02/29/2012 08:15 EST | Updated 04/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Rob Ford Reaches Out To Councillors On Transit


Mayor Rob Ford is making a final push to extend the Sheppard subway, reaching out to centrist councillors ahead of a key meeting on the issue.

Ford has met privately with several councillors, including Josh Colle and TTC chair Karen Stintz, to push for the subway ahead of March 15, when an advisory panel will make recommendations to a special council meeting — to either extend the Sheppard subway or build above-ground light rail.

Colle said the private one-on-one with Ford was a good move by the mayor, who has been criticized by some councillors as unwilling to compromise.

"I think part of it is a recognition that there's a more effective way of working with council...It's in his best interest and I think everyone's best interest," Colle said. "So I think he's reaching out for that reason."

The March 15 meeting is being called council's final word on transit. A decision from the province on its $8.4 billion in funding is expected soon after.

Ford's vision overturned by council

Ford had part of his plan to put new light-rail lines underground overturned at a council meeting in early February, when a plan focused on LRTs — above ground but servicing more neighbourhoods — was brought forward by Stintz and approved 25-18.

The mayor immediately said the council debate was "irrelevant" and has since put pressure on Premier Dalton McGuinty, arguing that polls show people prefer subways.

The province has said it will follow the will of council.

Ford's plan calls for a subway under Sheppard Avenue. Stintz's motion did not kill that idea, but took the proposal off the table while an advisory panel reviewed transit options there.

Stintz said at the time the Sheppard portion of her motion was meant to keep the mayor's concerns in mind.

During their one-on-ones, both Stintz and Colle told Ford he needs to explain how a subway will be paid for.

"I just told him I want to see a business case," Colle said. "I don't think that's too out there."