February 9, 2015
City Centre Mirror
One thing John Tory said he didn’t want to see happen in 2015 was a rehashing of the 2013 debate over building a subway in Scarborough.
But that is what is likely to happen this week if St. Paul’s Councillor Josh Matlow gets his way.
Matlow was one of the most vocal opponents of council’s 2013 plan to scrap a provincially funded light rail line to replace the crumbling Scarborough RT line running east from Kennedy Station with a three-stop subway line.
Matlow had questions about the plan then, and in 2015, after the election of pro-subway Mayor John Tory, Matlow has more. Broadly speaking, five more.
Matlow is bringing those questions to council this week in the form of Administrative Inquiries of City Manager Joe Pennachetti.
“I’m resolute that before we start spending billions of dollars on a plan, that council and the public deserves the answer to very basic questions that any reasonable person would want to know before making a decision,” he said. “That’s including the proponents. Fair-minded people would want to look at answers, unless those answers contradict where they want to go.”
Matlow has put forward five administrative inquiries:
• what the sunk costs are for the light rail line which the city will be required to pick up (media reports suggest they are between $75 million and $85 million);
• what the operating and capital maintenance costs for the Scarborough subway extension will be (a staff report from 2013 indicates the capital maintenance costs are between $30 and $40 million a year, but may not include operating costs);
• what impact the new Agincourt GO station will have on the nearby subway’s ridership;
• whether the city’s estimate of $125 million for new trains will be sufficient;
• and more accurate estimates of ridership for the new line, given discrepancies in staff estimates over the course of the debate.
Matlow said he believes answering the questions factually after both provincial and municipal elections are fading into the recent past will help convince councillors to take a second look at the project.
“I would remind my colleagues, especially those concerned that the facts may get in the way of a good story, that (Scarborough Centre Councillor) Glenn De Baeremaeker did very well in the municipal election supporting the subway option, but (Scarborough East Councillor) Paul Ainslie did very well supporting the LRT,” he said. “You can be honest and fact-based about politics at City Hall and still get re-elected. Paul Ainslie is evidence of that. Don’t be scared.”
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