POLITICS
02/08/2012 08:50 EST | Updated 04/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Toronto council votes in favour of light rail transit; Ford says he won't give up

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford's vision of Toronto's transit future has been defeated at a special city council meeting today.

Toronto city council has voted 25-18 in favour of Toronto Transit Commission chairwoman Karen Stinz's proposal of a light rail transit, in stead of subway.

Stinz wants to revive a plan called Transit City that was approved under former mayor David Miller and places more emphasis on light rail transit moving above ground.

Earlier Wednesday, Ford sent out a special message to supporters urging them to let their councillors know they support underground transit.

The meeting started with councillors offering nearly 20 petitions containing thousands of names, most in favour of light-rail.

After the 11-hour meeting, Ford called the city council vote "irrelevant," saying the project is provincial and the decision is now in the hands of Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Late Monday, Ford sent a letter to taxpayers on Facebook saying the light-rail network his opponents are pushing for would create traffic chaos and lead to years of needless and messy construction.

Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli says now that Council has endorsed a position, the province's Metrolinx agency has been asked to consider the impacts on current transit planning and report back as quickly as possible.

“What matters most to Torontonians is that we get shovels in the ground and deliver transit in Toronto," Chiarelli said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“As time is of the essence, we look to the mayor and council to move forward together and help us build public transit, in accordance with the five principles that reflect the public interest and the mandate given to Metrolinx.”

The principles were listed as follows:

— Any project paid for by the province must achieve sound regional transportation objectives.

— Provincial funding for rapid transit projects in Toronto is fixed at $8.4 billion (2010$). The Province and Metrolinx need to demonstrate ownership and control in accordance with provincial accounting rules, in order to amortize the investment.

— Any penalties related to contractual commitments or the loss of investments that result from changes sought by the City are the City's responsibility.

— Costs related to delay must be assumed by the City.

— The plan should minimize impacts on traffic to the extent reasonably possible.

(680News)