MacIsaac in running for GTA transit czar

By Richard Brennan
Toronto Star(Mar 30, 2006)
Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac is a top candidate to head the new Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA).

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

And MacIsaac said yesterday he would gladly serve, given his longtime belief there should be a public transit system across the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe.

" I am a big believer in the GTTA," said MacIsaac, who has been mayor for nine years.

" 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," MacIsaac said.

" And I don't understand why we are so accepting of the fact that we don't have one. There are so many big cities elsewhere that have transportation systems that blow ours away."

But MacIsaac said he has not been approached by the province to take on the job, or any other government post.

" I've heard quite an assortment of rumours of what I might be doing," he joked. "I'm hoping one of the good ones comes true."

MacIsaac is on record as supporting toll roads, saying taxpayers can no longer be expected to always foot the bill for new highways.

The mayor said he would like to continue to serve 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 Greater Toronto Transportation Authority. 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 the area municipalities are on board, including Toronto and Hamilton.
Stephanie Nadalin, spokesperson for Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar, wouldn't comment on MacIsaac being a top choice for the GTTA job.

" We're still in discussions and consultations with all of the municipalities," she said.
A provincial official said the GTTA board will balance 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 alike 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. He has been a Burlington city council member for 15 years.

Toronto Mayor David Miller said, "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."

Oakville Mayor Ann Mulvale said, "I think he brings 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."

Both provincial and municipal officials say they were particularly impressed 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.

With files from Daniel Nolan, The Hamilton Spectator

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