Toronto and Ford government moving forward with ambitious provincial transit plans

Oct 30 2019, 6:45 am

The city of Toronto and the provincial government’s controversial Ontario Line plan was officially approved during council on Tuesday.

The agreement secures an almost $30 billion investment in new transit for Toronto and ensures that the existing transit system will remain owned and operated by the city.

The Ford government first introduced the Ontario Line earlier this year in the 2019 Ontario Budget.

City council voted 22 to 3 to move forward with the transit plan, which Mayor John Tory says is a “good deal” for the city.

In addition to the Ontario Line, council also approved a three-stop Line 2 East Extension that will run further into Scarborough, the Eglinton West LRT, and the Yonge North Subway Extension.

“We owe it to people who live in Toronto now and those who will live here going forward to expand our transit infrastructure and keep our existing system in a state of good repair,” said Tory,

The key elements of the arrangement between the City and Province include:

  • The City retains ownership of the existing subway network.
  • TTC retains operations of the transit network.
  • Funding from the Province, with the help of the federal government, for almost $30 billion in transit expansion projects.
  • The City’s $5 billion – the funding that would have been Toronto’s required share of expansion funds – will go towards state of good repair for the existing transit system and other city priority transit projects like the Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront transit.
  • The Province and the City agree to work together to get the four projects built as quickly as possible.
  • Costs the City has incurred planning transit up to this point will be covered by the Province along with staff costs incurred in building out the new lines.
  • The Province will cover any cost overruns of its four priority projects.
  • A commitment to work together as partners to address local issues along these routes so that neighbourhoods are protected and residents listened to when they raise concerns.

“I made a commitment to the people of Ontario: to build more transit quickly, to reduce gridlock, boost economic growth and get people to work and home to their loved ones easier, safer, and faster,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement.

“I am proud that Toronto City Council voted to fully support our government’s proposed Ontario-Toronto Transit Partnership to advance Ontario’s priority subway expansion program, including our signature project the Ontario Line,” said Ford.

The project will go beyond the coverage of similar areas to the Relief Line South and North, as the 15.5-km proposed line will feature 15 stations, connecting from Exhibition GO station to Line 5 at Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East, near a new Science Centre station.

While the approval from council is momentous, some councillors still appear to have their doubts.

“The Ontario government has given Toronto a false choice on transit,” said Mike Layton, Toronto city councillor.

“They are telling us to Stop current transit expansion plans, accept years of delay on new Scarborough transit and accept a plan with limited information. The alternative – don’t get anything,”

It’s estimated to cost $10.9 billion to build and the city says it’s expected to be completed by 2027, which is two years sooner than the accelerated Relief Line South.