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Sep 19

Toronto mayor urges federal, provincial governments to help pay for Relief Line

Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling on the federal and provincial governments to help fund the downtown Relief Line for a subway system transit officials say will be “saturated and overwhelmed” by 2031.

“It’s a project that still is 11 or 12 years away, so that means that the more we can be definitive about having the financing in place so that we know for sure it’s proceeding, with three partners on board, the faster we can get it up and running,” Tory told reporters during a press conference at the Yonge-Bloor subway station Monday morning.

With the provincial budget expected to come down in the coming weeks, Tory said he is waiting on funding news as the city cannot move forward with any new transit expansion projects without the help of the Ontario government.

WATCH: Mayor John Tory says future of Toronto transit in the hands of the province. Marianne Dimain reports.

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“Projects which are not funded don’t go anywhere,” Tory said. “If this project can be funded by the other two orders of the government, I think it will put an onus on us to proceed ahead to determine how our share is going to be determined.”

Tory said Toronto was dealt a huge blow earlier this year after the provincial government nixed the city’s plan to implement road tolls on the municipally operated Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway as a way to pay for hundreds of millions in new transit costs.

“The road tolls decision was a huge setback for us because it would have put the funding in place that would have allowed us to say that our share is guaranteed,” Tory said.

READ MORE: Ontario announces $150M for planning, design of proposed subway Downtown Relief Line

Tory also lashed out at the possibility that the Yonge subway expansion north to York Region may be on the province’s transit priorities ahead of Toronto’s relief line.

“As much as I understand why that is desirable for people in York Region, but it would be irresponsible for me and my colleagues on city council to agree to expand that subway north before we had certainty with respect to the relief line because the subway is already stressed out,” Tory explained.

Toronto Transit Commission CEO Andy Byford said the Yonge-Bloor exchange station will be unable to deal with the projected growth in ridership by 2031 if a relief line is not in place by then.

READ MORE: Toronto mayor fumes at being treated like ‘little boy’ after Ontario nixes road tolls plan

“So although we’re taking additional measures up until that point to keep the service moving and that’s with these rocket trains and automatic train control which will be end-to-end on Line One by the end of 2019,” Byford said. “If by 2031 the relief line has not been constructed and it’s not opened than this station will not be able to cope.”

Tory said city officials cannot be satisfied and rest on their laurels with regards to current projects such as the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension in Vaughan, which is expected to open by the end of the year, and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

“We must be building and planning and designing continuously and the relief line has been on the priority list for a long time,” he said.

“It is on the council approved priority list submitted to the federal government together with the Scarborough East LRT, the Waterfront LRT and SmartTrack and those are projects that must move forward.”