Sept. 6, 2017, TTC internal email saying ‘ZEBs are the goal”

This is the post excerpt.

I obtained this email in response to a Freedom of Information request I made to the TTC.

From: Case, Bem
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 4:45 PM
To: Macas, Mike
Subject: Re: BAE System Plug-in Hybrid Technology Discussion [Follow-up Meeting]

Hi Mike, I don’t have any issue with you meeting with BAE, but I think we do need to focus on BEB. As you’ve said, going forward Cost is not the main driver – ZEBs are the goal and we need to understand TCO of BEB, etc but not Hybrids or CNG.
Let me know if anything interesting comes of it.

Head of Vehicle Programs

Where’s the Evidence Supporting the Drastic Measures Against COVID-19?

Rosemary Frei, MSc, molecular biology; medical journalist for 22 years and now an investigative journalist


  • Death rates in China, Italy, South Korea from COVID are in the range of only 0.002% to 0.025% of the population.
  • Data being gathered about numbers of cases and deaths are severely lacking in quantity and quality. In addition the numbers that are available appear to be inflated by influential groups and websites, and then echoed by media.
  • The draconian measures being put in place for reducing COVID spread such as stringent ‘social distancing’ requirements combined with fines up to $100,000 for people who violate them, and also lock-downs in place for billions of people, are not evidence-based.
  • The societal and economic costs of these measures vastly outweigh their benefits to the population.


Once an old, wise man was sitting under a tree when the epidemic god came along. The wise man asked him, “Where are you going?” The god of epidemic replied, “I’m going to the city and I’m going to kill a hundred people there.” On his return journey, the god of epidemic came back to the wise man. The wise man said to him, “You told me that you wanted to kill a hundred people. But travellers told me that ten thousand had died.” The epidemic god said, “I only killed a hundred. The others were killed by their own fear.”
– Zen Buddhist allegory

In very quick succession countries around the world have been closing for business and billions of people’s lives severely disrupted, all because of fear of COVID-19.

Governments are spending trillions of dollars to try and restore their economies. Yet in Canada, at least, financial institutions — which are receiving the lion’s share of this emergency funding — aren’t required in return by the federal government to temporarily forgive payments from the hundreds of thousands if not millions of mortgage holders and small- and medium-sized businesses needing immediate relief. Instead banks only are offering payment deferment. Canadian banks also are not required to drop interest rates on their credit cards.

And renters must still pay their rent on time.

In addition, the federal government closed Service Canada centres as of March 28. That means the millions of new Employment Insurance applicants and previous recipients, along with those using Old Age Security — all of whom are the most vulnerable members of society and many of whom do not have internet access – have to use online portals or the phone.

Another notable gap is that media outlets have been left out of the emergency funding. (Also, tens of thousands of people in Ontario and Quebec are about to be hit with a double whammy of spring flooding from Lakes Erie and Ontario combined with COVID-related social distancing making sandbagging efforts much more complicated and time-consuming. Yet no individuals or municipalities who are at significant risk of high losses to property have received any provincial disaster-relief funds.)

Making the overall situation even worse is a dizzying array of inaccurate information – and it’s coming from health authorities and politicians. (And also from scientists: for example, the March 16 Imperial College of London paper lauded by politicians and the mainstream press as proving that ‘suppression’ – i.e.,  extreme social distancing measures such as lock-downs – is effective in significantly reducing COVID mortality rate and may have to remain in effect for 18 months – and which convinced U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson to proceed with the lock-down of the entire U.K. — is patently biased. Here is one of several searing critiques of it.)

 That inaccurate information includes very weak evidence for the effectiveness of the most stringent measures being used in the war on COVID, such as social distancing. Yet politicians and public-health professionals claim such distancing is highly effective and evidence-based (without offering any proof of this) and impose heavy fines for not maintaining it.

Dr. Joel Kettner, a former Manitoba Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, called CBC Radio’s Cross-Country Checkup on March 22 to express his alarm over the situation.

“In thirty years of public-health medicine I have never seen anything … anywhere near like this. And I’m not talking about the pandemic, because I’ve seen 30 of them, one every year — it’s called influenza and other respiratory-illness viruses that we don’t always know what they are. But I’ve never seen this reaction. And I’m trying to understand why,” said Dr. Kettner, associate professor of Community Health Sciences and Surgery at the University of Manitoba, former Chief Provincial Public Health Officer for Manitoba and former Medical Director of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases.

He said sequestering vast portions of the population, a measure with severe mental- and physical-health effects, is an extreme measure to take when there’s so little proof it works.

“We actually do not have that much good evidence for these social-distancing methods,” said Dr. Kettner. “It was just a couple of reviews in the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, which showed that although some of them might work, we don’t really know to what degree, and the evidence is pretty weak.”

He pointed also to the striking lack of solid data about such things as: how contagious COVID is; verified numbers of cases and deaths from COVID; and whether each death attributed to the virus is actually caused by the virus or instead by a serious disease the person had before contracting COVID.

(An example I discovered of inaccurate numbers is stats on deaths to date in Italy: the Italian COVID research group — which is the on-the-ground group in Italy directly collecting information about COVID in their country — recorded 5,542 total deaths in Italy to March 24, while the European CDC has the tally to March 24 as 6,077 and Wikipedia records it as 6,820. And the gap keeps growing: as of March 26 the Italian group reported 6,801 total deaths, the European CDC 7,505 and Wikipedia 8,165.)

(And an example of lack of data comes from a question a reporter asked during the March 28, 2020, press conference for Ontario’s chief public-health officials [these are held daily, as are the press conferences for: the City of Toronto’s mayor, Toronto Medical Officer of Health and other city officials such as the fire chief and city manager; the premier; and the prime minister; similarly, local officials give press conferences across the country]. The reporter asked, “What is the recovery rate for people who go into ICU?” [i.e., what percentage of people who are in ICU for COVID recover from it?] Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams responded, “Good question. We know some have recovered from ICU and venting. Our number there is still small, but that would be a good one to collect or understand as we go forward.” In other words, they’re still not collecting that data.)

Dr. Kettner said pronouncements from the World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID is a very grave threat and that countries’ inaction is significantly increasing its danger put immense pressure on public-health physicians and politicians to impose extreme measures very rapidly.

As a result, there has been a rapid-fire series of laws around the world that constrict billions of people’s movements, violating their civil liberties in the process. This is despite the fact that death rates in China, Italy, South Korea and other countries from COVID are in the range of only 0.002% to 0.025% of the population (see the ‘Fact Check’ section below).

The vast majority of North Americans appear to be very willing to comply with these very strict new laws. They trust the WHO, politicians, local officials and media, virtually all of whom amplify the message that millions will die from COVID if these directives aren’t followed to the letter.

For example, in a March 26 news conference Toronto Mayor John Tory said that maintaining social distancing is “a matter of life or death.” And a commentary in the Globe and Mail said that “human touch literally kills.”

While it’s true that COVID can be dangerous — just like any other pathogen can be — and very contagious, rather than mass isolation of billions of people combined with drastic violations of civil liberties and destruction of the global economy, only the most at-risk people and their close associates should be isolated. In addition, public-health authorities need to collect much better data and provide full disclosure of the state of their knowledge so that we have the information needed to make truly evidence-based decisions.

Rapidly Escalating Restrictions in Ontario and the Rest of Canada

(*A detailed listing of restrictive measures is in the appendix at the end of this article.)

On March 11 the WHO declared a COVID pandemic.

On March 12 Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced all public schools in the province would be closed for two weeks immediately following March Break. (The closures have since been extended.)

Courts across Canada have stopped hearing cases – for example, on March 12 all upcoming jury trials in Ontario were suspended. In addition, jails across the country are not allowing visitors or volunteers. And many guards aren’t going to work; as a result, large numbers of inmates are crammed three to a cell and on lock-down 24/7. The province is giving at least one apparent nod to the in-humaneness of this: people serving sentences on weekends have been granted a temporary absence from custody.

The Trudeau administration also has moved very fast (including not ruling out cellphone surveillance to track people who are in close proximity to each other). Federal Bill C-13 passed unanimously on the morning of March 25 gives the finance minister the unilateral power to spend “all money required to do anything in relation to that public health event of national concern.” This new power extends until September 30, 2020.

(The federal Liberals originally pushed to be able to both spend and tax unilaterally for the next 21 months; they backed down under intense opposition from the other parties and Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux. Giroux is quoted in the Globe as saying, “The draft legislation … seeks to circumvent parliament, for both spending and tax, by granting extraordinary powers to cabinet and individual ministers.”)

Also on March 25 the federal government made it mandatory that people coming back to Canada self-isolate for 14 days or face fines of up to $750,000 and/or six months in prison. (An exception is “certain persons who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and those who provide essential services.”) Those who subsequently develop symptoms are prohibited from using public transport to travel to where they’re going to self-isolate and they also can’t isolate in a place where they will be in contact with vulnerable people.

Meanwhile all levels of government across the country, together with public-health authorities and medical facilities, are very rapidly ramping up their focus on COVID. Within the next day or two Ontario alone will reach the target of testing 5,000 people per day and are aiming to reach 19,000 daily next month. Many companies such as auto manufacturers are switching to producing ventilators. And on March 23 the federal government pledged $275 million for “coronavirus research and medical countermeasures” with a primary focus on vaccine development.

The High Toll From the War Against COVID

There’s a long list of devastating social, financial and mental- and physical-health effects of all of this.

All weddings have been cancelled and funerals are now being conducted without attendees. Recreational events of every size, from small concerts to NBA games, are postponed if not cancelled altogether. Even the Tokyo Olympics have been pushed back to next year.

Some hospitals are prohibiting partners of women who give birth to stay longer than two hours after the birth. Emergency departments are turning away people.

Dental clinics and hospitals are only doing emergency procedures. Even some cancer surgeries have been cancelled. All other cases including such things as organ transplants are being delayed. This is to free up ventilators and ICU space in case they’re needed for COVID cases.

There also is an increasingly severe lack of access to health-care professionals because of fear of spread of the virus, and also because many of them are in self-isolation after travelling or testing positive for the virus. In addition, blood banks across the continent have been experiencing severe shortages.

The economic collateral damage from the war against COVID also is unprecedented.

Canada’s Gross Domestic Product is projected to fall by 20% to 30% in the period from April to June. A Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey released March 24 found, among the more than 11,200 businesses that completed the survey, 55% are completely or partially shut down and of the remaining, almost all have laid off staff and/or reduced staff hours, and can’t survive this way much longer.

“We’ve never seen a shock of this magnitude,” Stefane Marion, the National Bank of Canada’s Chief Economist, remarked.

Yet Amazon is thriving. Loblaws and Metro, and American giants Costco and Walmart are also very busy. They are among the main companies people are flocking to for panic buying large quantities of groceries, staples, masks, gloves and cleaning supplies.

Many other very large enterprises also are poised to profit handsomely. For example, in a candid comment about his imminent opportunities to buy other companies, the CEO of Saputo, Canada’s biggest milk producer, said, “Coming into this crisis, some of our competitors were already on very thin ice. Perhaps this might just take them over the edge.”

Experts Speak Out

The starkness of the situation is pushing experts such as Dr. Kettner to go public about the fact that the dangerousness of COVID is being very overblown and that the response is vastly disproportionate.

One example is a March 19 interview of Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, a high-profile microbiologist from Germany – which, like Canada, the U.S. and a rapidly growing number of other countries, has imposed unprecedented movement and civil-liberty restrictions. He highlighted data showing 99.5% of COVID infections result in either no or only mild symptoms. He called the emergency measures against COVID “grotesque, absurd and very dangerous” and said they “are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide because of nothing but a spook.”

In a March 20 commentary in the New York Times Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre in New Haven, Connecticut, called for more-targeted measures to contain COVID.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is pointing to potential Charter violations. For example, they question some of Nova Scotia’s requirements that are part of the province’s state of emergency, such as everyone entering the province being stopped, questioned and ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.

“[R]restrictions on rights and liberties, even in these exceptional circumstances, must be necessary and proportionate,” states a CCLA March 23 letter to Nova Scotia’s minister in charge of this portfolio.

On March 22 Dr. Kettner, who’s had a 30-year career in public medicine, resorted to calling Cross-Country Checkup. He told host Duncan McCue that public-health officials are receiving low-quality data.

“We’re getting very crude numbers of cases and deaths, very little information about testing rates, contagious analysis, severity rates, who’s being hospitalised, who is in intensive care, who is dying, what are the definitions to decide if someone died of the coronavirus or just died with the coronavirus. There is so much important data that is very hard to get, to guide the decisions about how serious a threat is this.”

He also said that public-health doctors and public-health leaders are under “immense pressure” to implement extreme measures very rapidly.

“That pressure’s coming from various places. The first place it came from was the Director-General of the World Health Organization, when he said this [COVID] is a grave threat and public-health enemy number one. I’ve never heard a Director-General of the WHO use terms like that. Then at the announcement of the pandemic, he said he’s doing it because of a grave, alarming, quick spread of the disease, and an alarming amount of inaction around the world.

“That puts a huge pressure on public-health doctors and leaders and advisors, and a huge pressure on governments,” Dr. Kettner emphasized. “And then you get this what seems like a cascade of decision-making that really puts pressure on the countries and governments – provincial, state – to sort of keep up with this action … which is an over-reaction. I don’t know what’s an appropriate action, but I do know that I’m having trouble figuring this out!”

(Dr. Kettner’s reference to the WHO being an extremely powerful player in the war against COVID is easy to corroborate: for example, on March 23 a WHO official called for aggressive action in India against COVID, and just one day later Prime Minister Nordenra Modi ordered a 21-day lock-down of all of India. There were only 482 cases and 10 deaths attributed to COVID as of March 24 in that country, which has 1.4 billion residents.)

McCue challenged Dr. Kettner over another assertion of his (shown at the beginning of this article), that there’s only very slim evidence for the effectiveness of social distancing.

