Councillors applaud next step to put subway to Richmond Hill back on track
‘Will unleash significant economic benefits’ say Vaughan, Markham politicians
June 29, 2015
Metrolinx has recommended moving ahead with plans to build the Yonge Street subway north to Richmond Hill, a step heralded by councillors from York’s southern municipalities.
“This is an important moment for both this project and transit development in the GTA,” said Vaughan Councillor Alan Shefman.
“For years, we have been meeting with virtually everyone involved in the planning and development of transit in the region, attempting to convince them to move to the next step in this critical project. We are very hopeful that a decision to fund this recommendation will be announced shortly to allow the work to begin.”
Metrolinx (previously the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority) manages and integrates road transport and public transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
Metrolinx has approved the Yonge Relief Network Study which includes a recommendation that the Yonge Street North Subway project, which extends the existing line from Finch to Richmond Hill, should move to the next step of development.
This next step will include preliminary design concepts and the start of the engineering process, as well as a report back to the Metrolinx board in spring 2016.
The Yonge Relief Network Study noted that the extension could move forward, since it will not overwhelm the Yonge line to the south.
Richmond Hill Mayor David Barrow says the Metrolinx board decision was a very positive move.
“This is a great step in the right direction,” Barrow said. “Yonge Street is one of the busiest and most congested roads in the GTA, and the approval to progress to preliminary design and engineering on the subway extension is the investment that we need.”
Thornhill’s Shefman is one of three local councillors with wards bordering Yonge Street, who have been advocating for this incremental funding strategy for almost three years now.
Shefman has worked alongside Richmond Hill Councillor Godwin Chan and Markham-Thornhill Councillor Valerie Burke, all advocating the Yonge Street North Subway project.
Councillor Chan believes Metrolinx’s approval is an important step.
“The Yonge Street North Subway project has always been a Metrolinx priority, but following the approval of its environmental assessment in 2009, funding to continue its development came to a standstill,” he said. “We applaud the decision to take the project to the next step.”
Councillor Burke agrees.
“While we would have preferred to see a recommendation to fully construct this transit line, Metrolinx’s decision to support the recommendation for the project to go to the next step will move the Yonge Street North Subway closer to construction,” she said.
The planned Yonge subway extension will extend 6.8 km north from Finch station to the Richmond Hill/Langstaff Urban Growth Centre at Hwy. 7. It will include up to six stations. The urban centre — the trio of councillors suggest it will be the “Union Station of the north” — will be a major transit hub where transit riders will be able to make connections to GO trains, GO buses, TTC subway and the Hwy. 7 Rapidway currently under construction.
“No other project can do more to advance the need for improving transportation in the GTHA. This project can combine with market forces to unleash significant economic, environment and development benefits,” says a June 26 media release signed by all three councillors.
In April 2009, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment unconditionally approved the Environmental Project Report for the Yonge subway extension. In 2012, the Conceptual Design Study that looked at specific engineering elements was completed and approved by the Toronto Transit Commission and the Region of York.
The York Region Rapid Transit Corporation (YRRTC), along with the Region of York, will provide a detailed update to local municipalities at a municipal liaison meeting July 7.
Go to metrolinx.com to see the Yonge Relief Network Study posted on the Metrolinx website.