The city’s Auditor General says there is no evidence the TTC mislead the public when it published a briefing note comparing the cost of the proposed one-stop Scarborough subway extension and a light rail line when council was deciding between the two options in 2016.
A citizens’ group called Scarborough Transit Action complained to the Auditor General earlier this year that a briefing note prepared by the TTC to compare cost estimates between the Scarborough Subway Extension and the proposed Scarborough Light Rail Transit line “erroneously and deliberately inflated the price of the (Scarborough Light Rail Transit) option by approximately $1 billion.”
The group alleged political influence by Toronto Mayor John Tory and his supporters pushed the TTC to make reverting to the Scarborough Light Rail Transit Line more costly and thus less appealing, in the briefing note.
“We found no evidence of staff trying to mislead council,” Beverly Romeo-Beehler wrote in her report.
She said her office found no evidence to suggest anyone tried to influence TTC staff or other bureaucrats in forming the briefing note, and that estimates included in the note were appropriate given what was known at the time.
But she did find that the note was not shared to everyone on council in an appropriate manner.
“There was a breakdown in the distribution process and misunderstandings between the TTC, the Mayor’s Office and the City Manager’s Office. Although the briefing was not shared equally, it does not appear this deficiency was intentional.”
TTC CEO Andy Byford welcomed Romeo-Beehler’s findings, saying they exonerate “the TTC and dismisses any suggestion that I or my staff misled council or were compelled to draft a briefing note to fit a political agenda.”
Scarborough Transit Action, who support the LRT option as a “better use of public funds” said Friday they are “disappointed” by the report and expected all public officials would be exonerated.
“We do not fully accept the report. We are very disappointed that it doesn’t include a value-for-money analysis. The report says it ‘may form part of a future audit.’ But it should be performed and should be done right away, because huge sums of public money have already been spent on this and the costs are multiplying quickly,” said Brenda Thompson from Scarborough Transit Action, in a news release issued Friday afternoon.
“We unfortunately anticipated that the report would stop short of finding any politicization or wrongdoing by Toronto Mayor John Tory or TTC CEO Andy Byford because we were told by the Auditor General’s investigator back in April that Byford wanted the report made public -- so Byford must have known he’d be exonerated. Also the investigator asked us if we’d accept the report – even though it would be months until it would be released,” said Rosemary Frei, a co-complainant.