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Council Rejects Fully-Funded Scarborough LRT Plan, Supports Tax hike and Higher Debt

This week council chose to reopen the City of Toronto's agreement with Metrolinx to construct a fully-funded seven-stop, grade-separated Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line and replace it with with an unnecessary three-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line that will cost an additional $1 billion. Further, the Mayor and the majority of councillors chose a subway contingent on provincial and federal funding that has not been committed to and now appears in doubt. I do not believe Council should be making costly and important transit infrastructure decisions without a clear plan for how to pay for them and without sound planning policy to support those choices. Due to this irresponsible decision, the Mayor will be asking Council to add more than $560 million dollars to our City's debt load and raise Toronto residents' property taxes to service that debt. I did not, and will not, support this request.

 

The new Scarborough LRT, just like a subway, would have been a completely traffic-separated line. No lanes removed. No traffic lights. No cross streets. This was factually never a streetcar vs subway debate and should not have been characterised as such.

 

The new Bombardier-made LRT trains average 36 km/h — that’s faster than the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines, which average 32 km/h. The Scarborough LRT line was to have been more than two kilometres longer than a subway extension and have four more stops serving major trip generators, including Centennial College. The LRT’s alignment placed it within walking distance to over 20,000 more people than a three-stop subway extension would.

 

The decision to move forward with a subway on this route was based on politics, not sound transit policy. I believe, based on the facts known to us, that our real subway expansion priority is the Downtown Relief Line Subway that would essentially go north/south along Pape and run east/west along King or Queen. Our current transit subway system has urgent capacity challenges already during rush hours and  also has over $2 billion of state-of-good-repair needs. Ultimately, I hear from residents that they want Council to stop reopening plans that make sense and finally move forward with building a transit system that serves Toronto and region's growing population. I will continue fighting for an evidence-based, fiscally-responsible transit plan that includes a thoughtful combination of new subways and LRTs based on honest planning.

 

Please click here to view my op-ed on his subject that appeared in last Friday's Toronto Star.



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