5 Things To Know Today
Cost of cancelling Scarborough LRT reportedly $75M / transit takes front seat at today’s city hall meeting. Eve Adams ditches Conservatives to join Trudeau’s Liberals. Liberals accused of breaking law in Sudbury byelection. Harper won’t rule out sending lethal weapons to Ukraine. Majority of schools on TDCB hit list are in poorer neighbourhoods.
COST OF CANCELLING SCARBOROUGH LRT REPORTEDLY $75M
Mayor John Tory says transit will be front and center at City Hall’s scheduled meeting today. According to the Toronto Sun, SmartTrack debates will be up first, asking council to green-light an additional $1.6M for SmartTrack research. But before getting to that, they’ll have to go through five administrative inquires filed by Councillor Josh Matlow. According to the agenda, Matlow is looking for answers about the cost to sink the Scarborough LRT project, operations and maintenance costs and ridership projections for the Scarborough subway extension, and its impact on the Agincourt GO Station. It’s reported Matlow will also be fighting to return to the original LRT plan. However, Tory says he’s tired of talking and wants to see action. On Monday, he said he wants to proceed with the Scarborough subway, saying he doesn’t want to re-open the LRT debate. The TTC’s Andy Byford also told reporters that he thinks the debate has run its course, and that riders are ready to see shovels in the ground.
It looks like the cost to cancel the Scarborough LRT could be a $75 million kibosh, according to the Toronto Star. The publication says the number was confirmed in a letter from Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig from city manager Joe Pennachetti. The letter, dated January 9th, says the offer “provides a fair balance between the positions of both the city and Metrolinx.” The number is about $10 million less than earlier estimates. Back in October 2013, city council voted 24-20 in favour of building a shorter subway over a longer LRT. The new Scarborough subway extension will take the Bloor-Danforth line northeast of Kennedy, to the Scarborough City Centre. The project is estimated to cost $3.56 billion, including a $660 million contribution from the federal government. In the letter, the “sunk costs” reflect work “previously undertaken by Metrolinx on the Scarborough SRT Conversion, Kennedy Station, and Scarborough/Sheppard Maintenance & Storage Facility, and includes an amount for Management and Administrative costs.” Councillors will be discussing these “sunk costs” today at City Hall, under the request of Councillor Josh Matlow.
CONSERVATIVE MP EVE ADAMS CROSSES FLOOR TO JOIN LIBERALS
The decision by Eve Adams to bail from the Tories and Join the Trudeau Liberals may set up a battle royale for a key Toronto Riding. There are unconfirmed reports that Adams will aim to run in Eglinton-Lawrence against Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver. The riding was held by the Liberals for more than 30-years before Oliver defeated long-time Grit Joe Volpe in 2011.
Adams stated that “after a long and very difficult period of reflection, I’ve decided to leave the party I’ve supported since I was 14 years old… I no longer feel a part of the Conservative party. I can no longer support the mean-spirited leadership that divides people instead of bringing them together.” She went on to say that she no longer wants to work with “fear-mongers and bullies”. She was first elected to the House of Commons in 2011, helping to wrestle the Mississauga-Brampton South seat from the Liberals. Before that, she sat on Mississauga Council for eight years. She also was captured experiencing a meltdown at an Ottawa gas station, all over a $6 car wash! Refresh your memory with that story here. However, in May of 2014, a battle erupted between Adams and Conservative Natalia Lishchyna over nomination for a new federal riding. In August, Adams decided to remove herself from the battle, explaining that she wanted nurse a concussion she suffered when she fell on the ground.
LIBERALS ACCUSED OF BREAKING LAW IN SUDBURY BYELECTION
Allegations of bribery in last week’s Sudbury byelection have led the OPP to question Premier Kathleen Wynne and her deputy chief of staff, Pat Sorbara. Wynne’s office confirmed that she and Sorbara will meet with police. Detectives from the anti-rackets squad are investigating allegations that Sorbara and Sudbury Liberal organizer Gerry Lougheed offered former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier a job to step aside as a candidate. The Liberals say no improper steps were taken to get Olivier out of the way so former New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault could be appointed the Liberal candidate.
HARPER WON’T RULE OUT SENDING LETHAL WEAPONS TO UKRAINE
Prime Minister Harper is reiterating Canada’s support for Ukraine as it battles Russian-backed rebels. He hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel last evening and they discussed Washington’s suggestions that it might arm the Ukrainian military, something Germany is dead set against.
MAJORITY OF SCHOOLS ON TDSB HIT LIST IN POORER NEIGHBOURHOODS
Trustees with the Toronto District School Board will be holding their final meeting today, just days before the board must come up with a plan to manage under utilized space. They’re acting under a deadline from Education Minister Liz Sandals as part of 13 recommendations handed down to the trustees following a review. The board will be debate and vote on a new capital plan to possibly sell of four elementary schools that are already closed: Bridgeport, Old Orchard Junior Public, C.B. Parsons Junior High and Whitfield schools. Last month, the TDSB released a list of 60 schools operating under 65 percent enrollment to be reviewed for closure by 2021. The board has until Friday to present a plan on how to manage the underused space. Meanwhile, the Elementary Teachers of Toronto say the TDSB’s approach to creating the list of schools is flawed, saying the majority of the schools on that list are in vulnerable neighborhoods, and they’re not taking into account the alternate community programs the schools could serve. Both the ETT and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation will be holding rallies outside of the meeting on Tuesday. A new Mainstream Technologies poll found 61 percent of respondents prefer converting the schools to community centres, with 53 percent saying they support a municipal property tax increase to acquire them. A media release from Mainstreet Technologies president Quito Maggi says “It will be up to council to decide if those are costs they want to take on, not just in acquiring the properties and converting them, but also if they are ready to pay for their continued upkeep and new programming.” The same poll found 56 percent disapproved of the TDSB’s performance, while 53 percent approve of their local trustee. The poll was condcted among 2,388 respondents. Earlier this year, Sandals said under-used schools were costing the province around $1 billion annually.
Parts of New England, including Boston, are digging out from another 60cm of snow. That brings the tally in some areas to nearly 2-metres of snow in the past two weeks. The storm has caused flight cancellations and impacted mass transit.
30-years ago today, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Rush, Bryan Adams and other Canadian musicians banded together to form “Northern Lights” and recorded their charity single for African famine relief. “Tears Are Not Enough” went on to raise millions and hit No. 1 on the Canadian charts.