“I understand that there’s probably quite a bit of literature about studying this, but what’s the basis of your concern then: if the social distancing is debatable, in your mind, what do you worry about [regarding] that?” McCue asked.

Dr. Kettner responded by citing some of the most serious consequences, from massive loss of jobs and shortages of healthcare professionals, to people being afraid of physical contact with each other.

He then explained that the risk of death from COVID is very low.

“In … the [Chinese] province of Hubei — where there’s been the most number of cases and deaths, by far [because the city of Wuhan, where the first COVID cases were reported, is in Hubei] — the actual rate of cases reported is one per thousand people. And the actual rate of deaths reported is one per 20,000 people. So maybe that would help people put things in perspective as to the actual rates and risks of this condition, because it’s a lot lower in every other part of the world, including Italy, and certainly in Canada and the United States.”

Another expert pushing back is Dr. John Ionnidis, a physician-scientist at Stanford (who became prominent in 2005 because of his scientific paper proving that most published medical research is false). In a March 17 commentary he cried foul over the lack of a solid evidence base for the drastic measures being taken against COVID spread.

Dr. Ionnidis also urged, in an extract from a Munk-Debate podcast posted March 27 on the National Post website, that it is imperative to very rapidly gather unbiased data. He said this should cause countries to change how they’re dealing with the virus.

“It could be that we need to continue with lock-downs, but it’s very likely that we would quickly need to abandon blind lock-downs and focus instead on protecting the lives of those who are susceptible, such as the elderly and those with severe underlying diseases,” he said. “At the same time, we would be able to allow people who are very low-risk or have already been infected to return back to normal life and not destroy our planet and civilization.”

However, such unbiased data are rare.

Indeed, Globe and Mail health reporter André Picard noted parenthetically in a March 21 article about a CDC COVID study that, “We can’t yet do this kind of detailed analysis in Canada because provincial officials have a strange allergy to transparency and data sharing: in two-thirds of 800-plus cases, we don’t even know the age of the person infected.”

That’s propelled individuals from the general public such as Jutta Mason of Toronto’s Centre for Local Research into Public Space to compile these statistics themselves. Mason is also trying but failing to pry more data out of Ontario’s health officials. For example, officials still aren’t disclosing which hospitalized cases are moderate and which are severe, nor which non-hospitalized cases are asymptomatic, mild or more serious. They also haven’t started tracking the number of patients who recover after being treated in the ICU, as noted earlier in this article.

This all means critical questions are going unanswered. For example, is the fall in death rate in each area – which, like any other infectious-disease outbreak, usually starts within a few weeks of infections first being detected – the result of the virus completing its natural passage through that community or from the mass isolation of the population? We may never know.

Economic, Social and Health Damage from Governments’ Responses

Meanwhile, despite the dearth of answers, countries’ responses to COVID have been the confinement of billions of people to their homes.

In the span of just two weeks a huge proportion of the world’s population has been subjected to loss of their jobs or businesses, along with a significant portion of their life savings from the unprecedentedly rapid market crash. Billions more surely are poised to follow very soon. That’s leaving all of them in very precarious housing and financial situations – and at the same time they’re being deprived of their liberty, fresh air and most other aspects of their normal lives.

These same countries are pouring massive amounts of public funds into the recovery from the carnage.

The Canadian federal government, for example, announced on March 13 that it’s pumping approximately $500 billion into the big banks and is using many other significant monetary, fiscal and regulation-reducing manoeuvres. In the process the country is repeating and expanding serious mistakes made before, during and after the 2008-2009 crash. (Yet a March 21 Globe article dubbed these measures as largely coming “from the policy toolkit developed during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.”) Among other emergency programs coming down the pipelineis a $15-billion bailout for the oil and gas industry that will be announced any day now.

In other major federal moves, on March 18 the Liberals introduced the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This includes $52 billion for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for the four million or more people who’ll need help after losing income due the economic disruptions. It also includes $55 billion worth of tax deferrals and more than $10 billion for the new Business Credit Availability Program, which provides financing to struggling businesses. (However, many businesses will not qualify for this program: it only includes businesses that qualified for Business Development Bank of Canada financing prior to the current crisis. It therefore excludes businesses such as gaming operations, nightclubs, bars, pool and billiard halls, and companies “inconsistent with generally accepted community standards of conduct and propriety.” Cannabis growers also appear to be excluded.)

On March 27 the federal government announced another set of measures to help businesses. Two of these are deferral of GST/HST remittances and the launch of the new $25-billion Canada Emergency Business Account in cooperation with Export Development Canada with interest-free loans for small businesses and non-profits. Together with a new loan-guarantee program for small and medium-sized businesses and a new co-lending program for this size of business, these new programs total $65 billion. The announcement also included several measures to defer and/or reduce taxes due by individuals and businesses.

(As a comparator, the economic bailouts of Portugal, Ireland and Greece totalled $350 billion.)

The Bank of Canada is using a wide array of its own tools to flood the market with money. So far, for example, since March 17 it has purchased $851 million worth of Canada Mortgage Bonds to help financial institutions fund residential mortgages. The central bank also significantly loosened the amount of money banks must have on hand as collateral for borrowing. And on March 19 it created the Standing Term Liquid Facility, another vehicle for it to lend very large amounts of money to banks.

“A firefighter has never been criticized for using too much water,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said. (He also dismissed the predictions of a sharp drop in the Gross Domestic Product as merely exercises in “arithmetic.”)

All other levels of governments also are opening their spending spigots.

In Ontario alone, the province’s public-health agency has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the anti-COVID effort.

And the Toronto Transit Commission is losing $18 million a week due to plummeting ridership (yet is maintaining close to normal vehicle frequency). The transit agency will need a very large bailout; yet in a March 26 press conference Mayor Tory waved away concerns about the potential high cost of this, saying “it’s not just about money.”

Meanwhile, none of the governments are publicly asking how they can afford all this. Yet this question is particularly acute in view of the parallel dramatic contracting of the tax base by the wholesale loss of businesses and jobs (and Canadian federal and provincial governments’ penchant for lowering tax rates).

October 2019 Pandemic Simulation With Striking Similarities to COVID

Perhaps a mid-October 2019 meeting of powerful players to hash out how corporations could play a central role in dealing with a novel-coronavirus pandemic sheds light on what’s happening with COVID.

Event 201 in New York City involved a “global pandemic exercise.” Information about the gathering is here and its official videos are here. It was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (more on this foundation below), as well as the World Economic Forum and the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The simulation involves a fictitious new coronavirus first detected in South America. It causes symptoms ranging from mild flu to pneumonia, with the sickest people needing intensive care. At first it’s limited to close contacts, healthcare works and families. Then it spreads rapidly, followed by international travel that turns “local epidemics into a pandemic spanning the globe,” observes a narrator in a newscast produced for the pandemic simulation. During the first weeks of the pandemic the number of cases doubles every week.

“Alarmingly,” people infected with the coronavirus but have no or very few symptoms “are allowed to walk around and spread the virus, not realizing they are doing so,” the narrator notes. And “because it appears the virus is readily transmitted through the air from person to person, essentially all people are susceptible.” A poll shows that 65% of people in the U.S. “are eager to take a vaccine, even if it’s experimental.”

During the pandemic, which plateaus after 18 months, experts debate what to do. Some argue, according to realistic-seeming ‘Global News Network’ or GNN newscasts that are sprinkled throughout the meeting proceedings, putting in place dramatic counter-measures against COVID “to protect every life we can” must be the goal, even though economies will collapse because of the strictness of those measures. Others call for a more moderate approach because “letting the global economy slow to a halt puts lives at risk.” Scenarios — another feature of the meeting — predict “the pandemic could push the world into a prolonged period of significantly slower growth” that is much worse than the Great Depression.

Among the 15 lead participants discussing how to react to all these aspects and more of the pandemic were representatives of the Gates Foundation and other global bodies including the CDC, CIA, World Bank and public-relations firm Edelman.

The event started with remarks by Ryan Morehard. He’s the lead of the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Security Group and the author of many papers on disasters. Those include one that came out shortly after Event 201 on international biological risks, focusing on man-made pathogens. Morehard said the reason for the gathering was that a fast-moving pandemic is inevitable. He posited that the risks pandemics pose to the world rival those associated with climate change, and therefore “public-private cooperation will be essential” to deal with them.

One question the 15 leads addressed was how financial resources should be prioritized in the face of a growing global economic crisis caused by the pandemic, and whether there are “nodes that we cannot allow to fail.” A participant from China’s CDC suggested that, “Government can supply some money, a lot of private sector [companies] — some sitting here — you have some money, but now we need a really coordinated, centralized effort.” An official from the U.S. CDC said “it’s really a war footing that we need to be on.”

An executive from the financial firm Henry Schein – which according to the company’s website is “a global distributor of medical and dental supplies, including vaccines, pharmaceuticals, financial services and equipment — added that there needs to be government support of manufacturing entrepreneurship and it should be escalated extremely quickly: “a Marshall Plan that can go into effect can stimulate change very quickly.”

Another main focus of Event 201 was the need for a very rapid corporate take-over of control of supply chains for materials related to the COVID crisis, particularly anti-viral medication, via public-private collaboration with international organizations and governments. (Note that on March 18 the B.C. government declared a state of emergency and on March 26 gave itself the power to take over supply chains for delivering essential goods and services, including health supplies. On March 28 the Ontario government took over the supply chains in its province.)

The Event 201 lead participants also addressed how to deal with “the overwhelming amounts of dis- and misinformation circulating over the internet” that the pandemic simulation predicted would occur. Matthew Harrington, Edelman’s Global President and Chief Operating Officer, said that in response social-media platforms must recognize their role of being broadcasters and partner “with the scientific and health communities to counterweight [misinformation], if not flood the zone, [with] accurate information.”

Harrington also said “there needs to be a centralized response around the communications approach, that then is cascaded to informed advocates representing the NGO communities, the medical professionals, etcetera. … Centralized on an international basis. Because I think there needs to be a central repository of data, facts and key messages.”

Another participant said communications should include incentivizing people to behave in ways that reduce their chance of getting infected.

Hasti Taghi – chief of staff capacity at NBCUniversal, a mass-media conglomerate that comprises prominent outlets ranging from NBC News and MSNBC to DreamWorks and Universal Pictures — said that even before this simulated pandemic began the anti-vaccine movement was very strong, primarily because of social media. Therefore they need to disseminate “the right information … to ensure that the public has trust in the vaccines that we’re creating” against COVID. Harrington agreed, saying recent strong resistance against vaccines was a “beta” test for dealing with resistance to COVID vaccines during the pandemic.

Avril Haines – who was Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor during the Obama administration, as well as Deputy Director of the CIA and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council — suggested daily briefings at international, national and local levels by people such as community and faith-based leaders and health care-officials. This would help “flood the zone” with information from “trusted sources” and would work better than trying to control information, she advised.

Harrington endorsed Haines’s idea. He added that education of trusted local leaders in advance of a pandemic is necessary to ensure they’re ready when it hits.

Messages Supporting War Against COVID Flourish

At the beginning of March 2020, about four and a half months after the pandemic simulation, there was a dramatic uptick in information about COVID in the media. Simultaneously, new material started appearing online that vividly paints the coronavirus as the most serious threat facing humanity. These have rapidly gone — well, viral.

A prominent example is the internet presence of Our World in Data. The organization has an authoritative-looking website that focuses on the rapid doubling time of the number of cases and the number of deaths. It does not examine the overall rise and fall in the spread of the virus across each country.

Our World also is involved in an expensively-produced video that (falsely) states the number of COVID cases is far higher than cases of the flu – and that it is “much more dangerous,” much more contagious and spreads far faster. (It also makes the very unscientific error of calling neutrophils ‘neutrophiles.’) The video describes an unstoppable cataclysm if measures aren’t put in place with alacrity to slow the spread of the virus: cases will spiral out of control, in turn overwhelming the capacity of healthcare workers, ICUs and equipment to cope. “Horrible decisions will have to be made about who gets to live and who doesn’t,” the video’s narrator tells viewers.

“Since we don’t have a vaccine for corona, we have to socially engineer our behaviour to act like a social vaccine,” the narrator continues.

That includes everyone washing their hands very frequently, social distancing — and also acquiescing to the equivalent of mass-scale house arrest.

“Quarantines are not great to experience and certainly not popular. But they buy us — and especially the researchers working on medication and vaccination — crucial time,” the narrator assures viewers. “So if you are under quarantine, you should understand why and respect it.”

However, there are glaring gaps in the video’s logic. For example, it doesn’t distinguish between, on the one hand, quarantine/self-isolation of people who are most at risk of serious harm or death from the infection, who have symptoms, or who test positive for the virus and, on the other, confining extremely large numbers of people – with no evidence they truly are a danger to others — to their homes for a long time. It also doesn’t offer any evidence to back up these assertions.

Our World in Data is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has an endowment of $52 billion. It has given more than $2.4 billion to the WHO since 2000, according to a 2017 Politico article (while countries have reduced their contributions to the world body, particularly since the 2008-2009 depression, and now account for less than one-quarter of the WHO’s budget). The article quotes a Geneva-based NGO representative as saying Gates is “treated liked a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20,” and that Gates is one of the most influential people in global health.

Gates announced via LinkedIn on March 13 that he is leaving Microsoft “to dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change.”

His focus within the WHO is on vaccines and medicines, rather than on building up robust health systems. His foundation promotes widespread vaccination around the globe and has a strong focus on funding the development and manufacture of vaccines.

Gates’s Foundation also is involved in the mass production of home-testing kits for COVID in the U.S.

And it was a main sponsor of Event 201.

Another example of the high-profile portrayal of COVID as being extremely dangerous is a pair of long articles by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and TEDx speaker Tomas Pueyo. The articles contain strikingly similar messaging to those from Our World in Data: alarming statements and even more frightening statistics and graphs, all coming across as authoritative and evidence-based.

In his first article, posted on Medium March 10, Pueyo states that, “The total number of [COVID] cases grew exponentially until China contained it. But then, it leaked outside, and now it’s a pandemic that nobody can stop.”

