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Ontario government to introduce legislation for TTC subway upload Thursday

Last Updated May 1, 2019 at 7:01 pm EDT

The Ford government will introduce legislation Thursday to upload responsibility for the TTC subway expansions and new builds to the province.

The Getting Ontario Moving Act would “make sure new subways lines are built quickly to get Ontarians to work faster, to home sooner, and to family and friends quicker,” according to a release from the province on Wednesday.

“We found that the system isn’t working, it’s obvious it hasn’t been working, it doesn’t matter who has been the mayor or councillor of the city of Toronto, it just doesn’t’ work anymore Transit expansion is not getting built in Toronto,” Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said at a speaking engagement at the Toronto Region Board of Trade on Wednesday morning.

He said by using lighter trains and lighter rails, the province will be able to get transit projects finished earlier.

The Ontario Line – previously known as the the downtown relief line — will be completed by 2027 which would be two years earlier than projected by the city, and be double the size of the original project, Yurek said.

However, the project will cost $3.7-billion more.

He added that the project will utilize the existing information already collected by city staff for the downtown relief line and use that as “the spine” of the Ontario Line.

A map of the new Ontario Line proposed in the PC government’s 2019 budget. HANDOUT/PC government budget

 

The government has already revealed their $28.5-billion transit plan for the city.

That plan also includes such projects as the three-stop Scarborough subway expansion, expanding the Eglinton LRT westbound through Etobicoke to Pearson Airport and expand Line 1 on Yonge Street up to Richmond Hill.

When it comes to funding these new and expanding lines, Yurek said the government is already in talks with the private sector to help with the cost of building future transit – such as selling air rights above the stations.

The transit upload has been a bone of contention between the city and the province, with some councillors claiming Yurek’s announcement on Wednesday proves the Ontario government has no interest in working together.

WATCH: Mayor Tory, while speaking to the media Wednesday, had strong words about the provincial government


“The Ford government is introducing legislation to upload our city’s subway, with its land & air rights, even while Toronto “negotiates” at a table and Mayor Tory says he still doesn’t know what upload means. Queen’s Park has been disingenuous & our city’s leadership foolish,” coun. Josh Matlow tweeted.

“The mayor and council, knowing that Ford (based on his own words) would act on this without agreement from Toronto, should never have voted to “negotiate” a terms of agreement with a bad faith actor, even one holding most of the cards. I still believe there’s a path forward.”

Councillors Joe Cressy, Kristyn  Wong-Tam and Mike Layton have also called an emergency transit town hall for Wednesday night to discuss the provincial legislation.

While talks remain ongoing between officials from both sides, councillors have outlined over 60 questions they want answered about Ontario’s plans for the future of Toronto subway in order to consider endorsing the province’s plan.

Yurek said the current goal of the upload would mean the province will “own the network, own the rails, own the station and will plan, develop and grow the system, as well as maintain the maintenance.”

“Our hope, at the end of the day, is that the TTC will continue to operate the day-to-day operations and, of course, keep the fare box in order to continue to system.”

The premier has said the TTC has done well in operating the system but he believes the province can build subways more efficiently. The province could use its broader regional transit planning powers and fiscal flexibility to deliver the projects, he has said.


Related stories:

Toronto councillors want more answers from province on transit plan

Longer, quicker but costlier downtown relief line part of Ford’s $28B transit plan

City council will continue subway upload talks after province lays out transit plans