The province will not be giving Toronto a new subway extension in exchange for a deal on revenue streams to build transit, Transportation Minister Glen Murray said Thursday.
Some Toronto city councillors and Liberal MPPs had hoped to convince Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to build an eastward extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway from Kennedy Road to Scarborough Town Centre and north to Sheppard Avenue.
The current plan, agreed to between the city and the province, is to replace the aging Scarborough elevated rail line with an LRT. But the councillors had hoped to receive a subway instead in a deal that would see the city agree to support Queen’s Park’s plan to bring in new taxes, tolls or levies to pay for transit expansion.
But Mr. Murray shot down that idea Thursday. The Scarborough LRT will be built, he said, and not a subway extension.
“I’ve said this several times now – I want to be very clear so no one misunderstands me: We have 15 projects, we’re not revisiting those projects, we’re continuing to build those projects,” he said. “We’re not moving off our 15 projects, we’ve got to move with them.”
Mr. Murray said the debate over revenue tools at Toronto City Hall is “healthy” and he is looking forward to the conclusion. Whatever the city decides, he said, would be taken into account by Metrolinx as it prepares its list of recommended tools, due out later this month.
And regardless of the decision, he said, he hoped to reach some arrangement with the city.
“I’m always open to conversations with municipalities about how we move forward,” he said.
The Scarborough LRT is part of a package of four light-rail lines – the others are on Eglinton, Sheppard Avenue East and Finch Avenue West – that the province is building as part of Queen’s Park’s Big Move plan and the city’s Transit City plan.
The four lines were agreed to by both the province and the city, and are being paid for by the province.
Future lines in the Big Move, however, must be paid for with new revenue streams.
TTC chair Karen Stintz said that from her perspective converting the aging Scarborough light-rail line to a subway “makes good transit sense,” but in the end it is the province that will decide.
“Obviously we always knew that we would make a request to the province and the province would respond,” she said after learning of Mr. Murray’s comments. “If that is the position the province is taking, that is the position we’ll live with.”
At an event in Brampton, Ms. Wynne reiterated the government's support of Metrolinx's existing Big Move plan.
"Where projects are being built, they're under wayand that's a very good thing. We're going to implement The Big Move. Metrolinxworks with municipalities...to make sure that the routes are what they shouldbe. I have a lot of faith in both municipal leaders and the Metrolinxorganization to be able to implement that in a way that's good for theGTHA."
With a report from Dakshana Bascaramurty