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City council to consider endorsing Ontario Line after city review

Last Updated Apr 17, 2019 at 12:32 pm EDT

A map of the new Ontario Line proposed in the PC government's 2019 budget. HANDOUT/PC government budget

City council has amended a report from City Staff regarding the re-allocation of $3.15 billion in federal funding to say they would consider endorsing the Ontario Line rather than the proposed downtown relief line, after a city review.

The previous staff report said the city would endorse the province’s priorities if their questions were answered in discussion with the province.

The staff recommendations come on the heels of the provincial budget which outlines a $28 billion transit plan that added several stops to the relief line.

The report, which council has yet to vote on, says an assessment of the proposed changes would include cost analysis, scheduling, and operational and network impacts. The commercial and technical merits of the changes would also be examined.

Mayor John Tory reiterated the re-allocation of funds would be contingent upon having the assessment completed.

When asked, Tory called the proposed Ontario Line “fundamentally different” from the city proposed downtown relief line. “There are huge numbers of unanswered questions about the operational details, about governance, about financing, about technology, and those must be answered.”

“We have said ‘we should go to the table and find out if this is in some way better than the relief line we proposed.’ Is the technology better? Is it going to be cheaper,” Tory adds.

The Relief Line South project has already used $15.4 million in funds and continued work will cost around $3.6 million per month. But, since the province’s design uses a different technology, build and contracting methodology, staff are recommending the city ask for reimbursement for any sunk costs.

They also propose asking the province for support to complete an assessment on the implications of a change at this stage in the project.

Staff also note to discuss with the province the impact of the $1.1 billion lost in gas tax funding over the next 10 years. Toronto had planned to pour $585 million into the TTC state of good repair program.

The provincial budget announcement Tory said he was “incredibly disappointed” in the broken campaign promise. He added Tuesday they will be discussing with the province about what other plans they might have to make up for that money.