“The coronavirus is coming to you,” Pueyo writes. “It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly. It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two. When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed. Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways. Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die. They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies. The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today. That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now. As a politician, community leader or business leader, you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this.”

The second COVID article by Pueyo was posted on Medium March 19. It starts with this summary: “Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed.”

Fact Check

All of this is being done because of the ostensible grave danger posed by COVID. So let’s look at Italy, one of the countries that’s been among the highest-profile in the COVID crisis.

The Wikipedia page on COVID in Italy includes the percentage of increase in cases from one day to the next. Curiously, though, until March 25 it didn’t include the most important statistic: the percentage of increase in cumulative deaths from one day to the next.

I put the Wikipedia data on the percentage increase in deaths from day to day in the table below. Italy’s epidemic appears to have peaked around March 10.

Since then, the death rate has fallen nearly three-fold to about 12%.


Cumulative Total Number of Deaths in Italy

Increase in Deaths vs Previous Day

Feb. 22

Feb. 23

Feb. 24

Feb. 25

Feb. 26

Feb. 27

Feb. 28

Feb. 29

March 1

March 2

March 3

March 4

March 5

March 6

March 7

March 8

March 9

March 10

March 11

March 12

March 13

March 14

March 15

March 16

March 17

March 18

March 19

March 20

March 21

March 22

March 23

March 24
































































So within just a few days — from March 3-4 when there was an increase by 35% to reach 107 deaths, to March 8-9 — the increase in death rate had stabilized and subsequently decreased relatively steadily. According to the March 24 edition of the very frequently updated reports from the Italian COVID research group, the average age of people who died from the virus was 78 years. And almost 99% had at least one other serious condition ranging from ischemic heart disease to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (Note that Northern Italy, which is where the outbreak’s epicentre is in Italy, is one of the places in the world with the worst air pollution and the pollution lessened during the lock-down of the country.)

As pointed out near the beginning of this article, the Italian COVID research group reports a far lower total number of deaths than do either the European CDC or Wikipedia.

The Italian COVID group also makes the critical distinction in their data between people who died from COVID and those were infected with the virus but died from other causes.

Based on the Wikipedia data, I conservatively estimate that the total number of deaths when the epidemic ends is on track to be approximately 15,000, or 0.025% of the country’s population of 60 million.

That in turn may well explain why the Italian stock market started rising again after March 12.

Yet news reports, at least the North American ones, focus almost exclusively on the increase in numbers of cases every day to the virtual exclusion of the fact that the increase in percentage of deaths from one day to the next is falling quickly. A March 25 Globe and Mail article is an exemplar of this: “Since Italian stocks hit bottom on March 12, total confirmed cases have surged from 15,113 to 63,927, total deaths have risen from 1,016 to 6,077, and daily deaths have risen from 189 to a shocking high of 793 on March 21,” journalist writes.

Note also that in South Korea there have been just over 9,000 cases and 120 deaths according to Wikipedia, for a death rate of 1.3% (or 0.0002% of South Korea’s population of 51 million).

And a total of just over 3,300 people in all of China – or 0.0002% of that China’s population of 1.4 billion – died. (Interestingly, the Wikipedia page on COVID in China does not list numbers of deaths, daily or cumulatively, in the chart on COVID cases in China, unlike the pages for Italy and many other countries; the only place the total deaths is listed is not very prominently in the summary box near the top of the webpage.)

There’s also a paucity of media coverage examining what has and hasn’t worked in countries in dealing with the pandemic. Testing, quarantine and social distancing — followed as quickly as possible by vaccination and other medication — are proffered as by far the best approaches, despite the lack of evidence for this.

Another factor that’s heavily downplayed is that the vast majority of cases of coronavirus are benign. People get sick briefly, if at all.

An additional very important fact is that being exposed to viruses including COVID, along with bacteria and other antigens, strengthens the immune system and confers long-term immunity to them.

Therefore sequestering the vast majority of the population, as well as making people fear contact with COVID — and even fear touching anyone else except those who live with them — together with panic buying masks, gloves and cleaning supplies to keep their home environments squeaky clean, is like putting oil on a fire: if they haven’t been exposed to COVID they will be vulnerable to it in the coming days, months and years.

Indeed, Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO’s Emergency Services Programme, appears to have a obliquely acknowledged this in a March 21 interview on BBC (although this doesn’t appear to have been reported in Canadian media).

“What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them — find their contacts and isolate them,” Ryan is quoted as saying in the interview. “The danger right now with the lock-downs … [is that] if we don’t put in place the strong public-health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lock-downs are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.”

Despite all of this, masses of people are being confined to their homes in a completely unprecedented fashion. In the U.S., California was locked down on March 19 — and according to Wikipedia 24 states followed suit by March 25, with two another two having similar restrictions. Lock-downs usually are reinforced by the National Guard and local police forces.

Public-health officials and governments clearly aren’t basing their actions on an objective examination of options and on the experience of other countries dealing with the novel coronavirus. They’re also not highlighting the low percentage of each country’s populations that die from COVID.

What is clear is that only a very low percentage of people and businesses will be the beneficiaries of the seismic shifts occurring more rapidly than ever before on this planet.


Appendix: Detailed List of Some of the Main Measures Put in Place in Toronto, Ontario and Other Parts of Canada to Attempt to Limit the Spread of COVID

On March 13 officials announced the City of Toronto’s libraries, pools, community centres, childcare centres, galleries and museums and recreation facilities, among other public facilities, would all be shuttered the next morning. This also happened in Montreal on March 16, following a declaration of a state of emergency by the Quebec premier on March 14.

On March 16 Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said there should not be gatherings of 50 or more anywhere in the province. (That was extended by Premier Ford on March 28 to prohibit more than five people gathering, excluding family.) On March 16 Dr. Williams also ordered the closing province-wide of churches and other ‘faith settings,’ bars and restaurants (except for take-out and delivery), recreation programs, libraries, daycares and private schools.

Echoing Dr. Williams’ orders, on March 16 Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, told owners of all dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theatres in the city to close their facilities, with restaurants allowed only to continue take-out and delivery. Seniors’ homes were also ordered to isolate their residents.

That day Prime Minister announced our country’s borders would close to all but returning Canadians and travel across the border with the U.S. (that prohibition was quickly extended to all but essential and trade-related trips to and from the States).

On March 17 the premiers of Ontario and of Alberta both declared states of emergency in their jurisdictions, and the mayor of Calgary announced a state of emergency for his city. Ontario’s decree also prohibits gatherings of 50 people or more.

That week a very large number of other businesses shut their doors because people were staying away in droves and owners and employees were afraid of contracting and spreading COVID. And tens of thousands of Canadians travelling abroad scrambled to try to come home; most have failed so far and likely won’t get back for months.

On March 20 Ontario shuttered all provincial parks. On March 22, Nova Scotia’s premier declared a far-reaching state of emergency. On March 23 Premier Ford ordered all non-essential businesses to close by 11:59 p.m. the next day (here’s the province’s list of essential businesses). Quebec followed suit on March 25.

Also on March 23 John Tory issued a state of emergency in Toronto. That allows him to make decisions without a city-council vote. These extraordinary powers — which far exceed those of the ‘strong mayor’ system Tory covetslast for 30 days but can be extended by city council.

He started making executive decisions without council’s approval before he officially had the right to do so: via video interview on March 23 he told thousands of members of a group named TechTO that “I asked for and I’m getting it: we had the cellphone companies give us all the data on the pinging off their network on the weekend so we could see, ‘Where were people still congregating?’”

This type of move is illegal, whether the mayor acts unilaterally or with council approval, Canadian Civil Liberties Association executive director Michael Bryant told The Logic, which broke the story. On March 26 Tory denied that the cell-information-collecting had happened.

(The use of cellphone tracking was endorsed in a March 24 opinion piece by Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. “All measures can and should be considered in response to the global pandemic,” Geist wrote.)

Back on a more local level, on the afternoon of March 25 Tory announced that “all city-owned playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other parks amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system, will be closed effective immediately.”

That includes the city’s 83 community gardens and 12 outdoor allotment gardens.

Fines for disobeying are up to $5,000.

Dr. de Villa also urged all condo boards, Toronto schools and community housing apartments to close their playgrounds and park amenities.

And at a March 26 media conference she warned repeatedly she’ll ramp up restrictions if residents aren’t compliant.

“If people do not follow these protective measures [to maintain social distancing], then stronger ones affecting our civil liberties will be put in place to protect our city.”

Dr. de Villa added a few minutes later in response to a journalist’s question about why she hasn’t already done more to enforce social distancing, “these kinds of public-health measures — particularly the very strong ones – are the ones you want to do in concert with all levels of government. It has to be done in a quick fashion, but with care, and in a coordinated and collaborative fashion.”

Across Canada similar strictures are in place. The penalties for violations can be very steep: for example, in Vancouver people or businesses can be fined up to $50,000 if they don’t obey the new rules and in Toronto individuals can be fined up to $100,000 and businesses up to $500,000.

On March 30 the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario, Dr. David Williams, reiterated that everyone should stay home except for essential reasons such as getting groceries or medicine and accessing health-care services. He also strongly recommended that everyone over 70 years of age self-isolate.

The key messages are inescapable: ‘Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.’

People who have country homes have been fleeing to them in droves. Virtually all the rest are staying at home, believing this will lessen the chance that they or their parents, partners or babies become victims of the new plague. Public-health officials, politicians and many media outlets are suggesting this may be necessary for many more weeks.

Social control is taking care of any outliers: for example, the Ontario Provincial Police is being peppered with complaints about people violating the new rules.

Email details Toronto Hydro’s likely involvement with battery-electric-bus project

A July 27, 2017, email from Mike Macas that Rosemary Frei obtained from the TTC via a Freedom of Information request contains Mike’s notes from a meeting he and Bem Case had with Toronto Hydro officials earlier that day.

Among the information in the email is the following:

– TTC advised TH that RFI will be released to the industry for interest on BEB trials; TTC would optimally like
to run 1-2 trials
– TTC advised that Arrow Rd may not be the ideal location to run a study from when considering visibility and
desire to spread technology throughout the city; possibility of deadheading from 1 location to key routes was
– TTC advised that for September board meeting we will be requesting permission to reallocate $25M in funds
from approved capital bus procurement program to fund new tech pilots
– TH advised that investments in any pilots would be business driven and their ultimate goal is to manage
peak demand
– TH advised that TH’s letter of commitment for CUTRIC supercluster bid indicated a $5-$22M investment
– TH Preliminary Modelling – Cannot operate 10 BEB’s out of Arrow Rd; estimate max to be 8 BEB’s utilizing
staggered (smart) charging methods and up to 2 buses charging simultaneously
o Exceeding 8 buses would require significant/costly infrastructure upgrades
o Current transformer nearby Arrow has max cap of 1,00kVA & winter loads at Arrow were found to be
530kVA during peak between 10PM-2AM
o TH advised that infrastructure upgrades required should not drive TTC’s decision making for quantity
of BEB’s to pilot; TH would find a way to support regardless
– TH is interested in BEB battery after-life for stationary applications & want to know what is left in battery life
after life on a bus
o TH proposed replacing some batteries on BEB’s in pilot early to study
– TH advised that TH owning/supplying/financing/leasing BEB batteries is possible
– TH Jack mentioned old project in which TH approached TTC with proposal to install roof-top solar panels but
no traction

TTC told by City to Expedite BEB Study

This is the first part of an email that I obtained from the TTC via a Freedom of Information request.

From: Macas, Mike
Sent: Friday, July 07, 2017 12:07 PM
To: Cuschieri, Steven
Subject: RE: Re: 22-Jun-2017 Meeting Follow-up

Well not really…

Angelo is still on vacation but I did talk to Jonathan yesterday. He advised
that there was a telephone conference between the TTC (Rick Leary), City of
Toronto (Minnan-wong) and Toronto Hydro (Angelo’s boss) last Tuesday.

The purpose of the discussion was to ensure that TTC was collaborating with
TH as the City wants us to expedite the studying of this technology ASAP.
Jonathan also advised that the electric grid around Arrow Rd is sufficient in
its current state to supply power to charge 10 buses but not likely all at the
same time. Fleets exceeding 10 buses would require significant infrastructure
investment on the part of TH.

June 25, 2018, public consult on new Master Plan for Billy Bishop Airport


I took videos at the June 25, 2018, second public meeting on the Ports Toronto Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Master Plan (2018) http://www.billybishopairportmasterplan2018.com/updates/

This is my transcript of those videos.

[bolding added for emphasis]

1. Presentation on Runway End Safety Areas (RESA)


Runway End Safety Areas Boondoggle’ (MVI_0183): https://vimeo.com/277019952

– Mike Karsseboom – from Ports Toronto – talked a bit

– Josh Horst talked next. He’s w WSP’s aviation group, based in Kitchener, Ont. – he and Greg Ballentine lead Master Plan initiative for PortsToronto

– [4:49] – 150-metre length recommended

– [5:40 – Transport Canada [‘TC’] in 2010 and 2010 recommended RESAs through NSAs – specifically TP 312 – to apply to 218 airports – [6:15] – TC in May 2016 issued NPA 2016-007 revised requirements

– where are RESAs required? [7:00] – NPA 2016-007 IDd TC’s considering four options for selection criteria in IDing which airports wd require RESAs – #passengers as trigger – >200,000 passengers – 36 airports; if trigger is >1 million then approx 16 airports wd require RESA

– MK – [7:52] – TC NPA – four methodologies for complying w RESA – adding more length beyond end of runway, adding EMAS (crushable concrete product), reducing runway length and using that extra length as RESA, and if have extra length making sure end of runway can handle potential runway overshoot

– [8:49] – Ports Toronto [‘PT’] and WSP explored many options to comply [w regulation]. [9:06] – Billy Bishop Airport [‘BBA’] – reducing runway length – by approx 143 ft. [9:13] – Operational considerations wd reduce the runway length by approx 143 ft. The Q400 commercial operations at BB are already limited by our limited runway length during certain operations. This wd reduce the operating ability of those aircraft even further. And preliminary aircraft performance analysies indicates that the reduction in runway length resulting from this option will have significant impact to airline operations and making their operations economically unviable. In summary, this would make this an unacceptable option.

