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Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford spoke during a scrum outside Toronto City Hall Committee Room 1, on Jan. 9, 2012. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford spoke during a scrum outside Toronto City Hall Committee Room 1, on Jan. 9, 2012. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Etobicoke councillors' letter seeks free vote on transit plan Add to ...

While insisting that city council is supreme, a pro-subway group of Etobicoke councillors led by Doug Ford is attempting an end-run around last week’s transit vote, sending a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty asking him to allow a free vote in the legislature so MPPs can decide between subways and LRTs for Toronto.

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The missive is the latest development in Mr. Ford’s “Save our Subways” campaign, which has emerged in the wake of council’s 25-18 vote last week to gut much of Mayor Rob Ford’s transit plan.

In an interview, Councillor Ford said he was prepared to help bankroll the S.O.S. campaign out of his own pocket. “If I have to, I will.”

“The recent decision by council to move ahead with above-ground light rail transit initiatives poses a number of concerns,” stated the letter from Councillor Cesar Palacio that was tabled at the Etobicoke Community Council meeting on Tuesday morning and signed by eight of the 11 committee members.

It added that motions brought by TTC chair Karen Stintz at last Wednesday’s special council session “reversed the direction” of a March, 2011, memorandum of understanding between the province, Metrolinx and the mayor.

“This is another way of communicating with the provincial government,” Mr. Palacio told reporters.

That MOU, which laid out an $8.4-billion plan to bury the entire Eglinton LRT and use any leftover cash for a Sheppard subway, was “non-binding” and required the mayor to seek council’s approval. Mr. McGuinty indicated last week that he needed council’s approval to move ahead with any plan.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the committee briefly debated the question of whether their gambit was consistent with council’s decision. “I respect the will of council,” said Doug Ford. “But council has to start respecting the will of the people.”

One of the hold-outs was Councillor Peter Milczyn, a loyal supporter of the mayor and vice-chair of the Toronto Transit Commission. He told his committee colleagues that he’s not against the letter, but stressed that he’s not prepared to sign something “that arrived out of the blue.”

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