STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES ORGANISMES GOUVERNEMENTAUX
Tuesday 8 December 2009 Mardi 8 décembre 2009
Our first interview today is Tony Gagliano, intended appointee as a member of Metrolinx. Tony, if you would come forward and have a seat at the end of the table. We’ll give you the opportunity to make a presentation, if you wish to do so. Upon the completion of your presentation, we will have questions from the three parties at the table today. We will start today with the official opposition on the first appointment.
Mr. Tony Gagliano: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Let me begin by saying what a great privilege it is to be considered for appointment to the Metrolinx board of directors. I’ve participated in the board since May and have been impressed immensely by the calibre of the board members who are involved in the challenge and the opportunity that we have in front of us.
I currently sit on the governance committee and the human resources and compensation committee. I’ve spent a great deal of my career working with the public sector, with governments of all political stripes across Canada.
As you can see from my biography, I’ve spent my career in the communications industry. I joined St. Joseph Printing, a small, family-owned print company, in 1979, and have been working over the years to help build it into Canada’s largest privately owned communications company. During that time, I was involved when St. Joseph was selected to privatize the Queen’s Printer with the federal government. The initiative involved taking over 600 employees from the government and integrating them into our company’s culture. Our family and our company’s philosophy is that a minimum of 10% of our annual profits and 10% of our time go to charitable organizations.
I’m very proud to sit on the board of St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, Ryerson University and Scouts Canada, as well as being president of the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario and co-founder and co-chair of the Luminato arts festival, which, in its third year, is already the largest multi-arts festival in North America.
If appointed to the Metrolinx board, I intend to work to the very best of my ability to make a positive contribution to transit development in the greater Toronto and Hamilton region. Almost 2,000 families that work for St. Joseph Communications live in this region, and I’m very aware of the need for the public to have safe, clean and reliable transportation, and the vital role transportation plays in the prosperity of the region.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Thank you, Mr. Gagliano, for appearing this morning. You’re eminently qualified for the board, I have no doubt. Just curious: Did you seek out this application or did someone seek you out?
Mr. Tony Gagliano: We’ve had several meetings. I guess the highlight so far has been: I sit on six different boards—charitable organizations and the like—and the group of 15 independent board members are as fine a group as I’ve witnessed working together in an integrated way. I’m coming up with innovative ideas and reviewing matters and discussing them with the groups. So far, it has been five or six months, and I’ve been very impressed with the calibre of the discussion.
The question that has concerned me about this board is the whole question of private financing and public-private partnerships for provision of transit. Can you give me your thinking on that approach to financing the transit infrastructure?
Mr. Tony Gagliano: I guess my thinking is that it’s one of the options, one of the tools at our disposal. What we have to do—as a board that has come together—is explore all the options and, at this stage, wait for management to do their work in regard to presenting what they feel are the best viable options for us to be able to deliberate, review, discuss, challenge and come up with, ultimately, what is in the best interests of the stakeholder here—the people of this province.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: The centre of transit systems in the GTA is the TTC. I know that there’s some concern in the TTC that Metrolinx will try and use the body of the TTC to carry the rest, rather than have regional transit financed by the people who live in the suburban areas of the GTA. Do you have any commentary on those concerns?
Mr. Tony Gagliano: I think that one of the advantages we now have is that we really have a focus on the grand picture for the region. I think that the priorities now will be what is in the best interests of the overall network. So as we look at opportunities, we’re not looking region by region: we’re really looking at the overall best interests. I think that’s where the ultimate benefit will come. I’m a big believer in: If you want prosperity in this region, you really have to start with the right integrated transportation network. My view has been that, clearly, over the last few decades, we’ve fallen somewhat behind. I think this is a transformative opportunity for us to make some decisions and recommendations and act in a way that is in the best interests of the whole.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: The urban form that we’re developing in the GTA is generally characterized as one of sprawl. The greater the sprawl, the lower the densities and the more difficult it is to serve. We have a public transit system that is cost-effective and efficient. As a board member, are you willing to raise the question of urban form at the board meetings and have Metrolinx recommend to the provincial government that its policies consistently work to reduce sprawl?
Mr. Tony Gagliano: Again, I go to the best interests, here. When you think about it, we have a responsibility today, from a transportation standpoint, to move millions of people on a regular basis, and that is going to grow dramatically over the next number of years: doubling and then growing again beyond that. So when we look at it through that prism, I think we have to look at all the options. I think urban sprawl is a very important one from a perspective of where people live, minimizing their transportation time from where they live to where they work to where they go from an entertainment standpoint. It’s all part of the responsibility that we have when we look at that.
At this point, I think we have a responsibility to make sure that we’re looking at that and we’re looking at all the options and making sure that we’re making the right recommendations and looking at it through that prism that says, “When we’re talking about doubling the number of people that may be using public transportation over the next period of time, number of years”—looking at it through that—“what are all the tools that are at our disposal?”
Mr. Michael A. Brown: Thank you, Mr. Gagliano, for coming before us today and bringing a skill set that will supplement what I think is a very impressive board. We have people from backgrounds, as you know, across a wide breadth of disciplines and interests, and your skill set will be valuable to this board. Thank you for putting your name forward. We will be supporting your nomination.
