Saturday, June 25, 2011

Councillor Ford guarantees Sheppard subway

TORONTO - The Sheppard subway line is going to get built, Councillor Doug Ford guaranteed Friday.

Ford made the guarantee to Councillor Janet Davis in a testy exchange following a brief public meeting of Toronto Transit Infrastructure Ltd. — the arm’s length corporation set up by the TTC to draft a plan for Mayor Rob Ford’s transit vision.
“As sure as I’m standing here, we’re getting subways,” a fired-up Ford told Davis. “I can’t be any clearer, there is going to be a subway on Sheppard.”
In a report to the board Friday, TTIL president and CEO Gordon Chong outlined the company will set up a working group that will work out the business plan and feasibility study for the Sheppard subway extension over a 12 to 18 month period.
Chong, who repeated Friday he’s confident Ford’s $4.7 billion subway is possible, sits on the board with Councillors Ford and Norm Kelly.
According to documents released with the board’s agenda, the company has spent $97,287 on services so far including $24,026 to pay Chong three month’s salary and for an April trip to Ottawa. The rest of the money was spent to pay project manager Dr. Joanne Kennelly and legal bills.
Davis and Councillor Joe Mihevc were the only speakers in the public gallery at the meeting.
The two councillors each gave six-minutes speeches to the three-person board demanding more public accountability.
Davis said she was shocked to see the company had spent almost $100,000 of the $160,000 it started with.
“You’re now contemplating taking up to 18 months to complete not just the preliminary financial analysis but the feasibility study,” she said. “It’s a plan for a plan for a project that will take us into 2013 before we see anything that presents evidence one way or another about whether the Sheppard subway can be funded.”
“It feels like this is a big black hole of wasteful spending,” she said.
Chong stressed he will give a report to council after Labour Day on the “feasibility and justification for going forward.”

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