Mayor John Tory says he believes Toronto voters will “exact a price” at the polls on any provincial party leader that isn’t willing to commit to funding the relief subway line.
Tory made the comment to reporters on Tuesday morning, less than 12 hours after city council passed a budget that freezes TTC fares for a year but does not include any new money to advance the long-discussed relief line past the initial planning stage, which is ongoing.
“In the wake of the budget passed yesterday I will be renewing and stepping up the pace of my advocacy to the provincial parties – all of them – to say that we need you in the context of an election soon to happen to step up now and say that you are going to be there for the City of Toronto to make sure that the public transit needs that we have will be met,” he said. “I am going to be pressing very hard with the leaders of all the parties. They are going to have to say yes or no. They are either going to provide the support to the TTC for regional transit needs or they are not. If they say no or are uncertain about that I think the voters will exact a price for that.”
The relief subway line would travel along Queen Street and Eastern Avenue before turning north at Carlaw Avenue and connecting with Line 2 on Danforth Avenue.
To date the province has provided $150 million in funding for planning and design work on the eight-stop line, however they have not yet committed to covering a portion of the estimated $6.8 billion price tag associated with its construction.
Speaking with reporters, Tory said that whoever is elected in June ought to commit to helping the city build the relief line and not just plan it.
TTC staff have long contended that the project is necessary to take some pressure off the Yonge line, which is expected to reach capacity by 2031.
“They have access to far more money than we do,” Tory said of the province. “We have property taxes and that is it. And they were never meant to pay for big transit projects.”
Tory has put pressure on province before
Tory’s comments on Tuesday are some of the strongest he has made since a series of news conferences last spring, in which he called on the province to commit to funding the relief line.
At the time, then Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca accused Tory of being disingenuous in his remarks.
“We are literally investing billions of dollars today. More than 70 per cent of all the transit investments that are occurring in the City of Toronto are flowing from Queen’s Park to help support transit,” Del Duca said at time. “To see that there continue to be demands for future projects when there is no confirmed city contribution for those projects is something that I believe crosses the line.”
Tory slams ‘ridiculous’ notion that project won’t benefit 905
At Tuesday’s news conference Tory said that he is steeping up his advocacy for the project in anticipation of a provincial election that is currently scheduled for June.
He said it is particularly important to him to dispel the “ridiculous” notion that funding the relief line would not be politically palatable among voters outside of Toronto, given that the city’s subway system serves a regional purpose.
“People don’t think about where those boundaries are when they are just trying to get to or from work. They just want to see their government step up and get this stuff done,” he said.
Staff have said that the relief line could be built by 2031, however in order for that to happen funding would have to be committed following the completion of initial planning work.