Province agrees to drop upload of Toronto subway system, city backs Ontario Line

Click to play video 'All 3 levels of government commit to Toronto subway expansion' All 3 levels of government commit to Toronto subway expansion
WATCH ABOVE: Premier Doug Ford is declaring victory moving forward with his plan to expand Toronto’s subway system. All three levels of government have committed to moving forward. Travis Dhanraj reports – Oct 16, 2019

The City of Toronto has come to an agreement with the Ford government on retaining ownership of Toronto’s subway system while also securing funding on new transit expansions, Mayor John Tory has announced.

According to a news release, the city will receive an almost $30-billion investment for new transit and existing transit systems will continue to be “owned and operated” by the city.

The province passed legislation in the spring to enable the subway upload and give Queen’s Park authority over future transit expansion in the city.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the deal – which still must be approved by Toronto city council – is a reversal for Premier Doug Ford’s government, which had promised to take control of the city’s subway network in order to expand it.

Click to play video 'Province abandons TTC subway upload with conditions for Toronto Council' Province abandons TTC subway upload with conditions for Toronto Council
Province abandons TTC subway upload with conditions for Toronto Council – Oct 16, 2019

READ MORE: Ontario government introduces Toronto subway upload bill in omnibus transportation legislation

Mulroney said the province has been negotiating with the city for months on the potential upload, and had always been open to allowing Toronto to maintain control of the subway system.

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“Upload was a means to an end that we considered,” she said. “We want to be thorough in our analysis in how to address an issue. But … we’re very happy that we were able to find a way forward that involves us working with the city.”

Additionally, in a report released Wednesday, the city and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) said they have examined the benefits of the Ontario Line and Line 2 East Extension. The TTC and city officials have agreed to collaborate with the province to advance these priority projects as well as two others, the Yonge Subway Extension and Eglinton West LRT, with city council’s support.

The province will also be funding the Ontario Line without requiring any contributions from the city. The subway line aims to offer an alternative to overcrowding on subways and will reach neighbourhoods like Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park.

“The detailed report released today from our city and TTC staff professionals makes the case for why city council should pursue this plan, why it’s a good deal for Toronto residents, especially those who use transit, and for the city’s long-term finances,” said Tory.

Click to play video 'Ford says ‘great’ transit system will be built in Toronto with 3 levels of government' Ford says ‘great’ transit system will be built in Toronto with 3 levels of government
Ford says ‘great’ transit system will be built in Toronto with 3 levels of government – Oct 16, 2019

READ MORE: New Ontario government transit panel not ruling out LRT

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The mayor also said leaving the subway system under city ownership was a key requirement of council when it entered into discussions with the province.

The report indicated that more than $5 billion of city funding will also go towards addressing the state of good repair on existing systems and other transit expansions.

Councillor and TTC chair Jaye Robinson expressed her happiness that the negotiations are over and the funding allotted will allow the city to focus on improving the existing subway network.

Click to play video 'Ontario Line placement concerns nearby residents' Ontario Line placement concerns nearby residents
Ontario Line placement concerns nearby residents – Aug 20, 2019

“The importance of this historic capital investment in Toronto’s transit infrastructure cannot be overstated,” Robinson said in a statement.

“Without this funding, we would be looking at a growing state of good repair backlog and list of unfunded capital needs, eventually leading to service delays, declining reliability and, eventually, concerns for passenger safety.”

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With files from the Canadian Press and Matthew Bingley