Ford government breaks ground on Ontario Line

After almost three years, shovels have officially gone into the ground for the Ontario Line. Melissa Nakhavoly has details on the project and concerns from community groups.

Almost three years after first announcing it, the Ford government has officially broken ground on the Ontario Line.

Premier Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, Omar Alghabra, Federal Minister of Transport, and Toronto Mayor John Tory were on hand at Exhibition Place for the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

“For decades, governments of every stripe have been talking about the need for new subways in the GTA. They’ve been studying it forever. There’s been endless reports, endless committees, but finally, we’re the government that got it done,” said Ford. “Today, we’re delivering on our promise and getting shovels in the ground to begin construction on the new Ontario Line.”

The almost 16-kilometre, 15-stop Ontario Line was first unveiled by the PC government back in 2019, expanding on the city’s initial Relief Line proposal. When completed, the line will connect with 40 other transit routes, including GO train lines, TTC subway and streetcar stops and a new east-west light rail line that is currently being built.

Metrolinx has pegged the total cost of the project at almost $11 billion and its projected to be operational by 2030. CEO Phil Verster would not commit to the exact timeline on Sunday.

“In the world we’re in, post COVID, we’re seeing huge variations in terms of what gets bid,” explained Verster. “By the end of April we’re getting the first two or three of the commericial bids in …and once we see those we’ll be able to judge when the completion date will be.”

Last December, Toronto City Council approved a plan that could lead to seven years of road closures in the downtown core as part of the Ontario Line subway construction, including the complete shutdown of Queen Street between Victoria and Bay streets for four years starting in May 2023.

Tory acknowledged that the disruption to local businesses was a “huge concern” to him, noting they had learned from the difficulties experienced by businesses during the Eglinton LRT project.

“When you build a big project like this one …there’s going to be disruption, and we simply have to get it built,” said Tory. “It is a subject of huge concern to me that we make sure that the continuity of the businesses, especially in places like Queen and Yonge where we know the intersection is going to be closed for three to four years …we’re going to work with those businesses to make sure that they do receive some support.”

Ford echoed the mayor’s remarks by saying they have consulted with business owners and would be there to support them, but made no mention of financial supports.

“We’re going to be there to support them and work with them and encourage people to go there and make it as easy and get this job done as quickly as possible,” said Ford.

As part of the government’s recently announced 30-year, $82 billion plan for expanded public transit and highways across the GTA and Golden Horseshoe, it was revealed that the Ontario Line will eventually connect to Pearson airport. However, no details were provided.

While many elements of the plan have yet to be fully costed out, the province has committed $61 billion for public transit over the first 10 years.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today