John Tory wants to push forward quickly with the signature transit plan he dubbed SmartTrack, getting approval for an "accelerated work plan" by next month.
The new mayor added a motion to the executive committee Friday that would authorize up to $750,000 in spending, while allowing the city manager to hire outside experts and begin pursuing "partnership funding" from other governments.
The request for the report was supported by all members of Mr. Tory's executive.
"Go and get these facts, this evidence," the mayor said after the vote, adding that he is sure there will be much more discussion on the project.
The rail plan uses existing GO Transit track leading into the downtown, as well as a new spur west along Eglinton. Mr. Tory has said the city could fund its one-third of the $8-billion cost through transit-related development. The province and federal government would be expected to provide the remainder.
Mr. Tory said his rail plan would be "agenda item No. 1" when he met later Friday with Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver. The federal politician did not speak to the media after that meeting, but the mayor came out of it pronouncing himself "happy" with the discussion.
"He was heartened to hear that we had good discussions with the province this week and also heartened to hear that the city is moving ahead with the province to do some of these studies that you saw being discussed today at the executive committee," Mr. Tory said.
Councillor Janet Davis, who is not part of the mayor's executive and supported Olivia Chow in the race for mayor, said Friday the city learned lessons after former mayor Rob Ford stepped out on his first day in office to declare a new transit plan.
"SmartTrack was a campaign platform, and you don't convert a campaign platform into a government policy without due diligence, and there's sufficient questions about SmartTrack's feasibility and the financing model and the routes that there has to be further research done," she said.
"If we are shifting priorities around our transit planning for the future, it has to be done in a way that ensures we have all the information, there is public involvement and the assumptions behind them are sound, including the financing."
During Friday's committee meeting, Mr. Tory had called SmartTrack an "adaptation" of the province's regional rail plan. He noted that, while his campaign came up with the name, it did not invent the concept.
Although high-level work has been done in recent weeks on Mr. Tory's rail proposal, Friday's motion pushes it into a higher gear.
Also Friday, the Toronto Transit Commission revealed that it had selected the firm Hatch Mott MacDonald Limited to develop the design for the tunnel infrastructure on the Scarborough subway extension. The controversial transit expansion was approved by the last term of council, and the five-year contract for the tunnel design – worth $30-million – is to be voted on by the new TTC board at its meeting Tuesday.