Toronto Council Urged to Honour Existing Contracts for Rapid Transit

December 4, 2010, 3:40 PM EST

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CAW Council is calling on members of the new Toronto City Council to honour existing contracts to renew and expand Toronto's light rail and streetcar transit system.

The Light Rapid Transit system is the most affordable, environmentally sustainable and efficient means of resolving Toronto's traffic congestion and improving overall transit service.

Council delegates approved an emergency resolution on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's declared intention of terminating the renewal and expansion of the city's light rail vehicle/streetcar system approved by the previous council.

Ford's alternative of building more subway lines is at least three times more expensive than LRV lines and will require many more years to complete.

Delegates highlighted that ripping up existing signed streetcar contracts will cost the citizens of Toronto hundreds of millions of dollars in cancellation fees and will threaten the jobs of hundreds of workers in Thunder Bay, the greater Toronto area and throughout Canada.

CAW Local 1075 represents workers at Bombardier in Thunder Bay, the plant building the new light rail cars needed in Toronto. CAW Local 1075 President Paul Pugh said Ford is an elitist millionaire businessman who is determined to undermine former Mayor David Miller's Transit City plans.

Pugh said if Ford succeeds it will mean the loss of hundreds of jobs, years of work by community and labour groups, and the end of an environmentally friendly and workable transit plan.

He stressed the debate is not about the merits of subways versus light rail. "This is an attack on mass transit.and whether we will expand mass transit at all."

Peggy Nash, assistant to the CAW president, said Toronto is at least 25 years behind on the issue of public transit. She said the city struggles with tremendous gridlock and issues of pollution.

Not only are there hundreds of Canadian jobs at stake, plans for Transit City would mean a quality, affordable link between numerous communities across Toronto through a comprehensive, environmentally friendly light rail transit system.

Nash stressed the need for pressure to be placed on members of the new Toronto city council.

"Rob Ford is just one member of city council," Nash said. "There are more than 40 other members of city council."

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