Toronto Mayor John Tory will travel to London next week to study the city's massive Crossrail transit project – a $27-billion rail expansion that serves as the basis for his own SmartTrack plan – as well as send the message that, after years of scandals, the city is "under new management."
After a city staff report this week once again raised questions about the feasibility of Mr. Tory's SmartTrack proposal, the mayor doubled down on Friday, proclaiming, "SmartTrack is going to be built." He said he will sit down with London Mayor Boris Johnson and transit officials during his visit to Britain next week to talk about their Crossrail experience, hoping to bring back lessons for the development of SmartTrack.
"It would be disingenuous if I didn't say the Crossrail project and what it represented – using existing rail to move through a big city – was in part behind the development of the idea of SmartTrack," Mr. Tory said in a speech to the British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce Friday. Crossrail – which is funded in part by the private sector – was originally approved in 2008 and is expected to be completed by 2018. The route includes 40 stations and is expected to run more than 100 kilometres through London and its suburbs. Mr. Tory's $8-billion SmartTrack plan proposes 22 stations stretching from the Toronto Pearson International Airport area in the west to Scarborough in the east and Unionville to the north.
During his visit with Crossrail officials, Mr. Tory said, he hopes to also learn how to better integrate the stations into new and existing development. "I want to make sure that going forward … we don't just use vanilla stations," he said Friday. "By 'vanilla' I don't think they have to be fancy, but I think they should serve multiple purposes."
During his three-day visit, the mayor will also meet with business and government leaders in an attempt to attract investment to Toronto. He said under predecessor Rob Ford's mayoralty, "distractions and embarrassments were constant" and the scandals left a "stain" on the city's image.
"My job is to be the chief salesperson, and I think part of that is to rebuild the city's reputation and indicate very clearly … the city is under new management."