Through a Freedom of Information Request, TTCriders was provided with information that the Budget sub-committee of the TTC Board had met behind closed doors in August of 2016. Though no known votes had occurred, presentations were given by staff on the following topics: One Person Train Operation, Wheel-Trans Transformation, Station Transformation, Ridership, Fare Scenarios, Fare Discounts and Line by Line Review. At no point was this information publicly made available.
TTCriders lodged an official complaint to the City of Toronto Closed Meeting Investigator, Dr. Lorne Sossin, who confirmed on January 31, 2017 that he had initiated an investigation. Under the Act, Dr. Sossin has statutory powers of investigation, including extracting testimony under oath and the power to examine all records relating to the closed meeting. Dr. Sossin will have 30 days to submit his findings.
Open meetings are a hallmark of municipal governance. Unlike our Provincial and Federal counterparts, open meetings allow the public to engage with and shape municipal decisions. As a transit advocacy organization, our members rely on us to engage with public office holders to ensure their best interests are put forward. When a municipality or local body closes a meeting, it reduces our ability to advocate.
For the past several months, information on the TTC budget including proposed fare scenarios, were shielded from the public until November 2016 when the Board voted to adopt a fare hike. If TTCriders knew of the budget discussions that were occurring in August, it would have provided us the opportunity to make a presentation before the committee and represent our membership.
TTCriders looks forward to Dr. Sossin’s findings and the TTC’s implementation of any recommendations. We will continue to advocate for our membership and legislation that ensures open meetings at all levels of government.
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Update: As of March 7, 2016, the investigation was closed with no further investigation.