Rob Ford Gets My Vote….Again


5 minute read

April 5, 2011

Last week, we Torontonians were greeted with the fantastic news that the Ontario government will supply us with over $8 Billion to construct a new subway line along Eglinton Avenue.

When Dalton and Rob shook hands, a tear came to my eye.

Don’t you just want to give Rob Ford a hug?

Something magical happened a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, it was my Dad’s birthday, and magical, it was…

But in addition, I became Facebook friends with Rob Ford.  Don’t believe me?  See below!

What a thrill, truly.

Bobby Ford has has hands full running this beautiful city of ours, but he still found the time to electronically befriend a lowly blogger/realtor/writer/dancer such as myself.

Just like the upcoming Federal election, which will be divided into “Pro-Harper” and “Anybody But Harper,” our last Municipal election divided those for and against Rob Ford rather equally.  I fell into the “Anybody But Smitherman” category, and actually voted for Rob Ford by default!

I did, however, like his ideas on public transportation, notably his suggestion that we kill David Miller…………’s Transit City.

I hated the idea of Transit City from the get-go.  Our city is already congested enough, and adding MORE above-ground traffic wouldn’t solve anything.

But what did Miller care?  He was a lefty-greeny-weenie, after-all.  MORE BIKE LANES!  Yeah, lotta sense that makes in a city with five months of winter…

I’ve long maintained that if Toronto wants to be a “World Class” city, we need to improve our public transportation system.  More specifically, we need more subways.  Look around at most of the major metropolitan areas in the world, and their public transit systems absolutely dwarf ours.  But of all of those, most of the systems are underground, where, in my opinion, they belong.

Don’t even get me started on Toronto Streetcarsand how antiquated the idea is.  Why don’t we use buses that can change lanes instead of using ONE streetcar to clog TWO lanes of traffic?  But that’s a topic for another day.

Out of sight is out of mind, and subways are the answer.

I really don’t care about the cost.

I’ve read articles saying that subways can cost three times as much as above-ground transportation.


Isn’t a quarter worth five times what a nickel is?  Of course it is – because it’s better.

It’s my belief that Toronto, on its own or with help from Federal/Provincial/Private sources, should spend $50 Billion on building subways over the next two decades.  Yes, that’s a lot of money, and yes, I’m an economic conservative and cynic who thinks that welfare cheques are usually given right back to the government in the form of lottery tickets and taxes on cigarettes, but also consider that I don’t take the TTC.

Nope.  I haven’t been on the TTC in likely 18 months or more.

In fact, the last time I took the subway with a group of friends, I approached the ticket wicket and announced “One for the subway, please!”  The TTC employee, who likely makes $90,000 with benefits just to stand there and hand out change, looked at me like I was nuts!  Perhaps I was, a little…

I don’t take the subway and I don’t make use of the TTC, but I think that our city should strive to improve the current transportation system, or lack thereof.

Our transportation system in this city is absolutely pathetic, and pales in comparison to other major metropolitan areas.

If you missed the article in last week’s Globe & Mail about how Toronto’s system stacks up against the rest of the world, it’s worth a read.  You can see the full article HERE.

Have a look at the subway diagrams in three major cities in the world as seen below:


Pretty complex, wouldn’t you say?

And how does Toronto’s look?

Yeah.  That just screams “World Class City,” doesn’t it?

We’ve got the Bloor-Danforth line, aka “the green line” if you’re somebody like me, and then we’ve got the Yonge and University lines, one of which branches off onto Sheppard Avenue for about five stops.

Is that really it?

Is that the best we can come up with?

Where did I get that “Fifty BILLION” figure that I suggested above?  I dunno…..I guess I just pulled it out of thin air.

But that’s where my priorities lay for this city, and I don’t even take the TTC.  I’m a car driver, and always will be, so I won’t benefit at all from the new transit that Rob Ford is going to implement, or the massive amount of improvements that I’m suggesting right now.

Can it be done?

Sure, just look at Madrid.

