Ontario government floats major changes to several Toronto transit projects

Click to play video 'Toronto city council changes tactics to counter provincial subway upload' Toronto city council changes tactics to counter provincial subway upload
WATCH ABOVE: Amid growing frustration over a lack of information on the Ford government's plans to upload Toronto's subways, the city's executive committee is attempting to grow public engagement with planned consultations and an information campaign. Matthew Bingley reports. (March 21)

Amid ongoing talks between the Ontario government and the City of Toronto about uploading the TTC’s subway system, newly released documents from the province raise the possibility of major changes to several transit projects.

Toronto city council voted during its meeting on Wednesday to spend $2 million towards hiring additional staff and obtaining third-party advice as negotiations continue between the province and the city. On Tuesday, officials released letters and reports relating to the upload discussions on the city’s website.

READ MORE: Transit advocates protest TTC upload ahead of executive committee meeting

In a letter sent to city manager Chris Murray and TTC CEO Rick Leary on Friday, Deputy Minister of Transportation Shelley Tapp and Michael Lindsay, a special adviser to the Ontario cabinet on transit uploading, said the two levels of government “are not aligned” when it comes to transit expansion and that differences are “likely to persist” until the design and building of the projects are transferred to the Ontario government.

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Among the differences cited is the Scarborough subway extension. The City of Toronto’s plan, after several contentious debates, has been to extend the Line 2 subway by a stop to Scarborough Town Centre from Kennedy Station.

However, the Doug Ford government wants to see three stations as part of the extension — something promised during the 2018 provincial election, along with an upload of the subway system.

WATCH: Doug Ford discusses taking over control of TTC (Aug. 15)

Click to play video '‘It’s nothing but a benefit’: Doug Ford on taking over control of TTC' ‘It’s nothing but a benefit’: Doug Ford on taking over control of TTC
‘It’s nothing but a benefit’: Doug Ford on taking over control of TTC

There are also lingering questions about the latest cost estimates for the Scarborough extension and Downtown Relief Line.

Tapp and Lindsay also said the Ontario government wants to see a proposed western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line built underground instead of along Eglinton Avenue West, something that could mean a major cost increase.

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When it comes to the Downtown Relief Line, the province wants to see “alternative delivery methods” for a subway line that is “not beholden to the requirements of the technologically outdated Line 2.” Officials also want design work for the potential Yonge subway line extension expedited so subway service into York region could begin sooner.

READ MORE: TTC upload moves forward as city and province sign terms of reference

“The province is actively considering significant financial commitments towards these critical expansion projects,” Tapp and Lindsay wrote.

“With major financial commitments by the government of Ontario will come with the expectation that the province will have a leadership role in planning, design and delivery of these projects.”

A public consultation process by the City of Toronto is set to get underway in May.