The Toronto Star is reporting that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are ready to provide billions in transit funding to back Toronto’s new Ontario Line subway. And Toronto Mayor John Tory seems to be on board.
The line was announced by Ontario PC Premier Doug Ford in the spring. The route is 15.5 kilometres and runs from the Ontario Science Centre all the way to the Exhibition GO station in Liberty Village.
The Star’s Robert Benzie and Ben Spurr report that senior Liberal officials have said that if elected on Monday to form the government, they would go along with the direction from city council if it votes for the proposed line.
In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, Tory said he’s now supporting Ford’s controversial Ontario Line plan, as long as the province drops its plan to takeover the TTC.
Speaking at City Hall, Tory called the Ontario Line subway plan “viable” and “a favourable option because of the relief it will provide sooner to the Yonge subway line.”
“After almost a year of discussions, I believe we have a way forward that will see close to $30 billion of new transit built in Toronto right across the city and will keep the existing subway system in the hands of Toronto taxpayers,” Tory announced.
A report released by the city proposes that council shift over $3.8 billion in federal transit funding to the Ontario Line and also to the province’s three-stop Scarborough subway extension. Council had originally targeted the funds for plans for a downtown relief line subway and one-stop Scarborough extension.
It’s also been suggested that there would now be funding available for the Eglinton East LRT and the Waterfront transit project.
It’s all still subject to approval from City Council. Under this compromise agreement, the city keeps ownership of the existing TTC subway network, and Ontario would fund and construct any transit expansion projects. The TTC would run the whole transit network.
Speaking anonymously, the Liberal officials told The Star that they were waiting for a city hall staff report that they expect will endorse the Ontario Line before going public.
The Liberals told The Star that Toronto Mayor John Tory has been very persuasive during talks and credited him with pushing the plan. The Ford government, said The Star, has also been part of the talks.
Relations between Trudeau and Ford have been testy, particularly during the federal election campaign. Trudeau has been highly critical of the Ford government for cuts to services. He’s also lumped the unpopular Ford with his federal PC rival Andrew Scheer.
Ford, The Star reported, is ready to give up his controversial strategy of having the province take ownership of the existing TTC subway if council’s throws its support behind the Ontario Line.
Funding for the Ontario Line would come out of the $4.9 billion in transit spending the Trudeau government dedicated in 2017 to Toronto.
Toronto City council had originally been in favour of building the long discussed downtown relief subway line. Ford forced them to change their thinking after his government released a revised provincial transportation plan in the spring that did not include the relief line sought by council.
Instead, Ford offered the Ontario Line. Like the relief line, it was designed to divert passengers off the crowded Line 1 subway.
The Ontario Line is twice as long as the relief line and carries an $11 billion price tag.