The issues pertaining to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) have arrived at a cross-road. As I type this, Toronto City Council is preparing to debate various motions to alter the composition of the TTC Board. At the moment, the board is made up of nine city councillors. Michael Thompson, Councillor for Ward 37 and Chair of the Economic Development Committee, will be introducing a motion that will eliminate councillors from the board in favour of private citizens. Karen Stintz, Councillor for Ward 16 and Chair of the TTC, is proposing expanding the board to eleven members composed of seven city councillors and four private citizens.
I see both solutions as problematic. Thompson is offering a ‘quick fix’. He
believes that in removing councillors, the TTC will no longer be subject to the
political whims of those councillors attempting to appeal to voters in their
ward. He may very well be correct in his assessment. The problem he is not
addressing, however, is the potential ‘yes (wo)men’ from the Mayor’s office;
only present to ‘fix’ votes in the Mayor’s favour. Regardless of who is Mayor of
Toronto, such a situation would not benefit residents. Those appointed to the
board benefit only the Mayor of the day’s political vision; I would argue not
always in the best interest of Torontonians. I would also like to take this
opportunity to remind those that support such a plan, that Rob Ford will not be
Mayor forever. I would ask those same people if they would have supported such a
motion under former Mayors David Miller or Barbara Hall.
Alternatively, Stintz (who I have been defensive of as TTC Chair since she
took the position), is offering another extreme. Her plan to increase the number
of representatives would lead to a re-election of TTC board members. It has
already been acknowledged that Stintz will stand for chair again. Following that
she would wish to maintain the memberships of Peter Milczyn, John Parker, and
Maria Augimeri; while adding Joe Mihevc, Glen DeBaermaeker, and Josh Colle.
Every single political member of this potential board has come out against the
leadership of Mayor Ford on the transit file. I cannot pretend that this would
be good for Toronto. City councils, boards, commissions, and committees need
debate. They require diverse opinion. Stacking the deck to the left or the right
will not benefit our city. Our transit will be worse for it.
Here, in lies, the problem. The TTC is a mess. It will take more than simply
altering the composition of a board to fix transit in this city. Launching into
debates about such things distracts from larger issues. Why is our council not
discussing procurement? Or expansion? Or perhaps why, after eighteen months of
Mayor Rob Ford, absolutely no construction has begun on making the TTC the world
class transit commission Toronto deserves?
[Originally posted at WomensPost.ca]