TORONTO, Ont. – It took 10 hours of passionate speeches Wednesday, but Toronto city council voted 25-18 in favour of TTC chair Karen Stintz’s proposal of a light-rail transit.
The final vote came after two requests by city council members for a re-vote after they said the voted incorrectly.
However, some said the fight for subways is not over.
“Absolutely it’s not a final decision,” said Councillor Doug Ford, who appears to be taking it personally.
“I don’t know what’s going on in Karen Stintz’s mind lately, but I know one thing: she pulled the knives out, she stabbed us in the back,” he said.
After the meeting, Mayor Rob Ford said that he would forge ahead with the subway plan, stating he was doing what taxpayers want. He said his Sheppard plan will be going ahead to the executive on Monday.
Ford then called the city council vote “irrelevant,” saying the project is provincial and the decision is now in the hands of Premier Dalton McGuinty.
At times during the over 11-hour meeting, a snarky tone would seep into questions by councillors with the speaker asking for decorum.
Mayor Ford’s call to put off this debate for 30 days to hear from an expert panel was rejected by council with a vote of 19 to 24.
The mayor wanted more time to consider subways instead of light rail.
TTC chair Stintz was proposing light-rail lines on Eglinton, Finch West and in Scarborough.
“No matter what, council wants to get shovels in the ground. We have $8.4-billion and we need to decide the best way to spend it. We’re going to get transit built in the city and that’s a win for all the residents,” she said.
Stintz also said it comes down to providing public transit to more people now, not 30 years from now.
“Every single person in this room, especially the mayor, wants to improve transit in this city. It’s important for everybody in this city,” she said.
Former TTC chair and David Miller ally, Adam Giambrone, tweeted following the vote: “This victory for transit is thanks to the hard work of so many community organizers. Thank you, Toronto will be better because of your work.”
The meeting started with councillors offering nearly 20 petitions containing thousands of names, most in favour of light rail.
Stintz was among over a dozen councillors to submit the petitions with thousands of names.
“I rise this morning to submit 529 petitions from residents in my ward to support the Metrolinx LRT plan before us today. My residents also want rapid transit now underground where it should be, and they know this plan is their best option,” Stintz said.
- Click here for the full transit plan Stintz presented to city council.
The Stintz plan calls for an expert panel to look at expanding the Sheppard subway, something she thinks Toronto mayor Rob Ford might support.
Councillors Denzil Minnan-Wong and Michael Thompson presented petitions opposed to light-rail and in favour of Ford’s subway plan.
It was standing room only in council chambers with every seat in the gallery taken.
Metrolinx has released a report claiming the Ford’s plan to build the east end of the Eglinton LRT underground would cut travel time by 25 per cent and attract 30 per cent more riders.
Late Monday, Ford sent a letter to taxpayers on Facebook saying the light-rail network his opponents are pushing for would create traffic chaos and lead to years of needless and messy construction.