The Chair (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): Thank you very much. That does conclude the interview, and we do want to thank you, Mr. Gagliano, for coming forward this morning and offering your services to the Metrolinx board. We do wish you well in your future endeavours.
The Chair (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): The second interview is with Lee Parsons, intended appointee as a Metrolinx member, if Mr. Parsons would come forward. Again, we want to reiterate that we will provide you with the opportunity to make a presentation to start the interview. Upon completion of that, we will have 10 minutes allotted for each party to ask questions. At the end of that, we will all be better informed. We thank you very much for coming forward. We will be starting this round of questions with the third party. With that, Mr. Parsons, the floor is yours.
I’d just like to say, first of all, that I’m one of the old guard. I sat on the GO Transit board. I was chair of the risk management committee during that time, and now, with your sufferance, will serve on the audit, finance and risk management committees.
Just on a sort of personal background note, I’m an engineer and an urban planner by training and practice. I am a founding partner of an urban planning consulting firm, Malone Given Parsons, that has been around for 30 years. It’s hard to believe. We’ve done over 2,000 projects related to growth one way or the other—growth and change in the urban environment—and most of those are in the greater Golden Horseshoe. So I’ve had a front-row seat, if you will, looking at growth issues throughout southern Ontario and the GGH over that time.
During that time, I’ve become very much a committed advocate of transit. Transit is key from many perspectives, as we all know. It’s key in terms of facilitating a compact urban form. It’s key to urban efficiency. It’s key to environmental change. It’s key in terms of social equity. And, of course, it’s key to the economic productivity and performance of our city region.
A question I put to the previous appointee, also to you, is the whole question of public-private partnerships and private financing of transit infrastructure. Do you have concerns about that approach to providing us with public transit?
Mr. Lee Parsons: I don’t have concerns about it in the sense of whether it’s a philosophy that ought not to be considered, but it’s also obvious that it’s a complex issue and has to be understood very thoroughly before any decisions are made. There’s quite a bit of experience of various types with this model internationally now. In my opinion, it’s one of the things that needs to be considered. As you know, one of the mandates of this board is to investigate the possibility of alternative modes of finance and procurement. Obviously, until that exercise has been carried out, neither the board nor I as an individual would have a definitive comment on it.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: You obviously have very extensive experience in urban planning. Your presentation understated what was actually given to us in writing. Your view of the greater Golden Horseshoe and the GTA and the densities: What are the challenges Metrolinx is going to have to deal with in the next decade or so, given those low densities before us?
Mr. Lee Parsons: In my opinion, it’s not really a chicken-or-egg thing as far as density is concerned. You must have transit first, and not just rail-type transit but all forms of transit. So I think that the objective of moving to higher density is obviously key throughout the GGH, and transit is the key to making that happen.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Do you feel that your board should—and I’m not talking about doing it in a “call in the Toronto Star” kind of fashion—be advising the provincial government when it sees planning decisions that are adverse to the development of public transit?
Mr. Lee Parsons: No, I don’t think so. I think that Metrolinx and all transportation agencies have a responsibility to comment on policy as per whatever their mandate may be, but I don’t see it as a situation where there should necessarily be a direct link between one and the other. I think that one of the things that Metrolinx itself is doing which I think is very important is, through Big Move, focusing on mobility hubs and looking at ways of levering transit that’s in the purview of Metrolinx, ultimately to improve densities.
Mr. Lee Parsons: Yes. We looked at various subject areas for risk. First of all, what it entailed from a board perspective was to highlight issues, bring them forward, discuss them and to ensure that we could recommend as a committee to the board that management was dealing with certain risk issues. Some of those, as examples, related to reputational risk, customer service technology, operational issues and so on.
Mr. Lee Parsons: No, not directly. We’re all mindful of that issue in the general sense, but from an organizations perspective we didn’t deal with it explicitly. We were sensitive to the environmental issue, I can say, but weren’t really expressing that as a global climate change issue.
Mr. Michael A. Brown: Thank you, Mr. Parsons, for appearing today and for putting your name forward. We appreciate your commitment to public transit, as demonstrated through the GO board and now accepting this opportunity to serve with Metrolinx. Your credentials, again, broaden the interests and the expertise of the board. We think you’re a fine appointment and we will be concurring in your nomination.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Thank you, Mr. Parsons, too. Obviously you’ve done yeoman’s work for transit for many years, and I’m happy to see that you want to continue on Metrolinx. I did ask one of the new vice-chairs of Metrolinx—I can’t remember exactly who it was—about three meetings ago whether GO or Metrolinx has had—I represent the Tottenham area, going up through to Collingwood and Thornbury. I’m often asked—mostly, it seems, by real estate agents—whether or not GO Transit is ever coming to Tottenham. For the record, what would your response be to that?
Mr. Lee Parsons: I don’t have a useful response to that. But taking your question seriously, the question of expanding the reach of transit generally is something that certainly everybody in the transit business is interested in. Whether or not transit goes to a particular area, or what type of transit or when, that would be up to management to bring something forward.
