Mayor Tory's remarks on transit planning in Scarborough - March 2, 2016.
"Good afternoon. Thank you Robert for that introduction. It’s great to be here today, with my council colleagues, Paul and Norm and Glen and Chin. And I thank you all for joining me.
I know how important Scarborough is to all of you. It’s your home, it’s where you’re raising your families, it’s where you run your businesses or organizations and where you’ve built your careers – or where you’re in the process of building them.
I thank you for getting involved and for speaking up for your community. But I also know that you don’t always have the tools you need, or the support you deserve. And my job, as I see it, is to help change that.
Scarborough is a vitally important part of the dynamic city I was elected to lead – 625,000 people, 22 per cent of Toronto's population, with 190,000 jobs, and more than 13,000 businesses.
Scarborough is also personally important to me because of the things that I want to achieve as mayor. I want people to feel part of Toronto, no matter where they live, and to make sure they feel respected, included and that they have the same opportunities as everyone else.
I want smart, talented and hardworking people like yourselves to feel as though success is possible here in Scarborough or anywhere else in Toronto, and for businesses of all sizes to grow and prosper, again regardless of their location within our city. And finally, I want to help this city move, by building transit and doing things to reduce the amount of time that people spend in traffic.
Quite frankly, some combination of complacency, misperception and benign neglect has led to virtually continuous under investment in Scarborough for decades now.
Whether it is hospitals and health care, economic development or transit, Scarborough has been prevented from achieving its full potential by this under investment and I am here as mayor to say that is not right and it doesn’t make sense. All of us in government are working together to address it.
I sought this office pledging to bring the city together. That does not involve playing the politics of envy as others before me have done. But it does mean investing in areas of the city where we have a deficit and a demonstrated need, because what’s good for one part of our great city is good for the entire city.
I want to focus on transit today, because I believe for all of Toronto, including Scarborough, our under investment in this area has held us back from modernizing and helping reach our full potential.
Today, I truly believe we have the right plan for a transit network in Scarborough that will build consensus in City Council and allow us to move forward with confidence and certainty, because it was developed with an understanding of what makes this region of our city special, and the kind of investment it needs.
It is a plan that is not based on one single project, but that is designed to address three key priorities:
- Moving people around Scarborough in a way that’s consistent with where and how they live and work;
- Connecting people and their neighbourhoods to opportunity, whether that is an education or a job;
- And connecting Scarborough to the rest of the city, both for the sake of the connection itself but also to attract jobs and investment here with transit being one of the best possible investment magnets we have.
In the past, others have tried to polarize the debate over transit as being about subway or no subway, LRT instead of a subway, SmartTrack but no subway, and on it goes.
These are false choices.
I say false choices because the evidence clearly suggests that the elimination of Scarborough's transit deficit and the maximization of jobs and investment here require us to employ all modes of transit – from heavy rail via SmartTrack, to an extension of the Bloor Danforth subway line, to LRTs and improved bus routes – many of which we restored in Scarborough after their cancellation under the previous administration.
This is a plan that provides dramatically more transit service for Scarborough because it is not just about one project or another, one type of transportation versus another.
Our city needs to be building a network across the entire city, including right here in Scarborough, and we need to wrap our minds around the fact that any one individual line is not a solution, its simply part of a system.
In Scarborough, we are working towards a network that understands how people actually move around Scarborough, and the investment they need to help them get to work and home again at the end of the day, or get to the library, or go shopping.
This plan also understands that transit connections are a necessary prerequisite to development because when governments invest in a part of our city – especially in public transit – other investment will follow. Transit projects drive development, they drive business; they create neighbourhoods and centres of commerce, of jobs, of vitality.
This new network that you see here is about moving the most people possible with the funding that has been committed to Scarborough, and it is about using that funding to drive investment and development where it is needed most, and where it can have the greatest impact for you.
Our new plan for Scarborough will build an express subway extension of the Bloor Danforth line to the Scarborough Town Centre.
This was contemplated decades ago and it just makes sense to take advantage of existing development in the civic heart of Scarborough and to stimulate more investment of all kinds there: business, retail, residential and public sector.
With a modern, express rapid transit connection to the heart of Scarborough, I could see a case being made to locate a new government building here.
Why can’t those jobs be located in Scarborough?
Why couldn’t there be a new hospital here or expanded retail?
Ask yourselves this question: if the Davis government hadn’t built the RT to showcase its own transit option, would we have extended the Bloor Danforth subway to the Scarborough Town Centre long before now?
The answer is, of course: yes, we would have. So now, with the demise of the RT, it’s time to get on with that job. Our transit network for Scarborough will also build an extension of the crosstown rapid transit project from Kennedy Station up Kingston Road and to the University of Scarborough campus, one of the biggest centres of growth and employment in the region.
This plan adds 23 new rapid transit stops in Scarborough, using the available funding designated for Scarborough transit by the provincial and federal levels of government.
This is about more transit, much more transit, for the same money.
At the same time, these services will create the foundation of a strong network – one that feeds into the larger city system along with expanded TTC bus service and SmartTrack local service on the GO corridor - to make sure that people can travel from all parts of Scarborough, wherever they want to go, with just a single transfer.
SmartTrack is an essential part of this network, forming a new north-south spine in Scarborough, fed by busy east/west bus lines and representing an early alternative to going west to the overcrowded Yonge Street subway and, frankly, a more direct way to get downtown and back.
This is the type of transit we want to build – not a token line, but an optimized network – something that looks like this when expanded across the entire city. This map gives you an idea of the work we need to do, and the next phase of the transit network this city deserves.
