Toronto City Council moves forward with Scarborough transit plans

SCSU, UTSC admin supportive of decision

Toronto City Council moves forward with Scarborough transit plans

On July 13, Toronto City Council arrived at a verdict regarding recent transit proposals. It voted to move ahead with the one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Town Centre, and the 17-stop Eglinton East Crosstown LRT to UTSC; it rejected the seven-stop LRT from Kennedy Station to Sheppard Avenue.

The Eglinton East LRT. VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

The Eglinton East LRT.
VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

This decision concludes debates concerning the finances and the practicality of the differing potential systems.

Recent estimates show that the City is short on funding to build the $3.1 billion one-stop subway and the $1.7 billion Eglinton East Crosstown LRT, which have both undergone rising anticipated construction costs.

Subway vs. LRT

A comparison of the one-stop subway and the seven-stop LRT plans. VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

A comparison of the one-stop subway and the seven-stop LRT plans.
VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

Several city councillors opposed Mayor John Tory’s subway-centric approach, instead opting for the seven-stop LRT plan.

Ward 22 Councillor Josh Matlow brought forward a motion to replace the one-stop subway with the seven-stop LRT plan. The cost estimates for this proposal were similar to those of the one-stop subway.

The seven-stop LRT had a funding commitment for $1.5 billion from the province in 2010. The initial project was replaced by former Mayor Rob Ford’s three-stop subway strategy; those plans were modified again this year by Mayor Tory’s one-stop subway proposal.

At the council meeting, Matlow committed to “providing transit to as many people as possible in Scarborough and across the city.” He believed the 7-stop LRT, coupled with the Eglinton East Crosstown would “provide more service to more people and use dollars more wisely.”

Matlow told reporters during the meeting that his proposed seven-stop LRT would give Scarborough residents easier access to “virtually every major institution” in the district, including Centennial College, the Civic Centre, and the UTSC.

Matlow’s seven-stop LRT motion was defeated with 16 votes in favour and 27 against.

Reaction from UTSC

Sitharsana Srithas, vice-president, external of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), called the vote in favor of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT a “massive victory for both Scarborough residents and UTSC students.”

“The Eglinton East LRT will be immensely valuable in connecting UTSC to the rest of the city. As a student, I can see this expansion allowing students to now have better access and more opportunities to take courses at the downtown campus,” Srithas said. “I hope the City stays committed to the Eglinton East LRT.”

Srithas also mentioned that in 2010, UTSC students voted in favour of a levy to contribute to the construction of the Toronto Pan Am Centre in the hopes of prompting rapid transit construction to UTSC.

Srithas continued, “As both a student representative and as a student of UTSC, I don’t want another cohorts of students to lose out on rapid transit in Scarborough because of the failure of the City to act on its promises.”

UTSC vice-president and principal Bruce Kidd also praised the decision. In a blog post, he wrote, “The decision this week by Toronto City Council to move ahead with the subway between Kennedy Station and Scarborough Town Centre and to extend the Eglinton LRT is great news. We at U of T Scarborough are very excited about the benefits this will bring to our campus, to the Scarborough community, and to Torontonians across the city.”

Kidd, in conjunction with four other Scarborough community leaders, penned an open letter ahead of the council meeting, urging councillors to move forward with the transit plans.

The future

Council also voted in favour of appointing third-party transit construction and cost-estimation experts to weigh in on the overall process.

Motions passed at the meeting included requests to consider additional transit projects, including extending the Sheppard Line to Scarborough, and the Bloor-Danforth Line to Sherway Gardens.

Bruce Kidd installed as vice-president, principal of UTSC

Kidd talks athletics, public transit, campus growth

Bruce Kidd installed as vice-president, principal of UTSC

A large crowd gathered at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at UTSC to witness the installation of professor Bruce Kidd as the tenth vice-president and principal. Kidd was formally appointed to the position on November 20.

“You know, I’m the chief executive and chief academic officer of the University of Toronto Scarborough [Campus],” said Kidd regarding his new role at UTSC. “And in that role, I’m the overall — I’m the ultimate decider in decision making.”

Prior to his installation, Kidd was serving as the interim vice-president and principal, a role that he held since 2014. He was also previously the warden of Hart House and the founding dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Kidd attended U of T as an undergraduate and later completed a Master of Arts and PhD in History at York University.