From Monday’s Globe & Mail:

“Between 2000 and 2003, the city also built Metro Sur, a 28-station, 40-KM circular subway line that connects the densely populated suburbs south of the city, and completed a direct line from the central business district to the airport.”

Madrid started their rapid boom in the late 1990’s when they added 150 new stations over 192 KM.

So why can’t Toronto follow suit?

Why can’t we start a subway “boom” of our own?

It’s utterly pathetic that we don’t even have a subway that goes directly to the airport!

When tourists, travellers, and visitors alike get to Pearson International, they start asking “Where’s the train to the downtown core?”  Torontonians are so accustomed to the lack of public transit in our city that we look at them like they’re nuts!  “Take a cab,” we suggest.


Rob Ford’s critics are saying that he has axed a plan for Transit City that would have served TWICE as many commuters as the new Eglinton line he replaced it with.

How do I defend that?

Well, have you ever heard of “quality versus quantity?”  It’s about as old as “sticks and stones.”

My point in this blog post is that I firmly believe that ALL new transit should be underground.  I don’t think that above-ground, light-rail is the answer to Toronto’s rapidly increasing congestion problem, and I’d rather spend the same amount of money on underground tunnels than twice as many above-ground systems.

I have no idea where people get off saying things like “We should tear down the Gardiner Expressway.”  I don’t care what “studies” they can produce to claim that the average commute would only increase by 3 minutes – I’m on record saying that common sense should be the only study needed, and that this would congest the downtown core to no end.

I think streetcars are a laughable form of transit when buses could use one lane instead of two, and above-ground, light-rail would be the cherry on the sundae for proponents of “More Bikes, Fewer Cars,” since it would all but kill our ability to drive through the city in ‘normal’ time.

As a society, we have to decide what route we want to take.  If the lefties prevail and we want to eliminate cars and fly around on our magic carpets, then fine!  Build more dedicated streetcar lanes, take car lanes out of service and replace them with bike lanes, and build above-ground TTC.

But if we want to take a page from Paris, London, Tokyo, Madrid, Shanghai, New York, Chicago, and the like, then we should fully commit to doubling our existing transit system within the next decade, and for God sakes – let’s bury those transit lines underground where we have a seemingly infinite amount of space, and where the only inconvenience will be to the rats (and homeless!) that live underground.

I am a right-winger, and not just in hockey!

But my view of the transit problem in Toronto is not necessarily coming from the right.  As I’ve mentioned over and over – I don’t take the TTC!  An extremist righty could care less about public transit, but I think for the good of our city in the long term, we need to keep adding; more and more every year until we’re on par with other world class cities.

And if you don’t think Toronto has a chance to be a “World Class City,” then move out of it.

This isn’t just my patriotism talking – this is my business savvy.

I have long maintained that Toronto has the potential to be a world class city, based on our economy, culture, arts, and social structure.

And if I could point to the one thing that’s holding us back (an NFL football team would be nice…), it’s the transit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to jump in my gas-guzzler and drive across the street to get a coffee…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. DB

    at 8:30 am

    First, I think you meant a quarter is worth five times more than a NICKLE not a dime.

    Second, while there is certainly an argument to be made that we should invest more in public transit. I would rarely use it either but I agree it is worth spending money on. The thing you must consider is that Parisians found refuge in their subways during WWI which was almost 50 years before the Yonge line opened. The point is that it is a much older and dense city.

    As for Madrid, I think we all know where all that borrowing got them.

  2. David Fleming

    at 8:39 am

    @ DB

    Thanks for pointing that out. I usually throw my change away into the street so I’ve lost all valuation for those shiny silver tokens. Let me go edit…

  3. Gerrit

    at 9:02 am

    I think that a better transit system would definitely be beneficial to drivers like yourself. A better transit system would mean less streetcars congesting traffic, and more people taking the subway to work (thus less drivers on the road to get in your way).

