Critics on city council are slamming a revised transit plan worth more than $12 billion, claiming it neglects the needs of under-served transit users and its subway financing blueprint won’t work.
“Frankly, this deal is nothing but a slap in Scarborough’s face,” Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38) said in a statement.
Ford and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty unveiled the plan for Toronto transit Thursday morning at the Wilson subway complex car house. The province will pay $8.4 billion to fund the Eglinton crosstown line — a 25-kilometre, 26-stop underground route that will run from Black Creek to Kennedy Road and will then connect to the Scarborough RT.
McGuinty said 130 LRT cars built in Thunder Bay will be purchased and the regional PRESTO fare system will be adopted at the TTC.
Ford said he has followed through on his promise to taxpayers.
“[The new transit plan] will make subways and underground RT (rapid transit) the backbone of Toronto’s transit network,” he said.
“I said I was going to build subways. With the premier’s help we’re going to do that.”
The mayor’s $4 billion, 14km and nine-stop Sheppard subway expansion west to Downsview and east to Scarborough Centre will happen, he said. The province is expected to kick in some money, but the mayor will have to figure out a way to fund it, most likely through a public-private partnership that would increase condo development along Sheppard. Ford also plans to urge the federal government to follow through on transit funding after the election.
“What we would be doing is looking to the private sector to help us fund the construction and then pay back through development on the line,” TTC Chair Karen Stinz said.
Downtown councillor Adam Vaughan doesn’t believe that financing plan will work.
“Do the math. You’re talking CityPlace times 10 along Sheppard,” he said. “Those neighbourhoods are going to have to build … condominiums on every square inch of Sheppard just to pay for [the subway extension].”
De Baeremaeker and Coun. Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8) have come out strongly against this provincial-municipal transit deal.
“Our communities have been underserved for far too long. Now, when we are on the verge of putting a shovel in the ground on Sheppard, they cancel the whole thing and tell us to wait another ten years,” De Baeremaeker said.
Former mayor David Miller’s Transit City plan included the LRT lines for Finch and Sheppard and the province had agreed to fund the light-rail projects. Ford axed the plan when he took office.
“We will make major improvements to bus service along Finch Avenue West until we can introduce rapid transit there as well,” Ford said.
Coun. Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8) is calling on the mayor to hold public consultations with affected communities and hold a vote on the plan in council.
“This is simply unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “A plan that moves billions of dollars around the City without any public consultation makes a mockery of Council and is a complete disservice to the citizens we are meant to represent.”
Ford said the next steps will be studying costs, creating a financing plan and project timeline. Once the TTC approves the report it will be taken to council “at the appropriate time.”
Ford and McGuinty’s transit funding announcement comes a day after the province made the TTC an essential service, stripping transit workers of their right to strike.