Corp Comm Connects

York councillors continue to lobby for subway
March 17, 2016
Tim Kelly

Now that Toronto politicians have had their say on the Yonge Street subway extension to Richmond Hill, a couple of York Region politicians are speaking up in response.

Vaughan Councillor Alan Shefman, who represents Thornhill, and Richmond Hill Ward 6 councillor Godwin Chan, who represents the area of Hwy. 7 and Yonge Street, where an eventual subway station terminal would be located, are speaking out after Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto Transit Commission chairman and councillor Josh Colle threw cold water on the idea of a link to Richmond Hill in the near future.

Tory was reported as saying about the extension: “We just can’t do it. How irresponsible would it be to have the trains, when they get to Finch, be so full, no one can get on?” And Colle said: “We’re nowhere near being in the position to extend Yonge north. It’s just not feasible right now.”

Chan and Shefman, along with Markham Councillor Valerie Burke, have formed the Yonge Street North Group to lobby federal and provincial ministers, as well as Metrolinx, to get the 7.4-km extension built.

So far they’ve helped secure $10 million for studies and consultations and had the extension approved by the province for preliminary engineering.

They’ve also secured support from Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan councils to move the project forward and have met with provincial transportation and finance ministers.

Shefman said, “the people of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) should not be dependent on Toronto for rapid transit planning or decisions in our region. Just consider how far along that approach has got us today.”


He added that, “the problem with rapid transit planning is that it is not regionally based. Transit users could care less about municipal borders. All they want to do is get to their destination as quickly, as efficiently and as cheaply as possible.”

The Thornhill councillor points out that Yonge Street has been an active project managed by VivaNext since 2008 and since the establishment of Metrolinx, it has been a priority project.

Shefman also says that in a recent Metrolinx report it was recommended to move the project to the preliminary design and engineering stage, adding, it is only waiting for provincial government funding.

Meanwhile, Chan said the “bashing of 905 by the 416 is counter-productive.”

He also said “Metrolinx, as the provincial agency with a mandate to address public transportation issues in the GTHA ought to engage all parties, ie., York Region Transportation Corporation, TTC, York Region and Toronto to have mature adult-like discussions on collaborative efforts to alleviate Yonge subway capacity issues without hindering the northern extension that is already shovel-ready and shovel-worthy.”

Plans for the extension to Richmond Hill Centre at Hwy. 7, would see two new stations built in Toronto (Cummer/Drewry station and Steeles station), with four built in York Region (Clark, Royal Orchard, Langstaff and Richmond Hill Centre stations).

The trio of councillors urges residents who want to see a subway built to southern York Region to write to Premier Kathleen Wynne; federal minister of infrastructure, Amarjeet Sohi; provincial Minister of Transportation MPP Steven Del Duca; and the president of Metrolinx, Bruce McCuaig.