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Editorial: The Folly of Delay

The five suburbs which oppose construction of the east-west subway are still growling ominously, despite a rebuff from the Ontario Court of Appeal. If they carry their quest to the Supreme Court of Canada, as they threaten, they will only create animosity toward themselves which will do grievous harm to the whole structure of Metropolitan government.

They have a right to appeal, but any such action would be bordering on the frivolous. Whatever its outcome, it would not prevent the Bloor-Danforth-University subway from being built. At most, it would eliminate Metro’s proposal to pay for part of its share from current income, by means of a special two-mill levy for 10 years, rather than totally by debenture capital. The Metro scheme, which the Court found to be sound, would save taxpayers money in the long run.

But most important, an appeal to the Supreme Court would result in a further inexcusable delay in starting construction. The chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission, Mr. Allan Lamport, has stated that work could be started by Christmas if no further obstructions are placed in the path. If the five suburbs — Scarboro, Etobicoke, New Toronto, Mimico and Long Branch — are intent on persisting with their ill-advised filibuster, they could hold up the project until well into the New Year. They have 60 days in which to decide whether to appeal, and the hearing itself would take time.

The tragedy of their tactics is that every day they delay a start, the cost of the subway goes up. While their case was being considered by the Appeal Court, strikes in the Hamilton steel and Toronto construction industries occurred which were settled only after substantial wage increases were granted — increases which will inevitably be reflected in higher costs. In view of those two settlements along, the cost estimate of $200,000,000 for the subway will have to be revised upward.

If the five suburbs — all of which will benefit from the subway — wish to offer some constructive criticism, they would be far better advised to agitate for an extension of the line at both ends from the presently proposed terminals at Woodbine Avenue in the east and Keele Street in the west. These should be removed at least to Main Street and Jane Street, if the subway is to achieve maximum utility. The lesson has been taught by the Yonge Street subway.

By persisting in their futile delaying tactics, the five suburbs will succeed only in harming their own cause. The project is far too important to be held up by the whimsical notions of petty politicians.