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John Tory Floats Idea of Waterway Commuting

And he's not the first: for decades, people have dreamed of commuting via Lake Ontario.

Image of the SR N2 Hovercraft from Flight International (March 9, 1962)

Image of the SR.N2 Hovercraft from Flight International (March 9, 1962).

Today, John Tory released his five-point gridlock-fighting initiative. Some of those points are related to issues not infrequently discussed: bus lanes (he thinks the City should add queue-jumping bus lanes), the future of the Gardiner Expressway (he thinks it should stay put), and parking enforcement during rush hour (he’s in favour of that), for example.

And then there’s number three, which involves “exploring how we can use Lake Ontario’s waterways for commuting.” Forget the crowded bus or the congested roadway: John Tory’s Torontonian commuter of the future would be boating to work on the wide-open water. “Opening up our waterways for commuters will help tackle congestion, mitigate the impact of major road works, encourage more development at, and help reconnect us all to, our magnificent lakeside setting along the waterfront,” his statement reads. “Water taxis and commuter services are also another way for commuters to help shrink our growing carbon footprint, since boat travel consumes less fuel than buses and taxis.”

This is not the first time such a solution has been proposed. In the swinging ’60s, Mimico Mayor Hugh McGregor Griggs did his very best to usher in an age of massive passenger hovercraft. He was not deterred when others called his “flying saucer” dream nonsense, but ultimately, it came to nothing—a fate shared by the other hovercraft-related commuting suggestions introduced in later decades.

In 2007, the TTC considered the possibility of introducing ferry service between Etobicoke and Scarborough. At the time, then-mayor David Miller noted the idea might be cost prohibitive, and others worried it would create a whole new set of commuter headaches related to things like ice and waves.

Tory’s waterway proposal will doubtless be greeted with questions, challenges, concerns, and probably some jibes. But he can perhaps take heart from something Mimico Mayor Hugh McGregor Griggs once said after Metro officials mocked his hovercraft: “I don’t mind that the committee laughed at me. Bigger and more important people have laughed at me before for suggesting something different or unusual.”


  • Steveinto

    More of the same with a twist but nothing really new.. Prioritizing the car putting before everything else will make no difference.

  • dsmithhfx

    This could work if Yonge was rebuilt as an aqueduct.

  • OgtheDim

    Ugh….more spending of money looking at stuff that won’t help many.

  • wtedman

    Winter operations may be iffy

    • dsmithhfx

      For John Tory, there is no winter!

  • jabalong

    I don’t know about the winter, but lots of places have waterway communiting – from slow ferries to fast ferries to hydrofoils – so why not take it seriously in Toronto?

    People sit in gridlock every day on the QEW/Gardiner, which haven’t expanded much in decades, when 100 metres away you’ve got untaped, wide open water all the way.

    • dsmithhfx

      Expanded GO service is a more cost-effective and reliable year-round solution. This is just silly, and makes Tory seem desperate.

      • TheSotSays

        Let me spell desperation for you … C-H-O-W

        • dsmithhfx

          Tory’s got no ideas. Ford has no idea. Only Chow can save us from having to pay for Rob’s billion$$$ gravy subway and Tory’s gravy boat. Your desperate vote for Ford will help her win.

          • TheSotSays

            Chow Chow Chow Chow ………… please please please come and save us.

            Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha – what a joke!

          • dsmithhfx

            Ford voters ensure Chow victory in 2014.

          • TheSotSays

            ♫♪ The Call of the Rabid NDP ♫♪

      • andrew97

        Why is it silly? If it makes sense along the Chicago river, why doesn’t it make sense along the Toronto waterfront?

        I don’t see why rail is more “cost-effective”. You can get a ferry for about $50-75 million, which is about what Metrolinx is paying for 18 electrified rail coahes for the airport rail link. Plus, you don’t need to install rails for boats.

        • dsmithhfx

          It’s silly for Tory to propose this as being relevant to his mayoral campaign, because there are no areas in the city of Toronto that would be better served by a ferry than by surface transit. Granted there are communities outside of Toronto that could benefit. Outside. Of. Toronto.

          • andrew97

            Not sure I agree with that. There are not that many GO stations close to the waterfront, basically just Union, Exhibition, and Mimico.

        • torontothegreat

          The Chicago Water Taxi is a very poor comparison because it’s useful for getting people to different areas of the inner city, not riding the shorelines of Lake Michigan.

          Also I’m fairly certain they only function during non-winter months. These water taxis (let’s just call them what they are) mostly serve tourists.

        • tomwest

          A 12-car car GO Train costs $35 million, and can carry 2,000 people are 150km/hr.
          A ferry would cost twice as much, and struggle to break 50km/hr.

  • Niagara Rocks

    Thousands of people commute everyday to the GTA from Niagara for work. And all summer long people from up North sit in gridlock trying to get to the falls (when normaly the QEW southbound would take max 2 hours from the Toronto core to the Falls but then in the summer it takes 5 or 6 if you dont know the backroads) I think its a great idea. Not for once you’re in the city but just getting there from Niagara. It beautiful down here and houses cost WAY less. People are already using us as a commuter community. We should make it easier for them.

    • dsmithhfx

      “We should make it easier for them.”

      That would be a provincial responsibility. The mayor of Toronto has got no remit to assist commuters who live in Niagara.

      • TheSotSays

        “Hi! Is your mother home?”
        “Nah, she ain’t here.”
        “She AIN”T here? Where is your grammar?”
        “She ain’t here either.”

    • OgtheDim

      And yet whenever anybody talks about helping Toronto with transit, that nice guy from the Niagara area who leads the Tories tells Toronto to wait in line behind tax cuts.

