Amid growing concerns about finding money to meet ballooning costs, the most ambitious collection of transit plans in decades is coming to city hall.
The package of plans – which includes the Scarborough subway extension, the downtown relief line and the proposal that John Tory dubbed Smart Track when he was running for mayor – will be debated on Tuesday at the city's executive committee, the first step toward what is promising to be a lively reception at council next month.
The executive committee, hand-picked by the mayor, is unlikely to give the plans too rough a ride. But hints will likely start emerging about the probability of these projects getting through full council.
Hundreds of pages of reports released last week included sobering details about Toronto's push to build transit. And they warned that the city would have to show it could come to the table with real funding by November.
The reports indicated that the Scarborough subway extension had jumped again in price. Pegged at $2-billion a few months ago and $2.9-billion as recently as June 17, it was revealed last Tuesday that the latest projection was $3.16-billion. Mr. Tory said he would continue to back the project, but there are growing voices on council about the wisdom of proceeding.
The executive committee will also discuss the latest iteration of Smart Track, which was proposed during the 2014 mayoral election campaign as a 53-kilometre rail line offering better service than GO Transit. It has become a way to describe the rail service that GO will be providing anyway within Toronto, plus six additional GO stations that will be funded by the city and a light rail line along Eglinton Street West.
The shrinking nature of the plan will bring down the price tag, which should make it easier to get through council – though critics are wondering why Toronto should pay for an Eglinton LRT that the province had originally promised to build.
Also on the agenda is the downtown relief line. Often described by experts as the city's most-needed transit project, it has long had the high-level price estimate of about $3.2-billion. The latest analysis, which looked at it more closely, pegged the project at about $6.8-billion. It has no funding attached to it.