    I think I’ve mentioned this before on your blog, but the big issue with downtown transit in my mind is the queen street car. It completely congests traffic (especially between University & Jarvis) and is a very popular route! I know tons of people in Riverdale/The Beaches that take that streetcar through rush hour every day. There’s too much traffic on that road for a streetcar, especially one that doesn’t have a dedicated track like Spadina. Why not switch that to buses? Even better would be a subway that goes from Queen West to Queen East.

    Another pipe dream I had was an express bus that travels down adelaide/richmond and doesn’t stop in between University & Jarvis.

    But yeah, I completely agree on getting rid of most of the streetcars. I don’t think they’re all bad, but a lot of them are pretty pointless.

  4. Matt

    at 9:19 am

    First of all, Rob Ford might in fact turn out to be a fiscal conservative; Stephen Harper has proven to be anything but.

    Second of all, those ‘world class’ cities you point out have much better biking infrastructure than Toronto does.

    I agree that transit should be our priority though. Especially given the fact that oil prices will be trending much higher in the next 10 years.

    I’m not sure how many drivers want to keep pumping money into my pockets (via dividends from my oil plays) while I bike past them on my way to work. Ironically, I use the money I make to fill my vehicle up as I leave the city on long weekends.

  5. Craig

    at 9:19 am

    Agree with you 100%.
    The transit nightmare that has been growing in the Queen West/King West neighbourhood is only getting worse as the city approves more and more large scale condos to be built without an increase (or change) in transit services for them.
    The plan to build newer, bigger streetcars was a joke. Take them off during rush hour and run buses instead to handle the crowd. They’re nice to keep for tourists, but don’t build any new lines. Bottom line, the downtown west and east ends need a subway line! Start it in Etobicoke and end in the Beaches.
    The city is missing a huge opportunity to build one now in the docklands area before it gets developed. This should be their first thought before starting to dig for any buildings. Bravo to Ford for standing up and scrapping Trans(h)it City.

  6. jeremy

    at 9:25 am

    “I really don’t care about the cost.”
    So your condo was proposing to put a hot tub and spa on four different floors. The estimates indicate that this will service a significant number of residents for a modest increase in maintenance fees. Instead they decide they want to put in a massive pool on the roof that only residents on the west side of the building are allowed to use, and everyone will pay a significant increase in their maintenance fees. You’d choose the latter option? Bottom line is Ford’s plan costs more to accomplish less. I agree we should look to London as a model, bring on the congestion fee for traffic in the downtown core.

  7. Bob

    at 9:53 am

    some people need to get it out of there head that Toronto never was a “world class city” and it may be at least 20 years away from being one. Just because the clown of a mayor decides to pump itself as one doesn’t mean it is one. Nobody from New York, London, or even Chicago would consider TO as a world class city. There’s nothing wrong with being a 2nd tier cosmopolitan city and nobody should move out it for thinking so, there’s nothing wrong with being a realist instead of burying your head into the sand.

  8. Joe Q.

    at 10:01 am

    David, with all due respect — I am writing this as an avid follower of your blog and someone who appreciates the honesty of your writing — I think this post is simplistic and borderline hypocritical.

    For starters, what will be built under Eglinton is not a subway, but an LRT. The trains will be different from the ones already used on the B-D, Y-U-S and Sheppard lines. I’m sure you’re also aware that the only news in last week’s announcement was that the segment running from Brentcliffe to Kennedy Station will be underground (it was ALWAYS slated to run underground between Keele and Brentcliffe).

    To me, the biggest news in last week’s announcement was that the province will not fund Ford’s Sheppard subway extension plans. There is now no viable funding source for this particular $4-billion election promise (Ford had promised to extend the Sheppard line to the STC by 2015) and the likelihood of it being built anytime soon is slim.

    I do think your comparison of Toronto to Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Madrid, etc. has some merit. Those cities all do have much more rapid transit than we do. However, they are all much older and denser than Toronto, and most of their transit infrastructure was built in an era when labour was cheap, standards were low and EA meant “enemy alien”. Consider that when the GTA had a population of 650,000, London had a population of 9 million (1940).

