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Downtown Toronto, Scarborough councillors face off over Bloor-Danforth subway extension

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WATCH ABOVE: It’s a debate council has argued about over and over: the Scarborough subway extension. Two Toronto councillors had a friendly faceoff over the extension’s future – Mar 22, 2017

Toronto city council has held numerous debates over the Scarborough subway extension, but two councillors had a friendly face off Wednesday over the project’s future.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, an advocate for the one-stop extension, and Councillor Gord Perks, a known opponent, spoke with Matt Gurney and Supriya Dwivedi on AM640’s The Morning Show.

“Scarborough should have a subway, just like York University is going to have a subway this year. Also, like the city of Vaughan, north of Steeles Ave., is going to have a subway this year – just like every part of the city,” De Baeremaeker said.

“This subway station that we are going to build is going to be the busiest subway stations ever built in the history of Toronto. Our daily ridership will be over 60,000 people.”

READ MORE: Scarborough subway extension design approved by Toronto’s executive committee

De Baeremaeker added that in Perks’ downtown ward, High Park subway station only sees a fraction of the daily riders.

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“I will cancel my subway station that will have 60,000 people in it the same day [he] cancels [his] station in High Park that only has 6,000 people in it,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Everybody loses’: Former mayor Mel Lastman weighs in on Scarborough subway

Perks called De Baeremaeker’s analogy “ridiculous.”

“It’s not a choice of subway and no transit,” Perks said.

“We have very limited amount of money to build transit in the city of Toronto. If we spend all of it just on one connection, we don’t have money to link in other parts of Scarborough to the rapid transit network.”

On March 7, Toronto’s executive committee endorsed a preferred route alignment for the Scarborough subway extension and a proposed underground bus terminal at Scarborough Town Centre.

The total cost of the project has increased to $3.34-billion after executive committee voted in favour of building an estimated $187-million terminal underground at the new subway station.

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The TTC board gave the report the green light on Wednesday and it will be going to City Council for final approval on Mar. 28.

A previous council report in July pegged the cost of the subway extension project at a cost of $3.16 billion.

“The subway has been approved eight separate times by city of Toronto council. This will be the ninth time,” De Baeremaeker said.

“Council approved $3.5-billion to build the subway and the good news is this subway is still under budget – the cost has gone up – but it’s still in the envelope that we approved at $3.5-billion.”

READ MORE: John Tory defends Scarborough subway extension after cost rises another $200M

Perks said the money would be better spent on a larger network of transit.

“We’ve never actually told city staff, ‘Go ahead and build the Scarborough subway.’ Frankly, we have spent a lot of time with [Coun. De Baeremaeker] and everybody else moving pieces around and asking for more studies,” he said.
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“We did have an approved light rail network called Transit City in Scarborough. If we stuck with that parts of that would already be built and operating.”

READ MORE: Timeline: A history of Transit City

Transit City was cancelled under former Mayor Rob Ford.

With files from Briana Carnegie

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