Mayor Tory creates transit expansion office, looks to hire ‘transit czar’

Toronto Mayor John Tory, fresh off re-election, announced Thursday that he’s creating a new office to make sure transit construction stays on track in the city.

Tory said during his election campaign that affordable housing and transit are the two most important issues that residents wanted to see action on.

“I heard a lot from people about how they just want us to get on with building the transit that this city so desperately needs,” Tory said.

Tory said city hall needs a “laser-like focus” to get it built as quickly as possible and remain on schedule.

Therefore, Tory said he has created a transit expansion office which will lead and direct the city’s participation in the long-term, multi-billion-dollar transit network expansion projects, which include six SmartTrack stations and two light rail lines in Toronto.

Tory says the city has begun recruitment for the executive officer who will oversee the office.

“I felt we needed somebody who was going to be the point person, who was going to clear away the obstacles, and who was going to make sure we moved ahead as quickly as we could,” Tory said.

“This person, who’s going to be a ‘transit czar’ as I see it, within the public service, is going to make sure that we deliver the transit network plan,” he said.

Tory said the office will be seen as a clearinghouse to push the plan forward with all the partners. The overall goal he said, is to find ways to speed up transit development and to avoid the delays which he said have affected projects in the past.

“Fast and reliable transit is a priority in building toward a vibrant future for our city,” said city manager Chris Murray. “Given the size and complexity of Toronto’s transit expansion portfolio, we’re searching for a leader who will put in place a team that can effectively co-ordinate projects among city divisions and agencies, and work closely with other orders of government to best serve our residents.”

The previous city council already approved the transit plan, one which Tory felt voters endorsed in the election.

The new office will be tasked with making sure every project in that plan, including the subway relief line, are completed as quickly as possible within established financial parameters. A big part of the job, Tory said, will be making sure the plan avoids bureaucratic delays.

Tory added that he doesn’t believe the layoffs announced by Bombardier on Thursday will affect the construction of the crosstown line.

With files from Jessica Patton

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