Mr. Jim Wilson: So that’s their best approach, to go to management and put a case together? My riding is the borderline of the GTA, Highway 9, and I don’t know if you can make the parking lots any bigger; there are several of them for people who are carpooling right now. The line from Toronto to Barrie seems to be successful. They’re just wondering why it can’t stop in Tottenham.
Mr. Lee Parsons: Sir, with respect, you’ve asked a bigger question, and that’s “What’s the role of a board?” generally. Although the board members—I, certainly, and I’m sure all the others—have definite opinions about various things, the role of the board is really to represent the overall stakeholder of the crown corporation, which is the people of Ontario. We’re mindful of that, but it’s management, of course, that proposes strategy and runs the organization. The board’s job is to oversee that and to make sure that things are done in an appropriate way, heading in the right direction and reflecting the needs of our shareholders.
Mr. John O’Toole: Yes. Thank you very much, Mr. Parsons. My riding is Durham, and it’s the eastern end of the GTA. I’ve also had the privilege over the last couple of years of serving as the transportation critic and I’ve watched the work and also the growth of transit. My question is quite specific because I am familiar with the overarching report, The Big Move. I call it the big spending program, actually. It’s about $50 billion or more. The question, right from the beginning when it was introduced—I don’t think there’s anyone opposed to the strategy and the longer view of things. How do you think they’re going to fund that?
Mr. Lee Parsons: Well, that’s one of the major questions that is being put ultimately before the board. Obviously there are the three foci, if you will. One is operations and making sure that Metrolinx is discharging its responsibilities through GO right now. Second is dealing with the implementation of the five projects that have received commitment and funding. Ultimately, the third question is exactly what you say. That is, that we know a couple of things. We know that transit is vital to the GGH as a whole. We know that the price tag for that investment is high. We believe that the benefits of that investment will be much higher. The question is how to actually finance it.
Mr. John O’Toole: That’s sort of the larger question that I asked. You left it as a question, and I agree it’s probably the largest stumbling block. I’m going to put a couple of things on the table that are related to the question. For instance, it really is a trade-off between the environment, the economy, infrastructure—car versus transit, basically. Would you support tolling to be a portion of the revenue line for transit?
Mr. Lee Parsons: I think that we have to look at the whole mix of transportation. By the way, I don’t really see the environment, the economy or even finance as an either/or. The question is, how are we going to do these things? I think it’s important to keep our eye on the economic question and keep our eye on the others, as well.
As far as a specific means of raising the finances to pay for and operate the balance of transit, I think we have to be open-minded and look at everything. if you’re asking me personally, I don’t have an opinion one way or the other. I think that everythings has to be looked at very carefully. Each tool has its upside and downside.
Mr. John O’Toole: Yes, for sure. I’m very happy, actually, with the governance model of Metrolinx. When I was critic and the Toronto Board of Trade lobbied extensively, we worked with them to try and convince the minister of that time, in the previous government, to make the move and to reorganize.
The original board was set up prior to Metrolinx and gave the ministry two appointments: the chair and deputy chair. They ran the whole thing invisibly through the ministry. It was structural gridlock because Toronto had, I believe, six seats; the rest of the regions had five amongst them; and the ministry had two: the chair and the vice-chair. They basically ran it, and it achieved absolutely nothing. It was gridlocked from day one through organization, not from the goodwill of the—I met with Smith and others.
I just want your view on this. I felt that the block—I wouldn’t like to blame Adam Giambrone or Howard Moscoe or any of those people, but they couldn’t even more forward with the smart card, the Presto card.
Mr. Lee Parsons: Yes, I believe it will. I can’t comment on the previous Metrolinx board, obviously, not having been there. What I can tell you is this: The group that is on the board now—and I know you’ve heard this from other folks, my friend Mr. Gagliano just recently—the quality of the people on this board is astonishingly, exceptionally high. These people are charged with the responsibility of operating Metrolinx and achieving its mandate.
I know that politics is still involved, obviously, in things at various levels. All I can say is that this board is an apolitical board. Everyone is very interested in doing what’s right for our shareholder, which is the people of Ontario.
Mr. John O’Toole: Theoretically, I agree that the model is sort of apolitical and I completely concur. I think there’s always going to be the discussion of who pays. You’ve got kind of a non-elected board sort of gerrymandering a $50-billion project. It’s a huge commitment, and it’s a significant change in how we do things.
I’ve always felt that Durham region was basically the poorer cousin in the whole business. I guess that comes back full-circle to my question. If it’s non-political, to the extent that they’re all appointed by the sitting government—qualified people; I’ve looked at the members of the board. I think they are qualified—highly qualified, as you say. They’re making decisions to the tune of $50 billion to make all this thing work, which, again, I probably support for the reasons of the economy, gridlock, the environment, CO2 emissions. I charge you with that, knowing full well the scrutiny at the political level will be high because there is no money. Basically, they have to finance everything.
So, I’m wondering, are there any other innovative financing suggestions, with your background and the distinguished panel, that you could come up with? Does it have to be all public? Is there a commercial layer here available, or is it strictly more tax money?
Mr. Lee Parsons: Obviously, I don’t know the answer to that, and no one does right now. But my personal view would be that, really, we have to look at everything and be willing to deploy, or at least examine the deployment of, every possibility.
