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Traffic, congestion & housing at 'crisis' levels in Toronto, Tory says

John Tory spoke to media about the state of Toronto on Nov. 27, 2014. CITYNEWS

Toronto’s traffic, congestion and housing are at a crisis levels, Mayor-elect John Tory says.

While delivering his “state of the Toronto” address on Thursday, Tory started with transit, explaining that the TTC is still “reeling from operating cuts” imposed by council in 2011 and 2012.

The cuts included a reduction of service on 63 routes.

“Overcrowding plagues the system,” Tory said.

TTC CEO Andy Byford echoed the sentiments, saying that “crowding is the biggest source of complaints for TTC customers.”

“We need to find more buses and garage capacity,” Byford explained.

Tory said his assignment is to find money for service improvements.

How he’ll do that wasn’t clear because he wouldn’t give an explicit answer on whether fares will increase.

“What I campaigned on stands on the record,” he replied.

Tory did add that “significant work is underway” to improve TTC, such as WiFi installation and signal upgrades.

Tory also said Toronto’s housing situation is also in crisis mode and plans to go to other levels of government for help.

“The housing problem won’t be solved with city money alone, he said. “It needs dialogue with other governments.”

“It’s the old saying. If you keep repeating and handling things like you have been handling them in the past number of years, you’ll get the same results,” Tory explained. “So when it comes to opening a proper dialogue with the other levels of government … if we do nothing and don’t engage in that dialogue and really get it going, then I guess we’ll get the same results.”

Tory will be sworn in at the council’s first meeting on Tuesday and says he’s looking forward to it with a “degree of apprehension” because the job is new to him.

“If there were no challenges to this job, I wouldn’t be as interested in having it.”

Tory outlined the rest of the challeges facing the city. Click here for those details, by the numbers.

With files from Patricia D’Cunha and Fil Martino