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Mayoral hopeful Soknacki vows to go back to Scarborough LRT plan

Candidate David Soknacki says if he wins the Toronto mayoral race in October he’ll reverse the decision to build a Scarborough subway and go back to light-rail transit (LRT).

The former city councillor for Scarborough East and budget chief under former mayor David Miller said he’d lead council to return to the plan to build an LRT, “the line that the people of Scarborough need and that they deserve.”

Last October, Toronto city council, led by Mayor Rob Ford, voted 24-20 in favour of the Scarborough subway extension after it had approved four LRT lines in 2012.

“I will lead council to cancel Ford’s’ one-billion dollar tax increase,” Soknacki said Tuesday during a news conference at the St. Lawrence West station.

He said the Scarborough LRT would have seven stops, be accessible to far more people and cost $1.8 billion that’s already paid for by the province unlike a subway extension which would have only three stops, cost more than $3.5 billion, require a 1.6 per cent hike in residential property taxes over three years as well as add to the city’s debt and take a decade to build.

Soknacki said the mayor went back on his campaign promise not to raise property taxes by making them pay for his subway extension with the billion tax increase. He also said TTC chair Karen Stintz, who has said she wants to run for mayor, reversed her position “turning her back on the TTC’s priority and the recommendations of its own staff.”

Last September, the federal government said it would provide $660 million in funding for the Scarborough subway, which the Ontario government says would cost about $3 billion to build.

Earlier that month, the Ontario government said it would cover $1.4 billion to build two stops at Lawrence and Scarborough City Centre stations.

The provincial money would only fund two-thirds of what city council approved in the summer. But with the federal government’s financial help, the third stop to McCowan Station would be possible.

During the news conference, Soknacki was flanked by councillors Gloria Lindsay Luby, who represents Etobicoke Centre, and Paul Ainslie, who represents Scarborough East and supports an LRT.

Lindsay Luby said Soknacki got along with everyone during his time on city council and that “he’s a self-made businessman. Daddy didn’t give him a business to run,” referring to the Ford brothers who inherited the family business, Deco Labels and Tags.

Twenty-two other candidates are vying to run the city, including Ford who says he looks forward to challenging Soknacki in the upcoming debates.

The municipal election will be held on Oct. 27.

Would you like to see the Scarborough subway put to a referendum? Share your thoughts in the comments.