Hudak and Mammo Back Emery Village BIA
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Hudak and Mammo Back Emery Village BIA

The subway vs. LRT debate moves to Mammoliti's ward.

Finch bus; photo by {a href=””}AshtonPal{/a} from the {a href=””}Torontoit Flickr Pool{/a}.

“Gridlock” was Tim Hudak’s word of the day as the Ontario PC leader joined councillors Doug Ford and Giorgio Mammoliti to talk up subways during a small press conference at the office of the Emery Village Business Improvement Area early this afternoon.

The meeting was ostensibly held in support of the BIA’s freshly rescinded support of a Finch Avenue LRT. Only, members of the BIA didn’t get to do much talking.

“I think we’ve got a responsibility as a provincial government to help break gridlock,” said Hudak, who would repeat the word no fewer than three times during his roughly six minute address. “Money’s on the table. It’s the biggest investment in Canada. So let’s do it right. Let’s invest in subways.”

When asked about how exactly such a subway plan—while serving all proposed routes—would be financed, however, Hudak was unable to provide an alternative funding model, and he rejected any suggestion that the province should spend more than the $8.4 billion it has already promised Toronto for transit projects.

Local councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West), who also serves on the BIA’s board, rehashed his ongoing claim that excessive spending on the part of the TTC is to blame for financial shortages, contending that the costs of subway developments in other world cities are far lower than projected costs locally. He suggested the TTC “take [its] tailpipes, put it between [its] legs, and walk away.”

He then went on to say that the people of his ward would sooner wait 50 years for a subway development, and have no alternative transit built in the meantime, than have an LRT built now. “Most people believe that we should not be rushing public transportation,” said Mammoliti. “It should be well thought-out, it should be well-financed, and it’s not going to gouge the taxpayers.”

BIA chair Lorraine Chabot-Vecera did not support Mammoliti’s hard line subway-or-nothing approach, but did say, “I think that consulting with our membership is going to be what’s going to give us the best option for them.”

The BIA originally backed the LRT proposal: “the community response was unanimous in support of the new LRT system,” enthuses their 2008 newsletter [PDF] describing a community meeting dedicated to discussing it. Today, Chabot-Vecera insisted: “We didn’t really change our stance. At the time it was the only option given us, was to have LRTs. But now we have other options available to us, and we’d like to have the best option available to our membership.”

“We need consultation. We need to see the plans,” said BIA vice-chair Peter Zahakos. “That’s all we’re asking, is for consultation.”