Monday, April 23, 2012

A Chat with Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow

I spoke to Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow the other day about subways. It was a good conversation. I got three things out of it:

1. Matlow wanted me to understand and accept why he voted the way he did on the Eglinton and Sheppard lines. I still disagree with forcing commuters to endure one more transfer point on their trip, but ...

2. There was enough interest and passion generated about subways during that whole debacle that at least a few Councillors understood that the status quo, that not building subways due to funding constrictions, was no longer okay and that they had to act. Being politicians, they can't act alone. I know some do, and then they get soundly booed by someone somewhere or everyone, depending on how popular their action is. But people are liking to be consulted more and more. It is no longer sufficient to elect and forget. As a first step, Matlow intimated that a few Councillors will strike a committee to spend a year studying funding ideas to expand the TTC. At the time I talked to him, they were only discussing this idea. I hope sincerely that they will stop discussing and start forming, start studying funding options, start working on making the Relief Line happen, and most of all repeat what Mayor Rob Ford did last year and start consulting with the public.

3. Matlow has never travelled to the Distillery District by TTC (though has visited many times). Tut. No wonder Toronto Council has been so blasé about the whole PanAm-how-to-get-athletes-from-their-village-to-venues thing. I bet he isn't the only Councillor to be oblivious to how piss-poor TTC service is down there. I challenged him to figure out on his own how to get there by TTC from the west and then the east. And what I mean by get there is direct to destination by public transit, not somewhere in the vicinity then walk. That's because at the Distillery's door is about as close to the athlete's village as we're going to get right now. The King car is sort of close by to both, but not as close as the Pape bus, which runs every half hour and woe betide you if you miss it, especially in winter or the heat of the summer. I have not read on Twitter that he took me up on the offer. So I should check.

Meanwhile I drove by the athlete's village last week. Wow. From hills of dirt, it's suddenly rising up into buildings, the smoothest roads, benches, brickwork, light posts, and little trees. Yet as much as has appeared, way more has yet to be built. And it's only accessible by car so far. The TTC does have plans to access it or stop at the door, other than the half-hour Pape bus, right? Right?

Updated at 15:28 with text in green to clarify Councillor Matlow has not travelled to the Distillery District by TTC specifically. (He has spent much time in the District though.) Mea culpa.

2 comments:

Mark Dowling said...

Transit improvements are not due until after the games. The athletes will be coached directly to/from venues and it will not be open to the public. The Cherry Street streetcar right-of-way between King Street and an interim loop just before the railway tracks.

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

Thanks Mark for passing on that info! All I can say is ... wow!

Talk about missing the boat on using the Games as a way to improve transit in the core and especially near the lake as well as allowing the athletes to be part of the city. Once all those booming condos are built and the village filled with new post-Game residents, transportation is going to be a nightmare. Has any other city been such a failure in this regard? This has gotta be a new transit low for Toronto, which I didn't think was possible.