Karen Stintz thinks changing transit plans is a terrible idea, except when it’s her idea

Karen Stintz thinks changing transit plans is a terrible idea, except when it’s her idea

(Image: Mike Belzner) (Image: Mike Belzner)
 

Karen Stintz has spent the past three years upending Toronto’s long-term public-transit planning, for good or ill. As TTC chair, she was instrumental in restoring the Transit City light-rail plan, which Rob Ford had hoped to scuttle. Almost as soon as she’d finished resurrecting light-rail, she put forward an incredibly ambitious new transit plan that ended up going nowhere. Later, she was a key player in the council drama that resulted in the city deciding to scrap a planned light-rail replacement for the Scarborough RT, in favour of a subway line.

That’s three different transit plans in three years for Stintz—a track record that has earned her the disdain of some of Toronto’s transit watchers. And yet now, as a mayoral candidate, Stintz is suddenly trying to position herself as a huge fan of maintaining transit’s status quo—particularly the plan to build the Scarborough subway extension, which fellow mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and David Soknacki have promised to cancel.

Here she is during a presentation for the Women’s Executive Network on May 15, as transcribed by the Star:

“The one thing we cannot do, whether you agree or disagree with the plan…is revisit a transit plan again. We have to break the cycle of changing our transit plan with every election. People ask me why doesn’t transit get built. I tell them transit doesn’t get built because we keep changing the plans.”

And here’s a quote from a Stintz-campaign press release issued on May 8, in reference to news that John Tory is considering cancelling planned light-rail lines on Finch and Sheppard avenues in order to fund a new downtown-relief subway line:

“I was disappointed to learn that John Tory is following Olivia Chow in promising to rip up approved and funded transit plans—even after the cars have been ordered.”

And here’s a press release from May 5:

“…The people of Toronto are sick and tired of changing transit plans.”

And here’s one from April 14:

“It’s time to stop focusing on the fight. Let’s focus on the fix.”

It would be one thing for Stintz to defend the Scarborough subway and Toronto’s other current transit priorities on their merits, but instead she seems to be suggesting that changing plans is inherently bad. It’s a curious line of messaging for someone like her. Where will it lead?