Knockin’ on Malvern’s Door

View the article as it appeared on EYE WEEKLY’s website. Originally published December 15, 2010.

After Mayor Rob Ford announced Transit City was “over,” a group of activists trying to save the transit plan took to the streets of the central city, at Yonge and Eglinton. A week later, on Dec. 11, the campaign moved to Malvern, an area that would directly benefit from the plan to be axed, and an area that voted for Ford. (Mayor Ford’s proposed subway expansion that would replace Transit City, meanwhile, would leave the Malvern transit situation roughly where it is now, which is the middle of nowhere.) Sixteen volunteers—people who grew up in Malvern, transit advocates from across the city and candidates from the last election—set off in pairs that day, determined to bring the conversation to the people’s doorsteps. We tagged along with two of them to see how the debate is playing out in the inner suburbs.

Where: Horseshoe Crescent and Glanvil Crescent, northeast of Malvern Town Centre (Neilson and Tapscott)

The Canvassers: Patrick Cameron, is a 28-year-old former bike courier from Queen and Ossington. As a “white guy who has downtown written all over him,” he expected to be treated with skepticism. Luke Fraser is a 21-year-old Ryerson University urban- planning student who lives near Davisville and Bayview. “My goal is to get a resident to send an email.”

“Who are we supposed to go to now?”
Angela Edward-Davis (above) was with her kids at home, holiday music playing, when Fraser came knocking. She was looking forward to the Sheppard LRT easing her and her husband’s daily commutes. She works at the McDonald’s at Markham and Progress and he is a chef at a downtown university. “We take the bus every morning at 5:30am,” she said. After voting for both Mayor Ford and Councillor Cho, she was disappointed when she heard her councillor no longer supports Transit City. “Who are we supposed to go to when there’s something like this?”

“There’s never wasted money on a subway”
Michael Sheridan (above right), a TTC driver, debated Cameron for 20 minutes. “For young guys like yourselves, you should be thinking down the line,” Sheridan said, adding that the Scarborough RT is a prime example of a Band-Aid solution that is going to be a problem in the next five years. “If they were as short-sighted 50 years ago, in 1953… where would we be now without that subway?” Cameron responded that the Sheppard line is a massive financial drain on the whole system. A subway, he said, needs dense neighbourhoods and financial support. “We can argue about what mode of transportation would be the best or the fastest, but it’s about what’s doable,” Cameron said.

“The problem is Sunday drivers…”
Cameron found another debate around the corner. The resident was working on his white Audi sedan and had two other cars in his driveway. He said traffic problems come from inept “Sunday drivers” and the solution is building transit underground. He said he didn’t vote in the last election and he thinks unemployment—especially for young guys like Cameron—is a more important issue than transit.

A convert
A smiling man answered the door, eager to sign the petition. “This is ‘Stop Transit City,’” he said, as a young boy poked his head out from behind him. Cameron quickly corrected him: the petition was to save Transit City. “Rob Ford says avoid the traffic,” the man said, still smiling. Cameron said that Ford’s subway would not serve this neighbourhood and Transit City would. He added that work on Transit City has already begun. “The system is already started; that would be a waste,” the man said, nodding. He signed the petition, pushed the boy back in and quickly closed his door.


A Canvass in Numbers
119: Houses on Horseshoe and Glanvil
17: Signatures from Horseshoe and Glanvil
16: Total Volunteers
153: Total Signatures from Saturday’s Canvass

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