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politics

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.”

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