Revised plan for Scarborough subway would scrap two stations
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 20, 2016 3:30PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 20, 2016 5:22PM EST
A revised plan for the Scarborough subway extension would scrap two of the three planned stations and reinvest the estimated $1 billion in savings in extending the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
A source tells CP24 that the plan calls for a route running directly from Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre along McCowan Road, eliminating previously planned stations for Sheppard and Lawrence avenues.
According to the source, the move would shave about $1 billion off the cost of the $3.5-billion project, money which could then be directed to extending the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto.
The idea is expected to be detailed in full as part of a report that will be released alongside the agenda for next week’s executive committee meeting tomorrow.
Speaking with reporters following a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board on Wednesday, Mayor John Tory refused to discuss the details of the new plan but stressed that it will ultimately provide Scarborough residents with more access to rapid transit and not less.
“I think you can confirm that the proposal that will be discussed tomorrow will result in considerably more transit for Scarborough for about the same amount of money,” he said. “I have said all along that what is really important is that Scarborough is the only former city (of Metro Toronto) that does not have a subway connection from its core to rapid transit. That has less to do with the number of stations and more to do with the fact that there just isn’t a connection.”
The debate over the Scarborough subway extension has been among the most polarizing debates at city hall in recent years.
Initially council approved a seven-stop, provincially-funded light rail transit line for the borough but when former Mayor Rob Ford assumed office he declared the idea dead and eventually convinced council to support the three-stop extension of the Bloor Danforth line into Scarborough.
Then when Tory assumed office a number of councillors called on him to revisit that decision but he refused, telling the Toronto Sun in June that “it would be going back to the old Toronto way to say we’re going to re-debate it, re-decide it, revisit it, re-discuss it.”
Asked about the apparent shift on Wednesday, Tory said it is about providing more transit and using taxpayer money more efficiently.
“My objective was always to make sure we use the best available planning evidence and that we try to reach a consensus on what is best,” he said. “I will have more to say on this tomorrow, but the end result I think will be to produce more transit for Scarborough than was contemplated before, more efficient use of the taxpayers’ money and something that I think will draw a broader consensus among the decision makers at city council.”
The Toronto Star is reporting that the changes to the Scarborough subway extension route could reduce the 12-year timeline for the project by a couple of years, as it would eliminate the need for about a kilometre of tunneling not to mention the construction of two stations.
The Star is also reporting that other levels of government are on board with the changes to the project.
Discussing the new plan with CP24 on Wednesday, Scarborough councillor Norm Kelly said it is potentially a positive development, particularly with regards to the LRT connection to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus.
“There are two potential centres of growth in Scarborough. One is the Scarborough Town Centre and the other is the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. Those two centres of growth are going to be reinforced by this transit program,” he said.
The province of Ontario is expected to pay about $1.5 billion of the cost for the Scarborough subway extension while the federal government is expected to contribute $660 million. The city had planned to finance its share of the cost through a property tax levy, which is being phased in over a three-year period.