The city and provincial government have reached a deal that paves the way for council to back Premier Doug Ford’s transit plans, while avoiding a takeover of the TTC subway network by Queen’s Park.
Mayor John Tory announced the agreement, the nature of which was first reported by the Star, at a press conference at city hall Wednesday morning.
He described the agreement as a win for the city.
“After almost a year of discussions, I believe we have a way forward that will see close to $30 billion of new transit built in Toronto right across the city and will keep the existing subway system in the hands of Toronto taxpayers,” he said.
Tory was speaking on the release of a city report that recommends council reallocate more than $3.8 billion in federal transit funding to the Ontario Line and the province’s three-stop Scarborough subway extension. Council had earmarked that money for council-approved plans for a relief line subway and one-stop Scarborough extension.
According to the report, city staff have concluded that provincial plans for the Ontario Line and the three-stop Scarborough extension “have the ability to deliver positive benefits to Toronto’s transit network, and are therefore supportable in principle.”
While staff are recommending council reallocate federal funding to the province’s projects, the report states that the Ontario government won’t seek capital contributions from the city for any of the projects under the Progressive Conservatives’ $28.5-billion transit plan, which in addition to the Ontario Line and three-stop Scarborough extension includes the Yonge North subway extension and the Eglinton West LRT.
In a press release, Tory’s office said not having to contribute to the projects would free up $5 billion in city funding that could be used to make upgrades to the existing transit system or build other new lines.
The report confirms that the provincial government has abandoned perhaps the most controversial aspect of its transit plans — taking ownership of the TTC subway. The proposal, which the Progressive Conservatives ran on in the 2018 election, was fiercely opposed by many on city council.
“The province has determined that it is no longer necessary to assume ownership of the existing subway system in order to expand Toronto’s transit network,” the city report states.
Under the deal, the city will retain ownership of the subway and the TTC will operate new lines.
The report will be debated at Tory’s executive committee next week, before going to council at the end of the month.
More to come.
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