TORONTO – John Tory admits he was surprised at the pace in which decisions are made at city hall during his first full year as the mayor of Toronto.
“I’ve just been in London and over there when they decide to do something by way of a transit project or something like that, they just get on with it,” said Tory during an interview on Global’s The Morning Show.
“They take some time to make the decision but they don’t do what we seem to do here which is to sort of revisit, redebate and reconsider.”
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Tory’s observation on the inner workings of municipal politics come one year after defeating Doug Ford and Olivia Chow in the mayoral race.
“In this case, there’s a lot of time taken up with kind of questioning and some of it is posturing, to be candid,” said the mayor.
“I just think that’s why we’re in the sort of mess we’re in especially on the traffic and housing, and all those things, because we decided it’s OK to take longer, it’s OK to delay it.”
Tory said he’s also disappointed in breaking a key campaign promise to not increase TTC fares.
“I didn’t have all the facts in front of me when I made that decision,” Tory explained.
“Had I known the cuts would have been so severe, that they had such a negative impact on the city, I would have probably said, ‘You know what? I’d rather take the money from a fare increase and do what I did —; to invest one of the biggest amounts ever invested in restoring and increasing service.’”
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And the investment in transit service is exactly what Tory said was his biggest triumph during his first year in office.
“I mean, my predecessor had cut huge amounts of transit service, huge number of routes across the city that really denied people, especially those in the remote neighbourhoods, the chance to connect up to opportunity,” said Tory.
“I’m very proud of the fact we gave transit for free for kids 12 and under because I think that it’s going to help a lot of families who are struggling and I think it’s also going to create a generation of transit riders who from day one, when they’re young, started to use transit and continue to do so for the rest of their lives.”
One of Tory’s key planks during the campaign was his ambitious SmartTrack plan to create a new network of transit across the city using the existing GO Train lines.
That plan is still under evaluation by staff at city hall which the mayor said is a necessary step.
“We’re doing the studies. I didn’t have access to millions of dollars worth of engineers and design experts during the campaign. Now we do,” he said.
“That is still the transit project that will provide the biggest amount of relief on transit to the greatest amount of people in the whole region in the shortest time.”