Analysis: time is running out for John Tory to fulfil City Hall’s long-promised promise of 24-hour public transit
Mayor John Tory has said it is “probably time” to step down as mayor, following his failure to deliver a coveted subway extension to Scarborough.
Having served in office for eight years, one elected mandate, Tory cited the looming municipal election as a significant factor in his decision.
During an interview on Toronto TV station CP24, Tory acknowledged the anger in some communities over perceived interference in their efforts to get a subway extension and other transit improvements.
Asked if he would be willing to step down if an election petitioning for a byelection was successful, Tory said, “I’m focused on governing.”
Tory made it clear he will still help recruit his brother, a newly elected MPP and councillor in the Toronto area, but he did not indicate how much time he intends to devote to politics.
“I’m not going to make a final decision until the end of the election, so I don’t want to say too much.”
John Tory had recently announced that he will not run for a second term.
“I’ve said many times I will stand down at the end of my term, and that is very likely the end of my term,” he said.
But Tory’s successor will need to find ways to get transit to parts of the city where it’s not served.
The new mayor will need to walk a fine line in prioritizing making progress on transit projects versus reducing gridlock and other issues.
The Ford government’s decision to cancel the GO train between Niagara Falls and Hamilton shows that Toronto cannot sit idly by.
Tory attempted to make transit his signature issue during his re-election campaign, giving a speech at the High Park farmers’ market in February.
But the platform has not yet delivered the kind of bang it requires.
For the past two months, Tory had to be a cheerleader for the Conservative government to save a big-ticket transit promise – the Scarborough subway extension.
The Ford government put the kibosh on the project because it believes there are enough extra seats on public transit without the subway extension.
Tory vowed to make the subway line a priority for his successor, but he may have given the next mayor less leverage.
The next mayor will need to work on consolidating Toronto’s multiple lines rather than expanding transit lines from multiple sources.
Greenfield South and Baydale is a good example.
Maple Leaf Square, on the waterfront, is a good place to allow rapid transit, given its location along an important route between Yonge and Spadina.
That expansion would be a big win, since the area is basically just separated by a causeway from the downtown core and much of the city.
There have been attempts at building a rapid transit extension down Baydale to Scarborough, but the scale of the project has been scaled back.
Toronto’s first major train line was the Northumberland Line, which was built by engineering and construction firm, Ivanhoe Cambridge.
The corporation, which oversees highways, bridges and major municipal projects across Ontario, will be one of the first to see if the funds on offer under the province’s infrastructure fund can be used for projects beyond massive road-building projects.