As I said earlier, sir, there has been a lot of experience now with private-public partnerships, congestion tolls, advertising of various types, operational approaches of various types and implementation approaches of various types. What we need to do is keep our eye on the ball. We need to find a way to implement a very ambitious but very necessary transportation plan, and I think we have to look at absolutely everything.
The Chair (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): The third one was previously the fourth one, because we are slightly ahead of schedule, and the fourth delegate is here. Paul Bedford, if you could come forward. We will then revert back to the previous one once she arrives.
I thank you very much again for being here and even being here early. It helps us out with our timing. We’ll provide you with a few moments to make your presentation to the committee if you wish to do that. At the conclusion of that we will have questions: 10 minutes allotted for each party, if they wish to use it. We will start that questioning with the government caucus. At the end of that, hopefully, we will conclude it and all be much better informed because of it.
Mr. Paul Bedford: Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. I really welcome this opportunity to be here and be considered for appointment to the Metrolinx board. I’ve been looking forward to meeting with you for quite some time, and I think this is a great forum to exchange thoughts and ideas.
I have just a little bit about me and my background first, and then what I’d like to do is talk about what I see as some of the challenges, the opportunities and the priorities that the board is going to face.
I also was born at St. Mike’s hospital, for whatever that’s worth, a native Torontonian. I haven’t owned a car since 1992; I’m totally a transit person. I live downtown, which makes that possible. As many of you know, I was the chief city planner for the city of Toronto for eight years, the first chief planner of the amalgamated city. I served with eight mayors, from David Crombie right through to David Miller, and hundreds of city councillors. Next year, actually, I’ll have 40 years of work experience as a planner in a variety of capacities, all with the public sector.
While I was with the city, I was also chair of a group I invented called the Strategic Transportation Planning Group. It was comprised of the five commissioners: myself, city public works, GO Transit, TTC and the parking authority. I wanted to convene that forum every two months to try to get on the same page. It was a useful exercise. I’ve also developed the city-wide official plan for Toronto, which is a very strong, transit-focused plan which was adopted by the city council in 2002.
As you know, I’ve served on the transition board, one of the few members, initially from early 2007. I was one of the four city of Toronto appointees. At the time, the mayor had an opportunity to appoint a designate, and he asked me to serve on that. I was honoured to do that and served on the transition board since May, and now I’m before you.
Just some of the challenges, opportunities and priorities I thought important: I think they’re really quite simple. We have to catch up on 25 years of lost time and plan for the next 25 years, and that is a massive undertaking. The figure that’s been indicated at $50 billion is what’s staring us in the face. That’s for capital only. If you add operating, renewal and maintenance over 25 years, my personal view is we’re probably looking at $80 billion-plus. This is an enormous task before us. That’s the first thing.
The second, I think, relates to the whole hand-in-glove fit of the Places to Grow growth plan for the greater Golden Horseshoe and the role of Metrolinx. They’ve got to go hand in hand. I see Metrolinx as a body that, in fact, can help implement and achieve the vision that’s contained in the Places to Grow plan.
I think it’s pretty obvious that we’ll always have cars, whether they be electric or other forms of fuel, but the reality is that what we have to do is give people more of a transportation choice. Right now, in so much of the region and in 905, people don’t have that choice. They basically have to own at least one car, if not two. I think that’s an important issue to face down the road.
Some other highlights: I just mentioned the integrated fare card, the Presto card. I’m a strong believer in that. I’ve had the good fortune to travel to many cities all around the world. Many of you probably have, and you’ve used those cards and they’re absolutely fantastic. It’s the right way to go.
When I was on what I’ll call the Metrolinx 1 board, there was reluctance on the part of the TTC to buy into this. I actually thought that they should have bitten the bullet on that a long time ago, but it was simply the reality of a $250-million cost. My understanding is that now they’re part of it.
Another area that I feel very strongly about, and I think it’s important because we’re going to all face it, is electrification of the GO network. As I think you know, there’s a study that’s going to be commenced later this month. The results would be due December 2010. This is something that I think is absolutely important, because everywhere else in the world, these commuter rail networks almost exclusively are electrified. I think we all know that’s where we should go; that’s where we have to go. I’m looking forward to the study results when they come forward.
A couple of other quick things I’ll mention: One of the most important, if not the most important, challenges we have is, how are we going to pay for all this? What are the different revenue sources? Money doesn’t fall from the sky.
There are three baskets of revenue opportunities that I think this board has got to really look hard at. The first is what I’ll call beneficiary charges. The best example I can give you is in Hong Kong, if you’ve ever been there. They have a system called value capture. The system expands the network. It invites developers to come in and build these mobility hubs, and they take a portion of the increased value that the developer enjoys around those stations. That’s one of many.
A second area is—and all of these are controversial, I have to say—user fees, and that refers to the gentleman’s comment, for example, about road pricing or road tolls. It refers to additional levies, whether they’re vehicle registrations or parking levies. There’s a whole variety of things. I think we’re going to have to be very, very serious and look at all of those options.
The third basket is what I call the financing strategies, and that’s also controversial, because we all know that there are different approaches that have been used around the world. The one thing I do know is, there’s never going to be enough money in government to fund this, especially given the health care costs that are, what, 42% of the provincial budget—something like that—and rising.
