Is Burlington mayor en route to the GTTA?

Said to be leading candidate to head new transit agency Area politicians sing MacIsaac's praises,

Toronto Star
call him `pragmatic'
Mar. 30, 2006. 01:00 AM

Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac is a top candidate for heading up the agency that will set the transit agenda for the GTA, the Toronto Star has learned.

The Ontario government is said to be "high" on the 44-year-old father of two, who has already announced he will not be seeking re-election in November.

And MacIsaac said yesterday in an interview that he would gladly serve on the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, given his long-time belief that there should be a public transit system across the GTA and the Golden Horseshoe.

" I am a big believer in the GTTA. I have been talking about transportation for a long time and the fact we deserve a world-class transportation system here in the Golden Horseshoe," said MacIsaac, who has been mayor for nine years and spent 15 years on council.

" And I don't understand why we are so accepting of the fact that we don't have one," he said.
" There are so many big cities elsewhere that have a transportation system that blow ours away."
MacIsaac is on record as supporting toll roads, saying all taxpayers can no longer be expected to foot the bill for new highways.

The mayor said he would like to continue to work in a public capacity, but not in the political realm. "The GTTA might well do that.... I would consider it," he said.

The province is to introduce legislation this spring creating the GTTA. The agency is not expected to have funding ability but would "plan, co-ordinate and set priorities for public transit and major regional roads."
Officials say all of the area municipalities are on board, including Toronto and Hamilton.

A provincial official said the GTTA board will combine municipal and provincial appointees. The province is expected to appoint private-sector individuals as its representatives and municipalities will have the option to do likewise.
Provincial and municipal officials say MacIsaac is the kind of "pragmatic" individual who would bring years of municipal experience and a genuine interest in transit to the new post.

" All I can say is I have strong admiration and an excellent working relationship with Rob MacIsaac, so whatever he's doing, in the context he's going to work with the City of Toronto, I'd be delighted because I think he's excellent," Mayor David Miller said.

" I think he will bring a really good presence and commitment to such a function.... I have a great deal of confidence in him and I think that there is a fair bit of capital that he brings if he were the person," said Ann Mulvale, long-time mayor of neighbouring Oakville.

Both provincial and municipal officials say they were particularly impressed by MacIsaac when he chaired the provincial Greenbelt Task Force, which paved the way for a 728,000-hectare greenbelt, ringing Toronto from Niagara to Northumberland. He also chaired a so-called smart growth committee created by the former Conservative government.

" People forget that it was Rob who was out front in terms of advocating a seamless transit system across the GTA," said Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot).

The provincial interest in MacIsaac casts doubt on the appointment of Gordon Chong, former chair of GO Transit, who was considered a shoo-in to get the nod from Queen's Park.

Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar refused to be interviewed about the issue.
With files from John Spears


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