August 30, 2018
By Arianne Robinson
Calling Mayor John Tory’s last election SmartTrack promise a “mirage,” former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat unveiled her transit platform to members of the media on Thursday morning. The plan details how she will “take the politics out of transit planning once and for all” – an idea she pushed at her campaign launch last week.
“The plan [is not] based on election cycles… this is about real transit and a real plan for the city of Toronto over the long term,” Keesmaat told the media on Thursday morning.
Pointing to what was termed as key priorities on a digital map, Keesmaat did not introduce any radical new subway lines. However, she did passively endorse a three-stop Scarborough subway, saying she thinks “the province is going to do it no matter what.”
The former chief planner believes her 30-year plan will take the “chaos” out of transit planning, but did not explain how her plan would progress if future councils do not support it.
Pushing experience as a politician aside, Keesmaat repeated her background as a city planner gives her an important edge as mayoral candidate. “When I was the chief [city] planner for five years, I had the wonderful opportunity of serving the city and leading a team of transportation and transit experts that are the best in class and I learned something from leading that team. I learned of the chaos it causes when a politician draws up a line on a napkin and says implement this like John Tory did with his SmartTrack mirage.”
Repeated in Keesmaat’s presentations was the title, “A Real Plan for Transit.”
Later Thursday morning, Tory’s campaign team fired a response, calling her plan “a risky proposition and that means nothing is being built. We’re going back to the bad old days of endless debates, endless re-drafts and endless talk.”
In response to Keesmaat’s stance on a three-stop subway, the statement from the Tory campaign read, “reversing course on the Scarborough subway extension for a fourth time, would mean cancelling work already underway, incurring massive new costs and negotiation funding agreements with other levels of government.”
KEESMAAT’S KEY TRANSIT PRIORITIES
#1 Three components of the relief line: (south) Bloor Street to Osgoode, (north) up to Don Mills connecting at Sheppard, (west) connecting back to Bloor line south
#2 Make permanent the King Street Pilot, with possible extension in direction
#3 Scarborough transit: three-stop subway extension north, build Eglinton East LRT Crosstown
#4 Enhanced bus service on nine routes that are faster, more frequent, and more reliable
#5 Eglinton West LRT Crosstown extends to the Airport
#6 build Jane LRT
#7 build Waterfront LRT