Executive Committee pushes ahead transit plan for next 15 years

Despite a torrent of criticism on costs and level of access, Mayor John Tory defended his plan for a single-stop subway extension, costing $3.2 billion, from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Town Centre.

“Get transit built. Stop being world champion debaters and start being world champion builders, that is what I think people want in this city,” said Tory, who balked at the idea of going back to an LRT plan for the city’s neglected east end.

“Build it and they will come.”

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But at least two left-leaning councilors argued residents would get more value for money from an LRT network.

“For the same amount of money we could build 25 LRT stops to serve more people in Scarborough,” Coun. Joe Cressy said.

“What we just saw today is that all the money is now going to the Scarborough Subway Extension. Because the cost went up so much, there’s nothing left for the light rail program that we were told was part of the original package,” added Coun. Gord Perks.

“It was a bait and switch.”

But Scarborough Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker defended the mayor’s plan as part of a vital transit network that he says his constituents want.

“It’s money very well spent,” he said. “Subways, whether they be in downtown Toronto or York University, they’re all expensive; but the Scarborough subway at $3 billion is the same as everyone else’s or cheaper.”

But residents and students at Scarborough’s University of Toronto campus just want progress in whatever form.

“Our frustration is that there has been a lot of talking and debating and nothing that’s actually being done,” said student Sitharsana Srithas who added that it takes 90 minutes to commute from the university’s Scarborough campus to the downtown campus.

Another concern for residents is the recommended alignment for the Downtown Relief Line. A staff report recommends the line cut along Queen Street to Eastern Avenue and then up Pape – a narrow residential street.

“It’s incredibly narrow, it’s 18-metres wide and the right of way would mean the subway is almost literally being built under people’s homes and that’s a big concern for residents,” said Simon Cohen, who lives on Pape Avenue.

Coun. Paula Fletcher successful passed an amendment asking the city to explore an alternate alignment.

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