Mayor John Tory and the province appear to have come to a deal when it comes to the future of Toronto’s transit system.
Last week, sources told the Toronto Star that the Ford government and the City of Toronto were negotiating a deal that would see the province abandon its push to take ownership of the subway, if the city endorses the Ontario Line – which would run from the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place and replace the planned Downtown Relief Line.
“I sought re-election so that I could carry through with the job I had started, to work tirelessly, with other governments, to actually get things done for Toronto,” Tory said in a statement on Wednesday.
“After years of delay, political squabbling, and debates, I committed myself to working with other levels of government to get transit built.”
The agreement, which still needs approval by city council, would secure an almost $30-billion investment in new transit for the city.
“Today is a good day for our TTC and the future of transit in the City of Toronto,” TTC Chair Jaye Robinson said in a statement.
“While the process that we’ve taken to get here has been less than ideal, what matters is that we’ve secured the outcome that Toronto needs – more transit expansion and dedicated investment in the existing TTC network.”
Premier Doug Ford announced the province’s plan for the Ontario Line in April, instead of the Downtown Relief Line that the city had been planning. The Ford government is reportedly seeking the change so that $3.2-billion in federal funding can be reallocated to the Ontario Line.
The premier says the Ontario Line is a “critical project” for the city and that he looks forward to continuing “productive discussions” with the city.
“I welcome today’s announcement from Mayor Tory and the City of Toronto to move forward with a new and ground-breaking partnership to transform transit in Toronto and get shovels in the ground as soon as possible on these critical projects,” Ford said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
“I also welcome commitments from federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to fund their fair share of our subways program and work with the province and the city to get the Ontario Line built. With all three levels of government working together, I am confident we can bring our transit system into the 21st century.”
The mayor said talks between both levels of government began shortly after the premier announced the plan to break up control over the TTC subway system.
“After almost a year of discussions, I believe we have a way forward that will see close to $30 billion dollars of new transit built in Toronto, right across our city, and will keep the existing subway system in the hands of the Toronto taxpayers who built it up and have the most to gain from making sure it continues to be supported in a proper way that focuses more on state of good repair,” Tory said.
“This plan would see us work with the other levels of government to build more transit, including the Ontario Line which will provide real relief for our existing subway system, and to build the Bloor-Danforth subway extension further into Scarborough.”
The provincial upload of the subway was included in Ford’s election platform, stating that the province is better able to expand transit when it comes to getting regulatory approval and finding the funding. But that upload has been opposed by council, the NDP and the TTC workers’ union.
If there is one thing I’ve learned over a decade of endless transit debates in Toronto it’s that announcing new transit is easy, but actually building new transit is hard. Here are some early thoughts on the latest new transit deal for Toronto announced today. 1/5
— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) October 16, 2019