The last thing I’ll say, in terms of some of the challenges and priorities, is that I believe, as we go forward—in my 40 years’ experience, I’ve learned this enough—we have to link choices that are made to consequences, because they are connected. If you make a choice here and you don’t provide for a system that we know we need, you’re going to pay the price. I think it relates to a prosperous economy and the environment and personal life.
One of the things I found very important in this city is to connect these big-picture choices that we’re going to make to people’s personal, daily life cycles. What’s the most important thing people care about? Time, money, stress—all these kinds of things that gridlock produces. There’s a whole bunch of these areas that we’re going to have to look at.
Lastly, I’d just conclude by asking: What should be your expectations of me? Frankly, I think this is a dream job for me in retirement. I retired from the city five and a half years ago. I teach at U of T and Ryerson. I serve on the CAMH property committee, the National Capital Commission, the Waterfront Design Review Panel and, of course, the transition board. My heart and soul are in this. I love this stuff. I’m passionate about it. I care about it deeply.
There’s a personal reason. In a couple of days I’m going to turn 63, and I want, in my lifetime, to see this stuff built. I want to ride it. I want to see it. I don’t want to just keep having more and more studies. It’s absolutely critical to me. We are making 100-year decisions. Don’t ever kid yourself, because nobody—when you build a subway, a new GO line, LRT, you’re not going to rip it up. It’s there for 100 years, and we’d better get it right. I think that transit is not a luxury; it’s an absolute necessity for this region, and it’s the key to a healthy future.
Mrs. Laura Albanese: Thank you for your comments. I know that Metrolinx is working very hard on different fronts to make all of this happen. As you know, there is one project in particular, if not more now, that Metrolinx is working on that concerns my community. One of these projects has been quite controversial; it’s the GO expansion and the air-rail link project. The community has been working very hard to ensure that York South–Weston would benefit from this project.
What I would ask is—you were asking what we would expect from you. That would be the passion that you’re showing, to ensure that this board communicates well with the community and that there’s the least disruption as possible. As we’ve seen, these projects can be quite disruptive.
But I also realize that this could be a catalyst for economic development in my community. I know you have extensive experience in urban planning and you teach planning. I’m aware that one of the courses that you’ve taught recently saw the area of Weston as a mobility hub. Just last night there was a woman murdered in Weston. It is an area that is very challenged. How would you see that happen?
Mr. Paul Bedford: That’s a great question, and there are so many issues there. I think one of the things that is absolutely important for your community, for the Weston community, is the increased frequency of transit that’s going to occur. As you know now, the GO train is really a rush-hour experience.
Mr. Paul Bedford: No. You can go one way but you can’t get back. It’s pretty ridiculous, and that applies to so much of the region. I think all-day GO service is clearly on the horizon, and it’s one of the priorities of the board.
But in terms of the mobility hub, you’re right. In the course I just finished at U of T, I focused on Weston as a priority neighbourhood; it’s one of Toronto’s 13 priority neighbourhoods. I wanted to have the students really investigate the community and integrate the opportunities of the rail expansion with economic development and future prospects. To make a long story short, the ideas have been fantastic: a whole notion of creating mixed, diverse land uses at the mobility hub.
One of the issues with GO, for example, is that almost everywhere in the entire system, it’s commuter lots and people rush to the train and they get on. But there’s not much in the way of development or mixed-use. That’s our next layer of challenges for GO and Metrolinx. There are huge opportunities in Oakville and Port Credit; Weston is a great example. So I see the combination of office—one of the ideas that has come up is in fact George Brown College, a Weston campus right at the mobility hub—these kinds of things. I can go on and on. It’s very exciting, and I think this is a positive, not a negative.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you, Mr. Bedford. I really appreciate your presentation. One thing—Mr. O’Toole has got a number of questions—I wanted to commend you on is riding the transit system. Often we hear from different people who come in on different issues, but it’s nice to hear from someone who doesn’t have a car and actually uses the system.
Mr. John O’Toole: Thank you very much. I do strongly and genuinely commend your being on the board. I’ll say that right off the bat. I’m just looking at your resumé, and not that I’m any capable person to evaluate it, but you’ve got all the skill sets that are required, with your history and your expressions and current engagement in the community. It may be a bit Toronto-centred, but I don’t mean that to be critical. I’m saying it as an outsider.
Mr. John O’Toole: I should say this: I’m a frequent user of the system. My riding is Durham and it’s at the eastern end, as I said earlier, and I do take the GO train. In fact, I’m a senior; therefore I get the discount rate.
You make a lot of very, very good points about theoretical modelling of transit. I have travelled. I’ve used the BART system, and I’m in London pretty well every year. I have two daughters living in England. It’s a wonderful transit system, from Kent right through to the other side of London. So I’m well aware of it.
I’m also well aware of the history of transit, not to your level of formal education, but I remember the Christaller central place theory, which was how Europe was built, basically, around concentric circles, and transit worked so well.
