Mayor John Tory says he isn’t concerned a major provincial transit announcement expected Wednesday will derail talks between the city and the Ontario Conservative government over a takeover of Toronto’s subway network, although he conceded Queen’s Park still hasn’t let him on its plans.
Speaking at city hall ahead of a meeting of his executive committee Tuesday morning, Tory said he was confident the province will refer whatever plans Premier Doug Ford unveils for Toronto transit Wednesday to the discussion table with the city before they’re finalized.
“My full expectation is that the table that has been set up, I believe in good faith, to have discussions about the future of transit in Toronto, will be a place where all of this, whatever is being announced tomorrow, will be discussed going forward and we’ll have a chance, as I said, to register our concerns and to indicate our support in some areas if support is forthcoming, and take it from there,” he said.
Tory wouldn’t say the province had given him any assurances that it would bring its proposals to the city as part of the transit talks, but stated the tone of discussions to date led him to believe that would be the case.
“If that’s not the case, we’ll address that at that time,” he said.
The mayor and other senior city officials remain in the dark on key issues that include how much money the province intends to invest in Toronto transit, how much the city would be expected to contribute, and what type of “alternate” technology Ford’s government plans to use to build the Relief Line subway.
“I just don’t think it’s prudent for me as the head of the council and the mayor of Toronto to go to announcements where I’m not fully informed,” he said.
But he added that he believes it’s the province’s prerogative to keep details of what’s in its budget under wraps.
Tory’s executive committee is expected to give approval Tuesday to advancing several key transit projects, including the Relief Line and Scarborough subway extension. Those decisions will go to council later this month for final approval.
But although the city has advanced planning on those projects to the point they’re approaching the procurement and construction phase, Ford’s government has announced its intention to make significant changes to the city’s plans as part of its proposal to “upload” the subway network to Queen’s Park.
The province would relaunch the Scarborough subway extension as a three-stop project instead of the single stop the city has envisioned, and use an unspecified “alternate” technology to deliver the Relief Line. Critics at city hall warn changing course on the projects would lead to delays in opening the lines, while the Ontario Conservatives’ claim the provincial government can build projects faster.
Tory said he would wait to hear what the province announces this week, but would oppose anything that would hold up opening new lines.
“I believe that we have made remarkable progress on developing and approving a plan,” he said.
“Now is not the time to delay, now is the time to build.”
Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr