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City council will continue subway upload talks after province lays out transit plans

Last Updated Mar 27, 2019 at 7:10 pm EDT

Toronto city council has voted in favour of continuing talks with the province about a possible subway upload after the province sent two letters this week outlining plans to significantly change four major Toronto transit projects.

The letters dated March 22 and 26, and posted on the City of Toronto’s website, detail the discrepancies between the already-approved plan by the City and the province’s wishes for priority transit projects should they take control.

The province said, “this lack of alignment is likely to persist until responsibility for the design/delivery of these projects is transferred to the province.”

Mayor John Tory spoke before the council meeting on Wednesday morning and said he is concerned that any changes to the TTC’s current transit plan risks delaying the already-overdue transit that is required in this city, but adds to get transit built, they have to work with other governments.

Some councillors called on the city to abandon the talks but council voted 23 to 3 to keep the conversations going.

“This notion that we are going to walk away from the table and instead have protests at Queen’s Park is certainly not going to result, in my view, in us getting these issues addressed,” said Tory.

Coun. Joe Cressy disagrees, saying protests have worked in the past and cited the autism file and green belt issue as examples.

“Doug Ford has proven time and time again that he’s not willing to listen to simply the votes of city council and that’s why it’s critical that we build on the lessons we’ve learned in other situations and stand up and defend our integrated transit system,” he said.

Tory said he was surprised by the first letter and added he didn’t appreciate the province’s tone but said, “the letters didn’t replace the process where we are sitting at a table together, having discussions that have thus far been constructive.”

Tory saw the letter before his meeting with Premier Doug Ford last week, where he said transit was a topic of discussion.

He said he has been clear that any provincial upload needs to be in the best interest of the people of Toronto and the employees of the TTC.

Council also voted in favour of launching a public information campaign about the city’s desire to maintain control of the TTC.