– [9:54] – the next option we looked at is EMAS, and we had a number of concerns related to EMAS when the study was done… we believe this is an unacceptable option

– [11:17] – one of the feedbacks we did receive was an alternate approach, and that was moving thresholds. So that was actually moving the threshold a little bit closer to the water to provide the space at the other end. We have found that this will have some significant impact to the size of the marine exclusion zone, both on the east and west side. Approx 30-metre expansion of those marine exclusion zones. Wd also require aggressive maintenance… etc. So again in our thinking the only viable option is a landmass expansion to comply w the proposed regulation [12:32]

– only required on runway 0826. [12:59] Only runways that have scheduled passenger services are required for RESA

– a landmass will be required at either end of the runway. … [13:17] This will also mean that it will be a little larger than the 43 metres [required] to comply w the RESA, because we will be looking at breakwater protection to again prevent the splashover on those areas to prevent ice buildup.

– [14:02] Things we are looking at from an airport operation perspective: we must be able to safely remove snow from the area, have the potential to put a road for south field access, and the ability to move our instrument-landing system – our localizer antennas on the end – this will allow us to make a more efficient taxi-way system on the north end, which will reduce taxiing noise of aircraft, ground noise of aircraft. From a community perspective, the thing we’d look at is impact on noise output, environmental perspected [sic] impact on GHG output and waterflow and fish habitats. And from a constructability perspective, how long’s it going to take to build and what’s the cost?

– [15:00] – Next steps. We’re waiting for Transport Canada to issue the Notice to Proposed Amendment [?], a Z1, which will start the public and stakeholder consultation process for the regulation. We expect to see that, based on TC’s comments to us, at the end of this year or very early next year. But pls keep in mind that the timing has changed a number of times and there may be delays. [15:27] Once it hits the Z1 there’s a minimum 30 days. Likely TC will allow a longer comment period, but the minimum requirement is 30 days before it’s issued in Gazette 2. Once it hits Gazette 2, that means the regulation is in force. We anticipate the regulation will say there’s a 3-year implementation period, but we have been talking to TC and we made it clear that we will require a longer period of time for implementation due to Tripartite Agreement considerations, our robust consultation process around this issue, environmental impact assessment and detailed designs.

2. Q&A on presentation on Runway End Safety Areas (RESA)

“It’s kind of wasting our time” (MVI_0184): https://vimeo.com/277018292

– Q – George Prudonto [spelling?] – is RESA a runway extension?

– A – MK – No. Runway will remain exactly the same length it is today.

– Q – GP – why not keep existing runway length to implement RESA?

– A – MK – As I said in my presentation, … if we reduce the runway length, this wd severely impact the operatinal ability of the Q400 and the commercial viability of the airline’s operations.

– [0:57] – Q – GP – “And what is wrong with that?” [laughter and clapping from attendees; wry look and shrug from MK]

– A – MK: 1:04 – “According to the TA, the PA must operate the airport in a financially judicial [sic] manner, and the commercial operations is the basis of us being able to pay for airport operations.”

– Q – GP – “So it wd be a general aviation airport.”

– A – MK – General aviation activity does not support the full cost of operating an airport.

– Q – GP – what studies have you done to confirm that?

– A – MK – I’ll have to get back to you on that, and provide you that information

– Q – GP – Because it seems to me that you cd v comfortably put in RESA, reduce the length of the runway if that’s what it means, and if it means that .. cd you not modify the Q400 to fly in that reduced runway?

– A – MK – [Pauses] Not to maintain the commercial viability of the operation

– Q – GP – Well it means perhaps a smaller load on the Q400, but I understand the Q400 is a STOL [short takeoff and landing] aircraft, at least it’s been described as that, so why can it not fly in that reduce runway?

– A – MK [swallows nervously while listening to GP’s question][pauses] That’s really a, um, question for the manufacturer. Every aircraft once it’s manufactured goes through a flight-test program, and the manufacturer puts out the requirements for the aircraft.

– Q – GP – Okay. Because you’re designing a master plan here, and it seems to me that you’re not offering a number of alternatives to accommodate RESA w the existing land mass that Billy Bishop is currently on. And I wd hope that yr proposal wd include an option that does not require building out the runways, or, building out the RESA into what is currently the marine exclusion zone. [3:22]

– MK doesn’t answer

– Q – woman sitting beside GP: [3:45] “Sort of going in the opposite direction to George, we know that Mr. Deluce wd really love to have jets in the airport. Have you looked at the impact if the Tripartite Agreement [‘TA’] were amended and jets were now permitted, wd these extensions of the safety runways be adequate for jets or wd it be for the jet that I think is being proposed. Do you know if that wd be adequate to accommodate those jets or wd it require additional runway lanes?

– A – MK – We have not looked at that. This master plan strictly looks at the activity within the current TA. So we’ve only looked at it from a Q400 perspective, jets have not been considered at all.

– Q – Brian Iler – [4:42]: Mr. Deluce, when he opted to start his airline in the island airport, knew what he was getting. He knew that he wd have to comply w existing constraints, one of those constraints was the airport cannot be extended into the water. If new regulations come along that says the runway has to be shortened because he can’t extend into the water, he has to live with that. That’s the deal he made. And I don’t understand why the Port Authority is saying, ‘Poor Mr. Deluce, you’re going to lose some money [because] you can’t fly as many heavy planes as you want,’ instead of coming back to us and saying, ‘Here are the real consequences of doing that, let’s have a look at their study, let’s see how Porter is impacted, and maybe it’s not worth it.’ We do know that he flies 60% full most of the time. His load factors are much well low below industry standard. He cd fly fewer planes and lighter planes and use that shorter runway. So I don’t think you’re taking the concerns around the constraint that the TA has that says you can’t extend, and not taking that constraint and working within that, instead of saying, ‘Oh poor Mr. Deluce. We have to extend because Mr. Deluce needs the money.’ I don’t buy it. [6:25]

– A – MK – I think we need to be clear this is abt commercial viability of the airport, not specifically related to Porter, and it’s about complying w regulation. We need to comply to the regulation, and we also need to maintain viability of the airport from a financial perspective. And it is not directly related to Mr. Deluce or Porter Airlines.

– [7:03] – Q – Bill Freeman – My name is Bill Freeman. I’m a little shocked at this, I’ve got to tell you. What y’re saying is that the federal gov’t is requiring the airport to extend the runways 150 metres on either end of the runways…. That’s a major, major change in the airport. This is coming from the fed gov’t so presumably they are in favour of it, presumably Ports Toronto is in favour of it. Has anybody talked to the city about this? This is surely a significant change in the configuration of the airport, and the city will certainly have something to say, I wd think. Is that going to happen?

– Brian Iler – they have to sign off

– Bill F- They have to sign off, and if they don’t sign off then there’ll be no extension

– A – [8:15] – MK – So first of all, I just want to be clear, it’s not 150 metres into the water, it is an extension that’ll get us to 150 metres, which currently we have approx 107, so we’re talking about 43 metres extension for RESA, and then breakwater protection beyond that. So it is not full 150 metres into the water. Number two, is it’s not a runway extension, it is an extension of a safety area,

– Q – BF – Excuse me, that’s semantics. They’re going to be filling the bay, filling the water – that’s an extension. I read the thing, it said 150 metres, now y’re saying it’s not 150 metres. How many metres is it?

– A – MK – I’m saying that we require by regulation to have 150 metres beyond the end of the existing runway. We have 107 metres already there, [BF – 107 is already there], … so we wd look at approx 43 metres plus breakwater protection to go into..

– Q -BF – Okay so 43 metres at either end

– A -MK – [swallowing] That’s correct.

– Q – BF – I think if y’re trying to sell yr proposal here, you shd change yr, you know, make that clear in yr slide, because I can read, and that’s what I read. … This airport is only one of the uses of the water, and Lake Ontario, and the bay, and recreation is another extremely important one. The islands have been a centre of recreation for much longer than the airport. So has there been any consideration for what boaters call keep-away buoys? I presume it’s a regulation that the buoys have to be put out even further. Has that been considered?

– A – MK. Yes. There’s no change to where the buoys are today.

– Q – BF – There’s no change.

– A – MK – No change.

– [10:32] Q – BF – To be clear. We’re talking about extending the runways, or extending the safety [zones], by filling up the lake 43 metres at either end

– A – MK. That’s correct

– A – moderator. It’s 43 metres plus a little bit for the … breakwater. You don’t know what that is yet

– A – MK. No, because that will be captured in detailed design

– Q – BI – But you want to put a road around the end. Is that true as well?

– A – MK – that wd be part of the consideration, yes

– Q – BI – That adds more

– A – MK – That wd add a little bit more but that wd be part of the consultation process

– Q – BI – So we’re not here to talk about both runway and safety area then. Is the consultation going to happen when you know what they’re going to build? [looks incredulous] You don’t know what they’re going to build.

– A – [camera stays on Brian] MK – we don’t know because we don’t know the regulation yet. So as soon as we start detailed design we will get back together w a consultation process to have these discussions specifically around the design

– Q – BI – [pauses] Okay. It’s kind of wasting our time then, aren’t we?

End of video

3. Q&A on presentation on Runway End Safety Areas (RESA) (continued)

Make an aircraft that fits the runway” (MVI_0185) – https://vimeo.com/277018138

– Q – [name hard to understand] I live in the area. Asked whether Q400 is mentioned in the TA

– You shd make an aircraft that fits the runway, not the other way around

4. Q&A on presentation on Runway End Safety Areas (RESA) (continued)

What about the community?” (MVI_0186 https://vimeo.com/277016640

– Q – Brian Iler – You talk about the Q400 having runway requirements that are specified by the manufacturer. Well, if you look at the requirements for the Q400 on Bombardier’s website, the requirements are much longer than the island airport runway. And then, when we raised that, they came up with a ‘500 nautical mile’ Q400 that cd fit here. And the issue was, it’s going to fly, take off w less fuel perhaps, and fewer passengers perhaps, to be able to take off on a shorter runway. So it’s not the manufacturer that requires this length of runway, it seems to be adaptable, depending on the weight of the aircraft and the number of passengers in the aircraft, so that you can adapt to a shorter runway quite nicely. Are you looking at that? [0:56]

– A – MK – That’s part of the financial aspect of it. There is a tipping point where you have so few passengers on board or so little fuel that you can’t get to where you’re going, or that it becomes financially untenable for the airline to run that flight.

– Q – BI [off-mic] – Have you done that study and cd we see it?

– Q – Moderator – Has the study been done on the Q400 viability range?

– A – MK – it’s smthg we’ll have to look into. I’m not 100% sure of that

– Q – BI – [off-mic] It sounds like you’ve made the decision without doing the study.

– Q – Moderator – The question is, have you made the decision without the study? [camera stays on MK, who looks a bit like he feels betrayed by the moderator]

– A – MK – we’re still looking at that. If the study hasn’t been done we’ll look at it, but we have been told by the airlines that there is a tipping point, and the shortened runway wd be that tipping point. [1:44]

– Q – BI [off-mic] Do you always take what the airline says as gospel, or do you look at it independently? [camera stays on MK]

– A – MK [pauses, looks uncomfortable] So we do take the info from the airlines, we also do a double-check of it.

– Q – BI [off-mic] What info do you have from the airline that gives you the conclusion that you cannot shorten the runway to accomplish the goals that you need to accomplish? [camera stays on MK]

– A – MK – We’ll have to get back to you on that, because I don’t have that available right now.

– Q – BI [off-mic] Why are we here? [camera stays on MK]

– Q – [2:29] Diane Jameson [looks gobsmacked] I’m just um, I shdn’t be shocked [laughs]. If there’s a roundabout way to accomplish extending the runway, y’re doing it. [pauses] So what’s yr criteria to looking at other means? Is it just based on what you hear from Toronto Port[s Authority] and the airlines themselves? What about the community? What about what we want? What abt you know yr safety for buildings, yr schools? [pauses] Is there any community involved in yr decision-making process? [voice rising – she’s clearly upset]

– A – MK – As I stated that we will be coming to the community w consultation.

– Q – DJ – When?

– A – MK – As soon as the regulation comes out. [3:22]

– Q – DJ – with what?

– A – MK – I don’t understand yr question

– Q – DJ – What are you going to come to us with? Are you going to meet w us? Are you going to ask us what our problems are w your proposal? Are you going to ask us for our input into the alternatives? What is yr criteria for making this decision w the community?

– A – MK – We will be coming back to you very much as this Master Plan process, and having open discussions w you on getting yr thoughts on the way we comply [3:56]

– Q – DJ – It’s a discussion, but yet I need to know – y’ve got a criteria that y’re going w w … TC. Where are we involved in this process? Am I a bore repeating myself? [laughs]

– Q – moderator – where is the community involved in the consultations, and as far as the final decision – are they part of the decision or are they going to be able to influence the decision is the question?
– A – MK – Well as we have done w this Master Planning process, we’ll listen to their concerns and we’ll try to address their concerns the best we can while we still have to meet the requirements of the regulation

– Q – DJ – I wd really like to know the timeline of this. I’d also like an agenda of your proposal to meet w the community, on all aspects of it. [4:49]

– A – MK – So the timeline will be driven by the regulation. … the regulation being driven by TC. So the regulation is being designed by TC and the Notice of Proposed Amendment is anticipated to go to Gazette 1, which is the process to start public and stakeholder consultation from a TC perspective, and that’s expected late this year early next year, and then it can be as little as 30 days but we expect it to be quite a bit longer than TC has its consultation period. Once the consultation period is complete for TC, they may publish the amendment to the regulation as they originally proposed or they make some changes to it, and then publish it in Gazette 2. Once it’s published in Gazette 2 then the regulation’s in force.

