TORONTO – Mayoralty candidate David Soknacki today vowed to return to the plan to build the Scarborough Light Rail Transit (LRT) line rather than the Scarborough subway extension, and to cancel Mayor Rob Ford’s $1 billion property tax increase needed to pay for the subway option, delivering the largest tax cut in Toronto’s history.
A key policy in Soknacki’s campaign platform, the commitment to the Scarborough LRT and tax cut marks a return to evidence-based transit decision-making in Toronto, responsible management in the Office of the Mayor, and fiscal conservatism that avoids increasing property taxes.
“The LRT is the fast track to Scarborough’s future – it’s the right transit option for Scarborough,” said Soknacki, a Scarborough resident since 1963. “Mayor Ford’s subway extension, and its one-billion-dollar cost to the taxpayers of Toronto, is the wrong option.”
Under political pressure from Mayor Ford, and with a flip-flop by TTC Chair Karen Stintz, a narrow majority on Toronto City Council voted for Ford’s subway option in October 2013. By raising taxes to pay for the subway option, Ford went back on his 2010 campaign promise not to raise taxes. In reversing her long-time pro-LRT stance, Stintz defied the TTC’s priorities and ignored the advice of its professional planners, engineers and transit experts.
“A crucial part of the change Toronto needs is to make decisions based on evidence, built on facts,” Soknacki said, citing the facts that support the LRT over the subway extension:
“The Scarborough Light Rail Transit line will have seven stops, be accessible to far more people, cost 1.8 billion dollars already paid for by the province, require no tax increase, not add to the city’s debt, and be built years sooner than a subway. On the other hand, the Scarborough subway extension would have three stops, be accessible to fewer people, cost 3.5 billion dollars, require a billion-dollar tax increase, add to the city’s debt, and take a decade to build. As Mayor of Toronto, I will heed these facts and make the right decision on transit for Scarborough.”
“A seven-stop LRT in Scarborough will save hundreds of millions of public dollars that can be redirected toward our top transit priorities,” Soknacki said. “Such investments will make transit more appealing to commuters, and help us tackle the number-one headache for everyone in Toronto – out-of-control transportation, traffic and transit gridlock.”
“I understand the frustration that Torontonians feel when they see City Hall stuck in gridlock, and when they try to cope with transportation, traffic and transit gridlock in our city,” Soknacki said. “Whether it’s gridlock at City Hall, or gridlock in our transit system, we can do better.”
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