Ward 30 debate pits subways versus light rail transit

A candidate in the Toronto-Danforth municipal riding says Toronto should reconsider its plan to emphasize streetcars as part of Transit City.

Mark Dewdney, who’s running for the council seat in Ward 30, raised the issue during a candidates’ debate at Ralph Thornton Centre on Oct 13.

Under the current Transit City plan, eight Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines, including a line across Eglinton Avenue, would connect Kennedy subway station to Pearson International Airport.

Dewdney said Toronto’s rising population suggests to him that Transit City should improve the subway system.

“In 20 years when my little girl is attending York University, is it going be easier for her to take a streetcar … or take the subway?” Dewdney said. “How much is it going to cost to dig up that LRT line and put a subway in place when you have that monumental population explosion?”

He added that he would support an additional subway line across Eglinton not an LRT.

“We need a subway out to Scarborough. If people are going to come downtown we need to provide them an easy way,”he said. Incumbent Paula Fletcher favours the LRT concept of Transit City.

“To build subways you need density,” she said. “You don’t spend $300 million a kilometre to have 15 houses that have access,” Fletcher said.

She said the LRT would move people more effectively than the subway.

“It (LRT) is a 121 kilometres,” she said. “The subway plans of some of the mayor candidates are 12 kilometres. …You can do the math.”

Dewdney said streetcars are best used when they lead into subway lines.

“Long streetcar lines are lines to nowhere,” he said. “Streetcars need to feed rapid transit. Streetcars are not rapid transit.”