    Those cities are also all in jurisdictions where transit gets massive funding from national governments. In Canada, by contrast, the federal government throws in part of the cost of new subway trains ever few years and calls it a day. There is no year-to-year sustainable budget for funding public transit expansion here, which makes improving our system very political (subject to the whims of whoever is in power in Ottawa, Queen’s Park, City Hall). Remember that construction on a subway under Eglinton was started in the mid-1990s, only to be stopped when a new government came to power. Sixteen years later and we’re starting again. Funding operating expenses is a whole other issue entirely and Toronto is one of the only big cities in North America AFAIK where public transit operations are not supported by the state or national government.

    You write: ” I’m a car driver, and always will be, so I won’t benefit at all from the new transit that Rob Ford is going to implement, or the massive amount of improvements that I’m suggesting right now.”

    This is a specious argument. Rapid, high-capacity transit indirectly benefits drivers by getting people out of cars (“eliminating the competition”). This speeds up your own commute, or at least prevents it from getting worse. If you put a single Toronto subway train full of people into cars (two to a car) and loaded them bumper-to-bumper onto the DVP, they’d fill an entire lane of traffic for about 2 km.

    Transit City had a lot of flaws and there was much that could have been done better in its design, but it was a system that would have gotten a lot of people around the city much faster than they do now, and for a reasonable price. Subways ARE elegant and practical, but also phenomenally expensive and slow to build, and the Tall Poppy syndrome we suffer from in Canada means that directing too much tax revenue to build infrastructure in Toronto is political suicide in the rest of the country.

    So while it’ll be great to have a quasi-subway under Eglinton (someday), it is coming at the expense of rapid transit on Don Mills, Jane, Finch West, the west Lakeshore, and possibly Sheppard East, all of which are now not likely to be built anytime before you retire. (Building all of these lines as subways would cost about $50-billion, comparable to the entire 2011 federal deficit.) You are a committed car driver and your trip along these routes won’t be impeded by light rail lanes, but the tens of thousands of people that take these TTC routes will just keep on waiting as they while away their lives waiting to get on a bus.

    Sorry for the long rant but this is an issue close to my heart and I feel the need to call it as I see it.

    1. David Fleming

      at 10:44 am

      @ Joe Q

      Thanks for this lengthy and insightful response! It’s like adding an entire blog post to my site!

      You definitely get the gold star for “comment of the day.” Thx again.

  9. JG

    at 10:26 am


    When I started travelling to places such as England, Berlin, and Madrid – when I got back to Toronto I would always chuckle at the people who got ‘lost’ on our subway system…i still get chuckle!

  10. Joe Q.

    at 10:33 am

    Streetcars are a whole other issue. I agree that some of them are pointless and there are too many people attached to them for nostalgic reasons. But their advantages are that they have a very high capacity (about three times that of buses) and that they don’t pollute at street level. I don’t think that replacing the Queen car with buses would lead to any improvement in congestion. What Queen St really needs is a relief subway line. Again, there is no motivation from senior levels of government for this, so it’s unlikely to happen.

  11. Sarah

    at 11:04 am

    I love subways. Subways are great. I live near the Y-U-S line and that’s a lifestyle choice that will probably keep me out of the real estate market for awhile yet but I refuse to drive to work so that’s the price I pay.

    I’m rather skeptical though of Rob Ford’s ability to actually pull this off. I’ve lived in other cities and watched subway building projects turn into budgetary disasters. It’s one thing for Ford to plan a subway line, it’s another for him to claim that he’ll save us all money in the process.

    If he can pull it off, I will consider him a miracle worker and he’ll get my vote next time around. In the meantime though, it just looks like he’s trying to get rid of Transit City without replacing it with anything viable.

