- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 7 Nov 1907, p. 81-90
- Maclean, W.F., Speaker
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- Item Type
- The areas which the speaker suggests must be taken in when speaking of Greater Toronto for three great public reasons: to control the water supply of all that country; to control the roads and the traction systems in that territory; to control the sewers and sanitation of the district. Taking in the whole Township of York. Helping the city grow. The structure of Toronto. Entrances to the city. Suggestions for alternative routes into and through the City of Toronto. The dependency of Greater Toronto upon these entrances. The creation of a great east and west street, made up of Bloor, one of the old concession lines and a high-level viaduct over the Don. Advantages of putting the street car system on that street. Work of the City Council. Legislation that will allow Toronto to acquire the Street Railway franchise, and the city to be given the right to buy in the stock. Why the city ought to have public ownership, especially when it is a matter of growth and development. An examination of the policy of the State of New York in regard to these issues. Taking the machinery we have at present, but getting the legislation sufficient to enable existing machinery to lay the city out on these large and broad lines. Hope that one day the City of Toronto will be governed by a Commission. Suggestions for such a Commission, its Executive and its Council. A look at the old city of London and how it redeemed itself. The need to take up an interest in the great railway transportation question that is now up. The need to see ahead in connection with municipal affairs. Looking ahead in regard to Toronto. The matter of a diagonal street. Now the time to outline the policy for a system of tubes in Toronto. A Greater Toronto and what it would mean for its people.
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- 7 Nov 1907
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- Full Text
- A GREATER TORONTO.
Address by MR. W. F. MACLEAN, M.P., before the Empire Club of Canada, November 7th, 1907.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,--
Let me approach this question by saying that the Township of York-and Toronto occupies mostly the lake front of the Township-is ten miles across the front and ten miles deep; in other words, it occupies 100 square miles, or 60,000 acres. That is the area of the present Township of York. The City of Toronto at its widest part is about eight miles across and at its deepest point is about four miles, but in no case does it average two miles deep; as a matter of fact, Toronto occupies about seventeen square miles of this zoo square miles in the Township of York, and we have three adjacent municipalities, North Toronto, East Toronto and Toronto junction, occupying about four square miles; so that, roughly, we have in the municipalities contiguous to Toronto twenty square miles. Now, then, if you take the territory south of Eglinton Avenue, which is three and three-quarter miles north of Queen Street, or from the Bay front over four miles, you then have forty square miles south of Eglinton Avenue, and we have already dealt with twenty one miles of it which is now in the four municipalities, so that leaves about nineteen square miles south of Eglinton Avenue. But north of Danforth Avenue and east of the Don there are at least six square miles that will remain for many years as farms and market gardens, and my farm happens to be one of them. So that there are only thirteen square miles left south of Eglinton Avenue, and a great deal of that thirteen miles is already built up as closely as the town is, so that when you talk about Greater Toronto and you propose going to Eglinton Avenue, you are not widening the city in so far as giving it any territory to grow in. You have already twenty-one miles in the city, and you have got almost forty square miles occupied now.
My suggestion today is that if you speak of Greater Toronto, you must take these in for three great public reasons. First, to control the water supply of all that country; second, to control the roads and the traction systems in that territory; third, to control the sewers and sanitation of the district. If you want a Greater Toronto, and if you want to have it right, and broad lines, and if you want to control the roads and the streets and the traction on the streets, and the water supply and the sanitation, you should make one bite of it and take in the whole Township of York. It would not be necessary to immediately wipe out the farms and gardens; you do not need to disturb them, or increase their taxation, but in some way you can take a general supervision aver the whole Township of York. It would not be necessary to thing that is contributory, or rather that is essential, to the development of Toronto. If you don't help the city grow, it won't grow; you have to help the growth of everything. If you want things to grow in your garden you have to cultivate it and water it and drain it. It is exactly like a city, and you even have to put roads and paths through a farm. If Toronto is to grow, too, we must control all these great essentials that are necessary to its growth.