What’s missing here is, we’re a linear development. It’s totally inefficient. You run all the way out to pick up the load of cattle or people—roughly the same thing—and then bring them all in, and then there’s nothing happening. It is very inefficient use of—well, I guess the capital can be depreciated and stand for 100 years, but the future is my big concern. I’m sharing with you, not that I’ve already assumed that you’re on the board and that’s all good.
You’ve also identified some of the structural problems with the original GTA board, having been part of that. That’s why they haven’t got the Presto card. That’s why it hasn’t happened: It’s Toronto. Toronto TTC had too much cash in the game and weren’t about to divest themselves. That’s where you’re going to have to be a real mediator in this thing, to allow the regions—where there’s growth and transportation nodes not yet developed.
Everybody ends up on the wrong end of Toronto with the current system. That’s where the rails are; that’s where the space is. We’re all at the farthest possible points from the airport. It’s completely wrong.
My son is a Cathay Pacific pilot. He lives in this area. He flies from Toronto to New York. He has to get to the Toronto airport. It should be going to Toronto. It should be going to the north end of Toronto. That’s where the opportunities are.
Mr. John O’Toole: Well, you’ll have a chance to make all these decisions, and I envy your position; I really do. I think you will have a chance to be the cartographer of how we all survive in the future.
But if I read some of the new-thinking people, whether it’s Richard Florida or Friedman or any of those people, I’m wondering—I have a couple of kids who are in securities law. They work on the Isle of Man. They’re dealing with Hong Kong and they never leave their house. You think, with the information age and globalization, the world-is-flat stuff, that we’ll actually be driving to a bank in Toronto to do transactional contract work? I don’t think so. Why would you come to Toronto when you could be doing it in the electronic cottage? So we’re going to build a zillion dollars’ worth of infrastructure, to go where? To the ballgame?
First of all, I disagree with you. I actually think that, yes—because there’s one thing we forget: People long ago predicted that we’d be working out of homes. Face-to-face contact, like we’re doing here today, will never change. People want that and they need that. I think that’s an element of it that is important to keep in mind.
Mr. Paul Bedford: It’s all over the place. It’s all day, north-south and east-west. That is the future of the whole region, but it’s not an either/or. You have to have a strong downtown core also. You can’t just put all the money out there and nothing here. You have to do both, and that’s the real challenge, because that’s where we have to really get tough with the revenue generating—
Mr. John O’Toole: Here’s the deal: corporately and intimately, large corporations in the world are now investigating—you probably know this—hotelling. They’re toasting head offices because it’s too much tax. The important social contact you mentioned, through Skype and other technology interfaces: that’s how a lot of law is done today. It’s online. They’re not going to some—all these pre-trial and discoveries are baloney. They really are doing it in clusters, and they’re called digital clusters.
Hotelling is where they get together once a week and they talk about the marketing and their legal challenges and some of their liabilities, but the company doesn’t own it. They own nothing. I won’t mention the names, because I know of it personally. Large head offices, including law firms in Toronto, are looking at the concept. Look it up; hotelling, it’s called.
That’s the future. That’s the Richard Florida model, where they need to get together to work, the synergies of interaction and all of that. But this idea that I have to go to some cubicle on the 48th floor of some building—that’s completely—we’re moving from the industrial economy to the new economy, the global economy. My customers are all in Bangalore—
Mr. John O’Toole: Well, I guess I am. I’ve already conceded he would be—I applaud your enthusiasm, and I completely endorse you. You’ve got all the qualifications. Don’t be quite so Toronto-centric and toast Adam Giambrone and some of those guys. Throw them overboard.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: You’ve set out your ideas around financing. As you probably know from the questions I’ve raised before, public-private financing is a concern that I have. I think, ultimately, it reduces the amount of capital that’s available and has affordability issues. I know your position, so I’m not going to go on with that.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: But on the question of climate change adaptation, you’re quite correct: What we put in place will be here for a century. We will see changes in the weather that will be quite substantial. I asked one of the earlier appointees for their comments on it. Have you been looking at this question in relationship to a regional transit system?
Mr. Paul Bedford: Yes, actually, at one of the strategic sessions in the first Metrolinx board, we had a whole session devoted to the impacts of climate change and the relationship to building a good regional transit system. It’s very much part of the thinking.
It’s ironic that we’re here today with the Copenhagen conference just starting. It is absolutely connected. David Crombie always used to say, as you recall, “Everything is connected to everything.” It sure as hell is. Transit, land use, climate, environment, economy, prosperity: It’s all interconnected.
The Chair (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): Our fourth interview this morning is with Rose Patten, intended appointee for Metrolinx. Rose, you may come forward. As with the previous ones, we will provide you an opportunity to make an opening statement if you wish. We will then have questions from the three parties at the table, 10 minutes allotted for each one. We will start that with the official opposition. We now turn the floor over to you to make your presentation if you wish.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. I’m delighted to be here. This is a new experience for me, so I’m happy to take a few minutes to talk a little bit about my background and my interest in being considered for the board of Metrolinx.
You saw a little bit of my background, but maybe I can elaborate a tiny bit. I’m currently the senior executive vice-president of BMO Financial and what is called a senior leadership adviser. I run a number of portfolios, “portfolios” meaning functions of the bank. Essentially I’m one of the eight most senior people of the Bank of Montreal.