– Q – DJ – Okay, so this is all new to me. I’m a little slow. I’m not used to the jargon. So are you saying that when you come back after the first process we’ll have 30 days?

– A – MK – that is not our process. Our consultation with Ports Toronto, w BBA, and what we’re going to do for RESA will start once the regulation is in force, which is the publication by TC in Gazette 2.

– Q – DJ – So we’re really not involved at all. [camera stays on MK]

– A – MK: At this point it’s a TC process.

– Q – DJ – So TC does not care about the community at hand and the rest of us. Nothing abt the area is being taken into consideration. [6:36]

– A – MK – TC expects that the specific airports, once the regulation in force the proper consultation w the implementation of the regulation at individual airports. [6:47]

Q – BI – [6:54] Well, y’re saying that y’re going to come back and consult. But I saw up here [points to screen at front where slides were shown] that you listed four alternatives, one was the extension which you favour, one was the engineered materials [EMAS] and the third was shortening the runway. You decided this. And now I don’t understand how you can make a decision without coming to the community and saying, ‘Here’s the alternatives and what’s best here?’ You have decided y’re not going to shorten the runway on the basis of what an airline has told you. Now what gives, what kind of consultation is that? [7:38]

– A – MK – [doesn’t answer – puts hands up in air as a shrug, and a wry smile]

– Q – Bill Freeman – I hate to say this, but you know, it’s like the decisions are being made here as if this airport is out in a farmer’s field in the middle of nowhere. But this is an airport that is in the largest centre, largest city, of Canada. It’s adjacent, it’s 2-3 km from the financial core of the city. There are thousands of ppl that are adjacent to it. There is a whole process of regenerating the waterfront that’s going to bring 100,000 ppl, new ppl, to this area. I mean it’s just incompatible! [is obviously upset] And it’s inconceivable to most of us that this airport wd continue to exist despite all of these [contracts][contrasts?]! It’s inconceivable to me that rational ppl wd say that this is a good idea. It is inconceivable. I’ve opposed this airport for a long time, and I have seen not one shred of evidence that this is a good idea. .. I feel sorry for you guys, coming to try and sell us on an idea of expanding the runway. I mean it is, I really, my heart goes out to you. That’s all I’m going to say.

– Q – [man in previous video whose name I didn’t understand] I don’t believe you have decided on ready to extend the runway. I mean the island. Have you?

– A – MK [9:39] From what we’ve done it’s the best choice

– Q [same man] But that’s not yr decision yet because you have to consult w the community. That’s the most important factor, right, before you make the decision. [camera stays on MK]

– A – MK – That is correct, and because we don’t know exactly what the regulation is going to say. From what we know, that is the best choice.

– Q – [Another man, can’t be seen because he’s behind the moderator] If you cd please not reject the option of shortening the runways. The materials, the concrete junk, whatever that is, forget about that one. But the other, shortening the runways, is viable. And it’s really a business decision by Porter. That’s really what’s driving this whole thing. We need another option. Thank you.

End of video

5. Presentation on Overview of Development Concepts – Greg Ballentine, WSP


Development concepts for Billy Bishop Airport – Part 1 (MVI_0187) – https://vimeo.com/277014411

6. Presentation on Overview of Development Concepts (continued) – Greg Ballentine, WSP


Development concepts for Billy Bishop Airport – Part 2 (MVI_0188) – https://vimeo.com/277014146

7. Q&A re Overview of Development Concepts

Double number of private aircraft” (MVI_0189) – https://vimeo.com/277011515

Q – Bill Freeman – for me the big change is this, what do you call it, general aviation [‘GA’]. … There are 3 different options, but essentially it wd be taking the alternative runway, wd that become the runway for GA?

– A – GB – This one runway wd be used, it’s not used for Porter or Air Canada [points to runway that’s south of the main, west-east, runway]. So it’s a GA runway, so they wd be using, they cd use primarily that runway. This runway here is no longer a runway [points to north-south runway], it’s now just a taxiway.

– Q – BF – that’s the north-south runway is what we used to call it. So that runway wd stay still functional

– A – GB – only as a taxi runway.

– Q – BF – So those 2 runways wd be primarily used by GA, because the Q400s it can’t use those.

– A – GB – No

– Q – BF- that’s my understanding. Okay. So it wd be a major expansion of GA at the airport. [1:31] Of course all of these aircraft wd have to be non-jets. So has there been studies abt whether there is demand for GA here in the downtown?

– A – GB – Yes. So there’s about 50 aircraft, small aircraft, that are currently based at the airport. Currently. So in talking to the Toronto Island Pilots’ Association, talking to COPA that represents private pilots, they have all asked for additional tie-down space and the opportunity to have hangars which they can keep the aircraft in. So I guess part of what we’re trying to do is understand to what extent do we cater to GA? So we cd cater to just those 50 aircraft that are currently based at the airport, not allow any more aircraft to be based at the airport, or we cd expand that area to say accommodate 75 aircraft or 100 aircraft. But we need to understand what the impact of doing that is. And if it’s a major detrimental impact, we probably won’t consider it. But

– Q – BF [2:59] – I see. It’s obviously still at the proposal stage.

– A – GB – Very much so

– Q – BF – [3:06] One of the problems w the smaller aircraft is that many of them, depending on the aircraft make, are quite loud, especially on takeoff and landing. So that’s a concern. So, we’ve always heard rumours that Buttonville [airport] is closing, and there’ll be a number of planes that will be looking for a new home, presumably. So what wd you estimate wd be sort of the top number that wd..

– A – GB – I wd think probably 100 aircraft, I wd think it’s…

– Q – BF – 100 aircraft

– A – GB. Yeah.

– Q – BF – and y’re saying there’s already how many?
– A – GB – 50

– Q – BF – 50. So doubling it

– A – GB [nods] So it might be doubling that. And of those, maybe, of those say 50 aircraft, up to 100 aircraft, probably about 75% of them wd want hangars. And the rest wd be just accommodated by tying the aircraft down

– Q – BF – some of them just moor their planes out in the field there… Just one other comment. Has this already been already talked to from the city? Y’ve talked about using the Hanlan’s Point landing, and then having some sort of access – which makes sense, frankly. Wd the city go …?

– A – GB – there’s been some discussion between Ports Toronto and the city abt the potential of using a ferry that wd come into the south side, either at Hanlan’s Point or potentially smthg on airport property [points to these places in the slide that has the map of the island airport]. So they’ve had some discussions, there’s nothing … nothing definitive yet.

– Q [man whose name I can’t decipher] [5:05] You mentioned in one of yr slides that under TA, there’s to be no runway extension. Is that right? And no runway extension to me means y’re not going to be filling the lake to extend the land mass. Right?

– A – GB – well, if .. Did you – were you in the RESA presentation?

– Q – man – Yeah. I’m coming from that talk

– Q – GB – So it’ll…

– Q – man. Because you did mention there was not to be any extension. So that extension definitely in ‘layman’s term’ means no filling of the water to extend the land. Right?

– A – [5:41] GB – so the RESA isn’t considered part of the runway.

– Q – man – Yeah but if you backfill lake that’s extension of the island. y’re not going to be creating land mass. That’s what it means. Nobody knew abt RESA when the TA was made. If they’d known about RESA at that point they wd have definitely included that. In layman’s term I think ‘no extension’ means you’re not filling the lake, you know not extending the island. [6:10]

– Q – moderator – so what is your question?

– A – Okay. So I’m coming from that. So now. Yeah, I’m glad you asked that. … [6:23] If that’s the case, then if RESA comes into effect, then the runway length is going to reduce, right? I mean the effective length of the runway is going to reduce, because you have to add 150 metres to both ends. Now if that’s the case, I’m wondering if you’ve done a study on what kind of aircrafts cd use this airport. Because obviously Q400 will not be able to come w full load or whatever, because now the runway is going to be shorter, so what that means then is the ppl that are coming here, they’ll need to go to Pearson Int’t Airport. Given that, this airport only provides facilities, is for about 2.8 million, whereas Pearson Int’l is for, I don’t know, 50, 60 million, so adding 2 [million] wd be a very small number. So have you done that kind of study to see what kind of effect that will have? That’s all.

– A – GB – Ah, in a v preliminary way. So in terms of the RESA, there’s a number of ways to accomplish the RESA. One is reduce the effective length of the runway, but the other is to add a RESA at the end, which wd engage in some land-mass extension.

– Q – man – That’s a no-no, right? Under the TA [camera stays on GB]

– A – GB – … When TC comes out w the mandate that’s something that’s going to have to be discussed between the city, TC and Ports Toronto as to how to proceed.

– Q – man – but y’re not taking that into yr … consideration [camera stays on GB]

– A – GB – I’m not taking it into my consideration because I don’t know what’s going to be mandated by TC, and I don’t know what the resolution is going to be, and …

– Q – man – That have a major impact on your Master Plan study, you know…

– A – GB – It cd very well be, depending on which direction we go.

– Q – Rosemary Frei – I have a 3-part question. You talked abt doing noise studies. Are you going to make public the parameters for the studies? And the locations of the monitors, the sensors

– A – GB – It’s not so much monitoring. I think we need to think about that, what we want out of the study first of all. So I don’t know – Angela, wd we

– A – [8:56] Angela. We haven’t had that discussion yet w the city.

– Q – RF – sorry haven’t had what discussion?

– A – Angela – I’m Angela Homewood. I’m w Ports Toronto and I’m the project manager env’tal specialist working on this project

– Q – RF – And yr name again?

– A – AH – Angela Homewood

– Q – RF. Thank you

– A – [9:13] AH – So we’ve been having mtgs w the city – so Waterfront Secretariat, Toronto Public Health, and Environment and Energy folks – abt some of the studies that we’re undertaking – and noise and air quality are part of that discussion. So in terms of any studies that we’re going to be doing we’re going to be consulting w the city on. So we haven’t started down that process specifically. We’ve started the stormwater and glycol assessment – starting to write the scope of work for that project – but again we’re just in the preliminary stages of that

Q – RF – And what about making the parameters public for the studies, the noise studies, and…

– A – AH – So yeah, so that’s smthng that we’re going to have to discuss w the city, because again …

– Q – RF – Is that smthg y’d push for, to make them public?

– A – AH – So..

– Q – RF – I was a journalist for many years in medicine, and I know it’s really important for ppl to see the parameters of studies to be able to judge the quality of them. So that’s an important…

– A – AH – So the scope of work will probably be part of the Request for Proposal that will get posted on MERX, so it will be a public document, so…
– Q – RF – No, but. Okay. Will that…

– A – AH – [10:20] So that’s outlines what … the intent of the study wd be [10:24], wd be to look at

– Q – RF – That’s different than the actual parameters of the study…

– A – AH – Right. So that wd be the part once we engage a consultant to see what work can be done, and that’s why I said we have to consult w the city on that. Because again we’re relying on some subject-matter experts from the city that also help us w that.

– Q – RF – So you can’t or won’t say whether the parameters of the study wd be made public.

– A – AH – That’s not really my decision to make…. It’s part of the process. Hal actually asked that same question about the transportation work that we’re doing, and we wd identify that in the report in terms of what the assumptions and the ground rules and stuff like that were. So we wd definitely identify it, I just don’t know where we wd [do that] in the process.

– Q – moderator – I just remind you we are writing this all down, as well, to make sure we are capturing comments, but certainly have that question, that comment, written down, so thank you.

– Q – RF – … [11:20] You said in your remarks [turns camera to GB] that if it’s beyond, the noise and pollution is beyond a certain threshold then it wdn’t proceed. So are you going to quantify that threshold so it’s public, and so we can see how you determined whether that threshold was… – yeah, to quantify it and make it public. It’s one thing to say it, and then…

– A – GB – What threshold are you talking about?

– Q – RF – Well you had said that if y’re going to be studying impacts, and if they’re unacceptable then…

– A – GB – Well it’s, what I sort of said was that we’ll be looking at noise mitigation measures, and whether or not they’re effective or not. So if we put in, suggest a noise barrier, but the noise expert says that it’s not going to have any significant impact on reducing or mitigating noise, then we’d have to consider whether it’s of value or not.

– Q – RF – I’m not sure – I cd replay the tape, but I thought you were talking about studying the impacts, and if they’re just too high, too strong

– A – GB [shakes his head]

– Q – RF – You didn’t say that?

– A – GB – Well it’s studying the, the noise study we’d undertake is looking at sort of the quality of noise that’s being generated, and then trying to discern whether there’s an effective means to mitigate that noise.

– Q – RF – No I thought you said if it’s beyond a certain threshold then that’s not…

– A – GB – [shakes head] No

– Q – RF – You wdn’t say that. You wdn’t commit to saying ‘If it’s too much then it just clearly not…’

– A – GB [shakes head]

– Q – RF – No there’s no such thing for you guys.

– A – GB – Well it’s not necessarily that we’re increasing the noise, it’s just evaluating the current noise at the airport.

– Q – RF – And what about .. so then using those data to extrapolate to what the future noise wd be w the increased…

– A – GB – [13:10] I don’t think the study that we’re looking at you wd be able to extrapolate noise…

– Q – RF – Wdn’t that be important – if y’re increasing GA, for example, wdn’t you want to know what the increase is in noise?

– A – GB – Well, that’s something that we’d have to look at

– Q – RF – … It’s not necessarily a part of what y’ll be looking at

– A – GB – We haven’t defined the noise study yet, so I’m not sure exactly what all the parameters are going to be. [13:34]

– Q – RF – It’s strange though. Y’d think that a study y’d want to see, look at what the increase will be, not just baseline

– A – GB – Well if we came up w activity scenarios that looked at an increase in aircraft movements, then we wd want to understand what the potential increase in noise might be as a result of that

– Q – RF – And if y’re doubling the number of airplanes, the GA..

