Mayoral candidate John Tory unveiled his transit plan on Tuesday — a 53-kilometre regional rail project with 22 new stations, connecting Pearson airport down to Union Station and then up to Scarborough and Unionville.
Tory said the plan is to build the line on 95 per cent existing tracks within seven years.
The cost of the line, which Tory is calling the SmartTrack, would be $8-billion split three ways among the city, the province and federal government.
John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan
to view a map of the proposed routes on your mobile device. Click here
Tory touted the plan as one that will provide “real relief” sooner than 2031 and a boon for the economy.
“That’s a big part of what the mayor’s job is all about, to facilitate people getting to jobs and jobs getting to people,” Tory said at a news conference.
Tory added that he won’t raise taxes to pay for the city’s share. Instead, he plans to use what he calls “tax-increment financing” that would dedicate a portion of increased tax revenue from development along the line in the future.
Tory’s transit plan, called the One Toronto Transit Plan, also continues to support the Scarborough subway expansion.
The mayoral candidate is confident the plan will appeal to premier candidates, all of whom have included a downtown relief line in their transit platforms.
“I think they’re going to look at this and say ‘This makes too much sense not to get on with right away as a means of providing quick relief,” Tory said.
” … [It] reaches big parts of the city that are not reached by a downtown-only solution.”
Rival candidates were quick to react to the plan
Mayoral candidate rival David Soknacki took to Twitter.
Stintz echoed Soknacki’s concerns about funding and the necessary approvals.
“I’m not really sure what John Tory’s announcing, because it’s not within the city’s jurisdiction,” Stintz told reporters.
She also questioned whether the project could be done in the seven-year time frame Tory proposed, given the need for environmental assessments and the enormity of the project.
Tory says environmental assessments won’t be necessary because the tracks already exist.
“It just reflects the fact that he doesn’t know how city hall works, and the processes city hall has to use to get these infrastructure projects built,” said Stintz.
“I find the whole policy proposal just a little bit strange, given that it’s financially not feasible, the timelines are unrealistic, and also he indicated he was committed to the downtown relief line … he seems to have abandoned that pledge.”
Ahead of his announcement, Tory held a webcast of his bus ride with three commuters from Humber College on Lake Shore Boulevard to the downtown convention centre. The three west-end commuters shared their stories about how tough it is to drive on the Gardiner Expressway or use public transit.
“It’s pretty jammed up,” Tory said during the bus ride into downtown.
Andray Domise, who is a candidate running in Ward 2, said it’s more difficult to get on the Gardiner and takes GO Transit from Mimico or the packed streetcars to his workplace near Roy Thomson Hall. He described his frustration and being “cheek by jowl by the time we get to downtown” and waiting for two to three streetcars on the commute home.
Watch the video of the bus ride below:
With files from Kevin Misener