If council approves City staff's plan, we'll be talking a lot more about transit before year's end.
Back in July, after several months of controversial debates, emergency meetings, and the upending of Rob Ford’s subway dreams, city council voted to explore adding a robust, long-term transit vision to the City’s Official Plan, which is currently under review.
In order to help facilitate the development of that vision—a successor to the short-lived OneCity plan floated by TTC Chair Karen Stintz and vice-chair Glenn De Baeremaeker earlier this year—public consultations will be held to help get a sense of what Torontonians most want from their transit system. Today, the Planning and Growth Management Committee endorsed a proposal for those consultations [PDF], which may begin quite soon. The current proposal calls for:
- A first round of consultations to take place by the end of this year. For this initial stage the city will “present background information, establish the range of transit options to be considered, and present proposed decision making criteria for selected preferred transit options.”
- A second round of consultations to take place in the first quarter of 2013, which will actually identify recommended transit options.
Importantly, the consultations will also discuss which elements of any transit plan should get priority, in an attempt to build some consensus not just about what a built-out system might look like, but what our most urgent needs are.
The proposal passed without much debate, and will now move on to Ford’s cabinet-like Executive Committee and city council as a whole for consideration. (Perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, Karen Stintz—who came into the room soon after this issue was discussed—wasn’t present for the vote itself.)
And while many councillors hope to build momentum for these big-picture, long-term transit goals, Toronto’s outgoing director of transportation planning, Rod McPhail, had these parting words for the committee today:
“There’ve been a lot of really good plans over the years…but what’s always happened is that the funding evaporates and disappears. I think that our very very first priority has to be to ensure that that $8.4 billion that has been committed is spent.”
That’s the $8.4 billion the province has said it will provide for the light rail lines council re-approved, in defiance of Ford, a few months ago. Where funding for this long-term strategy may come from remains, as always, an open question.