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Nunziata livid subway off mayor's list

Eglinton line not among expansion projects

By Paul Moloney
Toronto Star City Hall Bureau
September 1, 1998

Toronto Councillor Frances Nunziata is livid that the mothballed Eglinton Ave. subway line was left off the mayor’s list of possible transit expansion projects.

“I really feel we’ve been left out and we’ve been had,” said Nunziata, who had fought for the line from the Spadina subway’s Eglinton West station west to Black Creek Dr.

Nunziata (York-Humber) said yesterday she believed the Eglinton line, on which about $100 million was spent before it was shelved by the provincial government three years ago, would be re-activated when provincial cash became available.

But Mayor Mel Lastman didn’t ask for an updated cost estimate for the Eglinton line when he ordered the Toronto Transit Commission to provide figures for other possible expansions, she said.

The TTC report, dated last Wednesday, estimates it would cost $3.3 billion to extend the Sheppard subway east from Don Mills Rd. to the Scarborough Town Centre and west from Yonge St. to Allen Rd., and push the Spadina line north to York University and Highway 407.

“What happened to the Eglinton subway? Has the mayor forgotten it was a priority?” asked Nunziata, who wants a full debate on the issue when council meets Oct. 1.

Councillor Joe Mihevc (York-Eglinton) said transit studies have consistently ranked Eglinton as a high priority.

“I think the mayor, granted that he was the previous mayor of North York, has to be reminded that he’s the mayor of the whole city,” said Mihevc, a TTC commissioner. “Eglinton Ave. was, and as far as I’m concerned continues to be, the next subway that needs building.”

But Lastman said yesterday he didn’t ask for cost information on Eglinton because it probably hasn’t changed much from the original $740 million estimate, which was made three years ago.

The Eglinton line would be included in any list sent to Queen’s Park if provincial politicians were to find money for transit, the mayor said in an interview.

But, Lastman added, the current provincial government “has not been strong on Eglinton at all. I don’t know if the province wants the Eglinton line. I don’t think they do.”

Lastman said he likes the idea of extending the Spadina line to York University, a $705 million project that would rise to $1.2 billion if the line were pushed to Highway 407.

“It’ll make a lot of money,” he said. “I think it’s a good one to go for, definitely, with York University and University City up there, and Vaughan.”

TTC chairperson Howard Moscoe said that as far as he’s concerned, the Eglinton line is dead. It makes more sense to extend the Sheppard line, now under construction, to the east and west, he said.

When the Sheppard line opens in 2002, it will run only from Yonge St. to Don Mills Rd.

“The province cancelled Eglinton. It’s off the table,” said Moscoe (North York Spadina).

Lastman stressed that the provincial government would have a major say in what line got built because it would be paying at least 75 per cent of the cost.

TTC general manager David Gunn, who supplied the cost estimates to Lastman, fears there isn’t enough money to operate and maintain the existing system, let alone expand it.

“If you can’t maintain the Yonge St. subway, why are you going to build subway extensions? I want the money in sight for the existing system before I play any `What if?’ games on expansion,” Gunn said yesterday.