Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says his transit priority is to extend the Sheppard subway into Scarborough, not to build the proposed Downtown Relief Line, setting the stage for another battle with the Toronto Transit Commission chair and some city councillors.
Mayor Ford met with reporters Friday afternoon to discuss the federal budget. Ottawa has said $47-billion in new federal dollars are up for grabs for cities over the next decade.
Mr. Ford said Toronto has a number of priorities, including building transit “that is truly rapid.”
"Folks, there's only one solution for that. And that's subways,” he said.
The mayor went on to say “there is an emerging council consensus on building a subway to Scarborough Town Centre. We should finish what we started, by closing the loop to Don Mills and extending it to Downsview. That will provide new connectivity and relieve stress on the Yonge line.”
His remarks came one day after TTC chair Karen Stintz said the Downtown Relief Line had been identified by council and the transit agency as Toronto’s top priority.
The proposed downtown line is designed to take some of the pressure off the crowded Yonge line during peak hours. The first leg of the new line would run between Union and Pape stations, allowing commuters going east towards Scarborough to avoid the jammed Yonge-Bloor transfer point and typically packed subway cars going north.
Ms. Stintz said it would be important for the nation’s largest city to get its fair share of the federal dollars.
That task will be easier, she said, if the mayor is behind any request.
Earlier Friday, Councillor Doug Ford noted it had been a year since council “decided to destroy the city” by approving a network of light rail lines and rejecting the mayor’s vision of extending the Sheppard subway.
Mayor Ford told reporters installing light-rail service along Finch Avenue would “just cause more chaos” for commuters.
“We should adjust our plans now to make this a faster solution, and that means burying the line,” he said.
Ms. Stintz released a statement following the mayor’s remarks that said experts have twice deemed the Sheppard Avenue East subway a “waste of taxpayer money.”
The mayor also stressed water will be one of the city’s priorities, noting Toronto Water has a $1.6-billion capital funding shortfall.
"Waterworks are not as sexy as subway trains, but they keep people alive and healthy,” he said.