ntario PC leader Tim Hudak was on hand with members of his caucus and Toronto city councillors at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012
Credits: Jack Boland / Toronto Sun / QMI Agency
TORONTO - Toronto's great debate over transit might not be over if Tory Leader Tim Hudak wins the next election.
Hudak made it clear Tuesday he shares Mayor Rob Ford's zest for subways over streetcars and hinted that, if elected, he'll be looking to use any of the $8.4 billion in provincial cash slated to build Toronto's four light-rail lines towards subway construction.
"World-class cities build subways," Hudak told reporters. "You can't build a strong, thriving city by ripping up existing streets."
Hudak was at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday repeating his policy push to break gridlock in the greater
Toronto and Hamilton area by uploading the city's highways, subways and LRT lines to Metrolinx.
Hudak stopped short of saying he'd cancel any of the city's four LRT lines in favour of subways, saying only: "We'll be practical about this."
"I'll get the advice through Metrolinx, through my transportation minister, but whatever dollars are in the existing transit pool, I'll maximize those to go underground," he said. "I simply believe that world-class cities build underground, they build subways, they don't rip up existing streets.
"If I have the honour of serving as the next premier, I will use whatever dollars are available in the current pool to build underground," he added.
Council plunged into a bitter debate over transit earlier this year. In the end, a majority of councillors rejected Mayor Rob Ford's push to extend the Sheppard subway and instead approved reviving the
Transit City plan and its four LRT lines.
Hudak blasted Premier Dalton McGuinty for letting council draw Toronto's transit map.
"I believe Dalton McGuinty abdicated his responsibility as premier, basically handed it over to the city council, (said) do what you want with it and a circus erupted," Hudak said. "That's no way to plan regional transit. That's no way to create jobs."
Although he wasn't at Tuesday's announcement, the mayor welcomed Hudak's subway stance.
"I agree with Tim's position. Subways are the way to go and the majority of the people in this city want subways so he is doing the right thing," Ford said.
Coun. Doug Ford, who did attend Hudak's presser, welcomed the subway debate.
Ford said he was confident Hudak would deliver underground transit.
"It is time to build subways, not antiquated streetcars," Ford said.
Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli blasted Hudak's "flimsy, back-of-the-envelope proposal."
"He won't tell you where he will find the money and won't tell you which projects he would fund," Chiarelli said.
"The train has left the station. Toronto City Council has voted overwhelmingly to support the Metrolinx plan and we already have shovels in the ground. It's clear that Tim Hudak platform is totally off the rails."
TTC chair Karen Stintz, who met with Hudak on Monday along with TTC CEO Andy Byford, stressed "you can't build subways for free."
"I stand by the transit plan council approved," Stintz said. "We were asked to make a decision on our transit future. We made it."