Mayor Tory’s executive committee blocks speakers on controversial Scarborough subway item

Mayor John Tory’s decision to block residents from speaking to an item about the controversial Scarborough subway is being called “shameful.”

On Monday, Tory’s executive committee voted to kill a motion from Councillor Josh Matlow asking for a judicial review of the problematic planning process that led to council backing a one-stop subway extension. That project is currently estimated to cost at least $3.35 billion based on very little design work.

Seven members of the public had signed up to speak as part of the regular committee process but were denied the opportunity when executive members unanimously approved a motion from Councillor Michael Thompson to defer the item indefinitely at the start of the meeting.

Councillor Janet Davis, who is not a member of the committee, tried to interject as the vote was being taken — “But, there are speakers,” she said.

Councillors Paul Ainslie, Ana Bailao, Jon Burnside, Gary Crawford, Frank Di Giorgio, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Stephen Holyday, James Pasternak, David Shiner and Michael Thompson along with Tory voted to kill Matlow’s motion.

“Even (former mayor Rob) Ford would hold hours-long executive meetings to ensure every resident had a chance to speak, even as he was aggressively fighting against them,” Matlow told the Star after the vote. “While I’m not surprised that Mayor Tory still doesn’t want to allow the facts to come out about the one-stop Scarborough subway, and how misleading and inaccurate information led to its support, I find it shameful that the mayor would block residents’ basic right to speak to their elected representatives at executive committee.”

“What is mayor Tory afraid of?”

Matlow’s motion requested council apply to the courts to set up an inquiry that would “investigate the information provided to council” about the subway and the light-rail alternative ahead of a 2016 vote.

To-date, council has never seen a value-for-money comparison of those options while a draft analysis done by the provincial transit agency Metrolinx concluded the subway was “not a worthwhile use of money” compared to the LRT. That report was never released.

A seven-stop LRT was fully-funded by the province and was scheduled to be completed in 2019 before plans for its construction were cancelled by council in 2013 in favour of a subway.

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