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Promises, promises: Is subway to Richmond Hill real? Markham councillor asks

'And what’s the breakdown as to who’s going to pay for this?'
April 17, 2019
Lisa Queen

While York Region’s applause for the fast-tracked extension of the Yonge Street subway to Richmond Hill continues to ring in our ears, some are wondering how the project will unfold when the clapping dies down.

On April 10, Premier Doug Ford gave the green light to the $5.6-billion extension of the line from Finch Avenue to Hwy. 7 as part of a broader $28.5-billion expansion of subway routes in the Greater Toronto Area.

But Markham regional Coun. Don Hamilton is questioning how Ford’s announcement differs from the long list of promises about the project that have come from Queen’s Park since 2007.

“We’ve been promised, promised, promised, and there is obviously a much larger scope now to the promise, but what is going to make this a reality as opposed to all the promises we’ve heard before?” he said.

“And what’s the breakdown as to who’s going to pay for this?”

Funding concerns were echoed by transit advocate and Keep York Moving co-founder Peter Miasek.

Local lobbying efforts to get the subway extension built have often felt like pushing a snowball or boulder up a hill, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti acknowledged.

But this time is different, he said.

Ford’s plan to accelerate the project proves the extension won’t take a back seat to any transit project in the GTA, Scarpitti said.

The province’s uploading of subways ends jurisdictional delays, gives local officials faith there is an ongoing, reliable commitment from the province and puts an end to Toronto’s foot-dragging on the section of the extension between Finch and Steeles Avenue, he said.

More information about the project will be available when the planning, design and engineering phase is complete, Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Bob Nichols said.

“The preliminary cost estimate for the Yonge North Subway Extension is $5.6 billion and the project could be open by 2029-30, after the Ontario Line (from Ontario Place to the Science Centre),” he said in an email.