The City of Toronto and the Ontario government have agreed to terms of reference to discuss the uploading of the TTC’s subway to the province.
According to the city, the terms of reference will guide how to best align transit responsibilities between the two parties.
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“I’m very happy we’ve agreed with the City of Toronto on a joint Terms of Reference which has, at its core, shared objectives and principles, to guide a discussion about how the two levels of government can best work together to achieve them,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement. “We have committed to a deliberate, fact-based conversation with the city on our upload plan.”
The city says that both parties share objectives that include “the accelerated implementation of priority expansion projects; the integration of transit services across all modes and agencies (TTC, Metrolinx, other 905 transit agencies); the modernization and enhancement of the existing subway system, while ensuring the system is maintained in a state of good repair; the continuity of safe, reliable service to all residents who depend on it for mobility; and a long-term sustainable, predictable, funding model for the existing transit system and future transit needs.”
Ford said that the necessary maintenance and investment in the subway system has been put off for too long.
“It’s time to take action and speed things up,” he said.
The nine-page document shows several options that include the province wanting to take over the ownership of the subway system.
“The proposed ‘upload’ model, in which the Province would assume ownership of, and responsibility for, subway infrastructure from the city, including the building and maintenance of new and existing subway lines, while the responsibility for day-to-day operations, including labour relations, remains with the city,” reads the document.
In his statement, Ford said that “with an upload, our government can cut through red tape to start new projects and finish construction faster.”
Mayor John Tory said that discussions between City staff and the province will continue now guided by the approved terms of reference.
“I continue to firmly believe that any actions taken with regard to our subway system need to be in the best interests of the people of Toronto, including transit riders and employees, and that Toronto must be completely involved and fully consulted as Premier Ford previously indicated would be the case,” said Tory.
“City Council gave the City Manager clear direction in December that subject to clear conditions, the City’s participation in this exercise is the best way to protect our TTC system.”
As for its rules of engagement, the agreement says it will be transparent but also “all persons designated by the parties to partake in the review and engagement process shall be deemed to be bound by the confidentiality obligations.”
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam calls the contradictions in the terms of reference “outrageous.”
“Last month the province said they won’t be making their reports public. Provincial & city reps have both signed off on keeping ‘their talks confidential’ while promising ‘transparency,'” she said in a tweet.
Toronto city council directed its City Manager Chris Murray to proceed with an agreed-to terms of reference and to report back to city council in the first quarter of 2019 with a progress report.