  12. Justin

    at 12:03 pm

    How on earth can you compare London’s subway to Toronto’s? Toronto’s metropolitain area is rediculously tiny – I can walk across it in 30 minutes. Have you ever been to London? It’s metropolitain area would take your average person a day straight to traverse. Toronto’s subway is appropreately sized in relative scale.

    You should note that most of London’s “underground” train system is above ground, only a relatively small subset of it is located underground. London also utilizes light rail on the Docklands.

    Of course, only a driver – someone with no personal stake or benefit in the use of public transit – would support Rob Ford’s plan.

    When taxes go up to pay for this idiot’s plan, it’ll be the right wingers who are first to complain too.

  13. Lui

    at 1:02 pm

    Take a ride on Hong Kong system you be impress…Toronto subway is a total mess compared to asia and europe systems.

  14. David Poon

    at 1:40 pm

    Screw the burbs losing their Transit City plans and getting an unfunded subway dream. They made their bed when they chose to live out the boonies (and voted for Ford).

    What we really need is an East-West subway or buried streetcar/LRT (à la downtown Boston’s “subway”). It wouldn’t even have to be on Queen! Perhaps start at Danforth and run down to the lake to go along Eastern or Lakeshore before connecting to Front/Queen/King/Wellington or even Queens Quay before connecting with Lakeshore again til Mimico or Long Branch.

  15. Marko

    at 4:29 pm

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the effect of the subway vs. LRT debate on real estate development. It is argued that subway expansion promotes high density condominium development without much retail space, which is probably the last thing this city needs.

  16. Carolyn

    at 5:22 pm

    @ David Poon – Actually your idea about an East-West subway or buried streetcar/LRT has been considered in the past, except unfortunately the Ontario government rejected it after considering the high cost of building it:

    It’s too bad, because considering all the development and that more people are living by the waterfront or southern area of the city (both on the east and west sides of the downtown core) there is obviously a demand for such a subway or LRT line.

    As with any public works project of this magnitude it takes a lot of money to build, so when the government decides to build the new subway or LRT line brace yourself tax payers – we will be paying for this project for years to come.

  17. Joe Q.

    at 9:22 pm


    One of the plans that has been discussed on and off for years is a “downtown relief line” to take the pressure off the B-D and Y-U-S lines, as well as the Queen and King cars, in the downtown core.

    The general idea is to have a subway line running south from roughly Dundas West station, down to Parkdale and then heading east, through the downtown core around the latitude of Queen or King, then back up to re-join the B-D line around Pape.

    Building in such densely built-up parts of the city would be phenomenally expensive, though. The cost for such a line would easily be in the $50-billion range all on its own. But reflexive anti-Toronto attitudes and Tall Poppy syndrome in the rest of Canada mean that funding it would be political suicide for any provincial or federal party, so I don’t actually expect it to be built.

  18. JG

    at 10:16 am

    With all the numbers being tossed around here in this discussion, its really upsetting when you see the Government has done nothing but waste money!
    G20 – estimated $1billion
    EHealth – estimated $1 billion
    …and I’m sure the waste goes on….

    The Government would rather burn money on waste, then acutally use it to make our cities better.


  19. jeff316

    at 11:45 am

    I’ve never understood the complaint from drivers about dedicated streetcar lanes. Would you prefer to drive behind a spate of buses constatnly weaving-and-stopping? Drive Dufferin or Eglinton during rush-hour and then compare to a rush-hour drive on St. Clair. You’ll be surprised at which one is the most manageable.

  20. David Fleming

    at 12:58 pm

    @ Jeff316

    My complaint isn’t about dedicated streetcar lines, but rather streetcars.

    Take King Street, for example.

    The streetcar runs in the left lane, and cars drive by in the right lane. And when the streetcar stops to let people in and out, BOTH lanes of traffic stop!

    I’ve been sitting in my car in that right lane for TWO full stoplights waiting for the herd to sift in and out. If the streetcar/bus was in the right lane, I could pass on the right.

    What do I know. I’m not an urban planner…

    ….or AM I?

