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Tunnel inches closer to York

Written by Carl Meyer, Assistant News Editor
Wednesday, 5 March 2008

$130 million to two developers, still no federal cash

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has awarded $130 million in York subway extension contracts despite the absence of promised federal funding.

At a Feb. 27 TTC meeting, consulting engineering firm Hatch Mott MacDonald was awarded a $100-million, seven-year contract for “project management services.”

Design and consulting firm Stantec was also awarded a $30-million, seven-year contract for “project control services.”

Danny Nicholson, the TTC public affairs supervisor, confirmed that the two contracts were based on upset limits, which provide a maximum level of funding per contract.

York University Development Corporation (YUDC) president, Bud Purves, said he thought the contracts were a good sign.

“We felt pretty good about that,” he said. “[TTC] is of the belief that the funding is coming; it’s imminent.”

But the $5.8 billion announced at Downsview Park on March 6, 2007, which is part of the federal government’s contribution to the $17.5-billion MoveOntario 2020 infrastructure plan, has not materialized.

In recent months, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has found himself in a war of words with federal finance minister Jim Flaherty over the lack of funding.

McGuinty accused Flaherty of having an “ideological aversion” to the government sponsoring projects, while Flaherty decries Ontario’s corporate tax rates as evidence of the Ontario government being anti-competitive. On March 3, McGuinty claimed that a Feb. 29 speech by Flaherty at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce was an “attack on Ontario” and a “betrayal of the federal government’s responsibility to champion the Canadian economy.”

McGuinty promised that the province would go ahead with its $11.7-billion share of MoveOntario 2020, regardless of federal action.

Despite McGuinty’s promise, the Toronto Star reported on March 1 that TTC chair Adam Giambrone pushed back the York subway completion date one year to 2015.

“It [typically] takes an unacceptably long time,” Giambrone told the Toronto Star about federal funding.

Purves said he still believes the money will arrive, despite the skepticism in the air.

“We do believe that the federal money is coming,” he said.

“We hear [the TTC is] making plans for an early works project. They have to relocate some sewers along Steeles, and they’re getting very close to getting that project kicked off this spring.”

Construction was slated to begin on Steeles Avenue West this month, which would have diverted a sewer system currently located at the spot of the new Steeles West Station east of Jane.

York’s subway station is being built under the Harry W. Arthurs Common area and will have an exit on the south side of the new Archives of Ontario Building.

The four other proposed subway stops include Sheppard West Station in Downsview Park, Finch West Station at Keele and Finch, Highway 407 Transitway Station at Jane and Highway 407 and the Vaughan Corporate Centre Station.

Hatch Mott MacDonald helped build Toronto’s original subway tunnels.