Toronto council seeks clarity on Ford gov't transit plan before investing in revamped projects
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, April 17, 2019 8:04AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 17, 2019 7:47PM EDT
City council has voted in favour of conducting an assessment on the province’s proposed changes to the relief subway line and the Line 2 extension before deciding whether or not to contribute billions of dollars to the projects.
In a 25-1 vote on Wednesday morning, council voted in favour of directing City Manager Chris Murray to inform the province that it will “consider endorsing” its revised vision for transit in Toronto but only after the completion of an assessment that will seek clarity on 61 unanswered questions.
Many of those questions, which were included in a 20-page staff report compiled by Murray, concern relatively basic issues such as the level of design work used in preparing the province’s cost estimates and what sort of ridership projections exist for the revised lines.
“It is not as if we are writing a cheque to somebody,” Mayor John Tory told reporters on Tuesday, as council first began debating the item. “We are merely reaffirming something that has been said for a very long time which is that the priority project for the majority of this (federal) money is a relief line,” he said. “We always said it was the relief line as we conceived of it. There is now a second proposal and we have said well we should go to the table and find out if this is in fact someway better than the relief line we proposed.”
The changes proposed by the province would see the city’s one-stop extension of the Line 2 subway increased to three stops and the relief line doubled in length and delivered using alternate technology.
The motion approved by council on Wednesday states that the city will consider allocating $3.151 billion to the province’s reimagined relief line and $660 million to the three-stop subway extension to Scarborough but only upon the completion of an assessment of the changes and the matter being brought back for further debate.
In the interim, staff have been directed to proceed with work on the council-approved plans for the Line 2 subway extension and the relief line.
According to the report from Murray, $182.5 million has been spent on work on the Line 2 subway extension and another $15.4 million has been spent on work on the relief line so far. The report also notes that between $7.5 and $10 million is being spent on the Scarborough subway project each month with another $3.6 million being spent on the city’s relief line plan.
“In order to minimize throw-away costs associated with the Line 2 East Extension and the Relief Line South, the city and TTC will be seeking the province's support to undertake an expedited assessment of the implications of a change at this stage in the project lifecycle,” the report says. “The city and TTC have been requesting the province to provide further details on their proposals since last year, including more recently through ongoing correspondence and meetings under the Terms of Reference for the Realignment of Transit Responsibilities.”