There’s no mountain too tall to climb for Erwin Sniedzins.
The 71-year-old businessman and Helendale Avenue resident has not only conquered Mount Everest, as profiled in the Town Crier in 1991, but is now running for both mayor of Toronto and MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence, as an independent.
Though admitting he thinks he has a better chance at winning the race for mayor, Sniedzins said the top issue is the same in both elections: having a solid and funded transit plan.
“To me, stuff like St. Clair (streetcar) and Finch Avenue (LRT), that’s the wrong way to go,” he said during an interview in his office, which overlooks Yonge and Eglinton. “Yeah, you’re saving some money, but I don’t think it should be just about the money.
“I think if we use creativity and look at how we can move things around and change revenue streams, the money is there.”
Sniedzins supports building subways instead of LRTs — though he would not undo the progress made on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project — and has a plan to build the much-talked-about relief line. The difference is, he wants to build it in a circular shape going around much of the city.
He said the southern edge would be around Dundas or Queen streets, with the west end going up either Dufferin or Keele streets, the north would run along Steeles Avenue, and the eastern portion would cut through Scarborough.
He says his plan will not cost tax dollars and would come in at a total of $15 billion.
Sniedzins is asking politicians to sign his “Torontonian Taxpayer Mobility Protection Pledge” in an effort to get all representatives on board with a single plan, to put an end to the city going back and forth between subways and LRTs.
“I’m asking the voters to get these candidates to sign off that they will not waffle and change their minds,” he said. “If we get all these candidates to sign this pledge, then hopefully we won’t be going back and forth.
“The money’s there because I have particular plans on how to raise the money without raising taxes.”
His funding plan involves directing revenue from government and private funding, including establishing a Toronto congestion charge and developing a GTA transit debit card system.
Sniedzins, who developed The Knowledge Generator, an educational software engine aimed at increasing learning speed and information retention, says he knows he is considered a fringe candidate and not one of the frontrunners.
But he says his business experience, which has taken him all over the world, should bring him into contention.
“I certainly think I have a lot more experience than most of (the frontrunners),” he said. “John Tory talks about being a salesman, but what about me? I sold half a billion dollars in China … Not a lot of people can do that.”
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