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Ontario Line would overlap with less than three kilometres of relief line: report
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019 10:41AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 23, 2019 5:32PM EDT
Mayor John Tory says that he is withholding judgement on the revamped vision for the relief subway line while city officials work to determine whether claims from Premier Doug Ford’s government that it can be built quicker and serve more people are “creditable and verifiable.”
Tory made the comment to reporters on Tuesday morning after the Toronto Star published a story suggesting that the planned route for the Ford government’s Ontario Line project will deviate from the city’s planned relief line route more than previously thought.
The province initially said that its Ontario Line project would more or less follow the 7.4-kilometre route planned for the relief line while going further east to connect with the Ontario Science Centre and further west to connect with Ontario Place.
An initial business case for the 15.5 kilometre line obtained by the newspaper, however, suggests less overlap with the relief line than once thought.
The document reportedly says that less than three kilometres of the route for the Ontario Line will overlap with the route for the relief subway line, which is at a much more advanced stage of planning – 15 per cent compared to less than two per cent. .
While the document still says that the line could be built by 2027, some fear that having to start anew on many elements of the design and planning work for the project could push that timeline back considerably.
“The business case as I understand it claims that it going to be done faster so what we need to get our experts in the public service to analyze is whether that is a reasonable claim and are the other aspects of the proposal otherwise acceptable to the city in the context of moving people and servicing communities,” Tory said following a youth employment announcement on Tuesday morning. “I think the responsible thing for me to do as the mayor of the city is to await the analysis of our officials on this business case but believe me I will be looking for not just anybody’s estimated timetable but I will be looking for officials and experts to say ‘Yes that timeline is reasonable’ because delay is the greatest enemy we have right now.”
The relief subway line was supposed to begin at Osgoode Station and then travel east along Queen Street and Eastern Avenue before heading north along Carlaw Avenue and connecting with Line 2 at Pape Station.
The Toronto Star reports that the initial business case for the Ontario Line suggests that the line would instead head further south and roughly follow the path of GO Transit’s Lakeshore East corridor, where it would be built above ground until just north of Gerrard Street. Rather than planned stops at Sumach and Adelaide streets and Carlaw Avenue and Dundas Street it would have stops in Corktown and Leslieville before heading north on Carlaw Avenue to Pape Station.
Speaking with reporters, Tory said that there have been very detailed discussions taking place all summer with regards to public transit in the City of Toronto.
He said that his main priority is to ensure that whatever route is ultimately chosen is one that can be built “as soon as possible.”
“The key I would apply to this as one member of council and the mayor is can we get this done in a timely fashion? That means at least as fast as the plan the city has in place to build a relief line if not faster,” he said.
In January, Tory announced $325 million in funding over two years to accelerate work on the relief subway line with a goal of having it completed by 2029.
City officials have since confirmed that they have halted any planning or design work on the relief line project that could not also be used for the province’s Ontario Line proposal, which was made public in April.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, NDP Transit critic Jessica Bell said that the Ford governments “back-of-the-napkin scheme” could see the line delayed “by years, or even decades.”
“I’m calling for Doug Ford’s secret subway plans to be released publicly, immediately. Not just the lines he drew on a piece of paper for a media event — actual planning documents,” she said. “As much as Doug Ford might like to be, he isn’t the Mayor of Toronto. He owes the City of Toronto and the people of Toronto the answers to dozens of questions they submitted months ago.”
In a press release issued late on Tuesday afternoon, Tory said that he met with Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and Associate Transportation Minister Kinga Surma earlier in the day and stressed that "any proposal to replace the Relief Line plan must stand up to scrutiny of professional city and TTC staff." The meeting was previously scheduled.
Officials are expected to provide city council with an update on the province's transit proposal in October.