On September 14, I sent an email message to the candidates of the four major political parties (Liberal, PC, NDP, and Green) in the Thornhill riding indicating that I would like to have a few minutes to discuss, either by telephone or in person, the issue of rapid transit. I provided a link to the Toronto LRT Information page for reference.
I wanted to find out whether they believe that subway expansion is the only way to go or if other forms of rapid transit, especially LRT, should be looked into. I also wanted to find out if they were aware of alternatives and if they were aware of some of the drawbacks to a heavy rail subway option.
It is not my intent to recommend any particular candidate. I will present just the facts related to transit issues and leave the decision to the reader. This information is intended to provide information about the candidates specifically as the information on the parties’ platforms is easily available through literature and websites. Where a candidate specifically discussed party platform, it may be included. The candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.
Lloyd Helferty - Green Party
Mr. Helferty was open to ideas of transit alternatives, and is especially favourable to LRT options. Options that provide rapid and attractive alternatives to the private automobile are to be persued, and the lower cost of LRT construction can provide rapid transit that reaches more people for the same cost.
Sandra Parrott - New Democratic Party
After the initial email, I sent another email request on September 26 but received no contact from Ms. Parrott.
Should Ms. Parrott contact me after this is initially published, I will provide an amendment.
Mario Racco - Liberal
Mr. Rocco responded to me by email with the following:
Let me confirm to you that we are and must be involved with local public transit. We have already funded 1/3rd of the Spadina York Subway Extension and will fund 2/3rd of the Yonge Street Subway Extension.
As well, we have given $.02/litre of our existing gas tax to
municipalities towards public transportation and of course, there’s much more to be done.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Now, I did provide a link to the LRT Information Site with my email, so about two minutes of checking there would have revealed that I must have some issue with subway expansion. I do not have a problem with someone having the opinion that subway is the only answer. Had Mr. Racco had the courtesy to take a couple of minutes to see where I was coming from, then he could have phrased his response that he, or the party, felt that subway expansion was most appropriate which is why they are behind extending Spadina and Yonge.
What he did, I believe, was to give a stock answer based on my email that mentions rapid transit. To me, that gives the message that my issue was not worth finding out what it really was. However, perhaps it was not since I do not live in the Thornhill riding. I leave you, the reader, to interpret his response as you see fit.
Peter Shurman - Progressive Conservative
Mr. Shurman was open to ideas of transit alternatives. He indicated he was aware of the Subway Now group and their aspirations. He indicated that as he is not an expert in the subject, any investigation into transit expansion should involve knowledgeable experts as well as public input. Not being an expert in transit issues, Mr. Shurman expressed some confusion between “subway” and an LRT that is underground.
This is understandable, as it likely confuses much of the general population. After all, the word “subway” basically means underground. I clarified my use of the term “subway” to refer specifically to a heavy-rail, high capacity, rapid transit system which is generally underground, though may be at or above grade.
That said, Mr. Shurman welcomed the idea of a suitable-capacity mode of transit that may be underground like the subway that would involve a transfer point either at Finch or Steeles. Again, in the context of having those knowledgable on the issue give the proper look at what is best.