“I’m very much a product of U of T and so the sense that I am an effective leader, it’s because I was schooled in the service of
U of T in leadership,” Kidd said.

Athletics at UTSC

Prior to entering academia, Kidd was an accomplished athlete. As an undergraduate student, Kidd competed in track and field both nationally and internationally. In the 1962 Commonwealth Games, he won gold for the six-mile race and bronze for the three-mile race. He also competed in the 1964 Olympic Games. Four years later, he was inducted into the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He is also an honorary member of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

“[Being] at the university where I studied as an undergraduate during which time I
represented Canada, raced all over the world with Toronto and that experience taught me a lot about representation,” said Kidd.

After retiring from competitive track and field, sports continued to play a profound role in Kidd’s life. Before becoming dean of the faculty, Kidd was a professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education and has written extensively about sports policy.

His office shelves are lined with books on sports policy and the politics of sports. The Olympic Torch that he carried in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics is mounted on his desk.

“All of that goes into the leadership that I [bring],” explained Kidd. “It wasn’t just one thing. It was these experiences”

As interim vice-president and principal, Kidd oversaw the construction of the Toronto Pan Am Centre, with the aim of expanding the role of sport and physical activity in the university experience.

“I see sport and physical activity as complimenting an outstanding, demanding higher education,” Kidd emphasized. “There are all kinds of co-learnings. I see physical activity providing a lifetime of habits and knowledge about productive living.”

Kidd even expressed support for mandatory physical education at the post-secondary level. “You know, if I had the control, I would make compulsory physical education [or] physical activity part of every undergraduate’s education — maybe every graduate student’s education,” he said.

“I think daily physical activity should be something that every student member,
faculty, and staff ought to be engaged in, whether its on campus, with family, or somewhere else. I’ve come to that conclusion from my own experience, but also being involved in the policy field of sporting a physical activity all my adult life.”

A growing campus

UTSC has grown considerably over the past several years. Kidd told The Varsity that he was concerned over what he saw as a “space deficit” on campus.

“I guess our biggest challenge is the lack of adequate space for faculty, for teaching, for research, for students, from study space to club and activity space, for some of our departments to be located in the same space so they can enjoy the synergies of being together,” Kidd explained.

Walking along the campus, one can spot several portable classrooms only a few metres away from the building that houses Kidd’s office. To combat the lack of space, the
Scarborough Campus has seen several major developments in recent years.

In 2011, the Instructional Centre was the first building that opened north of Ellesmere Ave. in an area now called “north campus.” There have been more developments on the north campus: the Toronto Pan Am Centre — where Kidd’s installation ceremony occurred — opened last year, in time for the Pan Am and Parapan Am games. This year saw the opening of the Environmental Science & Chemistry Building.

These developments are all a part of the UTSC’s Master Plan, which also includes further expansion plans northwards onto the City of Toronto-owned lands, improving access to public transportation, and building a central campus core. Kidd reiterated his support for the continued development of the campus but said that he would like to see it done faster.

“[We’re] working away,” he said, “but it’s slower than we’d like.”

Kidd also emphasized his support for public transportation improvements on campus. According to a 2013 survey, an estimated 68 per cent of students at UTSC rely on public transit to get to school.

“The lack of public transit… is huge. It’s terrible,” said Kidd.

Kidd explained that he spends “a good deal” of his time lobbying decision makers with other groups and advocating for better transit in Scarborough and the eastern GTA.

“We’re just lobbying for a solution, because our students, Centennial students, patients at local hospitals, companies that want to invest, companies that employ lots of people here, and the citizens all suffer from a lack of good public transit.”

Overall, Kidd asserted that he wants UTSC to “continue to be a vibrant, community engaged, research-intensive, energetic university. Simultaneously, with outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, with a big focus on experiential learning, being at the head of the curve as it always has in the way it draws upon new technology to enhance education.”

Kidd sees the Scarborough campus becoming a hub in the east end of the city and said he wants to “enhance the well-being and vitality of this part of the city region.”

“So it’s in terms of education, in terms of research, in terms of environmental awareness and teaching, in terms of athletics, in terms of culture, this is an anchor institution,” said Kidd.

“I’m very proud of what we do and I think that there are such outstanding features of UTSC that every student considering university ought to consider this university.”