By Ryan Hanna for Skedline
The provincial government is prepared to fund major transit projects in Toronto — including a three-stop Scarborough subway extension, Eglinton West extension, Relief Line South and Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill — but only if it has control over them.
This is according to a letter sent to TTC Chief Executive Officer Rick Leary and City Manager, dated March 22, and a follow-up letter dated March 26. The letters outlined some large differences between the city and province when it comes to major transit projects:
- City Council has proposed a one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line to Scarborough Town Centre, while the province wants a three-stop extension with the same terminus — but in the second letter they seemingly changed their minds, stating that “the project would proceed northward from the station at Scarborough Centre”
- While the Eglinton West expansion has been proposed as a surface-running route, the province would prefer for it to be underground
- The province wants to use “alternative delivery methods” for the Relief Line South, which would “not be beholden to the requirements of the technologically-outdated Line 2”
- While Metrolinx says that the Relief Line has to be built before the Line 1 extension to Richmond Hill, the province wants the projects to run in parallel
When contacted for comment, Mayor John Tory’s people referred Skedline to his statement on Twitter:
And as I will indicate again, & I'll indicate it over and over again as I have, if the end result of the discussions that are ongoing is one that is not good for Toronto, I will have no choice but to oppose it as I told Premier Ford directly on Monday of this week.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 27, 2019
Counsellor Joe Cressy, Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, told CBC that the talks have been anything but transparent — going as far as to accuse the province of intending to “tear up the city’s transit network and do whatever they want.”
Despite this, city council voted to continue talks with the province, reports CityNews. They did call for various motions, including one to ask the province to recognize the relief line as a priority and to disclose the details of the “alternative delivery methods.” A motion was approved to launch a public information campaign about the proposed upload process and how it will affect citizens.
Premier Doug Ford was contacted by Skedline and responded with the following:
“As you know, in recognition of the strategic importance of the TTC subway system, our government has committed to assuming responsibility for subway infrastructure from the City of Toronto, including the building and maintenance of new and existing subway lines, and keeping responsibility for day-to-day operations, including labour relations, with the city.”
He continued by reiterating that uploading the TTC will “generate several benefits to public transit riders and residents” and continued by explaining that it will allow for “expedited delivery of priority regional transit projects and an enhanced ability to implement key policy initiatives to support a more efficient regional transit network (like through fare and service integration).”
Though Ford is set on taking over the subway, Toronto City Council isn’t — it voted 23-2 in December to keep the TTC’s subways, buses and streetcars under local control — and there’s no evidence that anybody has changed their mind. Ford might have to put up a fight to get what he wants.