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Scarborough councillors want to talk transit

Scarborough councillors aren’t ready to speak with one voice for subways or light-rail lines, but they want to talk about it.

“We have the most at stake here because we’ve been overlooked for decades,” said Scarborough-Agincourt Councillor Mike Del Grande, who broached the subject at a Scarborough Community Council meeting Friday.

Mayor Rob Ford took office this month declaring a planned Sheppard East light-rail line and a conversion of the Scarborough RT to light rail would not happen, and announced a Scarborough subway loop in their place.

Del Grande hoped his Scarborough colleagues would decide where they stood on these matters soon, before the debate begins downtown.

He reminded them Scarborough Community Council, told there wasn’t enough money for subways in Scarborough, accepted the province’s Transit City plan rather than let its funds go somewhere else.

But in June 2008, local councillors also told the TTC the plans weren’t good enough: the Sheppard East line, they said, should be extended from Conlins Road to the Toronto Zoo, a spur line added to Scarborough Town Centre and a new Brimley station built on the RT (later confirmed for a light-rail conversion).

“We didn’t get those things, so the covenant was broken,” Del Grande said.

“My constituents are asking me to stand up and be counted.”

Scarborough East Councillor Ron Moeser, however, said the transit debate in Scarborough must cover a “huge number” of issues, and will require a couple of hours at least.

Ford’s proposed Sheppard subway extension, he argued, will leave some communities on the light-rail route out as it turns south to Scarborough Town Centre - “To me, this is a huge mistake,” Moeser said - and could be used by a cash-poor provincial government as an excuse to cancel future phases of Transit City.

“If I were the province, I’d be laughing now.”â?¨Glenn De Baeremaker said he has mixed feelings about Ford’s plan. If it works, he would have two subways coming to his ward, he said.

But De Baeremaeker added Scarborough councillors took a position in 2008 so that people on Eglinton Avenue (where Transit City had also planned light-rail), and on the Scarborough campus of Centennial College and in Malvern (through an extension of the RT rail line) would get rapid transit too.

Councillors agreed to invite TTC staff to brief them on the status of Transit City and on options for an expanded subway system in Scarborough, understanding this may not happen until after the transit commission receives a report on the situation next month.