TORONTO – Following years of budgetary concerns and disputes over the best way to retrofit Toronto’s public transit system, construction for the first line of Toronto’s new Canal Transit System is finally underway.
Earlier this week, with shovel in hand, Mayor Rob Ford broke ground for the entrance of the North/South waterline at Yonge St. and Queen’s Quay.
“Soon, Torontonians will have a modern transit system that will link the suburbs with the city and allow commuters outside the core to travel more efficiently,” Ford said. “Once completed, the 52 km canal network will link the Humber River, Lake Ontario, and the Don River to provide commuters better access throughout the city.”
“Say goodbye to outdated streetcar tracks, inconvenient bike lanes, and sidewalks,” he added.
A report released by Mayor Rob Ford’s administration stated the Canal Transit System will virtually wipe out traffic problems in the downtown core by eliminating many major streets in favour of the city controlled waterway.
After a long debate over Toronto’s ailing transit system and the difficulty of retrofitting streetcars and building new underground subway lines, Ford and the Toronto Transit Commission settled on a Canal Transit System based on, according to their research, lower construction costs associated with canals. The Ford administration cited specifically the Ottawa canal, which cost “a mere $6 million” in 1832.
“We looked at the books on past canal projects, and the numbers were considerably better than subways or buses,” Ford said. “When I learned that Ottawa got a 500 km canal for about six million bucks, I couldn’t believe we were about to invest over a billion on expensive trains and buses.”
“The logical next step was to scrap the whole Transit City thing and switch gears to work on getting people moving around the city more fluidly,” he continued. “The big positive is that water will never go obsolete, and we have tons of it.”
“Problem solved,” he added.
Advocates of the Canal Transit System also say a major advantage of using canals for public transport is the ease by which private companies can share the waterway.
“Canals are a lot more flexible because you can accommodate different types of boats without worrying about compatibility with the tracks,” said John Byshop, the lead engineer on the new waterway system.
“Picture an evening disco cruise ship taking you home after finishing a late shift at work, or sexy Italian men rowing you [by gondola] to your office in the morning,” Byshop told reporters.
Most city councillors have been reluctant to discuss the Canal Transit System with media, and none were available for comment as of press time. However, former Toronto Mayor David Miller spoke to us by email.
“I like it,” he said.
The project is expected to complete by 2013, at which point plans will begin for linking nearby cities with canals and Bombardier’s high-speed canoes, currently under development.
When asked how people would be able to commute in the winter months, Ford responded, “I only have two words for you: bobsleds.”