$17 billion plan includes line for Scarborough
By Tess Kalinowski
TTC riders would be able to take the same subway train all the way from Scarborough Town Centre to Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke, with a $17 billion, souped-up Transit City plan announced Friday by mayoral candidate George Smitherman.
His transit map converts the Scarborough RT to an above-ground subway that would run seamlessly into the Bloor-Danforth line, which would itself be extended on the west about 7 kilometres from Kipling to Sherway Gardens.
The Sheppard subway would also be extended west from Yonge St. to Downsview station.
All that, plus the Finch LRT to Humber College would be built without the implementation of any tolls or taxes, Smitherman told about 1,200 supporters at a $250-a-plate lunch at the Toronto Convention Centre Friday.
“It is a shameful lack of leadership that has put Toronto in the position that our transit system is a throwback to decades ago,” he told reporters after the speech.
Many of the projects in the first phase of his plan, including the extension of the Spadina subway to York University; extension of the Sheppard LRT to the University of Toronto Scarborough and a waterfront streetcar to the West Donlands, would be built in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015.
Smitherman also promised to extend the Eglinton LRT tunnel farther west than the Metrolinx plan calls for — to Weston Rd. rather than Black Creek Dr. Although that could conflict with plans to build a streetcar garage in the Mount Dennis area, one provincial transit expert said that problem could probably be overcome.
The plan includes goodies to appeal to virtually every voter’s ride, from limited free midday TTC service for seniors to curb-separated bike lanes in the city and cycle superhighways through Toronto’s parks and trails.
Drivers would get fewer “days of disruption” from roadwork, promised Smitherman, and a break from the city’s vehicle-licensing tax by as much as a third of the $60 fee.
The financial details of the plan are to be part of a still-unveiled platform looking at how the city might deliver core services and social development — although Smitherman said about $10 billion of the $17 billion required has already been committed by the city, the province and Ottawa.
He said those projects not already in line for funding could be built more cheaply using private partnerships, by which the TTC would contract financing, design and building to private sources, while taxpayers retain ownership of the lines.
Smitherman said the base funding would come from a $7 billion transit trust fund based on gas taxes, revenue from Toronto Hydro, the parking authority and other sources.
But Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, a rival candidate for the mayor’s job, said those resources are already allocated to other city spending.
“Any high school kid during Grade 11 can draw lines on a map. Unless you’re able to fund them they’re just nice little lines on the map,” he said.
Although he was willing to look at offering seniors a break, “if you’re a billionaire and a senior, that doesn’t mean you should ride for free,” said Pantalone.
Fellow candidate Rocco Rossi said Smitherman “attacked me for coming up with a plan that’s actually fully funded and planned, for one subway station a year. He’s promising free TTC to seniors, and three new subway lines and a chicken in every pot with no real plan to pay for it.”
It remains to be seen whether the extension west of the Sheppard subway would increase ridership on the underused line or compound an error, said one senior provincial official.