Tuesday , October 26 2021

Vision Zero "is not working," says Mayor John Tory in an end-of-year conversation with CBC Toronto


The city's Zero Vision strategy to end road deaths simply "does not work," according to Mayor John Tory.

He made the remarks in an extensive year-end interview with CBC Toronto, amid a conversation about his first term and his priorities in the future.

"It's been incredibly frustrating … I'd say it's not working in the sense that you can not argue with the numbers," he explained.

Despite more than $ 100 million in funding over five years and dozens of targets hit in 2018 to implement safety zones, design changes and bike paths across the city, there have been more than 60 lethal accidents on the roads of Toronto so far this year including more than 40 pedestrians and dead cyclists.

Only the pedestrian deaths surpassed those of the previous year in early December.

While Tory does not believe in applying a "general solution" to the entire city, he is open to strategies advocated by traffic safety advocates, whether they are banning red lights or developing a stronger bicycle network.

He also said he asked the city to analyze the police reports linked to the deaths in Scarborough to find out why a high percentage of road incidents is happening in the eastern suburb, and potentially find a solution.

But he maintains that there is still a burden on people and drivers, in particular, to change their behavior.

"If people will not stop driving distracted … then you'll see numbers that remain at unacceptable levels," added Tory.

Mayor John Tory in conversation with reporter Lauren Pelley of CBC Toronto. (Martin Trainor / CBC News)

Investing in youth must prevent violence, says Tory

In the face of armed violence, after another wave of shootings in December and a record year of homicides that cost the lives of almost 100 people, Tory reaffirmed his commitment to rid the city of short weapons.

"But I think it's as important, or even more important, to work with other governments to invest in the neighborhoods and in the children and families where crime is taking place," he added.

His comments followed a recent provincial announcement to cut $ 25 million in funding for specialized programs in primary and secondary schools, a move that should cause student job loss.

"This poses a challenge," Tory said, adding he hoped the cuts would not be indicative of other changes in Premier Doug Ford's administration.

The duo's relationship sustained much of Tory's year as mayor, thanks to Ford's surprise at cutting the council of nearly halving Toronto and its plan to acquire the city's subway infrastructure.

Relationship with Ford "a work in progress"

Speaking of his relationship with the premier, Tory called it "work in progress."

"People think there's this relationship happening where we're sitting at our respective tables, where I put pins on a Doug Ford doll and he puts pins on a John Tory doll … it's ridiculous," he added. "We have a business relationship."

When asked about criticism of how he handled the council cuts – a conciliatory approach described as "hesitant" by his race rival, Jennifer Keesmaat-Tory said he intended "to defend Toronto every day."

At the same time, he emphasized the continuing need to work with the premier, something he calls the "balanced approach."

So what does this mean for the planned subway upload of the province?

"I have been very clear in saying that I would not agree, I would not say yes to any agreement that was not good for TTC pilots, TTC staff and the people of Toronto," Tory said.

But he also does not rule out saying that he "certainly" will hear an idea that allowed Toronto to keep control of the subway while receiving more money to build transit projects faster. (It is not clear what impact, if any, Tory's position would have on Ford, the premier promised to fulfill his campaign promise to take over the subway and appointed a special aide to the project over the summer.)

Mayor John Tory calls his relationship with Premier Doug Ford a business, but also as a "work in progress." (Tijana Martin / Canadian Press)

Tory defends board appointments

In an approximately hour-long conversation, Tory also defended her record of inclusion in the council, saying her choices for committee appointments in this term reflect the desire to bring council voices to key roles.

Coun. Paula Fletcher going to CreateTO and Coun. Joe Cressy to help lead the Toronto Waterfront are two key examples, he noted.

The mayor also questioned concern about budget projections for land tax revenue at around $ 100 million lower than the city expected. "It's not totally unexpected," he said, adding that the city's overall budget could end up with a surplus.

Regardless of the end result, Tory said one thing is certain: he will not bring a budget to the board with tax increases higher than the rate of inflation, nor would it cost a budget with cuts in services.

While noting his other priorities for building more affordable housing, increasing traffic, and improving community safety, Tory reflected on the legacy he hopes to leave after his four-year tenure.

"When I leave the office, if people can say that I really have made some significant progress in addressing the disparity that exists between people who are comfortable and those who are struggling in different neighborhoods of the city – I will feel pretty good about it ", he said. said.

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