– A – GB – We’re not going to double, well

– Q – RF – You said that

– A – GB – ‘cuz we double the number of airplanes doesn’t mean we’re going to double necessarily the activity. I mean a lot of the GA doesn’t fly every day or four times a day, or whatever; some ppl that operate those airplanes.. [14:13]

– Q – RF – Well when you do modelling of, like a lot of scientific studies, maximum and minimum – I mean, say they do fly every day, things are possible, wd you not include that?

– A – GB – Yeah, we can do what we call NEF exposure modeling, and understand what increases in activity might generate in terms of NEF models..

– Q – RF – So y’re going to do that, or you’re… ?

– A – GB – Yeah, we’ll be doing that. As part of the activities scenarios we’ll be preparing NEF exposure models

– Q – RF – … And the question Bill asked was about the, you said that the maximum number of GA aircraft wd be 100. Is that, you guys are…

– A – GB – That’s … not definitive, it’s just when we were talking to stakeholders, we asked them what sort of…

– Q – RF – He [Bill] asked you what the maximum is likely to be and you said 100, that sounded pretty definitive. Now y’re saying it may or may not be, it might be more…

– A – GB – May or may not be.

– Q – RF – That’s pretty – it sounds waffly. You said it will be, and now you’re saying

– A – GB – No I didn’t say – I don’t know what it’s going to be. There may not be any increase in GA. So don’t put words in my mouth.

– Q – moderator. Any final questions?

– Q – Bill Freeman [12:40] As I understand it, there’s 212 take-offs and landings allowed at the island airport every day. Is that…?

– A – GB – Two thousand and two…

– Q – BF – yeah. Anyway, what we have going on now is of course we’ve got the Porter flights, [15:59] if this plan goes ahead w GA doubling the number of planes that are there, we also have the helicopters taking off and landing, that are doing the tours. I’m really beginning to wonder whether Mr. Deluce and Porter is going to be threatened w. … You know, all these things add up – I wonder whether at some point we’re going to see pretty close to 212 movements a day. Is that a concern?

– A – GB – Some days you do see 212 movements a day, from Porter and Air Canada … on a busy day they probably utilize all their slots. And then on non-busy days, they don’t. Like on weekends, on the Saturday, the airlines don’t use all their slots cuz there isn’t the demand from the public to travel.
– Q – BF – So basically, … is it slots, is that the proper term? So the 212 … Basically [y’re saying] add ‘em up, and it gets to the cap at 212, and that’s it.

– A – GB – That’s it, yeah.

– Q – BF – … I guess my question was to be clear as to – that is a pretty hard cap, and y’re not going to go beyond that. Okay, thank you.
– end of video

8. End of Q&A on Draft Master Plan Development Concepts – Bryan Bower, Project Manager, Waterfront Secretariat, City of Toronto

Lead spewed from private aircraft” ( MVI_0190) – https://vimeo.com/277014146

– Q – Jim Panou – …newspaper articles saying that he’s [Deluce] still hoping that eventually the jets will be brought in to the airport

– A – BB – I was … made aware the same way I suspect you were, which was the National Post interview, but I don’t think this needs repeating, but I just as assurance there’s no one at the City of Toronto having any, any active discussions w any rep from …Ports Toronto or Porter Airlines around introduction of jets at BB. That proposal from our perspective simply ceased to exist w the directive from transport minister Marc Garneau.

– Q – JP – Just a follow-up to the airspace comment that I made – has the city been reviewing the airspace … how it’s affected by the airport, w the new bldgs that have been arising on the waterfront.

– A – BB – wrt the Port Lands Planning Framework, or more generally

– Q – JP – A number of the tall bldgs right next to the Ports Toronto office, and …

– A – BB – Oh – the encroachment in this approach.

– Q – JP – Yeah

– A – BB – Any time there is an encroachment of a bldg in the missed approach … TC v quickly weighs in on it, because they’re circulated as part of rezoning applications, all rezoning appplications in the affected waterfront area. We don’t have the in-house expertise to do a commentary on compatibility w missed approach, we do rely on TC’s feedback. And they wd not permit – in fact they wd appeal to the OMB any rezoning application that presented a safety conflict w missed approach. So … I guess what I wd say is we are completely reliant on their feedback, and I’m happy to put you in touch w the individuals that we consult w there. But that really is their jurisdiction.

– Q – Brian Iler [2:02] – We heard today for the first time that they’re planning or thinking abt drastically expanding the use of GA by creating new hangars on the south side of the airport, new tie-down areas, and they talk about 50 planes being based there and up to 100 maybe using it w this expansion. Aside from everything else, as I understand it propeller-driven private planes or GA use leaded gas. Is it really smthing we want to inflict upon our waterfront, lead spewed from private aircraft – which is really the 1%. No one can afford to own, or operate a plane unless y’re extremely wealthy. Is that smthg we really want to accommodate in our downtown waterfront?

– A – BB – So the dev’t concepts presented tonight were shared w city staff just a couple of days ahead of tonight’s presentation. So we won’t have a formal position or opinion to share on that yet. But the review of that and reaction to that is absolutely a part of this review process, and we’ll continue to apply the directions given to us by council to look at issues like air quality, public realm, transportation. So it’s a part of the review, but I don’t have anything definitive to share w you tonight Brian. [3:28]

– Q – moderator – if anyone has any last questions?

– Q – Irena Formatek [spelling?] and I live at Queen’s Quay and Bathurst. She asked about children’s play area and basketball area – …

– end of video

Will the Toronto Auditor General Investigate Our Complaint?

(Photo of TTC bus by Ds9426 at English Wikipedia)

Fully 48 days ago, on February 15, 2018, I submitted a complaint via hard copy in person and via email to the Auditor General of Toronto on behalf of myself and Dr. Cornelia Baines and Mr. Murray Lumley. The full complaint is below (under the heading ‘Here’s the Full Complaint’).

Our complaint centres on the TTC Board on September 5,2017, voting to reduce a 440-clean-diesel-bus-contract with Nova that was about to be approved by the board by 115 buses and allowing those 115 buses to instead be opened up for electric-bus technology.

I’m all for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, but the on-the-fly nature of the vote — over the objections of then-TTC CEO Andy Byford who said they needed to proceed cautiously after the hybrid-bus fiasco — and including allowing a deputation/sales pitch by Chinese battery-electric-bus company BYD, doesn’t pass the sniff test (I was alerted to this by the observations of Steve Munro – see https://stevemunro.ca/2017/09/05/is-a-ttc-bus-technology-gerrymander-in-the-works/). It also doesn’t appear to fit the TTC’s procurement policies (https://www.ttc.ca/TTC_Business/Materials_and_procurement/About_Us/Commission_Policies/Procurement_Policy.jsp).

On top of that, the battery-electric buses are hugely more expensive than alternatives — battery-electric buses cost $1.67 million each, new-generation hybrid-electric buses cost $1 million each and the clean-diesel buses from Nova are $717,000 each — and this has not been part of the discussion at the TTC/TTC Board. We need evidence-based procurement that takes into account ability to pay and ‘best greenhouse-gas-emission-reduction bang’ for our limited supply of bucks. And it is part of the mandate of the Auditor General to examine value for money.

It was only on March 27, after my third attempt, that I received confirmation of receipt of our complaint by the Toronto Auditor General’s office and a complaint tracking number. The email from the Auditor General’s office read, in part, “We confirm your complaint to the Fraud and Waste Hotline Program regarding TTC Bus Procurement is being reviewed by the Forensic Unit, Auditor General’s Office.”

I had previously submitted the complaint in October to Josh Colle, chair of the TTC, but he didn’t respond. I’d also submitted a Freedom of Information request to the TTC in November relating to this matter.

The confirmation email from the Auditor General’s office did not give much more information. It was pretty boiler-plate: “Please note that the Auditor General’s Office reviews all complaints received through the Fraud and Waste Hotline Program. Complaints are assessed and investigated to the extent we deem necessary. The type of action taken is also contingent upon the level of detail that is provided by the complainant (those who report a complaint). In some instances, complainants provide general allegations without specific details that would make the complaint actionable. We are unable to provide a complainant with any details as to the progress or outcomes of a review or investigation given the sensitive and personal nature of the information collected.”

When I asked whether or when our complaint would be investigated, I received the following response: “I am sorry, I cannot provide you with more information about the specifics of your complaint. We did receive your email [with a copy of the complaint] on February 15, 2018.  Our standard wording is below regarding our process. ‘Please note that the Auditor General’s Office reviews all complaints received through the Fraud and Waste Hotline Program. Complaints are assessed and investigated to the extent we deem necessary. The type of action taken is also contingent upon the level of detail that is provided by the complainant (those who report a complaint). In some instances, complainants provide general allegations without specific details that would make the complaint actionable. We are unable to provide a complainant with any details as to the progress or outcomes of a review or investigation given the sensitive and personal nature of the information collected.'”

It’s not clear whether/when they will investigate. And Torontonians deserve more transparency and accountability than that.

Rosemary Frei

Here are some of the key facts:

1. At the Sept. 5, 2017, TTC Board meeting, when the board was considering whether to okay the procurement of 440 clean-diesel buses from Nova, two people were allowed to make a sales pitch on behalf of the Chinese electric-bus-manufacturing company BYD: Robin Sears of Earnescliffe Strategy Group and the head of BYD Canada.

2. Next, Denzil Minnan-Wong (‘DMW’) moved a motion to reduce the contract with Nova to 325 buses and open the remaining 115 to electric-bus technology instead. Byford strenuously objected — he noted that the previous use of battery-powered buses had been a disaster and the TTC should not be in a huge hurry to acquire another set of new-technology buses — and Colle also expressed significant concerns. Nonetheless, DMW’s motion passed 8-2 (Colle and Fragedakis voted against it).

3. I was sitting beside Steve Munro during the Sept. 5 TTC board meeting and Steve was quite upset; that alerted me to the fact that what was going on was highly irregular. (And Steve wrote a blog entry shortly after the meeting; I quote extensively from it in the complaint to the AG of TO.)

4. The Toronto lobbyist registry indicates lobbying of DMW and the mayor by BYD ahead of the Sept. 5, 2017, vote. The Queen’s Park lobbyist registry also shows considerable lobbying by  Earnscliffe Group on behalf of BYD of MPPs and ministers, and the federal lobbyist registry shows considerable lobbying by Robin Sears of Earnscliffe  on behalf of BYD of the federal government right up to the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office.

5. I called the TTC procurement department shortly after the Sept. 5 TTC Bd meeting and gave a theoretical situation where this occurred – ie the day a company is to be awarded a contract the board opts instead to reduce the size of the contract and open it up to a completely different type of product. The person I spoke to said that this situation does break the TTC’s procurement rules. (Note, though, it doesn’t say so explicitly in the TTC’s procurement rules.)

6. On Oct. 12, 2017, you and I and another person filed a complaint about the situation to TTC Chair Josh Colle. He did not respond.

7. On Nov. 9, 2017, I submitted my FOI request to the TTC.

8. Things moved very fast after the Sept. 5, 2017 TTC Board meeting: at the Nov. 13, 2018, TTC Board meeting the board received a report on green buses that recommended purchasing 30 battery-electric buses and 230 new-generation hybrid-electric buses. The costs in the report indicated the battery-electric buses cost $1.67 million each and the new-generation hybrid-electric buses cost $1 million each. (The clean-diesel buses from Nova are $717,000 each.) There also is a lot of expensive infrastructure that will be needed to allow the electric buses to be put into service.

9. Also at the Nov. 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting, a Glenn De Baeremaeker motion passed that asked ask staff to report back to the board on, among other things, increasing the number of battery-electric buses to be procured to 60

10. Page 45 of the batch of documents I received as a result of my Nov. 2017 FOI request stuck out at me. It’s an email dated Sept. 6, 2017 — just one day after the Sept. 5, 2017 TTC Board meeting, and more than two months before the Nov. 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting at which staff were to present their recommendations for moving forward with new-tech buses — from Bem Case, the head of TTC’s vehicles program. Here’s the text of the email:

“Hi Mike, I don’t have any issue with you meeting with XXX, but I think we do need to focus on BEB [battery-electric buses].  As you’ve said, going forward Cost is not the main driver – ZEBs [zero-emission buses] are the goal and we need to understand TCO [total cost of ownership] of BEB, etc but not Hybrids or CNG [compressed natural gas].”

Why was the decision made overnight, without any due process, to just focus on ZEBs/BEBs? And why is cost not the main driver — isn’t the TTC under tremendous budget constraints?

11. It’s interesting that this was taking place at approximately the same time that Trudeau and Wynne were making trips to China saying they wanted to increase trade with that Chinese. Combined with the clear determination to go with battery-electric buses no matter what, it makes me wonder whether the directive to have a Chinese company supply electric buses came from a very high level.

12. We’re asking the Auditor General to investigate whether TTC procurement rules were broken, and to conduct a value-for-money analysis of the proposed bus procurements.

(By the way: I realize that I need to clarify the fourth item in our list of requests to BRB at the end of the complaint. Here’s that fourth item:

4. Investigate whether Minnan-Wong,Tory and/or other municipal officials, TTC Commissioners or politicians were lobbied by Garner or other lobbyists for BYD earlier than the start date of April 13 that is indicated in the record in the Toronto Lobbyist Registry (i.e., before Feb. 21,2017, when Minnan-Wong put forward a motion at the TTC Board meeting for procurement of electric buses)


Here’s the agenda for the Feb. 21, 2017, TTC Board meeting. The focus of request #4 above is Item 16, which was submitted by Joe Mihevc and deals with electric-bus charging:


And here’s the result of the vote on Item 16 (https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2017/March_22/Minutes/index.jsp):

Commissioner Minnan-Wong moved that the recommendation in the New Business item be struck out and replaced with the following:

“That the Chief Executive Officer be directed to evaluate before September 2017 the merits of electric buses and develop a strategy for the TTC, including consideration of a pilot project; and refer the CUTA motion for consideration in the development of this report”.

The motion by Commissioner Minnan-Wong carried and the item was adopted, as amended.

