Speaking to reporters on Monday in the city's east-end, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford confirmed that he will not be tearing down the Gardiner Expressway and that the city will be getting subways no matter what.
The mayor helped launch the Workforce Development Week on Monday, an initiative to connect employers and employees and improve the city’s various employment challenges. Following the press conference, Ford commented on a number of issues, including the recent welfare scandal and calls for a Downtown Relief Line.
It was reported last week that more than 750 licensed taxicab drivers received welfare payments over a period of two years, according to a report from City Auditor General Jeff Griffiths. The Auditor General found out that 1,539 Ontario Works recipients did not declare income in 2010 or 2011, but had a number of municipal business licenses.
Ford declared that he would “get to the bottom” of it and said he is going to be sitting down with Griffiths this week and fully review the report.
“We can’t have people potentially defrauding the system. They have a business licence and we have to know why they are getting a business licence and what they are doing with that business licence if they are collecting social assistance,” stated Ford.
“I, as the mayor, will not tolerate that and we will get to the bottom of it ... Anybody that reads that is suspicious ... If you have a business license, you should be running a business. What do you need social assistance if you’re running a business?”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaving a press conference and heading toward his car, while speaking with a reporter.
Chunks of the Gardiner Expressway have fallen over the past year, but the mayor assured Torontonians that it’s safe to either drive on the Gardiner or walk beneath it. Ford has vowed to review the full report that highlights the various problems that face the Expressway.
The IBI Group's report, which was kept secret from the mayor for six weeks, made the news last week after it called the Gardiner a hazard following various reports over this past spring and summer of falling debris, which led to emergency response crews to attend the scene.
One incident involved a black Mercedes being hit by concrete.
“I believe it’s safe. I use it quite frequently. The chunks that fell down, we had a couple of issues. It is an old bridge, it is an old expressway, it is an old structure, [and] things are going to happen. I would like to review that report, which I’m doing,” said Ford. “I’m not tearing down the Gardiner.”
Toronto Transit Commission
Last week, TTC CEO called for a Downtown Relief Line to be the transit agency’s No. 1 priority. Ridership is expected to increase more than 50 percent in the next 20 years and the Bloor-Yonge Subway Station is at near capacity.
A new report that will be discussed at a TTC board meeting next week is a $3.2 billion plan that would construct a relief line from Pape Station to St. Andrew Station. The second phase would be an extension from St. Andrew Station to Dundas West Station. The total cost is estimated to be $6.2 billion.
Ford reiterated his support for subways, but noted that he is open to any idea that benefits the city and the use of the TTC. In the end, the mayor believes it’s up to Byford.
“I campaigned on subways, we’re going to get subways. The relief line, the Sheppard line, Eglinton, hopefully, will go underground. Subways are coming to the city one way or another,” noted Ford.