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Council reconfirms support for the Scarborough subway

The union representing TTC workers says employees should have the right to wear protective masks at work.
The union representing TTC workers says employees should have the right to wear protective masks at work. File / Global News

TORONTO – City council voted 24-20 Tuesday to reconfirm support for a subway extension into Scarborough – discarding, maybe for the last time, a fully-funded light rail plan.

Following the vote, Mayor Rob Ford, who championed the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line, could be heard yelling “Yes!”

The federal government has pledged $660 million towards the construction of a subway and the province has committed $1.4 billion – leaving Torontonians with approximately $910 million to fill the gap.

And councillors voted Tuesday to raise taxes to fund the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line.

That $910 million includes $165 million raised through increased development charges and $745 million through annual increases to property taxes – 0.5 per cent in each of 2014 and 2015, 0.6 per cent in 2016.

Ford, who campaigned against raising taxes, said during the debate Tuesday that he views the subway as an investment.

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“You all know I’m the last person to support taxes. A lot of people said ‘Rob, you’ve got to get skin in the game.’ I couldn’t sleep at night, I thought ‘I can’t do this’” he said. “The city manager said, ‘We have to have a minimal, minimal tax increase to fund the Scarborough subway. We have to take out debt, we have to increase [development charges].’”

Ford suggested the subway would stimulate the local economy and last roughly 100 years. TTC CEO Andy Byford said Tuesday a subway generally last s between 75 and 100 years.

“I feel very comfortable in my decision,” he said. “It’s going to create thousands of jobs, it’s going to ease congestion, it’s going to benefit this city from north to south from east to west.”

He added that he will “make sure every dime is accounted for.”

Councillor Josh Matlow, a longtime proponent of the Scarborough LRT and the downtown relief line, tweeted his dismay following the vote:

WATCH: (Oct. 8 – Prior to vote) Councillors debate Scarborough subway line. Peter Kim reports.