TORONTO, Ont. – Mayor Rob Ford may have declared Transit City dead, but a portion of it may live to see the day. Questions about how to fund both subways and an LRT remain, however, as TTC officials and Metrolinx work with Ford and City Hall on a compromise to save the project.
Since all the Transit City funds have been promised to go towards building subways, some councillors are wondering how the city will come up with the money to work on the Eglinton LRT.
“The only way you can raise that money is by raising taxes, but we have a mayor who says ‘we’re gonna lower your taxes,'” Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker told 680News. “It just financially is impossible to do.”
“If we need an an extra billion dollars, we have to increase everybody’s taxes by $200 per home over the next five years – just to get a billion dollars.”
Meanwhile, deputy mayor Doug Holyday believes all would be possible with a little help from Queen’s Park.
“I’d like to just see what the results of the negotiations are, and how much the province is willing to help us work this problem out,” he said.
“I think that if the partners were aware as to the desires of Torontonians, they would in fact step forward and really look seriously at assisting us in terms of the resources that are needed,” agreed Councillor Michael Thompson.
The province had planned to put $8 million towards Transit City, but mayor Ford has since said he wants to see more than $7 billion of those funds used on building two subway lines in Scarborough, resulting in little left over for the Eglinton LRT.
Newly appointed TTC chair Karen Stintz refused to discuss the compromise, but did clarify a few facts.
“Funding for Eglinton doesn’t begin to flow until 2015, so while it remains a priority line for the province, the funding for that line actually doesn’t become available until much later on,” Stintz told 680News.
She said elements of the Eglinton line will live, but the original Transit City plan is still dead.
There are reports that a larger section of the crosstown line would go underground, at a premium cost to the city. Plans could be ready by the end of the month.