Bill 107 Getting Ontario Moving Act was passed in the legislature at Queens Park on June 4, 2019. The province has now taken “Sole Responsibility” for four Toronto transit projects: Ontario Line (formerly Relief Line), an extension of the Yonge Line to Richmond Hill and a three-stop Scarborough Subway. It prevents the city from planning or building transit projects that are similar or near to projects the province is building. And it does not require the province to compensate the city for any assets it expropriates from the TTC.
At the very least, the premier’s plan will disrupt existing transit projects that are already underway in Toronto. The city’s priorities included a one-stop Scarborough subway, Relief Line, SmartTrack and Bloor-Yonge capacity improvement.
And unless there is a loud public outcry, the Ford government will pass legislation to take over our existing subway system after the return of the legislature on October 28th, 2019.
The TTC is the third largest and the least funded transit system in North America. Seventy percent of the $1.5 billion needed to move 1.7 million riders a day, comes from fares. The remaining thirty percent is from municipal property taxes. The Wynne government contributed about $90 million from the gas tax but the Ford government essentially cut what amounts to $1.1 billion over ten years in spite of the TTC’s $33.5 billion backlog in maintenance and state of good repair.
Provincial cuts from the mid-nineties and Mayor Tory’s reluctance to raise property taxes has made breakdowns and delays the new normal of “the better way”. Uploading by the province will not solve this crisis. We would be giving up local control of a complex transit system of buses, streetcars and subways that are integrated to get people where they need to go. A provincial takeover could break the system apart and separate subways and LRTs from streetcars and buses. How long before we are charged an extra fare to go from a TTC bus to the Metrolinx Scarborough Subway?
Ten years of flip flopping and we still don’t have a construction start date for the Scarborough Subway. If the city was in charge it would have started this year and be complete in 2026. With Bill 107 it will be delayed again. Ford claims his three-stop subway will be up and running by 2030. Will the Scarborough RT still be running by then?
Former mayor John Sewell and TTCriders Robyn Vilde spoke to the city’s review of Bill 107 at the Mayor’s Executive Committee meeting on June 6th.
You can watch their deputations here.
John Sewell urged Mayor Tory to refuse to hand over any assets to the province. “Governments should never have the ability to take away the property of others without compensation and without legal recourse… The proper response of the city is to refuse to provide to the province whatever it demands…. You should force the province and or Metrolinx to take the city and or the TTC to court…. I suspect the courts will be very reluctant to [rule in favour] of such an odious act.”
Robyn Vilde raised concerns that the Waterfront and Eglinton East LRTs were missing from the province’s plan.
Eglinton East LRT is mentioned but only in relation to how it would impact or be impacted by additional Scarborough subway stations:
The proposed multiple-stop Line 2 East Extension could potentially change the demand
for the Eglinton East LRT (particularly if a fourth station is built at Eglinton/Brimley). The
extension may also impact the design of how the Eglinton East LRT connects to the rest
of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Kennedy Station. Further, the Province’s future
direction for rapid transit along Sheppard Avenue East could impact aspects of the
Eglinton East LRT design. Travel demand modelling is being undertaken to analyze the
impacts to demand in the Eglinton East corridor.
The city is now proposing a fourth station at Eglinton and Brimley for the Scarborough subway. More analysis to accommodate three or four subway stops pushes the Eglinton East LRT further down the list.
On the other hand, Toronto Council still has to decide if it will endorse the province’s plan to the extent that it is willing to request federal funding.
Toronto’s endorsement of the additional Provincial transit priorities for ICIP PTIF2* is subject to the completion of the above-noted assessment. Staff will report results to City Council when completed, anticipated in September or October 2019.
So far, talks between the federal government and the province about money have been stalled by the federal government’s demand for more information.
Both levels of government need to come together to properly fund day-to-day operations and maintenance of the TTC. And politicians need to stop changing transit plans with every election. Were it not for Rob Ford’s replacement of Transit City with “subways, subways, subways” we would be riding a seven-stop LRT this year, instead of the ailing Scarborough RT. The Sheppard East LRT to Malvern would be up and running and construction of the Eglinton East LRT to University of Toronto Scarborough Campus would be underway.
*Canada Infrastructure Plan – Public Transit Infrastructure Fund Phase 2