This map simply represents all of our currently proposed projects layered on a single map, something that creates a transit system that we are used to seeing when we look at cities like New York and Tokyo and London, but not in Toronto. This is aspirational and of course, it will take time.
That is why this network includes projects that will occur over the short, medium and long term. That is why you have to have things on here like the crosstown line on Eglinton, which is being built now.
We also have SmartTrack, which will bring much needed relief in the medium term, and projects like the relief line which will take at least a dozen years to complete but the planning of which is already well underway.
This is what it means to plan. To take the facts – how people live, where they are going – to take all available modes of transit and then in a rational, responsible order, build them over time as you must.
This map shows something really fascinating, it shows where Scarborough residents are going when they take transit.
This map tells us that the Scarborough residents who are going downtown are going directly downtown. These are young people who live at home with their parents – maybe with some of you – and who commute downtown to go to school at UofT or Ryerson or George Brown. They’re young, and they’re increasingly opting out of driving, because it’s too expensive or inconvenient.
But this map also shows us that most people who take transit in Scarborough, they’re staying inside Scarborough, they’re going to work and to school – to thriving places like UTSC and Centennial College – and to their businesses within this part of the city.
This information is important because it shows us that you cannot address Scarborough's transit needs with a single project, you simply can’t. Scarborough needs express connections downtown for people who are going directly downtown, but it also needs better transit networks inside the region. It also highlights the areas where investment must be made for other reasons. It shows us the centres of business, of industry, of opportunity. These hubs exist in every region of our city, they are the places where people work and where companies invest.
And that brings me to the next image that I want to show you. This shows the size of the Scarborough Town Centre area, as compared to the downtown core. As you can see, if you transported the Town Centre and laid it over my office at Nathan Phillips Square, it would reach from Spadina to Jarvis and from King to Gerrard. That is a giant piece of our city, with massive potential. But development around the centre has stalled since the early 1990s, and the city needs to kick-start development of all kinds, investment and jobs, by investing in transit and demonstrating that we believe in developing the centre of Scarborough as a vital part of our city.
You can change landscapes through this kind of investment, and that’s what we plan to do. Not just by connecting the Scarborough Town Centre into the subway system and making it the hub of rapid transit in the region. We’re also going to drive investment by providing transit along Kingston Road, and through seven neighbourhood improvement areas.
Right now, about 13,000 Scarborough residents live within 500 metres of transit stations.
With this new network, the number will increase to almost 64,000.
55,000 more people will be able to reach UTSC in 45 minutes or less by the TTC.
170,000 more people will be able to get to the Scarborough Centre by transit in 45 minutes or less.
This very same plan would allow a Scarborough resident to get on the crosstown here in Scarborough and ride right out to the airport.
I believe the express subway extension to Scarborough Town Centre will lead to renewed interest in investing and creating jobs there, and I will look at opportunities for the city itself to provide leadership by locating more city jobs in a more accessible, less expensive Scarborough.
That is the approach I want to take here, and across Toronto, because I know it works.
My priorities of ensuring people across the city feel connected, giving them the right transit and transportation options and building the economy – they are all interconnected.
When developers see shovels in the ground, when they see the city is willing to do its part and put some skin in the game by building transit, they know that a region is ready for investment.
They need that certainty, and we have to provide them with it, so that Scarborough receives the attention and the investment it needs for revitalization and economic growth.
We saw how this works recently on Kingston Road. About a year ago, we repaved a section of Kingston Road near Birchcliff as part of our plan to improve the Scarborough street scape. This was something the city wanted to do, but it had a second positive effect because it prompted business owners to make their own investments as a result.
With a new street, a local business owner invested in resurfacing his plaza – to bring its quality up to the level of the improved neighbourhood, which was now nicely paved and was given planters and gateway signage.
That’s the relationship that we need to have with business owners in Scarborough: we will do our part, we will make investments, so that your businesses can get stronger and improve and invest more themselves.
We will do this through transit investments, but also through our other interactions with you and your community. Along with my council colleagues we’re here to help navigate the red tape that can get in the way of your business and, where possible to help you get rid of it all together.
It’s also why we as a City invest in mural projects and the outside the box campaign, which employs local artists to beautify some of our city’s unattractive underpasses and public infrastructure.
These are investments we can make to help people feel good about their neighbourhoods and proud of what is possible.
It’s why the City invested in a beautiful new Scarborough library, and why we are investing in road improvements across the region this year.
It’s why the Pan Am pool at UTSC is such a proud legacy of the Pan Am games: it is an investment that serves the local community but also speaks to the ambition and potential of this part of the city.
We all have to do our part to create the opportunities our neighbourhoods deserve. And we all have to work together to make sure that progress is made. That is why I'm so encouraged that you have formed the Scarborough Business Association.
I know that the unique makeup of Scarborough, with micro businesses and plazas, makes it difficult for bias to be formed. But that reality should not prevent you from having the same seat at the table, the same voice in the conversation.
I want to hear your voices. And I am asking for your support.
Now, I am asking you to say what I think the most people feel in Scarborough and across the city: we have a plan now. It is based on real facts and expert advice.
It uses all modes of transit and makes the right choices as opposed to false choices or no choices. It connects Scarborough to itself and connects often isolated neighbourhoods to opportunity. It connects Scarborough to the rest of Toronto, and yes that means better, faster ways downtown but it also means better faster ways for people to come from downtown to Scarborough to work. And it will attract new investment and jobs. It’s a kick-start Scarborough deserves.
I need you to stand with City Councillors in their support of this plan. We need to make sure it happens. To finally decide to do something. I sought this office to restore unity and respect in this city, but also to address the unmet needs that have been holding us back. It is Scarborough's time to move forward.
Please help me to make that happen. Thank you."