So this was a prelude to the Sept. 5, 2017, board meeting at which the board voted to reduce the Nova contract for clean-diesel buses and to start looking at new-tech buses. Based on the outcome above of Item 16 from the Feb. TTC meeting, Byford should have been working on evaluating the merits of electric buses,  but hadn’t appeared to have done so yet – at least according to publicly available documents that I could find — so perhaps the TTC was reluctant to move back to electric buses after the hybrid-bus fiasco and therefore DMW and others felt they had to force the TTC to do so. But to do it via a violation of the TTC’s procurement rules, and over the objections of Colle (and Byford), seems highly irregular.)


Here’s the Full Complaint to the Auditor General of Toronto

Beverly Romeo-Beehler, Auditor General of Toronto, Metro Hall, 9th Floor, 55 John Street, Toronto ON M5H 2N2

February 15, 2018

Complaint from Three Toronto Residents re: Discussions and Votes Regarding Bus Procurement at the September 5, 2017, and November 13, 2017, Meetings of the TTC Board of Directors

We submitted a complaint about the September 5, 2017, TTC Board meeting TTC Board Chair Josh Colle on October 12, 2017, but he has not responded. We have attached a copy of that complaint to this document (Appendix A).

We subsequently filed a Freedom of Information request with the TTC and have received some information that may help you idecide whether initiate an investigation based on our complaint and, if you do proceed, may help you in that investigation. We have attached some of that nformation to this document (Appendices B and C) and will send you the rest electronically. The material we obtained via the FOI request includes charts on total cost per kilometre for each of the types of buses being considered. These costs did not appear in the Green Bus Technology Plan report presented at the November 13, 2017 TTC Board meeting. They also do not appear to have been verified by an independent third party.

Furthermore, one of the documents obtained via our FOI request indicates that already on Sept. 6 – just the day after the Sept. 5 board meeting and more than two months before the staff had prepared an analysis and presented it at the Nov. 13, 2017 board meeting — the TTC was going to focus on procuring battery-electric buses rather than hybrid vehicles.


A highly unusual set of occurrences took place at the September 5, 2017, TTC Board meeting as part of a discussion about the procurement of 440 new clean-diesel buses for delivery in 2019. There are potentially very significant ramifications for the TTC budget, for the transit agency’s reputation, for due process in examining the feasibility of new technology, and for the reliability of Toronto’s bus service. We are asking you to investigate.

The regular procurement process for the clean-diesel buses had been conducted over the previous 11 months. It started in October 2016 and ended at the beginning of September 2017 when Nova was selected by TTC staff to be awarded the contract for all 440 buses at a cost of $315.5 million (equivalent to $717,045 per bus).

However, during the September 5 TTC Board meeting, two people were allowed to be added to the deputants’ list. They were representing BYD, a Chinese company that had been eliminated from the procurement process because the company makes electric rather than clean-diesel buses. The two people were allowed to make a sales pitch, and also a subsequent 20-minute question-and-answer period was allowed. The BYD electric buses cost $1.7 million CDN each while the new-generation hybrid electric buses cost $1 million CDN each. Therefore battery-electric buses are 67% more expensive than new-generation hybrid electric buses and 232% more expensive than clean-disel buses.There is also a significant amount of infrastructure needed accomodate the battery-electric buses (see ‘2 h.’ below), significantly increasing the overall cost to the TTC of acquiring these buses.

Next, a senior TTC staff member told the Commissioners that the TTC was about to release a Request for Information for bus companies that make electric buses.

Then TTC Commissioner Alan Heisey suggested that the full 440-bus contract not be awarded to Nova but instead that the contract for manufacturing 325 of the buses be awarded to Nova and — concurrently with staff preparing a report on the viability of the electric-bus technology for the November TTC Board meeting – a Request For Interest be released, and interested companies be allowed to present their pitches at the November 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting.

TTC CEO Andy Byford showed significant concern. The TTC’s previous experience with hybrid buses showed “the batteries were a disaster,” said Byford. “… And that’s the reason we are somewhat reticent about diving into technology before we’re certain we’re not going to get our fingers burned again.”

Despite this, Commissioner and Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong moved a motion supporting Heisey’s suggestion. Minnan-Wong, along with Mayor John Tory, had been repeatedly lobbied by BYD representatives between April 13, 2017 and August 18, 2017.

After further discussion, and questions and answers to staff, the Commissioners passed the motion by a wide margin, of eight to two. This was despite Byford again warning commissioners that a change in the bus-award contract would result in “less predictable of an outcome than going with a known order, with a known price, with a known manufacturer and a known technology right now.” He also said a change in the contract and delivery dates could result in poorer bus service.

At the November 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting, TTC staff presented a Green Bus Technology Plan. The plan included recommendations to purchase 30 battery-electric buses for a total of $50 million and to purchase 230 new-generation hybrid electric buses for a total of $230 million. Commissioner De Baeremaeker moved a motion that included having staff consider and report back to the board on doubling to 60 the number of battery-electric buses to be procured. This motion passed.


1. The Procurement Process

At the September 5, 2017, TTC Board meeting, one of the items on the agenda was TTC staff’s recommendation to procure 440 clean diesel buses from Nova (https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2017/September_5/Reports/9_PA_Purchase_440_Low_Floor_Clean_Diesel_Buses.pdf).

This was a step in a procurement process first set in motion on October 18, 2016, when the TTC placed a Request for Information (RFI) notice on the Merx website. The RFI was for information from companies that build clean diesel buses, and that make 40-foot bus model(s) certified by Transport Canada and registered to operate in Canada.

Five companies submitted a response to the RFI by the closing date of October 28, 2016. Two of the firms — New Flyer Industries Canada ULC and Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada Inc. — met the TTC’s specifications. The other three – Alexander Dennis (Canada) Inc., BYD Canada Company Limited and Karsan USA LLC – did not. This was because the buses in the latter’s responses either were not certified by Transport Canada to be registered and operated in Canada, or were not the 40 ft/60 ft low-floor clean diesel city buses required.

Next, on April 3, 2017, the TTC placed a Request for Proposal (RFP) advertisement on the Merx website and also on the TTC’s website. The RFP was for the manufacture of 440 low-floor clean diesel city buses for delivery in 2019. The RFP specified that the bus delivery was to be divided into a first group of 325 buses delivered by March 31, 2019, and a second group of 115 buses delivered by December 31, 2019 — plus additional capital spares for both groups. The March 31, 2019, deadline for the first group was set to match the date that projects have to be completed in order to be eligible for up to 50% funding through the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund program (http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/ptif-fitc/ptif-program-programme-eng.html).

Nova Bus and New Flyer each submitted a proposal by the closing date of June 22, 2017.

Both companies passed the first two steps of the bid review process – mandatory pass/fail requirements and a qualitative-evaluation bar – and moved on to pricing evaluation.

Nova had the lowest evaluated price proposal, of $300.5 million. With a 5% contingency allowance added, this totals $315.5 million; this was therefore the recommended upset limit award. The TTC brought to the September 5, 2017, TTC Board meeting a Procurement Authorization with a recommendation that the board authorize this procurement.

2. The September 5, 2017, TTC Board Meeting

a. Two People Added to the Deputant List During the Meeting Represent a Company That had Been Eliminated at the RFI Stage; They made a Pitch for their Electric Buses; A 20-minute Q&A Session Followed

The staff recommendation to award the 440-bus contract to Nova was item #9 in the agenda for the September 5, 2017, TTC Board meeting (https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2017/September_5/Agenda/index.jsp).

However, there was a last-minute addition to the deputants’ list: a joint deputation by two people affiliated with BYD (starting at 1:33:21 in the video of the board meeting, when Colle said, ‘There is another deputant on this item, that we added: BYD.’ – https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2017/September_5/Reports/9_PA_Purchase_440_Low_Floor_Clean_Diesel_Buses.pdf). The two deputants — Robin Sears who is a lobbyist with the Earnscliffe Strategy Group and BYD Canada head Ted Dowling — gave a brief pitch for BYD’s Battery Electric buses. These buses had been rejected by TTC at the RFI stage because they are a different technology than the RFI called for (see page 5 in the Procurement Authorization document).

There are currently fewer than 200 electric buses operating in North America (this is stated at 2:07:00 in the video).

The Toronto Lobbyist Registry contains lobbying on behalf of BYD by Julie Garner, a Principal at Earnscliffe, between April 13, 2017, and August 18, 2017, of Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto Cicy Councillor and TTC Commissioner Denzil Minnan-Wong. Sears is also listed in the Toronto Lobbyist Registry as being a lobbyist for BYD, with a registration approval date of June 30, 2017; however, no contacts between him and city staff or politicians are recorded.

After Sears and Dowling gave their presentation, there was a 20-minute question-and-answer session (from 1:36:41 to 1:56:20). This was significantly longer and more detailed than the vast majority of Q and As with deputants at TTC Board meetings are allowed to be. Furthermore, none of the questions from TTC Board members addressed why BYD was attempting to re-enter the procurement process well after the company had been rejected.

b. Staff Member Tells Commissioners That an RFI for Electric Buses Would Now Be Issued Within a few Days

After the questions and answers with Sears and Dowling were finished, a presentation was given by Rick Leary, Chief Service Officer for the TTC. At the end of his presentation (at 2:03:14), Leary said, “I would like to state a little bit something regarding the presentation or the discussion we just had. Later on this week, it’s the TTC’s intention to put out an RFI, a Request for Information, and we’ve been in discussions over the last six months with four of the electric vehicle manufacturers in North America. And the RFI is actually reaching out to them to ask them what type of partnership they’d like to be in with the TTC to pilot some type of new-technology vehicle, i.e., the electric bus. The purchase of these 440 [additional buses] … is critical to the replacement of the existing fleet for the aging vehicles that are in place. And I remind people that my obligation day in and day out is to take care of the 1,900 buses in our fleet, and make sure that we make service every day, putting just over 1,600 buses to provide the service to the customers within the city of Toronto.” (2:04:11)

c. Commissioner Heisey Suggests Not Awarding the Full 400-bus Contract Immediately

Commissioner Alan Heisey then introduced the idea of using this new RFI to replace the awarding of the second, 115-bus, portion of the 440-bus contract under discussion. This would transform it into a separate procurement process, with applicants to present at the November 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting (2:07:44).

Chair Colle then asked two questions. These highlight the irregularity of changing the size of the procurement contract when the contract was about to be awarded. Colle first asked whether this change would jeopardize the integrity of the procurement process (2:18:12). Ted Zlotnik, Head of Materials and Procurement, Corporate Services Group, TTC, answered that (2:18:44), “we would need to officially confirm that the [original] price that was offered for that amount of buses [440] would be held for a lower volume [325]. I don’t know what the answer to that is. Officially I would have to confirm.” Colle then asked, “There’s not a scenario where a disgruntled losing bidder would now challenge the entire process? (2:19:23) “Does this just give them a crack or a window to suggest that our process is somehow flawed?” Zlotnik responded, “I don’t think so, overall. They provided a price for 440 vehicles. They could challenge it, but I don’t see that they would have any merit to come back to us with a large challenge, no.”

Colle also asked about the earlier procurement of the hybrid buses (2:20:55) (see https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2008/10/18/ttc_going_diesel_again_after_hybrid_bus_glitch.html) Colle said the buses “have been kind of a disaster here. What was that driven by? I’ve been told some of it was because there was actually, ironically, federal funding available [as is one of the drivers for the current bus procurement], I’ve heard it was kind of the whim of the day of good-intentioned councillors. What got us into that situation, where maybe with good intentions we had a product that didn’t work out for us?”

Rick Leary responded (2:21:20), “We ended up with one of the first generations of hybrid buses. … They evolve and they get better over time, and we had quite a few.” Colle then said (2:22:42), “I’m assuming that … there’s something built in [in the current intentions of procurement of electric buses], so that we’ve learned our lessons from that incident, and so that we’re not in a situation where again, with either good intentions to be early adopters or to be doing the right thing, that we’re stuck with a situation or a product that doesn’t work for us.” Leary said, “That was our intent originally to pilot a small number of vehicles, whether it was 40 or 50, to do just that.”

Commissioner Mary Fragedakis asked Leary if he’d said that (2:22:20) “’The electric-bus technology is rapidly improving, so delay in purchasing electric might likely result in buying a much better bus.’ Is that correct?” Leary responded, “I would say that’s correct. From what I’ve seen over the last six to 12 months.” Fragedakis continued, “So yet your advice is to make this purchase now [of 325 clean-diesel buses] so as to not undermine service, and then reach out to the four major electric bus manufacturers to develop a plan for the near future, is that correct?” Leary responded, “That was the intent.”

Commissioner Glenn DeBaeremaeker lent his support for electric vehicles, (2:23:00) asking Leary, “As a Commissioner that was there during the hybrid process, … would you agree with me that the major part of the problem was the company, it wasn’t the technology….”

d. TTC CEO Andy Byford Expresses Significant Concern About Altering the Purchase

TTC CEO Andy Byford interjected (2:23:20) in response to De Baeremaeker’s question, “They may be the best company in the world, and they could be really responsive in giving you a replacement part, but you’re still having to ask for a replacement part. The batteries were a disaster. We’ve changed all of the batteries on all the hybrid buses. How that’s good for the environment is beyond me. They have been an unmitigated disaster, we want to get rid of them. And that’s not unique to the TTC. New York Transit and a bunch of other transits are scrambling with us to deal with the same problem. And that’s the reason we are somewhat reticent about diving into technology before we’re certain we’re not going to get our fingers burned again.” (2:24:00)

e. Commissioner Minnan-Wong Moves Motion to Award 325-bus Contract and Also Move Forward With RFI for Electric Buses

Despite this warning from Byford, Commissioner Minnan-Wong immediately introduced a motion that went against Byford’s and staff’s advice (2:24:35). The motion was: the TTC award 325 clean diesel buses to Nova; that the TTC issue an RFI for electric buses and report back on the results of the RFI in November, and further bring forward the report on new technologies for buses at that time, paying particular attention to the maturity of the battery-power bus technology; that TTC staff report back on awarding Nova the additional 115 buses on the same terms if the TTC Board does not award a contract for 115 electric buses; and that consideration be given to job creation opportunities in Toronto, Ontario and Canada in the RFI and bus technology report (see attached photo of the motion).

