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Ford government budgeting $25 billion for four Toronto transit projects, sources say
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is budgeting more than $25 billion dollars for four new transit lines, CTV News Toronto has learned, as Premier Doug Ford looks to deliver on a campaign promise.
Ford said the province has the power to amortize the amount over a longer period of time, giving Ontario more flexibility to finance long-term transit construction projects.
“We will build a transit system like this province has never seen before,” Ford said during question period on Thursday. “We’re putting tens of billions of dollars into the largest infrastructure transit plan ever in North America.”
While the City of Toronto will be on the hook for a portion of the costs, the exact amount has yet to be finalized.
The provincial government announced plans this week to take over responsibility for the planning, design and delivery of four ongoing transit projects in and around Toronto.
A look at how the province’s plans differ from the city’s efforts:
Scarborough subway extension
- City council has approved a one-stop subway extension of Line 2, terminating at Scarborough Town Centre.
- The province wants to build a three-stop extension of Line 2, continuing north from a stop at Scarborough Town Centre.
Eglinton West extension
- City council and the TTC prefer a surface-level extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line, according to the letters.
- The province has proposed a significant portion of this extension be built underground.
Relief line south
- The TTC previously had plans to have the relief line use “existing technology and traditional delivery methods” currently being used on Line2, according to the letters.
- However, the province now says city council and the TTC are contemplating using a different technology for the project than the one currently being used on Line 2.
Yonge North subway extension
- The province wants the progress of this project to run in-parallel with design work related to the relief line so the “in-service date for the extension is fast-tracked to the greatest extent possible.”
Critics are warning that changes to the existing designs will likely cause delays and cost overruns, especially if the province discards years-worth of planning work.
Toronto city staff confirmed that the alterations proposed to the Eglinton West LRT and the Scarborough subway extension would likely result in delays to both projects.
However, Ford is adamant that the province will be able to deliver on time and under budget.
“We’re going to deliver transit faster, better and less expensive than any time before,” he said.
Speaking with CP24 on Thursday evening, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said he believes the Ford government’s plan to “upload” the subway is “very positive” as it will extend Line 1 to the 905 faster.
“I think we’ve had a lot of positive signals over the past year and this quest for the Yonge subway with Doug Ford actually started during the provincial campaign when we reached out to all the party leaders to sign a shovel to commit to the Yonge subway extension all the way up to Highway 7,” he said.
“It’s the most justified subway investment. It’s our top transit priority in York Region.”
Scarpitti said the residents of York Region are “fed up” with the way transit is being built currently.
“We finished the environmental assessment for the Yonge subway extension up to Highway 7 over a decade ago and we’ve been waiting after that environmental assessment was completed to advance the project,” he said.
“It’s taken a year and a half just to set up the office to start the design work and that’s where we get into these jurisdictional issues, which would be gone if the subway construction is uploaded (by the provincial government).”
With files from CP24.com’s Kayla Goodfield