Liberals say they're not interested in taking over TTC right now
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:13PM EST
TORONTO - The governing Liberals insist they have no interest in taking control of the Toronto Transit Commission right now.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who is trying to trim an $18.7-billion deficit, denied Tuesday there were any plans to place the TTC under provincial control.
"I think what's important is that at the end of the day, the province and the city work together in the best interest of taxpayers, of ratepayers and the users of the service," he said.
A senior government source confirmed that the city floated the idea in its discussions with the province, but said it's not part of the government's plan, which is focused on building transit to get more people moving.
A spokeswoman for Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne, who wasn't available for comment Tuesday, said the province isn't considering uploading the TTC "at this time."
"We want progress on transit, not a discussion of governance," spokeswoman Kelly Baker said in an email.
The TTC and Metrolinx, the Ontario-funded transit agency, are in negotiations over billions of dollars the province has committed to transit in Toronto.
The funds on the table include $8 billion for expansion funding and $3.5 billion for initiatives including the Spadina subway extension, revitalization of Union Station and money for replacement streetcars, Baker said.
But those plans have hit a major roadblock because Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who promised to cut costs at city hall, has vowed to build subways instead of light rail.
However, the $8.15-billion Transit City project is almost completely funded by the province, which wants Toronto's 44-member council to weigh in on whether light rail should be scrapped.
Ontario is covering almost all the capital costs for the four light-rail lines, while the federal government is funding one-third of the $950-million Sheppard LRT.
The Ontario Liberals, who are heading into an election next October deep in red ink, have already spent about $130 million on preliminary work and signed contracts worth $1.3 billion.
They've made it clear that they won't pick up the tab for cancelling the project, but the Liberals may have to play by Ford's rules.
Polls have suggested that Premier Dalton McGuinty would have a hard time hanging on to his job, while Ford defeated McGuinty's former right-hand man George Smitherman by almost 100,000 votes in the mayoral race.