  • dsmithhfx

    Miller’s record on securing transit funding and spending it wisely is stellar. He did not leave office imposing a billion dollar property tax hike to pay for one, measly subway extension we don’t need. That’s $1500 per household in new taxes, wasted. Gravy train much?

    • TheSotSays

      At the end of 2003 when Miller showed up with his NDP tax plunderers, the liabilities of the City totalled $5.9 billion.

      When Miller
      hiked out at the end of 2010 the liabilities had more than doubled to

      That’s an increase of $6.6 billion.

      These numbers are from the
      publicly available audited financial statements, Schedule 70, line 9940.

      • dsmithhfx

        When Miller left office, the city had a budget surplus. Ford pissed it away in less than a year. The police have photos.

        • TheSotSays

          a) Miller increased our liabilities by $6.6 billion and he spent the money.
          b) Miller gave us tax increases of approx 28% and he spent the money.
          c) Miller gave us the vehicle registration fees and he spent
          the money.
          d) Miller gave us a special land transfer tax and he spent
          the money.
          e) Miller gave us a grocery bag tax but allowed Loblaws etc.
          to spend the money.

          • dsmithhfx

            Rob Ford’s billion dollar tax grab will take Toronto taxpayers 30 years to pay down a subway they don’t need and don’t want.

            Rob is trying to buy votes in Scarborough with a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money. Even people in Scarborough don’t want his subway. They’d much rather have the LRT that was already paid for by the province, has more stops (serves more people), and can be finished and running far sooner, with no new taxes needed. Sensible, no?

            But relax: he’s toast, it won’t happen.

            Tory’s proposal is another stupid idea that’s going nowhere.

          • TheSotSays

            But on top of that Miller of the NDP was a real winner:

            f) Miller of the NDP found that the City was the owner of advertising space on public land that has an unknown value but is worth at least $10 million and possibly as much as $20 million. Miller turned this over to a private company in return for a stack of construction pay toilets for downtown streets.
            g) Miller of the NDP purchased for $600 million or so a garbage disposal site in London Ontario and we now send dozens of heavily laden leaky garbage trucks out on to the 401 every day for a 450 km return trip that increases the danger of driving on the busiest highway in Ontario.
            h) Miller of the NDP, during his term, gave us a rat infested six week garbage strike in the middle of a hot summer leaving stinking garbage piled everywhere in the streets.
            i) Miller of the NDP in connection with the hot summer garbage strike closed all the kid’s swimming pools stealing from young children a precious summer of our short lives

            So if you believe the voters are going to elect another NDP tax plunderer, one from the federal parliament whose expenses of $530,000 a year were higher than anyone else, I believe your mistaken.

          • dsmithhfx

            Read all about it, because clearly, you haven’t bothered to yet:



            Ford voted to continue the garbage strike:

            Note Ford has not saved one penny on the massive, billion dollar police budget (it actually increased on his watch), and approved huge pay increases that brought many, many police on board the ‘sunshine list’. Bet you love that!

            Rob really likes that figure, a billion dollars, doesn’t he? He loves to say it, when he’s lying about how he “saved” a billion dollars.

          • TheSotSays

            The report on fiscal saving since Miller came from numbers prepared by the City finance department, it’s signed and posted on the internet. So if you insist on repeatedly slandering city officials by calling them liars I believe you’ll need a sturdy lawyer to save your tax plundering NDP skin.

            But on top of everything else Miller of the NDP made a stupid NDP play to get rid of the Gardner Expressway by neglecting the annual maintenance and now it’s going to cost a billion dollars to repair it.

            Miller of the NDP has been gone for four years but the NDP is the tax plundering gift that keeps on giving.

            The NDP made a bad mistake by picking a dud, tax plundering, unelectable candidate. It’s laughable really.

          • dsmithhfx

            I haven’t slandered anybody, and you had better be careful throwing that accusation around.

            Rob Ford is a serial liar, by his own, frequent admissions.

            Remember when he denied smoking crack? Denied the existence of the famous crack video? Remember when he ‘saw Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale peering over his back fence at his kids like a paedo’? All lies he later recanted, when presented with the real evidence (remarkable he didn’t get sued for slander by Dale. Oh wait, he did — until he recanted).

            We can’t trust anything he says. Especially about the state of the city budget. You know it, and so does everybody else.

            That’s why he’s down in the polls, and why he’ll lose in October.

            Deal with it.

          • TheSotSays

            Yeah well you have a dud tax plundering NDP candidate who thinks my money is hers and I’m not voting for her, and don’t personally know anyone who is.

            Deal with that!

          • Owner of the 2nd RF Tape

            And so long as I destroy the second Rob Ford tape for good, which I plan on doing after I *ahem* file my taxes, it’ll be clear sailing. Nothing’s gonna stop us now:

          • TheSotSays

            Thump thump thump!

          • torontothegreat

            This guy is like the office guy that defends his boss’s decision not go give him a raise “cause – budget”, while willfully ignoring the fact that his boss just bought a new BMW and a house in Oakville. Then can’t see his own boss’s incredible incompetency because – he buys the team donuts and gives him a pat on the back once in a while.

          • dsmithhfx

            I think he’s just a deranged ideologue (nobody told him the cold war is over), who doesn’t have a life and spends all his time trolling, because his posts are preponderantly so childish (that’ll have him running to the dictionary). TBH I suspect he doesn’t even live here, or is eligible to vote in Toronto municipal elections.

          • torontothegreat

            Great amendment! And I agree, he probably lives in some rural shit hole, completely bereft of activity and bored of kicking his dog and beating his wife.

  • TheSotSays

    I’ll go for that because it will get the ratepayers out of having to cough up for the annual parade.

    You’d all have to skinny dip yourselves over to the Ministry of Fish to beg for money and then sit around while they decided what they’d rather have, a sick parade or an icebreaker.