Minnan-Wong then spoke to his motion (2:24:50): “This commission – we – can be cautious leaders, timid leaders, or reckless leaders, in terms of what we do. Those are the choices. … [Being reckless leaders] would be buying like 500 … electric, new-technology buses. We could be timid leaders and maybe buy five or six [electric buses] and not get where we need to be in the time that we have. Or we could be cautious leaders, and we could actually be a little bit more aggressive than just buying five or six. … My thought … about buying these 440 [clean-diesel] buses was … these buses are going to be on the road for a dozen years, 15 years…. We’re buying dinosaurs that’re going to burn diesel for 15 years. I’m not sure I’m terribly comfortable with that. So the motion that I came up with is

actually a cautious one. … [W]e should’ve had the bus-technology report here at the September meeting; that’s the motion we moved [at the Feb. 2017 TTC Board meeting – see below], and staff didn’t have time to prepare that report. So instead, what I’m recommending is — because we have this procurement proposal in front of us — to: carv[e] off a part of that; [and] to look at the new technology report in November, so we can make an informed decision. If we award the entire contract today, then we wouldn’t be able to buy those extra 100 or 115 buses. So what I’m asking today is that we take the time to do that, and we issue the RFI Request for Interest to see which companies are interested. And then we’ll get the technology report back in November, and if we don’t like that report then we don’t have to issue any type of RFP, and in fact we can go back to the Nova original order. The other thing I’ll say is – and I know there’s a concern with regard to this — would there be consequences from … any of the … bidders? I’m satisfied from my discussions with Mr. Leary and with Mr. [Brian] Leck [TTC’s general counsel], that they’re satisfied that this motion. They’ve both seen this motion, and they are comfortable with the motion, that it doesn’t cause Mr. Leck any concerns after speaking with Mr. Leary.” Mr. Leck noded in agreement.

Note the following from the minutes of the February 21, 2017 TTC Board meeting (https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2017/March_22/Minutes/index.jsp):

16. New Business: Electric Bus Charging

Commissioner Minnan-Wong moved that the recommendation in the New Business item be struck out and replaced with the following:

“That the Chief Executive Officer be directed to evaluate before September 2017 the merits of electric buses and develop a strategy for the TTC, including consideration of a pilot project; and refer the CUTA motion for consideration in the development of this report”.

The motion by Commissioner Minnan-Wong carried and the item was adopted, as amended.

[Note: the original recommendation in the New Business item was as follows (https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2017/February_21/Reports/16_New_Business_TTC_Electric%20Bus%20Charging.pdf): “It is proposed by … Seconded by … That council declare that it will pursue a coherent and sustained procurement policy with regards to electric bus charging technologies that is harmonized with other municipalities across Canada; That Council request other municipalities join in this harmonization, with the goal of more quickly commercializing electric transit technologies, increasing their adoption and reducing urban GHG emissions in the transportation sector; That Council urge transit manufacturers to create a Canadian standard for electric bus manufacturing, including but not limited to charging infrastructure.”]

Fragedakis spoke against the motion, saying, “I’m kind of worried about compromising our timetable. I know we actually need 440 buses. … I’d like to be a wise commissioner; I’d actually like to follow staff’s advice, and develop a pilot program and then buy something that works and we know is good value. So I won’t be supporting the motion by Councillor Minnan-Wong. … I’m going to be moving recommendations of staff….”

Toronto Star transportation reporter Ben Spurr tweeted at this point: “In one of those great quirks of city democracy, TTC commissioners are contemplating tweaking a $315M vehicle contract on the fly.”

f. TTC CEO Andy Byford Again Supports Staff Recommendation

Commissioner Mihevc asked Byford (2:36:15) whether splitting the order as set out in Minnan-Wong’s motion would have “any negative side.”

Byford responded that, again, “The known outcome is to follow staff recommendations and award the full order now, because … we know what the timeframe will be on that, we know what we’re buying, we know when we’ll get them. … What I can’t predict is what the outcome of [the alternative, which is splitting the order] will be, but we have said in any case we’re going to do an RFI for alternate technologies anyway, and put that report [coming] up. So I don’t think there will be a massive downside, but it is less predictable as an outcome than going with a known order, with a known price, with a known manufacturer and a known technology right now.”

Mihevc then asked what the implications would be if the new-technology report tabled in November indicates it’s worth experimenting with electric vehicles (2:37:53).

Byford responded that “the more that the replacement bus order is watered down, the more we’re beginning to get into conflict with what you rightly questioned us over earlier, namely why do we have declining service hours (2:38:05). Well, partly it’s a result of unreliable vehicles — aging streetcars which we want to substitute with reliable buses – and … if there was a protracted delay that would mean that we would not be as able to ramp up service were the Ridership Growth Strategy — that we’re going to propose to you [later in the meeting] — … to be successful. What we’re trying to do is safeguard the future while absolutely not ruling out electric. That’s why we’re doing the RFI anyway. We’re keen to do it actually, but we’re also very keen to make sure we protect the service. That’s what you pay us to do; that’s the basis of our recommendation” (2:38:44).

Byford also said, in response to a question from Commissioner Rick Byers (2:38:51), that splitting the bus order would put a significant squeeze on staff’s time. “It won’t stop the TYSSE opening [on time]. But it’s more work (2:39:20). And my plea was genuine at the start, because we have so much to do to achieve what will be the crowning achievement of five years that we do not want to get wrong: opening Spadina, with ATC [automatic train control] and Presto and wifi by the end of this year – in other words, [in] 103 calendar days.”

g. Motion Passes

Minnan-Wong’s motion was supported by Commissioners Byers, Campbell, Cristanti, De Baeremaeker, De Laurentiis, Heisey, Mihevc and Minnan-Wong, and opposed by Chair Colle and Commissioner Fragedakis (2:47:47). (Ron Lalonde was absent.) The overall decisions are outlined here: https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2017/September_5/Reports/Decisions/9_PA_440_Low_Floor_Clean_Diesel_Buses_Decision.pdf\

h. Concerns Raised by Transit Expert Steve Munro

A September 5, 2017, blog entry by the respected transit expert Steve Munro detailed what happened in the meeting https://stevemunro.ca/2017/09/05/is-a-ttc-bus-technology-gerrymander-in-the-works/). He described many of the aspects that are problematic. These include, for example, the physical challenges presented by electric buses (bolding added for emphasis):

If the TTC invests in electric buses, regardless of the manufacturer, this will require a garage with very different capabilities from any they now own. A substantial power supply will be needed for all of the overnight charging, and repair facilities will have to be attuned to electric, not diesel, vehicles. The TTC does not have any increase in garage capacity in the pipeline beyond McNicoll Garage, already under construction, and it will easily be the early 2020s before there is a garage where a new fleet could be based, assuming that it is a net addition and not simply a replacement for existing buses. (McNicoll, although a new garage, will simply take the pressure off all of the existing garages which are badly overcrowded.)”

Munro also pointed out that BYD had lobbied Minnan-Wong and the mayor (see records attached). Munro stated that, “Any company is free to lobby, but it is quite unusual for this to result in a direct presentation to a Board meeting where a contract award is up for approval. We have learned recently how political meddling has influenced advice and decisions at both Metrolinx and the City of Toronto, and this continues a disturbing trend.

“Worst of all, the TTC staff report on alternative technology buses will now be under a cloud. Will it be a technically honest report, or will it be spun to suit the position of a well-connected member of the Board? By giving credibility to BYD’s presentation, has the Board placed TTC staff in the unenviable position of debunking claims made by one would-be vendor? Will there be another round of vendor presentations attacking whatever staff brings forward?”

Mr. Munro pointed out other significant problems with electric buses in a September 27, 2017, article for Torontoist on the TTC budget (https://torontoist.com/2017/09/ttc-budget-woes-deepen/)(bolding added for emphasis):

Paying for Transit

Money for transit projects comes from many sources including direct charges against taxes at all three government levels, from project-specific subsidies and from other levies such as development charges.

In recent years, City finance staff have become more creative in their approach to financing capital needs, and this includes measures that could have unexpected consequences. One example is a scheme, advanced in the budget presentation, that the savings from “efficiencies” could be used to finance debt for capital projects.

Suppose a new bus fleet is alleged to be more energy efficient and require less maintenance. These savings could help pay for the buses, even to the point of subsidizing a premium price.

However, the savings must actually materialize and be sustained over the life of the debt. If they are not, then there is an unfunded cost. If the energy or maintenance savings don’t pan out, what pays down the debt? Problems with new bus technologies that failed to deliver on expectations (Compressed Natural Gas and Hybrids) are perfect examples.

Recently, purveyors of electric buses have suggested that their extra cost could be financed through savings compared to diesel buses. If that approach is taken, the savings could be completely eaten up to offset the extra vehicle cost.

More importantly, savings like these would normally offset rising operating costs. A new bus might use less fuel, or run forever without a tune-up. However, those savings will not translate to more service or lower fares because they will be scooped to pay down the debt. This is a subtle way to transfer capital costs to the operating budget and poach money that should be providing service or limiting fare increases.

3. November 13, 2017 TTC Board meeting

At the November 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting staff presented a Green Bus Technology Plan. The plan included recommendations to purchase 30 battery-electric buses for a total of $50 million and to purchase 230 new-generation hybrid electric buses for a total of $230 million. Commissioner De Baeremaeker moved a motion that included having staff consider and report back to the board on doubling to 60 the number of battery-electric buses to be procured. This motion passed. To date, the staff have not yet reported back to the TTC board about these recommendations.

4. Conclusions and Requests

There is growing concern among members of the public that the multi-million and sometimes multi-billion-dollar transit-procurement process is hyper-politicized and that value for money is not taken into consideration. The discussion and votes at the September 5, 2017, and November 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting can be perceived as a continuation of this pattern. The TTC Chair himself, Josh Colle, also expressed concern about the decision-making process during the meeting.

The highly unusual unfolding of the discussion began when representatives from the company BYD that had been rejected from the procurement process for 440 clean-diesel buses were allowed to deliver a pitch for their electric buses. A long question-and-answer period was also allowed. Then Commissioner Heisey suggested significantly changing the contract by reducing the award by 26% (from 440 to 325 buses) and allowing the remaining 115 buses to be considered as part of a new RFI for electric-bus technology. The TTC CEO warned against this, stating that previous use of battery-powered buses had been a disaster and that the TTC should not rush into acquiring another set of new-technology buses.

Despite this, Commissioner Minnan-Wong – who according to Toronto Lobbyist Registrar records was lobbied by BYD, as was Mayor Tory – moved a motion to change the procurement to essentially that outlined by Heisey. The timeline in Minnan-Wong’s motion is very rapid, with just two months before companies would present their pitches at the November TTC Board meeting for the contract for 115 electric buses. After discussion and questions to staff – and significant problems highlighted by Byford and others including the unknowns involved in rushing into use of a little-used and -studied technology — the staff recommendation was set aside and Minnan-Wong’s motion passed 8 to 2. Chair Colle and Commisioner Fragedakis voted against the motion.

At the November 13, 2017, TTC Board meeting, a plan was presented by staff that included purchasing 30 battery-electric buses and a motion by Commissioner De Baeremaeker passed to consider doubling the number to 60. The table on page 4 of the plan shows that the price for 30 battery-electric buses would be $50 million. This is $1.67 million per bus. The same table also shows that new-generation hybrid electric buses are $1 million each. As indicated above, clean-diesel buses are $717,045 each. Therefore battery-electric buses are 67% more expensive than new-generation hybrid electric buses and 232% more expensive than clean-disel buses. And that does not include the considerable cost of the infrastructure required to run a fleet of battery-electric buses.

While the goal of significantly reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions of the bus fleet at the TTC is highly laudable, it is also important that Torontonians have confidence that spending being done in an era of significant budget constraints represents evidence- and needs-based decision-making.

Steve Munro has also pointed out in articles he’s written some important factors that are being overlooked in the headlong rush to embrace battery-electric buses.

It seems most prudent to take a step back to ensure that the decision-makuing surrounding purchasing cleaner buses involves getting the best ‘bang for the buck’ in terms of reducing greenhouse gases, including an analysis of what the cost of each incremental reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is with each type of bus technology being cosidered, taking into account not just the purchase cost of the buses but any additional infrastructure that will be needed, and the probability that the anticipated savings from operating the electric buses will actually materialize.

Therefore we are asking you to do at least the following, in conjunction with whatever other departments/officials at the TTC or elsewhere at the City of Toronto are necessary:

1. Determine whether the events at the September 5, 2017, TTC Board meeting violate the TTC’s Procurement Policy;

2. Examine whether the lobbyist activities and/or other considerations outside of a normal procurement process determined the outcome of the September 5, 2017, and November 13, 2017, TTC Board meetings rather than evidence-based decision-making;

3. Perform a value-for-money analysis of the proposed procurement of the new electric-bus technology; this should include an examination of whether the zero emissions from battery-electric buses justify the purchase of these buses compared to buses such as clean diesel and hybrid-electric buses that have lower emissions compared to conventional diesel buses but are much less expensive than battery-electric buses.

4. Investigate whether Minnan-Wong, Tory and/or other municipal officials, TTC Commissioners or politicians were lobbied by Garner or another lobbyist for BYD earlier than the start date of April 13 that is indicated in the record in the Toronto Lobbyist Registry (i.e., before February 21, 2017, when Minnan-Wong put forward a motion at the TTC Board meeting for procurement of electric buses); and

5. Ask that there be a halt to the staff report and TTC Board decision regarding purchasing 60 battery-electric buses until you have completed that your investigation.



Rosemary Frei


Cornelia Baines


Murray Lumley