  21. PPD

    at 1:41 pm

    Eventually someone has to spend the money.

    I think everyone can agree that traffic in the city is a mess and it is already too late. The only real way to fix the problem is to go back in time and spend the money then. Which probably isn’t an option.

    The TTC proposed building a subway under queen street which was approved in 1946, but the government of canada did not provide expected funding and it fell through. In 1960 it was put aside again (at least this time for something productive, the bloor line). It remained on the prioity list for a bit longer but eventually fell off for good.

    Imagine if that line had been built when origonally proposed instead of the government saying “we don’t have the money”? How much better could transit be in this city today?

    This happens repeatedly that proposals get put off again and again until it’s too late and I’m happy Ford is willing to shell out big dollars now for long term thinking. People always think too short term and say “this is too expensive!” Or in this case that there is a cheaper option that is a bit more obtrusive to traffic which meets the needs of today. But this isn’t for today, it’s for a very long time. The London subway that is getting mentioned was first built in 1863 and what is there today was mostly finished in 1906. Obviously the government of the time could probably have found more immediate uses of the money or cut some corners with buses to save cash, but 100 years later people are still benefiting from the subways put in place back then.

  22. Eli

    at 5:49 pm

    I TOTALLY agree with pretty much everything you said in this posting regarding building transit in Toronto–> build, build, build… But I have one comment regarding your quote:

    “I have no idea where people get off saying things like â??We should tear down the Gardiner Expressway.â?? I donâ??t care what â??studiesâ?? they can produce to claim that the average commute would only increase by 3 minutes”

    I feel like the most consistent view would be to tear down the Gardner and bury it underground. See this article that discusses Seoul, South Korea (and recently Boston), both cities that did that:

  23. Joe Q.

    at 10:34 pm

    Eli — the Seoul case was interesting but note that they did not bury the expressway — they just tore it down without replacing it in any way. In Boston they did bury the expressways but it was expensive and took a loooong time (I lived there during the construction, the North End of downtown Boston was torn up for about a decade).

    1. David Fleming

      at 11:11 pm

      @ Joe Q

      What would be wrong with Ford finding private money to build a subway? Better it comes out of their pockets than that of the taxpayers, no? I mean, if Coca-Cola wants to give Toronto $2 Billion to have naming rights to “The Coca Cola Sheppard Subway Line” for the next 99 years, then I’m all for it.

  24. Joe Q.

    at 10:37 pm


    “This happens repeatedly that proposals get put off again and again until it’s too late and I’m happy Ford is willing to shell out big dollars now for long term thinking.”

    Has Ford committed any money to anything? He cancelled Transit City but has not positively committed municipal money to any transit expansion. The money for Eglinton is coming from the province. Ford is trying to find a private company to pay for the construction of the Sheppard extension.

  25. Kyle

    at 11:20 am

    I’m not sure if i like the idea of having a subway stop named the coca cola sheppard subway line nor does it have a good ring to it. I understand your point thought so that we can get private funding

    If we can spare naming a subway stop such as you suggested (because then what happens if another company buys out coca cola (example purposes)), then its going to be costly to try to change the name in the subway platform and also maps , city records etc.

    I think instead the TTC should ramp up advertising inside the subway station. Especially ttc vehicles such as streetcars, buses and subway trains. Decorate the info tool hanging in each subway stop with advertisements or exclusive commercials of cocacola . Put advertisements on entrance machines etc

    Other good ideas could be, have a dedicated ttc visa/mastercard and ttc lottery (when buying tokens with money)

    There can be more done to increase dollars now and advertisement is definitely under utilized.

  26. Kyle

    at 11:25 am

    pardon my numerous grammar errors. I just woke up and have a hangover

  27. jeff316

    at 8:23 pm

    So…if you don’t like transit vehicles interrupting your drive, why would Rob Ford get your vote (yet again) for cancelling a project that would have taken buses (and some streetcars) off the road and put them on a dedicated line, out of the way of your car?

    I don’t get it.

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