Ottawa to invest $27 million for planning and design of Toronto’s Relief Line

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Minister Ahmed Hussen announced on Friday that the federal government is committing more than $27 million to fund the planning of a TTC relief line stretching from Pape Avenue to south of Queen Street – Jun 2, 2017

Toronto’s Relief Line is getting a $27 million boost from the federal government to help with the planning and design work for the future transit project, but the city’s mayor says he’s still looking for a firm financial commitment from the province to build the much needed subway line.

Mayor John Tory told reporters on Friday during the funding announcement at the Queen Street subway station that he doesn’t know the exact cost of the relief line but nonetheless wants the province to step up and make a promise to build it.

“We don’t know the exact numbers yet but we do know that everybody can commit themselves to being partners in those projects and in the financing of the building of those transit lines because why would you plan them if you’re not going to build them?,” Tory said.

The new federal funding comes a week after Toronto city council voted to proceed with an assessment process for the Relief Line which would see subways connecting downtown to the east end of the city.

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READ MORE: Toronto council approves study to advance planning, design needed for Downtown Relief Line

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, who was also in attendance at the federal funding announcement, said the province is already forking over $150 million to the planning and design of the relief line and is taking a “prudent” approach on getting the new subway built.

“We don’t know what the price tag will be for this or the other projects,” Del Duca said. “I think it’s only responsible and prudent for those conversations to continue so we can be better positioned to have a better sense of what that reality looks like.”

Tory said he is also seeking a more specific funding model from the upper levels of government for future Phase 2 infrastructure priority projects following a meeting at the Big City Mayors’ Caucus in Ottawa this week in which a 40/40/20 approach was preferred.

“What we’re trying to move toward is a predictable formula,” Tory said. “What the federal government has discussed and what we would be comfortable with is a 40/40/20, meaning 40 federal, 40 provincial and 20 local but we’re not hidebound to that.”

READ MORE: City staff proposes new Downtown Relief Line route along Carlaw Ave.

The federal government announced in the spring budget it is committing $180 billion over 12 years to support infrastructure projects in Canada but that it’s up to individual municipalities to come forward with their pitches.

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“We made a commitment in the campaign and we’re fulfilling the commitment to make sure we don’t micro manage or decide the projects that are important to communities from Ottawa,” Ahmed Hussen, federal Immigration Minister and MP for York South-Weston, said in Toronto on Friday.

“In terms of which projects to fund and which priorities should be in place for municipal as well as provincial governments, we won’t do that anymore. They will tell us their priorities.”

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