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Relief line, Yonge north subway and Waterfront LRT to get provincial funds

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory sign agreement that will see city fund six GO/SmartTrack stations.

May 3, 2018
Krsitin Rushowy

The Ontario government will provide funding for Toronto’s relief line subway, the extension of the Yonge north line as well as the Waterfront LRT, the premier said Thursday at an announcement with Mayor John Tory.

The two signed a memorandum of understanding at GO Transit’s Willowbrook maintenance yard in the city’s west end, an agreement that officially gets construction on the city’s SmartTrack project moving along, with the city funding six stations to be ready by 2025.

Provincial funds for the subway and LRT were included in the spring budget, but specific projects were not named at that time.

The announcement is about “getting shovels in the ground on the next phase of major transit lines,” Wynne said.

Both Wynne and Tory said the next step is to finalize federal funding “so that we can move forward.”

A total of $9 billion will be put towards the three projects from the different levels of government.

“We’re building the kind of integrated rapid transit systems that a growing exciting region like this absolutely has to have,” Wynne said at the announcement. “And we’re moving forward, we can’t allow Toronto to be dragged back into endless debates. The days of throwing out plans and starting from scratch, those have to be over. We have to just continue to move forward.”

Taking a swipe at Progressive Conservative Leader and former city councillor Doug Ford, Wynne added: “We all remember what happened between 2010 and 2014 and I will just say that was the last time that Doug Ford was involved in running the city.

“We’re still paying the price for the turmoil and the cancellation of transit projects that were underway ... the wasted years where there was not progress and there were millions of dollars of work that did not get done and did not build one new inch of subway or LRT.”

Tory said the memorandum of understanding the two signed “represents a written agreement between the city and the province to move forward, for example, with a service level of six to 10 minutes in peak times for SmartTrack. Under the SmartTrack plan, the province will cover operating as well as ongoing and longer-term maintenance costs.

“And I think people will really appreciate the specificity of that and the fact that it is going to achieve that level of service.”

The six stations are Finch-Kennedy, Lawrence-Kennedy, Gerrard-Carlaw, East Harbour (Stouffville/Lakeshore East corridor), and King-Liberty and St. Clair-Old Weston.

The trains are to run between 5.5 and 10 minutes during rush hour.

Funding a northern extension of the Yonge line would add further pressure on an already overcrowded subway line the TTC is struggling to manage. The southern portion of the relief line, proposed from Pape Station on Line 2 to Queen Station on the Yonge line, would significantly help with congestion. But experts say the relief line needs to be extended north to at least Eglinton to provide longer-lasting relief.

Last year, Tory ruffled provincial feathers when he threatened to block plans for a Yonge-line extension if Wynne didn’t agree to pay for the relief line. The relief line north has yet to be advanced beyond early planning stages.