I have spent my whole career in financial services. Over a span of 30 years, I have been in four large financial services organizations. Throughout the 30 years, my accountabilities in all organizations have centred around strategy, leadership selection and succession, a lot to do with organizational change, and communication of public affairs. Those are the portfolios I’ve had pretty well steadily throughout, and those are the portfolios I have now at the bank.
In each organization, I have found that I have overseen those kinds of activities at times of quite a bit of change, and I have had to put quite a bit of focus on what I call the linkage between strategy of the business and the alignment of the people. Having had strategy and people over a number of years, that’s where I tend to pay a lot of attention: Are the people aligned with what the company or organization is trying to do?
I have also, in parallel, had pretty well equal experience in the public sector over about 25 years, in fairly senior leadership roles. The one I’ll focus on is over the last 15 years, where I’ve held various senior leadership positions at the University of Toronto in governance. I was the chair of the governing council of the University of Toronto until recent times. I have continued to chair a task force on a review of the governance practices at the University of Toronto.
I am currently also a trustee of the Hospital for Sick Kids, and I chair the governance committee of this as well. I recently became a member of the advisory committee to the Treasury Board of Canada. This advisory committee advises on senior-level retention and compensation, which is the deputy ministers and the CEOs of crown corporations.
When I accepted the invitation to be considered for the Metrolinx board, I had just finished my term at U of T. I did deliberately decide that I wanted to get involved in a big and important public policy in addition to my focus on health and education. The issues for me, and the challenges of public transit, because it touches the public at large, had a high level of interest, although I have to admit I don’t know a lot about transportation and that side. That’s going to be a learning.
I think the nature of Metrolinx does have many critical elements where I believe my experience and skills can be valuable. I’m particularly attracted to the importance of improving customer service, because as we embark on all of the challenges that are outlined for the Metrolinx mission, unless we retain and grow ridership, it will be very difficult. That, to me, is one of the most fundamental challenges and how to get at that true customer service, from the point of view of the people, which is where it starts. I have a high level of interest in this.
The other dimension of the mandate which had a lot of appeal to me because of my background is planning and executing for the future. There’s going to be a multitude of strategic choices, and it will be up to the board to ensure that there is very careful analytical thought to all of the information in order to make sound decisions. That has appeal to me as well.
I believe that those challenges that Metrolinx has in this regard are underpinned by the strong leadership that it will need, as well as the commitment and the mindset of all the people of the organization. I felt that my 30 years of experience in this regard would add value there.
I also believe that strong governance oversight and guidance will be very important, with all these complex situations. Again, I thought my value would be somewhat helpful, and the experience that I’ve had as well in governance over that many years.
Mr. John O’Toole: Thank you very much, Ms. Patten, for your presentation. You do bring a lot of skills to the areas that are outside of the transit bubble, which is probably good. The previous speaker was eminently qualified on the technical side, and organizationally it looks like those are strong skills.
I am a graduate of U of T and I know Robert Prichard would be very happy to have you on his team. That’s clear here as well. And Roger Martin would be one of the people that I’d really listen strongly to. He’s one of your references here. I admire the guy. He’s very non-partisan but a very competent policy spokesperson. We’ll say it that way.
A couple of questions: I think, with your strong 30 years in the financial services sector—and I did hear the previous speaker talk about the three models on the revenue side—I’d be happy to hear—there’s a real challenge here. No one disagrees with the concept, the futurist look of it. It’s important to have those visions. But there are two parts. The Metrolinx function is esteemed people who have congregated there and have a mandate legislatively, I guess, but they’re going to try to get the money from someone else. They haven’t got a guaranteed revenue stream yet. That’s critical, because the legislators have got a $25-billion hole in the ground right now. Social programs exceed capital programs. Which do we want—bridges or people? It’s that kind of a question. Would you give me kind of a quick one on that? I’m dealing with the revenue side because that’s your strength.
Ms. Rose Patten: Yes. I understand, and I think it is going to be one of the biggest challenges. I’ve actually attended two board meetings at this point in time, and right from the get-go, the key focus for a lot of the directors is looking at the whole funding side of things and where it’s going to come from.
We’re only now getting into some of the analytics. In fact, the groups are now working on the analytic models that we need to look at to weigh the pros and cons of this. But I think it is going to be quite a challenge, which is one of the reasons that I place a lot of emphasis on the customer side and the ridership side and continued growth and retention. That won’t get us there, but I think it’s very fundamental.
Mr. John O’Toole: Well, it’s very good. That’s a very honest answer as well because if there was an easy answer, I think governments would probably have outlined those options. Now, here’s the issue: With hospitals and the demands in health care—I don’t mean to politicize—what they’ve got now is a kind of shield outside called LHINs.
