With the promise of securing billions of dollars in transit funding in exchange for the city council’s endorsement, dozens of concerned residents urged the mayor’s executive committee to demand the province make more concessions.
Last week, city and TTC staff dropped a report recommending that city council endorse the Ford government’s plans for transit expansion.
The deal would allow the city to retain ownership of Toronto’s existing subway system, but it would have to endorse four transit projects pitched by the Ontario government earlier in the year.
By doing so, Toronto would be off the hook for paying the nearly $30 billion for the four projects. But TTC CEO Rick Leary revealed at a technical briefing last week that many details are still unknown.
Mayor John Tory has championed the plan as a concession that preserves the Toronto’s ownership of the subway.
“I firmly believe that the detailed report released last week from our city and TTC staff professionals makes the case for why city council should pursue this plan,” he said.
On Wednesday, the report was before the Mayor’s Executive Committee. Before they could get to it, nearly 60 people were scheduled to address the committee.
Dozens of them spoke out against the plan to adopt plans for the Ontario Line, a subway extension running from Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre.
Leslieville resident Rosemary Waterston was one of many who spoke out against the route Metrolinx is has pitched in its business plan. While it has been presented as a subway, there are two long stretches that are actually above ground.
Building sections above ground would be cheaper, but Waterston shared worries about the stretch of the GO Transit corridor from Cherry Street to Gerard Street East.
She said she isn’t part of a NIMBY crowd, but the addition of tracks would drastically change the face of the neighbourhood.
While GO trains roared past her in Jimmy Simpson Park, Waterston said city council should be pressuring the province to bury the tracks like the city’s former Downtown Relief Line had proposed.
“It had gone through the environmental assessment and it was ready to be built” she said.
Long-time resident Tom Tkach shares that belief, adding that the province’s plans would ruin green space and see wildlife decimated.
“It’s a pain in the butt to build underground, but when you’re in densely-built neighbourhoods, communities like this, you know, doing above ground just sounds crazy” he said.
The executive committee passed a motion which accepts the report and recommends council endorse it. Mayor Tory also put forward a successful motion to ask Metrolinx to find ways to mitigate the impacts of the Ontario Line, which could include burying a portion of it.
City council will debate the recommendation when it meets next week.