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Province approves Toronto’s LRT plan

The provincial government gave Toronto’s light-rail transit (LRT) expansion plan the green light Friday but Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli says he won’t approve the latest OneCity proposal for the TTC.

“[The LRT] train has already left the station,” Chiarelli said Friday. “Council has approved it. Teams are working on implementation, and the funding is available to do it. We need to get transit done. We need to get it done now.”

The $8.4-billion LRT plan is a revamping of the Transit City plan first put forward by former mayor David Miller. One of Mayor Rob Ford’s first acts of office was to axe it.

LRT Lines on Eglinton and Finch Avenue West are scheduled to be up and running by 2020. However, a TTC report released last month said that completion target is unrealistic and forecast the Eglinton Crosstown line running by 2022 or 2023.

The Sheppard Avenue East line, between Don Mills station and Morningside Avenue, is slated to be completed by 2018, the TTC says. Ford had wanted a subway on that stretch.

The Scarborough rapid transit line will also be replaced and extended to Sheppard Avenue. That work is slated to finish in 2019, according to the TTC.

Earlier this week, TTC Chair Karen Stintz and Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker pitched the OneCity transit plan, consisting of 175 kilometres of linked lines, including new subway construction. The bulk of the plan would have to be funded by the provincial and federal governments. It would also require property tax hikes.