Let me for a moment talk about the structure of Toronto. In a word, Toronto is settled on the banks of the Don. Down at the Don was the first capital, the first jail was there, and the first Parliament buildings were there, and the first Governor's residence was up on the Don, and the city would have been there today and the back-bone of the city would have been the Don, had not the people in earlier times failed to see that it was essential to have permanent high-level bridges over that river. The old residents will tell you that in former years the characteristic of the Don was this, that with spring freshets and fall floods it was often impassable for two, four, or six weeks at a time, and the little bridges were invariably swept away. As a consequence, the city only grew one way from the Don-on up to the west, and it kept growing west. It would have grown east if the people in those times had risen to the occasion by bridging the Don with high-level bridges. They failed to do it, and instead of the Dan being the back-bone of the city, Yonge Street is the back-bone of the city, or rather, I would say, Avenue Road and north. The city has a back-bone in Yonge Street, but it wants ribs, and it has one great frontal rib in Queen Street. You can go from Scarborough, bound right through practically to the Humber by the Lake Shore Road, and it is the one great through street; but if Toronto is to grow it must have a better east and west street than Queen Street and that street is Bloor Street. It is all there, with the one exception of a high-level viaduct over the same Don I spoke of, and then you have your first high-level street, a ten-mile road across this city, and that will be the great mid-rib of Toronto.
In the old days they had to get to Kingston on the east and Hamilton and London on the west, and the roads were the Kingston Road and the Lake. Shore Road or Dundas Road. Dundas angles off to the northwest and Kingston Road to the northeast. They are today practically the only entrances into the city and they are entrances by Queen Street, and so the whole growth of Toronto has been forced down to the front along Queen Street from the Kingston Road and from Dundas Street; but the moment you make this new and continuous Bloor Street to the north, that will tap all the roads coming to Toronto in a northeasterly or northwesterly direction. There is the Daws Road leading out to Markham, and the old Vaughan Road on the northwest, and these diagonal streets ought today to come into Toronto by Bloor Street and give traffic the option of distributing itself by Bloor Street rather than forcing it away down to Queen Street and then making a part of 'that traffic go north again.
Greater Toronto, to my mind, is dependent upon this more than anything else, and a proposition requiring immediate attention is the creation of this great east and west street, made up of Bloor, one of the old concession lines and a high-level viaduct over the Don. Put the street car system on that street and you are right in touch with Toronto Junction and East Toronto and you are in touch with them on your own property, and you can give those suburbs a single fare into Toronto, and the same thing will come in regard to Yonge Street. It is a shame that East Toronto and North Toronto are at the mercy of the traction line now in the city and have to pay two fares to get into the city of which they are really citizens. To put Toronto right and let it grow, you want this great Bloor Street continuous, and a street car system on it connecting East Toronto and Toronto junction with the city, and as there is a scarcity of land in Toronto you get over 2,00o acres of land most contiguous, most easily built upon, high, well-drained land, that is immediately available for the future growth of Toronto. That is the structure of Toronto. We have a great north street, but it has two traction systems on it today. We have not got it emancipated yet, and we want to emancipate Bloor and Yonge Streets, and Toronto must be the absolute master of both those streets to insure the development of the city.
I have had a great deal to do with public affairs of one kind or another, and if you undertake to do anything you must do it with the instruments you have at hand--take things as they are. We must take the City Council as it is, and I am not expressing one word of dissatisfaction with it today. The City Council can do these things. We want to start with what we have, and we want to try anal do this with present instruments and at the same time construct the legislation that is necessary for Toronto in order that she may grow. She ought to have some legislation so that she could at the earliest opportunity recover those franchises which we have parted with to private corporations-legislation that will allow Toronto at the next Session to acquire the Street Railway franchise, simply to recover it, and the city to be given the right to buy in the stock. The stock is at less than 88 today, and while that stock is down the city ought to be free to purchase it. Today get this in your heads with regard to all these franchises, that it is the franchise which is carrying itself; in other words, the traffic is paying the interest and dividends on that watered stock, and the electric power used in the city is bearing interest and dividends on the electric light proposition; but if you want to have a Greater Toronto and want to do something to make it greater, you must be absolute masters of the traction system and you ought to get legislation to allow you to recover that traction system, and to take over the distribution of electric power in this city.
