Scarborough subway: Ontario Liberals propose shorter route for extension
The Ontario Liberals have announced a scaled-back plan for a subway extension into Scarborough to replace the dated rapid transit line.
Transportation Minister Glen Murray said Wednesday at a news conference that the provincial Liberals are pledging $1.4 billion to extend the Bloor-Danforth line north and east, from Kennedy station to Scarborough City Centre.
At 6.4 kilometres in length, the proposed subway extension is a shortened version of a plan conditionally approved by Toronto council back in July, which put the subway’s final terminal at Sheppard Ave. East. The newly proposed route would also feature sharper turns, something the TTC has rejected in the past, and it would require the shuttering of the Scarborough RT during construction.
Murray said Wednesday that without funding commitments from the city or the federal government, the province is charging ahead with a plan of their own
“We are not asking for any money from the city, we are not asking for any money from the federal government,” Murray said. “Time to end the conversation and start delivering the results.”
He added: “I think that people in Scarborough want their subway; they’re tired of talk.”
Murray had strong words for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has championed a subway for Scarborough.
“We’ve been waiting patiently. The mayor had been mayor now for almost a full term -- he hasn’t delivered five cents for a subway yet,” Murray said.
Toronto council voted in July to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line into Scarborough instead of moving ahead with a previous plan to build a seven-stop light-rail line to replace the aging Scarborough RT.
A city manager’s report indicated that a subway extension to Sheppard would cost an additional $1.1 billion. To cover that additional cost, the report recommended a property tax hike of 1.1 per cent to 2.4 per cent over three years, starting in 2015. The report also called for a minimum tax increase of 0.5 per cent in 2014.
After council’s vote, TTC Chair Karen Stintz said the money pledged by the province fell short by $400 million.
Murray also criticized Ottawa, saying he’s been unsuccessful in repeated attempts to talk transit funding with his federal counterpart, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.
Despite this, Murray said he is “very open” to funding commitments from other levels of government.
“They can write a cheque, and we can add another subway station,” he said.
Murray also said while the province would build the extension, he would prefer that the TTC ultimately operate the subway into Scarborough.
In a statement, Ford said he campaigned on extending the Bloor-Danforth line to Scarborough Town Centre, and thanked the province for “helping me deliver on that promise.”
“This is great news and a huge victory for all of us. Scarborough will finally get its subway,” he said.
TTC Chair Karen Stintz was far less pleased with Wednesday’s announcement.
“We made a decision, we said we’d contribute to a subway, the minister has taken a different approach,” Stintz told CTV Toronto.
“(Murray) has decided he wants a different subway, a different route, a different plan.”
In a brief email, a spokesperson for Federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel called Murray’s announcements “counterproductive,” and added the government will respond to a letter from Ford regarding the Scarborough subway “in due course.”
Ontario’s opposition parties also took issue with Murray’s announcement, accusing the Liberals of changing their plans to suit their own political ends.
“After telling the people of Scarborough they would finally have world-class transit, Glen Murray has shown that this was nothing more than a tactic to buy votes during the byelections,” MPP Doug Holyday told The Canadian Press.
“Every time Minister Murray holds a press conference, people in Scarborough get a different promise,” said NDP MPP Rosario Marchese.
"I think people in Scarborough and across Ontario are wondering if the Liberals are more interested in getting people moving or trying to score political points."
Council passed a motion at the July vote saying the provincial and federal government have to decide whether they will provide funding for the Scarborough subway by Sept. 30.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson and with files from The Canadian Press