Mr. John O’Toole: They’re basically the shield so that you can’t get to anybody who’s actually elected. I’m not being critical. It’s used in other jurisdictions, so it’s not a new model. I find that your organization is going to be a similar kind of transit king and queen, shielding the ministry and the Ministry of Revenue, so it’s a difficult position. You’re going to get hammered because there will never be enough capital and there will be operating shortfalls and there will be capital shortfalls, but there will also be customer service issues. I’m one of the customers. Do you understand? I use it. If you miss the train or if there’s a little switch that doesn’t work because it’s cold out, I’m just pissed, pardon my language. Do you understand? I miss work, I’m late and everybody on the platform—you’ve got 10,000 upset customers who are going to get on their BlackBerrys, because they’re all commuters, and they’re going to e-mail you directly. Could I have your e-mail address? I’m just saying. I’m serious. It’s a very tough box, because people have destination commitments.
We talked about choice. I think there’s a really good choice. I’m going to put this to you as the next revenue question: I’m a commuter, so I make the decision based on listening to CBC Radio news and whatever that guy—with Andy Barrie on there with the news. Really, he should retire. But anyway, the other guy is a young traffic reporter who gives you a glimpse of what’s happening and I decide whether to pull in at Oshawa or not. It’s about an hour and eight minutes by rail or it’s about an hour to three hours on the road, depending on how bad it is.
Would you look at tolling as one of the solutions? You could toll portions of Highway 401, certainly the Don Valley—and I know that Peter Tabuns would probably support that. No? Okay. What do you think of that? That’s one of the revenue sources, as well as the traffic management tools you need. That’s what the congestion charges in London are for, because nobody drives there any more unless you’ve got the Rolls-Royce.
Ms. Rose Patten: Yes, I’m quite familiar with tolling from travelling and so on, but I don’t know how that will fit within the whole cadre of choices that we would have as we look through this. I don’t have a predisposition to it. I think it is one of the choices and it has been used elsewhere, but I don’t know how it’ll fit with us. We haven’t really done the assessment of that as yet.
Mr. John O’Toole: The other part is, we have the discussion on the 407 east expansion, and one of the design components is the light-rail component. Dave Ryan, the mayor of Pickering, as well as Wayne Arthurs, the member from that area, were first out of the gate in terms of supporting a transit median on the 407. I fully endorse that as well. It goes to great destinations: the University of Ontario and other places. Do you look at those? They’re not really in the Big Move plan.
Mr. John O’Toole: They’re huge. Even Presto is like a half a billion dollars, roughly. You’ve got to dismantle a lot of technologies and turnstiles that are in place, and they’re gone with a simple solution. Really, they just need to be—that’s a smart card. It has a SIM card in it, so you just walk through the turnstile and it’ll bill you. They’ve got to get with it. They’re locked into some solutions too early and there’s not enough—the operative word here for customer choice is options.
Ms. Rose Patten: Yes, and I’m hoping that with the diversity of the board—because, as you mention, there’s some people with highly technical skills; others with more general analytical kind of—strategic choice. There’s such a mixture there. That’s what I’m banking on—no pun intended—for getting at some of those issues.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Ms. Patten, thank you for coming this morning. You clearly have an extensive background in public and private institutions and management. I’m very concerned about public-private financing. I’m concerned about its costs to the public sector, and I’m concerned ultimately about the costs that will be borne by individual users of our institutions. Do you support the use of public-private financing in the development of our transit system?
Ms. Rose Patten: I don’t know how I view it in the sense of its true do-ability. I believe that it’s very complex. I think it is one source, and it has a flavour to it that could be attractive to people. I see it as very, very complex. I see it as requiring an enormous amount of analysis and careful thought from different angles. These kinds of structures are not always what they seem to be. They can be very, very complex.
Ms. Rose Patten: I believe that we do have some relationships, yes. I don’t know the specific detail of what they are because I’m not in that side of the business. But I would believe that we do. I believe that most banks would, and I’m pretty sure that we would as well.
Mr. Michael A. Brown: I really don’t have a question, Ms. Patten, other than to thank you for putting your name forward for this board. You bring a background that will add significantly, I think, to the board’s structure. We are most impressed with your credentials. Thank you very much for volunteering your time to sit on this very important board. We will be concurring in your nomination.
The Chair (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): That concludes the questioning, and we thank you very much. First of all, we apologize for having to go away and leave you here by yourself until we got back from the vote, but we appreciate the fact that you put your name forward and came forward. We wish you well in your future endeavours.
Ms. Rose Patten: May I also say thank you to all of you? As I said at the beginning, this is a new experience for me. I have a lot to learn in terms of what Metrolinx is doing, but I’m also very keen to apply my own frameworks of thought to ensure that the objectivity and the careful diligence take place. Thank you all.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: I just want to clarify before I vote: I mean no disrespect to any of the appointees who are before us today. All of them have strong resumés. My sense from the presentation is that they will make intelligent contributions to the board. But I don’t support public-private partnerships, and no one rejected them. Thus, I can’t support them as applicants, but I don’t want it to be a reflection on the quality of the people themselves. The quality has been one that gives me some comfort.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: If I might just be able to comment: I was subbed out today. Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bailey have gone to the House and have not returned, so I do not have a vote. But your qualities and your qualifications, from when I was in here, seem to be great. Certainly Mr. O’Toole enjoyed you, so—
Mr. John O’Toole: Friendly disclosure, Chair: I also have respect for the delegation this morning. As I’m not an official member of this committee, I am unable to vote. That will explain, for the purpose of the record, why I didn’t vote.