Let me tell you why the city ought to have public ownership in regard to these things, especially when it is a matter of growth and development. It is that when you have public ownership you can do with your own whatever you like, whenever you like. Now when you own the Street Railway you can do with it what you like, and you can take it where you want the city to extend, and you can let it extend that way. Now we are tied up to a company within our own borders that won't let the city grow the way the citizens want it to grow. They say they will elect to give us the extensions or roads they wish, so that the extension and growth of the city today is tied up by a corporation which has tied up adjacent municipalities too. This will strangle the growth and extension of Toronto unless it is remedied. Now let us adopt what has been adopted in the State of New York and which is the new idea in these public franchises, especially in regard to the growth of corporations. The key-note of this new policy is that a public franchise is worth only the money that has been invested in it plus a fair consideration to those who did the work and who had it in hand; so that when these men put fabulous prices on their franchises and say that the city shall only be allowed to secure a single fare for its people, they have no right in law, in equity, or in any other way to claim anything beyond a fair consideration for the investment that has been made in connection with their, franchises. In the matter of legislation it ought to be the object of every citizen of Toronto, and the object of the City Council, to in some way secure at the forthcoming session of the Legislature, legislation which will enable us to recover such franchises. Our rights in this direction have already been provided for in the Beck law enabling us to recover the electrical franchise. Let us go further in connection with the street railways and then we will be able not only to take over the Toronto system but all the outlying systems and consolidate them with the city system so as to give the people a single fare and the control of the streets and the traction on the streets. We can give entrance to every outside radial road that cares to come into. Toronto. All these will come and will help to make the city great, and will only come if you start on these right lines.
So I do not propose any radical change in government. Take the machinery we have for the present, but get legislation sufficient to enable existing machinery to lay the city out on these large and broad lines. Some day I do hope to see the City of Toronto governed by a Commission. I would not object tomorrow to see a Commission have full charge of the executive affairs of the city, and still keep the City Council for purely legislative purposes; but let us have an Executive made up of competent business men and trained experts in several departments-a high-class engineer, a high-class man in, finance, a high-class man in business ability-and I would not object to one high-class lawyer in that Commission either! A Commission of that kind to do the executive work and a Council for purposes of legislation would work all these things out, and such a Commission would handle not only the roads and the distribution of power and light and the street railways, but it would give you what you want in connection with a Greater Toronto-a continuous policy.
The finest city in the world today in the way of redeeming itself is the old city of London, and it is costing millions and millions of pounds to do it, and they are recovering everything and getting to be the owners of everything in it, but they are doing it by a continuous policy, and largely by a Commission. You will get a continuous policy if you have high-class men for your Executive, and leave the City Council to legislate. And I would not make a sudden change. I would try for the present to get those sort of men on the Board of Control. Why cannot this City of Toronto today in some way raise the salary of the Board of Control, which, practically, would then be your Commission. Raise the salary of the Board of Control and define the qualifications that some of its occupants ought to have-that three of the five ought to consist of at least an expert in engineering, finance or something of that kind, and in a year or two years you would begin to get the right kind of Civic government without any great strain upon existing conditions.
This city also, if it wants to grow and be a great city must take an interest in the -great railway transportation question that is now up. And in a rather peculiar way we find this Province of Ontario most unfairly treated
Vthe railways that have their headquarters in Montreal. hey are not giving Toronto and this Province the consideration they ought to give, and this city ought to back up the Government of this Province in establishing some kind of state-owned railway in the Province of Ontario. We have built a great railway to the north in the direction of Hudson's Bay. We ought to own all that line right from Toronto to the north and it ought to be centered in Toronto and built and administered and maintained on the line that it is going to bring the traffic from the north into the City of Toronto. That little question of itself is well worthy of the attention of the citizens of Toronto and it ought to be a part of Greater Toronto; and the Ontario Government and the Ontario Legislature ought to have a vital interest in building up this City of Toronto. We today are more than one-tenth of the whole population of Ontario, but we have only four or five members in the Local House. We want our dull representation in the Legislature, and you are not getting what you are entitled to in the way of legislation because you have not your due representation there to present your arguments; and the sooner you make a demand on the Government, saying that Greater Toronto wants her just share in the representation of the Legislature with a view to getting legislation that the city requires, the better it will be for Toronto.
