Ontario pledges to match federal transit funding for Toronto
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018 4:29PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 14, 2018 6:20PM EDT
The provincial government will match billions of dollars in previously announced federal transit funding for Toronto, money that Mayor John Tory says will “finally” allow the city to get on with building long-discussed projects like the Relief Line and SmartTrack.
In July, the federal government announced that it would provide $4.8 billion for the expansion of Toronto’s transit networks over the next decade, an investment that included a previously announced commitment of $660 million for Ontario will match federal the Scarborough subway extension.
The funding, which is part of a $33 billion investment across Canada, was contingent on the province funding at least 33 per cent of the cost of eligible projects, however Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government did not immediately commit to doing so, drawing the ire of Tory and other civic leaders in the process.
That all changed on Wednesday, however, when Ontario infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli signed a bilateral funding agreement with his federal counterpart in which he committed to providing about $10 billion in funding to match Ottawa’s investment in Ontario transit.
The agreement means that the province will contribute more than $4 billion to Toronto transit projects while the rest will go to transit projects in other municipalities.
“For the first time, we now have all three governments dedicated to building the Relief Line, SmartTrack, the Scarborough Subway Extension, waterfront transit, and the Eglinton East LRT,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon. “After years of delays and divisive debates, we are finally getting on with expanding our transit system, we are getting on with working together to build up our cities.”
The transit funding will go towards projects that were included in the first phase of the City of Toronto’s transit network plan, which covers the next 13 years.
In his statement, Tory said that the journey to find funding for those projects began in 2015 and is finally paying off now “due to the cooperation and mutual respect between the City, the province and the federal government.”
He said that he is particularly grateful to a number of Toronto-area Members of Parliament who pushed for the money to be distributed on the basis of transit ridership rather than population, a formula that means Toronto will receive a greater share of the funding than it would have otherwise.
“Today is good news for transit in Toronto and for all of our residents,” Tory said.
Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi had given provincial and territorial governments until the end of this month to sign bilateral agreements for the awarding of transit funding.
In a message posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Ward 22 Coun. Josh Matlow thanked the Liberal government for the investment and expressed hope that the money will go to the right projects.
“If Toronto’s mayor and city council actually invest in our city’s fact-based priorities, this partnership could be transformative for residents,” he wrote.
With files from The Canadian Press