City council seeks clarity, answers to province’s new transit plan

Toronto city council approved staff recommendations in a supplementary report to its Toronto’s Transit Expansion Program report following the Ontario government’s announcement on April 10, and in the provincial budget on April 11, that outlined a new transit plan for Toronto and the region, including four projects the Province sees as transit priorities.

The supplementary report is available at toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2019/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-132117.pdf.

The Ontario government estimates the cost of its new proposal to be $28.5 billion, of which $11.2 billion is to be funded by the province. There is an assumption in the proposal that it be cost-shared by the federal government, the City of Toronto, other municipalities and authorities.

City staff, in its report to council on the province’s announcement, outlined 61 preliminary questions to its report that it needs the Province of Ontario to address before next steps can be recommended. City council endorsed a recommendation from staff that the city and TTC work with the province to:
• undertake an assessment of the province’s proposed changes to Toronto’s transit expansion program described in the 2019 Ontario budget, and its alignment with the City of Toronto’s and Toronto Transit Commission’s strategic objectives and priorities, including an assessment of cost, schedule, operational and network impacts, and commercial and technical merits of the proposed changes;
• negotiate principles with respect to cost-sharing, roles and responsibilities, governance, and funding for transit network expansion including but not limited to capital, operating, maintenance and life cycle maintenance of the new expansion lines, funding requirements for the state of good repair of the existing network, and reimbursement for any sunk costs associated with a change in transit expansion plans; and
• report back to city council with an update as soon as practical on the proposed upload of subway extensions and new lines under Ontario’s new transit proposal outlined in the 2019 Ontario budget.

Once these issues have been addressed and the city’s questions satisfactorily answered, staff will report back to council on whether federal funding should be reallocated under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Public Transit Infrastructure Fund Phase 2 to the Line 2 East Extension and the new Ontario Line, a variation on the Relief Line South, two of the four priority projects outlined in the province’s transit map. A Yonge subway north extension and Eglinton West LRT are the other provincial transit priorities.

City council also unanimously passed a motion requesting the province reinstate a Provincial Gas Tax commitment made in 2017 that would double municipalities’ share from 2 cents per litre to 4 cents per litre. The gas tax is heavily relied upon by the TTC for state-of-good-repair expenses and represents funding of approximately $1.1 billion over 10 years.

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