Tory calls on province to help fund downtown relief line
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Monday, April 3, 2017 4:12PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 3, 2017 4:57PM EDT
Mayor John Tory stood on the subway platform at Bloor-Yonge Station Monday, telling reporters it’s time the provincial government step-up with funding for a downtown subway relief line.
Tory and other transit officials used the busy backdrop of the subway’s main transit hub to point out that if a relief line isn’t built by 2031, the Bloor-Yonge Station will be overrun and unable to handle passenger volume even with improved signal timing, more trains, buses and streetcars, and better tracks..
“At peak times – in our rush hours – (Bloor-Yonge Station) is overcrowded and over its capacity,” he said. “It’s packed every day of the week.”
The downtown relief line, which is expected to cost approximately $6.8 billion, would run from Pape Station south adjacent to Line 2 bending west along Queen Street ending at city hall. The relief line would host a total of seven stops.
Both Tory and TTC CEO Andy Byford said they agree that the downtown relief line should be their top priority before there is any further conversation about extending Line 1 north to Richmond Hill.
“The relief line is the number one priority for the TTC – whatever we do, we must provide relief for the interchange at Yonge and Bloor,” Byford said. “There is no point in adding more people to the Yonge line from the north until and unless the relief line is in place.”
Tory said he is asking for the province to meet them halfway.
“We believe it is time to stop talking about the relief line and instead start paying for the relief line so that financial certainty can give us the ability to get ahead with all of these plans because this line is such an important part of our priority list of plans,” Tory said.
However, Transport Minister Steven Del Duca said the Liberal party has already invested more than any other provincial government has in the past.
“We have always been a strong partner with Toronto city council – this includes with Mayor Tory and his councilors – because we understand how important transit is to the daily life of Toronto residents,” Del Duca said.
He said that last June the provincial government announced that they were providing $150 million so that Metrolinx, Toronto and the TTC could work collaboratively to start planning the downtown relief line project.
“This is $150 million that is already being used to get this project shovel-ready,” he said. “What the mayor refused to acknowledge is that while previous federal governments chose not to invest, Toronto has always had a stable provincial funding partner at the table providing Toronto with billions for important local transit projects.”
Tory said now that the Liberal government rejected his plan to implement road tolls in the city, the government needs to come up with a different way to provide funding to the city.
For now, the city will wait to see what the Liberal’s 2017 budget will have in store for them. The budget is expected to be tabled later this month.