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‘Scarborough deserves transit,’ TTC chair says

TTC chair and Coun. Karen Stintz posted a provocative Twitter message on Wednesday afternoon “Scarborough deserves transit,” just as a handful of other councillors were about to air their thoughts .

“A compromise would have helped guarantee Scarborough’s 2nd & 3rd TTC Rapid Transit lines,” she wrote, while a memorandum of understanding between Toronto mayor Rob Ford and Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty “does not.”

Stintz made the comments just before five councillors who support Ford’s transit plan as well as Ford himself spoke in Scarborough.

“We need a subway on Sheppard,” Ford told reporters.

“Not only did Scarborough lose out when the Sheppard subway stopped at Don Mills, so did Toronto…Transit, whether LRT or subway, must run underground.”

Ford said his plan would go to the city’s executive committee on Feb. 13.

Councillors Michelle Berardinetti, Gary Crawford, Michael Thompson, Mike Del Grande and Norm Kelly also support keeping the proposed Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown transit line underground, Crawford’s assistant Tina Ferreira confirmed to CityNews.ca.

“St. Clair is an example of why we need to build underground. I don’t want this area to deal with three to five years of construction chaos,” Crawford said.

Ford applauded those councillors for “standing up for their constituencies.”

Earlier this month, a new transit plan for Toronto which went against the wishes of Ford gained traction among councillors, including Stintz.

The plan calls for part of the line to remain above ground, which would save the cash-strapped city about $1.5 billion to $2 billion in tunneling costs. That money would be reallocated to help pay for the mayor’s Sheppard subway extension project.

Some of the Scarborough councillors speaking Wednesday, including Thompson and Del Grande, have routinely sided with Ford on transit and other issues.

Stinz had asked for a staff report on the controversial line, including advantages and disadvantages of burying a portion of the LRT, but was voted down at a meeting Tuesday.

“Some of my #TTC colleagues just voted to get no more information on how your hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Stintz wrote on Twitter.

Her proposal is in line with former mayor David Miller’s Transit City plan, which Ford killed when he became mayor on Dec. 1, 2010.

Last March, Ford worked out a new transit arrangement with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Metrolinx, but the plan does not have the support of council. Coun. Joe Mihevc got a legal opinion which said the mayor didn’t have the legal authority to kill Transit City nor did he have the authority to act on the MOU with the province

Metrolinx, an arms-length provincial agency, wrote in letter to Ford Tuesday that “absent council’s endorsement … the city is not bound by the plan and it is increasingly difficult for Metrolinx to implement it.”

The letter
, which was posted online by MPP Mike Colle, went on to say that Metrolinx’s concern had been “sharply elevated” after Stintz and other councillors said publicly they did not support the plan.

Coun. Gord Perks has suggested holding an emergency council session to vote on Ford’s transit plan.

So far, no date for that session has been set.