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Toronto Tory ‘furious’ over cost overruns on Spadina subway extension

Work is continuing on the Steeles West Station on the Spadina subway extension project on March 6, 2015.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he's "furious" with cost overruns and delays on the Spadina subway extension, and he promises a review of all "mismanaged" city projects.

The mayor made his comments Friday in response to reports that the already-delayed Toronto-York Spadina subway extension is facing what he described as "huge" cost overruns. The six-stop extension, which was originally slated to be completed by this year, is now unlikely to be finished until at least 2017, Toronto Transit Commission spokesman Brad Ross said.

The TTC would not confirm a report in the Toronto Star that the extension will cost about $400-million over its $2.5-billion budget, saying a final report on the project is still being prepared for the board's meeting later this month.

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"Clearly, there has not been the discipline, the management or the proper communication of what has been going on with regard to these projects," Mr. Tory said. "Suffice it to say, alongside the people of Toronto, I am furious that this happens over and over again on the city's watch."

Mr. Ross declined to respond to the mayor's comments.

The 8.6-kilometre route is meant to extend the current University line from Downsview Station to Vaughan. The mayor pointed to the extension as being just the latest in a string of city projects that have gone over budget – including renovations on Nathan Phillips Square and Union Station – and he pledged a review of all major city projects.

"I believe it stems from an entrenched culture of non-accountability at City Hall," he said, adding that the overruns took place before he was elected. "There just hasn't been the leadership in this building, starting where people are told that it matters that you meet your budget, and it matters that you meet your timetable on taxpayer-financed projects."

Meanwhile, TTC chair Josh Colle called for an independent review of all capital projects by the transit commission.

"As I've taken to this position and to this new role, as you peel back the onion around our capital projects, you do start to see what looks to be quite an alarming trend," he said.

The transit commission's board will meet on March 26 to discuss the report, but in the meantime, mayor said that he is open to all options to "stop the bleeding," including a "phased opening" that would see trains turn around at York University to start.

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But Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, who represents the riding of Vaughan, rejected that idea.

"Ontario has invested close to $900-million into this project and that was a contribution that was delivered with the expectation that the project would be running all the way to York Region and that's what we anticipate will occur," he said in a statement.

Asked whether the province would step in with more, he said that "it is a TTC project, so that would traditionally mean that they are responsible for cost overruns."

Premier Kathleen Wynne called the extension "very important, obviously, to the network of transit that's being developed." Both she and Mr. Del Duca said the province has not received any request for additional funding.

This is the third major setback Mayor Tory has dealt with in a week. On Monday, a staff report revealed that Toronto is being handed a $95-million bill from regional transit agency Metrolinx for part of the price of building a new airport express line. The report also revealed that the province has denied two requests from the city that total $35-million for cost overruns on Union Station renovations.

With a report from Adrian Morrow

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