In its budget, released on Thursday, the Ontario government said there is no money set aside for extending the Sheppard subway line.
The confirmation comes a day after Premier Doug Ford and officials unveiled a $28.5-billion Greater Toronto Area transit network plan. Money was set aside for four projects: building the Ontario Line (a doubling of the planned Downtown Relief Line), extending the Eglinton Crosstown west to Mississauga, extending and adding two stops to the Scarborough subway extension and extending the Yonge subway line into York region.
Although the Sheppard subway extension is drawn on the map, officials said there’s only money to do design work — and none, yet, to build it.
“As this line has not been a part of an official transit plan for some time, the province will begin exploratory work on cost and on completion timelines to lock in the project for a future build date following the Scarborough subway extension,” the 2019 budget plan said.
Also contained in the budget are suggested stations for the Ontario Line, something not contained in Wednesday’s announcement. The Ontario government proposed putting stations at Ontario Place, King and Bathurst streets and on the west side of Queen Street and Spadina Avenue. North of Pape Station, there are proposed stations at Pape Street and Cosburn Avenue, Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park before ending at the Ontario Science Centre. Government staff said the Downtown Relief Line alignment is mostly unchanged.
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The government said in order to meet the projected $10.9-billion cost for the Ontario Line, officials said a bridge will be built above the Don River and Don Valley Parkway near Eastern Avenue instead of below. It’s projected the move would save approximately $1 billion.
Staff also said the Ontario Line will be separated from the existing TTC subway network. As a result, officials said lighter-weight, smaller trains can be used — something they said would be cheaper than using the current Bombardier subways and technology. Staff cited the Skytrain service in Vancouver as an example.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath criticized the transit plan, saying the plan will mean delays in building transit.
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“What Mr. Ford has now done has pushed any legislative improvements to transit further down the track,” she said.
“The back-of-the-napkin map that they threw out yesterday I guess has a few more details today, but there are still a lot of questions around financing, around technology, around partnerships with other orders of government.”
The Ontario government said the Ontario Line and subway extensions will be uploaded in the first phase later this spring. At a later time, the existing subway lines could be uploaded depending on consultations with the City of Toronto.
Legislation is also set to be introduced to allow provincial staff to access TTC property in order to conduct assessments of the equipment.