An expert panel appointed by Toronto City Council released a 64-page report Friday that rejects Mayor Rob Ford’s call for a subway extension along Sheppard Avenue East.

The report recommends that city council confirms light rail (LRTs) as the preferred mode of transit for the area when it comes to an expansion of transit, calling it the most effective use of taxpayers’ money.

And it’s already stirring up a hornet’s nest of reaction at City Hall.

The report hadn’t even been released when Mayor Ford was dismissing it as biased and “hogwash,” something panel member University of Toronto professor Eric Miller called “disrespectful.”

“I would have hoped that the mayor would have been willing to read the report with some sort of open mind before he declares it hogwash,” Prof. Miller said.

Mayor Ford also called the panel biased, something Councillor Norm Kelly backed up by questioning why David Crombie was named panel chair.

“Former mayor Crombie signed his name to a letter to council saying LRTs are the way to go and then we put him in charge of a jury that’s supposed to be objective … give me a break,” he told 680News.

Councillor Josh Matlow took exception with the claim.

“If anything, the Mayor and some of his allies are biased by calling the report hogwash before they’ve even read it,” he said.

Ford ally Dr. Gordon Chong was the only panel member to oppose light rail arguing it isn’t a long-term transit solution.
 
“Why would you build something you may rip up in 20 to 30 years?,” he asked.

The panel said concludes light rail transit can be built faster and for about $1-billion compared to a subway option which would take many years longer and would cost between $3-billion and $5-billion.

The experts argue that Sheppard Avenue East needs a new transit solution now and an LRT will not only serve more people in a larger area, it’s almost the most effective use of taxpayers’ money and it gets people moving sooner.

City Council votes on the panel’s report on Wednesday, March 21.

The panel includes:
David Crombie Chair, Toronto Lands Corporation
Professor Eric Miller Director, Cities Centre, University of Toronto
Dr. Gordon Chong CEO, Toronto Transit Infrastructure Ltd.
Mitzie Hunter CEO, Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance
Prabha Khosla Chair, Toronto Women’s City Alliance
Israt Ahmed Community Planner – Scarborough, Toronto Social Planning
Ernie McCullough Executive Director, Sheppard East Village BIA