Let me tell you what I think is another essential thing, and that is you must see ahead in connection with municipal affairs, as well as in your own business; you must have foresight if you want to succeed in anything. You have to look ahead in regard to Toronto. We did not look ahead with regard to our waterworks or anything I know of. I remember when the existing system came into force. We have patched it three or four times. It should have been laid out for a population of 300,000 at least. Let us today deal with these questions from the point of view of a Greater Toronto and the fifty or one hundred square miles that we propose that Toronto should be. Let us do it on the big lines, because the big lines are the cheap lines. It is just as easy to finance a proposition for a big thing, with a sinking fund for forty or fifty years, on a large scale, as it is on a small scale--in fact, it is better. A thing that will do much for Toronto is to get rid of the old idea of right angles in regard to streets. It has been found that the greatest economy in the growth of a city is the diagonal street. The diagonal street saves labour and human effort at every turn. We haven't got a diagonal street in Toronto. We ought to have one. We can have them cheaply, too. W e can have one from the City Hall to Toronto junction, and there would be an enormous saving, but if we cannot have them there is something else that belongs to this century, and that is the " tube."
Now, if Toronto is to grow to half a million--and it is right at our doors, and is going to be a million in ten or fifteen years--now is the time to outline the policy for a system of tubes in Toronto. The tubes cost very little. You would be surprised what a tube running to the north for quick underground traffic would be. You could run it thirty miles an hour. You could have one to the north-west and one north and these same tubes could be built in connection with a sewer system, the distribution of electric wires, etc. Is it not a shame the up-tearing of these streets that you see? Let us once and for all adopt a policy of development that will from this day forward make provision for the rapid growth of the city. You want to have these great tubes, and put in them your water-pipes and your electric wires; you can put a sewer alongside and you can put in a fast-running traction service and the traction service will pay the interest and give the city a dividend at the same time and give you all this accommodation. Don't give that tube franchise away; run it as a business proposition; find out what it will cost. I have made some inquiry into it. Everybody is frightened as to this idea of building tubes. Wherever they have been adopted they give that diagonal transit that we ought to have, and where we select our tubes it will pay in the long run to make the diagonal streets above them so that Greater Toronto, if it takes advantage of the occasion, if it has foresight, if it gets into its head the fact that this is the twentieth century, and that there are new ideas that are based first of all on good engineering, ideas that are sound in the way of finance and in regard to public health, there will be no trouble in carrying them out.
Greater Toronto does not need to be afraid of the future. All it wants is a fair amount of wisdom and good advice, and a fair amount of courage on behalf of its citizens. If we have that we will be able to work out a Greater Toronto and we will work it out almost right away. We can begin this work immediately. We can set out at the coming elections, we can pledge our candidates to this idea of a Greater Toronto, and we can go to the next session of the Legislature for necessary legislation. A Greater Toronto not only means a concentration of wealth, but lots of land for its people to live on. The town can be spread out. There is nothing in this idea of a great congested city with the people living in tenement houses, and especially is it unnecessary in a country like this; and if we do spread it out, we ought to have some first-class kind of traction service that is never a bother no matter what kind of weather we have. A tube will be independent of the weather all the year round, and that alone, with the diagonal streets, will do a great deal to allow Toronto to grow. Ontario today is fitted to be the workshop of the whole of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and Toronto is fitted to be, and is today, the finest city in the Dominion of Canada. Let her grow. We are citizens of no mean city: all we want to do is to be true to ourselves, to get a conception of what Greater Toronto ought to be, and let each one do his little part on the lines I have tried to indicate here today, and you will find this city a great city in commerce, in education, and, best of all, a great and good city for its citizens to live in.