Premier Doug Ford says that while the province hopes the federal government, the City of Toronto and York Region will chip in more than half of a $28.5-billion transit project, Ontario is willing to foot the whole bill.
Ford and Transport Minister Jeff Yurek outlined the government’s $28.5 billion expansion of Ontario’s transit network in Etobicoke Wednesday morning.
The plan included changing the composition of Toronto’s downtown relief line and renaming it the “Ontario Line.” The newly dubbed line will “double the length” of the original relief line south, the government said.
Ford said the new 15-kilometre relief line will run from Ontario Place in the city’s west to the Ontario Science Centre in the east. The city’s current plan for the relief line runs 7.5 kilometres from the subway line on Danforth Avenue to the line on University Avenue in Toronto’s core.
The province estimated the cost of the “Ontario Line” to be an estimated $10.9 billion, up from the city’s $7.2 billion estimate for its version, and said it will be completed by 2027.
“Our government is investing in transportation to bring relief and new opportunities to transit users and commuters,” Ford said.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau would not commit to contributing to the Ford government’s transit plan, criticizing the province for dragging its feet when it comes to allocating federal infrastructure money.
“We have already put significant funding (in place) and we have found it difficult to actually get these projects going because the Ontario government is not at the table trying to get those projects happen,” he said in Ottawa. “And frankly, jobs are on the line.”
Adam Vaughan, a federal Liberal MP who represents a downtown Toronto riding and sparred with Ford during their days on Toronto city council, called the plan “bizarre.”
“Well, it’s really nice to see that he’s taking a crayon to the riding I represent and somehow feathered … a subway line through the densest, most complex part of the City of Toronto with absolutely no costing, no idea how it’s going to work,” he said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory, who did not attend the announcement, said the city must continue to work with the province and cannot walk away from transit planning in spite of serious questions about timing of the projects and funding that he said remained unanswered.
“No mayor, no premier, no prime minister can build transit alone,” he said. “But one mayor, one premier, or one prime minister can easily block transit progress. That is why we have to try, and try, and try, to work together.”
The provincial government also said it will complete the Scarborough Subway Extension as originally conceived, however, it will include three stops – Lawrence East, Scarborough Town Centre and McCowan rather than the originally-planned one-stop extension. The three-stop extension will have an estimated completion date of 2029-2030.
The government also said they hope to build a link between the three-stop extension and line 4, though few details were provided.
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Ford also announced a commitment to complete the Yonge-North subway extension to expand the Line 1 Yonge-University line. The government said the extension will be constructed in conjunction with the Ontario Line but will open after it. The government estimated the extension will be finished around 2029. It will run from Finch Station to Langstaff/ Richmond Hill Centre and the province estimated it will cost $5.6 Billion.
The province said it’s also looking to retrofit Bloor-Yonge Station to reduce congestion. The master transit plan also included a commitment to extend the Eglington crosstown project further west into Etobicoke with a portion of the west line running underground between Royal York and Martin Grove roads.
The province also planned further construction to Lester B. Pearson International Airport, but details weren’t provided.
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“We announced the new Ontario Line to deal with the dangerous congestion on Line 1, the Yonge Subway Extension that will connect the subway to one of the region’s largest employment centers, the three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension to better serve communities and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension – a large portion of which will be built underground to keep people and goods moving on our roadways,” Ford said.
The premier also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to upload the TTC subway infrastructure. The Toronto Transit Commission would retain the day-to-day operations of the subway, buses, and street cars, and the city would keep fare box revenue.
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The province has committed $11.2 billion dollars to the total $28.5 billion price tag and is asking the federal government, City of Toronto and York Region to make financial contributions to the project.
—With files from The Canadian Press