Province backs Ford's transit plan

Premier and Mayor to announce the shifting of money from Transit City to new priorities

The city and province are both climbing aboard a new transportation deal that will be unveiled tomorrow morning.

TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed on March 30 that the provincial government, its transportation agency Metrolinx and the city are moving full steam ahead with the plan outlined by Mayor Rob Ford.

“We have an agreement that will see major transit expansion in the City of Toronto,” Stintz told the media at an impromptu press conference this afternoon. “It is a real win for both the city and the province and I am really excited about the announcement tomorrow.”

That announcement to take place at the TTC’s Wilson yards at 9 a.m. on March 31 will be to confirm the province is still committed to its original investment of about $8.4 billion.

The provincial cash will be spent on a fully underground and expanded Eglinton LRT and to turn the Scarborough RT into an above ground light rail transit route.

“The Eglinton Crosstown will be fully underground from Black Creek to Kennedy Road,” said Stintz.
Construction on Eglinton could start “immediately” as Metrolinx already has the boring machines.

Any leftover provincial money, up to a maximum of $650 million, could be diverted to help build a Sheppard subway from Downsview to Scarborough Town Centre. However, the city will be on the hook for just over $4 billion for Ford’s election vision of a Sheppard subway that will be paid for through a private-public partnership.

“We are looking to the private sector to fund the construction and pay back through development on the line.”
Sheppard subway construction depends on how quickly the funds can be secured.

Stintz said with Metrolinx, the city and province in agreement the plan doesn’t need council approval with some exceptions.

“There is no question we will need to come back to council when we have a plan for financing the Sheppard subway,” said councillor Stintz.

“We have already approved the environmental assessments and work has already started on Eglinton,” she said. “There will be new environmental assessments needed for the new portion underground from Laird to Kennedy.”

The province has been pushing Toronto to roll out the Presto fare system. The TTC had resisted that in the past, but Toronto maybe ready to play ball on that issue as that because that will also be part of tomorrow’s announcement.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Mar 30 2011 6:32 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto