Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 18, 2019
Tory ‘optimistic’ about Ford government transit funding despite Hamilton LRT cancellation
Mayor John Tory says he’s “optimistic” Toronto’s transit expansion projects will move forward with support from the province despite the Doug Ford government’s abrupt move to cancel funding for an LRT line in downtown Hamilton.
Tory said Tuesday morning that he spoke with the premier about the suite of new transit projects planned for Toronto as recently as this weekend.
“I can, for the moment … say that the premier is as committed as I am to move forward, to get that transit built,” Tory told reporters, calling Ford’s dedication to the projects “absolute.”
In October, the city and the province agreed on a plan that would see Queen’s Park handle the capital costs of building four major transit initiatives, including the nearly 15-km Ontario Line; a three-stop Scarborough subway extension; an expansion of Line 1 north to Richmond Hill and a westward extension of the Eglinton Crosstown.
The projects are currently estimated to cost about $28.5 billion, with funding from all three levels government — though Toronto’s City Manager Chris Murray recently warned those costs could easily balloon as details are nailed down.
There are also ongoing projects not included in the newest expansion that require buy-in from the province, such as the Finch West LRT, which is in the early stages of construction.
Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s transportation minister, blamed the previous Liberal government for the decision to stop the project. She told CBC Toronto on Monday that a third-party analysis found the project would cost several times more than the $1 billion the Liberals had estimated.
She later admitted, under questioning from reporters, that the current government had included 30 years worth of operating and maintenance expenses in its re-assessment of the project’s cost.
In an email to CBC Toronto on Tuesday, Callum Elder, spokesperson for Ontario’s transportation ministry, said Toronto residents should have confidence that the province will uphold its funding commitments for transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. (CBC)
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