Former Toronto mayor David Miller and then-TTC commissioner Adam Giambrone propose an extensive public transportation web dubbed Transit City. The plan places multiple light rail lines on top of the existing core subway transit, stretching from the waterfront to Rexdale, out to Malvern and right up to York University. The developments are priced at fairly palatable $6-billion.
Costs for the original Transit City continue to balloon and the province waffles on how much money they’re willing to chip in and how soon. The planned web is condensed to four major LRT tracks: the Finch West LRT, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the Sheppard East LRT and the Scarborough LRT, which the province would own. The plans for these lines are truncated by 22.5 km to save money, causing tensions between Mayor David Miller and Premier Dalton McGuinty to reach a boiling point.
On Mayor Rob Ford’s first day in office, he declares the Transit City plan—for which Queen’s Park had already pledged $8.15-billion—“over.” He convinces the TTC chief general manager and the premier to reconsider the plans and, in particular, pushes for a swap of the planned Scarborough LRT for an extension of the Sheppard subway line from Don Mills out to Scarborough Town Centre.
In March, the province announces it will pay for the Eglinton line, which Ford has insisted must be underground, as well as the Scarborough LRT at a total cost of $8.2-billion, with contributions from the feds. However, to get Ford’s $4.2-billion Sheppard subway extension, the city will have to cough up the dough. Ford’s distaste for taxes means they will have to look for private funding. In December, the city still hasn’t figured out a way to pay for the expansion.
TTC Chair Karen Stintz brings a motion to city council to resurrect much of original Transit City plan. It passes 25-18 and the province vows to uphold the city’s decision, despite Mayor Ford’s objections, to complete the Eglinton Crosstown by 2020. By the fall, Metrolinx and the TTC signed onto a deal to complete the four LRT lines and introduce a smart-card fare system, including $8.4-billion from the province.
Even with plans for LRT approved and underway, Mayor Ford continues to preach the value of subways. Premier Kathleen Wynne steps into power after Dalton McGuinty resigns and in mid-July, the Globe and Mail breaks a story about talks between Queen’s Park and the Mayor’s office to cancel the Scarborough LRT and build an extension to the Bloor-Danforth subway instead. Mayor Ford even concedes to a modest property tax increase of 0.25% to help pay for the city’s share of the bill while sitting down for talks with federal finance Minister Jim Flaherty and provincial transportation Minister Glen Murray. He commissions city manager Joe Pennachetti to create an overview of the costs, pros and cons of the subway versus the LRT. Even former antagonist, TTC chair Karen Stintz, gets on board with the plan. On Tuesday, the matter is to be brought before council, signalling what could be the beginning of the end for this chapter of the tireless transit saga in Toronto.
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