As fast as she was out, Karen Stintz was back in.
Hours after council dissolved the beleaguered Toronto Transit Commission and replaced it with a new councillor-citizen board model, the Eglinton-Lawrence rep retained the body’s chair and resolved to put transit matters back on firm footing.
“What I’m really looking forward to is working with my fellow commissioners, working with council, working with the mayor’s office, and making sure this does represent a new slate, a new day and way to move forward,” Stintz told reporters.
Council took a full day to debate the board’s fate, but ultimately supported Stintz’s motion to dissolve the nine-member TTC board and replace it with a larger seven-councillor, four-citizen mix.
In addition to Stintz, councillors voted Maria Augimeri, John Parker and Peter Milczyn back onto the board. New TTC commissioners include Glenn de Baeremaeker, Raymond Cho and Stintz’s fellow midtown councillor Josh Colle.
The shake-up follows unprecedented divisiveness on the city’s transit file, pitting councillors in favour of light rail transit against those who favour subways, namely Mayor Rob Ford and his allies.
Stintz called for the dissolution of the TTC after a contentious February meeting where council voted to resurrect a light rail plan for Eglinton and Finch, and for the replacement of the Scarborough RT with light rail.
The vote was in direct opposition to the mayor’s wishes to build subways.
What followed was a TTC board meeting where five commissioners, all considered mayoral allies, voted to fire TTC chief general manager Gary Webster.
The move was viewed as retribution for Webster’s recommendation of light rail at the Feb. 8 council meeting.
At yesterday’s meeting, the mayor supported a motion from Michael Thompson for an 11-member, all-citizen TTC board, but that ultimately failed.
Stopping short of calling council’s decision a defeat for the mayor, ousted commissioner Denzil Minnan-Wong told reporters Ford may have to rethink how he implements his dramatic agenda given what has transpired at council over the past few months.
“I think there’s been a fairly aggressive agenda and in terms of moving forward with that same level of enthusiasm maybe we have to move a little slower,” he said.
Councillor Milczyn, who was voted back in as a TTC commissioner, said the new board model is a positive step.
“This has been a difficult file for the last two weeks, a lot of emotions and I think that tension’s been released today,” he said. “The TTC can move on, council will move on.”
The TTC board’s citizen members will be chosen through council’s civic appointment process and will likely join the board in the fall.
Council will meet on March 21 to decide the fate of transit on Sheppard Avenue.
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