednesday’s Star, but did not release it or publicly disclose its existence.

Ford held a news conference Wednesday to tout the city’s labour deal with its outdoor workers’ union. When a reporter asked him why he had not released the report, his press secretary, George Christopoulos, interjected to say: “Stay on topic. This is about the labour.” Ford remained silent.
The report lends professional credence to the arguments of councillors who prefer light rail on Sheppard over Ford’s proposal to extend the subway line to Scarborough Town Centre.
The report argues that there are not nearly enough jobs along Sheppard Ave. E., nor enough riders on the existing Sheppard line, to justify the high cost of a subway extension.
It also rejects the “build a subway and people will come” philosophy espoused by Councillor Doug Ford. The existing line, its unnamed authors conclude, has failed to generate the amount of mixed-use development originally predicted.
“Subways are not necessarily the best way to show the love for Scarborough. I think the TTC has moved; they understand that there have been paradigm shifts, that there are better ways to address public transit issues. What’s reprehensible is the way they were not permitted to put out the report,” said left-leaning Councillor Joe Mihevc. “What I have been arguing for, and many folks have been arguing for, is a fact-based discussion. Fact-based, evidence-based. And that, unfortunately, has been obscured by the ideology of the mayor.”
Councillor David Shiner, a right-leaning Ford ally from North York who favours a subway, dismissed the TTC analysis. TTC managers, he said, are far from neutral in the transit debate.

“They spawned the idea of the LRT lines, so now they have to provide reports that support those ideas,” Shiner said.

He added: “My personal opinion, having served on the TTC (board) for four and a half years, is they have tunnel vision. Unfortunately, it’s not tunnel vision to build a subway. It’s tunnel vision in trying to stretch dollars the farthest way that they can to provide an inferior type of transit system. They are not long-term, far-reaching planners with a vision.”

The city has not yet endorsed a plan for Sheppard. An expert panel will issue advice to council in March.

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