Losing patience: John Tory wants Toronto to act more quickly
The mayor showed some frustration at the pace of change in his editorial board meeting with Metro.
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John Tory is impatient. Less than a year before the 2018 campaign begins and with an approval rating at 54 per cent, the mayor wants to get more done, and quickly. Meeting with Metro at an editorial board meeting on Monday, Tory expressed his frustration that construction on transit isn't moving as quickly as he'd like, that he frequently has to ask for provincial approval on minor items and that more open data sets aren't available more quickly.
One of the two main issues that has seen Tory squabble with the province is transit. The federal government recently announced $4.8 billion in transit funding for Toronto, but unlocking that money requires matching funds from the city and province.
Tory wants to increase the pace and urgency that the city is building out transit.
"I look at the length of time that it takes built transit and it frustrates me immensely."
He is, however, optimistic that Queen's Park will step up on the issue.
"I don't believe the province will leave money sitting on the table."
The mayor expressed less optimism on social housing, which requires an additional $1.73 billion to fund the state of good repair. He credited the federal government with coming through with some funding on the file, although how much will be allocated to Toronto and the timing of when it will be available still needs to be determined.
But Tory's unmet demands for social housing funding from the province has strained a relationship that was once much stronger.
"I make no apologies standing up for Toronto. That's my job," he said, adding that the dynamic with the premier remains cordial and respectful.
The mayor didn't describe himself as "a boy in short pants" like he has in the past, but came close to it. Tory expressed frustration that he has to go to the province for all sorts of little things, like extending alcohol serving hours during the Honda Indy. Criticizing the "paternalistic setup" the mayor called for additional powers in the City of Toronto Act to recognize Toronto's unique role as a global city. "Toronto is in a category of itself," he said, adding that some other cities may bristle at this suggestion.
Cycling and Pedestrian Safety:
The mayor touted the city's Vision Zero road safety plan, which has seen additional road safety infrastructure like 12 new safety zones for seniors, 50 locations with increased timing for pedestrians to cross streets and safety audits at intersections around the city.
On cycling, the mayor asked city staff to show him a map later this month of where the gaps are in Toronto's cycling network and what progress has been made this term. He said he wants to take advantage of federal funding for shovel-ready projects, including bike lanes and Bike Share Toronto.
Tory campaigned on doubling the city's open data sets every year, but Toronto has come nowhere close to fulfilling the goal. "I was and am completely dissatisfied with the pace of putting out open data sets" the mayor told Metro. "People thought they could humour me" with meaningless data sets like the 25 most popular dog names, he added. Tory said that in the fall the city will launch a new "consolidated framework" for open data, and he's confident the pace will pick up then.