Province details plans to alter four major transit projects in Toronto
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:07PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 27, 2019 4:35PM EDT
The provincial government has plans to alter the design and execution of four major transit projects in Toronto, according to newly published documents.
The documents, which were posted to the city’s website on Tuesday, provide insight into the Ontario government’s plans to upload Toronto’s subway network, noting that the costs for two of the projects has “significantly increased.”
The letters were addressed to city manager Chris Murray and TTC CEO Rick Leary and are from Deputy Minister of Transportation Shelley Tapp and the province’s special adviser for “transit upload,” Michael Lindsay.
Proposed alterations are detailed for the Scarborough, Yonge and Eglinton West extensions, as well as the relief line, in the letters.
The letters also state that the city’s preliminary costs for the relief line and the Scarborough subway extension have “significantly increased to nearly double or greater than the figures released publicly.”
“The province is actively considering significant financial commitments towards these critical expansion projects,” one of the letters reads. “With major financial commitments by the government of Ontario will come the expectation that the province will have a leadership role in the planning, design and delivery of these projects.”
However, Toronto Mayor John Tory told CP24 that the province stating that the cost to these projects increasing is “inconsistent with the facts.”
“Contrary to what people talked about in some quarters, there is not a soaring cost estimate,” he said. “There was some discussion of that said at the meeting but the province has clarified that is not true.”
These letters were written on the heels of a meeting between provincial and municipal officials held on March 8.
“It is evident that we are not aligned on key issues related to the design/delivery of priority expansion projects,” a letter reads. “It is also clear that this lack of alignment is likely to persist until responsibility for the design/delivery of these projects is transferred to the province.”
A look at how the province’s plans differ from the city’s efforts:
Scarborough subway extension
- City council has approved a one-stop subway extension of Line 2, terminating at Scarborough Town Centre.
- The province wants to build a three-stop extension of Line 2, continuing north from a stop at Scarborough Town Centre.
Eglinton West extension
- City council and the TTC prefer a surface-level extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line, according to the letters.
- The province has proposed a significant portion of this extension be built underground.
Relief line south
- The TTC previously had plans to have the relief line use “existing technology and traditional delivery methods” currently being used on Line2, according to the letters.
- However, the province now says city council and the TTC are contemplating using a different technology for the project than the one currently being used on Line 2.
Yonge North subway extension
- The province wants the progress of this project to run in-parallel with design work related to the relief line so the “in-service date for the extension is fast-tracked to the greatest extent possible.”
Chief communications officer with the City of Toronto Brad Ross said officials from both governments are continuing to have discussions.
“The city and TTC continue to have discussions with the province based on the terms of reference agreed to last month,” he said. “No decisions on uploading the subway, or what that entails, have been made.”
Tory said the province reiterating these plans already expressed in their campaign is them “playing politics.”
“I think people expect us to work together, get the best results we can together, which from our stand point would be that we leave the subway in the ownership of the City of Toronto and we continue to operate it with increased financial support from them (the province) – that’s our position,” he said.
“We have to try to work together.”
Tory and Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York city councillor Joe Cressy said their main concern is delays caused by the province interfering with transit plans in the city.
“Any changes you make to transit lines are going to make a delay, potentially, unless you can find a way to make the changes not fall off your timetable,” Tory said. “We cannot afford to not move ahead with our transit as rapidly and on the same timetable.”
“What this amounts to is the tearing up of our current transit plans with these four new projects involving a new tunnel on Eglinton West, where the city has already said it’s unnecessary – once again throwing all the transit in Scarborough through another loop,” Cressy said. “What this is a recipe for is frankly four more years of nothing getting built.”
Ross said public consultations regarding the matter will be held in the “coming weeks.”
In the letters, the province said they are seeking a meeting during the first week of April to “provide further details regarding the province’s preferred approach at designing and implementing our priority transit expansion projects.”