“This is close to my heart and this one is very close to my brother Rob. And both of us have been the champions of transit in Scarborough right from our time at city hall,” Ford said Wednesday after unveiling a large subway map just as his brother did during the 2014 election.
“This one is for you, Rob.”
But delays are likely for those who have long waited for new rapid transit in Scarborough, with the province only committing to completion of the subway between 2029 and 2030.
The province’s plan, which is based on the previous concept that was previously approved by council in 2013, would reintroduce a stop at Lawrence Ave. and tunnel an additional 1.4 kilometres from the Town Centre area to Sheppard Ave., where the terminus would be. It was at less than 5 per cent design when council abandoned the idea in July 2016 — still likely years away from being ready for construction.
A three-stop subway would cost $ 5.5 billion, the province has estimated. It’s unclear how they arrived at that estimate. In 2016, staff put the total at $ 4.6 billion based on the very early stages of design, which could have been off by as much as 50 per cent — making the cost as high as $ 6.9 billion. The province has vowed to pay what they say is a $ 1.6 billion increase over the city’s existing one-stop subway plan, taking over planning and building of the extension.
The three-stop subway duplicates stations proposed as part of Tory’s 2014 SmartTrack promise. Planners have earlier said SmartTrack would cannibalize riders from a three-stop subway extension, which was one of the reasons the subway was reduced from three stops to one. The six planned “SmartTrack” stops include one at Lawrence Ave. at Kennedy Rd. and another at Finch Ave. at Kennedy.
The plan for those new stations, part of the GO network, is already in limbo, with Ford’s government yet to respond to city staff requests about moving forward with actually building any of the six stations proposed within Toronto as part of the province’s own GO expansion plans.
In 2013, the Ford brothers and a majority of Toronto council backed a three-stop subway to replace the SRT, cancelling a seven-stop LRT from Kennedy station to Sheppard Ave., running in the SRT’s corridor. The LRT would have been fully funded by the province.
That LRT was estimated to cost around $ 2 billion and would now involve redesign of connections at Kennedy station at unknown costs.
It was believed construction would take three and a half to five years. Because it would run in the same corridor the SRT is now in, buses would have been needed to replace service during part but not all of the construction period.
Had it not been cancelled by the Fords and council, that LRT was scheduled to be completed this year.
Both the city and the provincial subway plans leave no funding for a separate multi-stop LRT extension of the Crosstown line that is currently under construction. The planned extension would proceed east from Kennedy station along Eglinton Ave. to Kingston Rd. and north on Morningside Ave. to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. That line was promised by Tory and has been endorsed by council.
That LRT would cost an estimated $ 1.6 billion, based on preliminary design, and was thought to take four years to construct.
Combined, the LRT lines would cost at least $ 3.6 billion, not including additional costs at Kennedy station — significantly less than the estimated three-stop subway plan.
“Scarborough residents really lose out with another change in plans,” said Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 12 Toronto—St. Paul’s), who has repeatedly pushed for the LRT network plan at council. “Not only would, for at least a billion dollars less, a 24-LRT station network be built to connect more people, provide more service for far fewer dollars, but it could be built much faster than a three-stop subway.”
With files from Ben Spurr
Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags