As Mayor Rob Ford continues to push for a revised transit plan that would bury the 25 km of the Eglinton-Scarborough LRT (Light Rail Transit), some Scarborough councillors are trying to plan for the future. And while a number of the councillors voiced their support for the Mayor’s plan, some advocates believe that plan is based on ideology.
Ward 37, home to Councillor Michael Thompson, has its southern border stretching over a section of Eglinton Avenue. Once built, the Eglinton LRT will serve his ward from Victoria Park Road to Kennedy Station. Thompson spoke with residents in the area and reached a consensus.
“Bury it,” he said.
Thompson may not mince words, but said he is still mindful of the cost associated with burying the LRT. That cost has one transit advocate concerned.
Jamie Kirkpatrick, the public transit campaigner with the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said burying the Eglinton LRT line will cost an extra $2 billion, and that comes at a price.
“It costs us Finch Avenue [LRT] and it costs us the Sheppard Avenue [LRT],” he said.
“[Ford] thinks that anything that is not on wheels should not be on the road.”
– Jamie Kirkpatrick
Kirkpatrick supports the current transit plan in which the LRT is built underground where necessary and above ground where possible. Kirkpatrick said the mayor’s plan is based on ideology.
“He (Ford) thinks that anything that is not on wheels should not be on the road,” he said.
Councillor Norm Kelly, who serves Ward 40 in Scarborough, said the issue is not about ideology. Kelly recently voiced his support for the mayor’s plan and said that burying the line is merely the appropriate response to the challenge.
“It’s a transportation issue,” he said. “This is where a lot of the growth is going to occur over the next 40 years.”
Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, Ward 35, is working with landowners along Eglinton Avenue to ensure that development proposals meet the future density and growth estimates Kelly is talking about.
“By the time the LRT is in place, we could see the type of density you see in the downtown core,” she said.
The northern border of Ward 35 shares the same stretch of Eglinton Avenue as Ward 37, but unlike councillors Thompson and Kelly, Berardinetti has not made a decision on which plan to support.
She does, however, understand its importance.
“This is the biggest item that will come across the desk of a councillor and the most important issue facing Toronto,” she said.