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Bureaucrats Take the Fight for Waterfront LRT Straight to Higher Levels of Government

TTC CEO Andy Byford and city manager Joe Pennachetti are going over council's head and taking their proposal directly to the province and the feds.

TTC CEO Andy Byford and city manager Joe Pennachetti believe Toronto needs a new light-rail line on the waterfront—and in search of funding for the project, which would likely cost hundreds of millions, they’re turning to the provincial and federal governments, sidestepping the political wrangling of City Hall.

The route they’re championing would involve the East Bayfront LRT—mentioned in the last provincial budget but by no means a done deal—and the Waterfront West LRT, part of former mayor David Miller’s now-defunct Transit City plan. It would create an east-west transit option that could relieve congestion on the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard and provide an easier way for those in Liberty Village to get downtown.

Earlier this month, Byford and Pennachetti presented their case to senior provincial bureaucrats, and they now intend to discuss the issue with provincial politicians. After that, they aim to raise the subject with the feds. Their approach is unlike the one usually adopted: Toronto transit projects are generally presented by politicians, or arise from advice given by council to City staff.

“Doubtless, there would still be more discussion at city council,” Byford told the Globe and Mail. But, he added, “The debate tends to start with, well, where’s the money going to come from. So at least if you’re able to go, to say, well we have some agreement in principle, for the money, now let’s talk about the issue, the actual concept. You can change that debate, because you don’t immediately get bogged down on who’s paying, or where’s the money coming from.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Globe article was co-written by David Hains, a Torontoist staff writer currently on hiatus completing a summer fellowship with the Globe.