Crossposted to Spacing’s Wire.
Despite the highlights of Ontario’s recently announced budget, and despite earlier indications that the York University subway extension was a go, Torontonians are no closer to boarding trains to Steeles Avenue. The province announced $670 million worth of support for the subway extension, but it did not commit to getting shovels in the ground this year. Indeed, the details of the announcement suggest that construction might not start for years yet.
The province offered $670 million worth of support not for a subway extension to Steeles Avenue, but for a subway extension to the Vaughan Corporate Centre at Highway 7. The recently completed environmental assessment covers only the extension to Steeles, so more work will have to be done to determine the final alignment to Highway 7. The province’s funding, already short of the $1.5 billion required to finish the line to Steeles (the extension to Highway 7 is going to cost more), is conditional on commitments of 33% of the construction cost being provided by Toronto and the Regional Municipality of York, not to mention further assistance from the federal government. The federal Conservatives haven’t ruled this out, however.
Because the extension won’t start construction immediately, and because Toronto and York haven’t committed funding, the province is setting its funds aside in a trust fund, so at least it can’t be accused of promising to spend money that doesn’t materialize, but this is far short from what subway supporters hoped for, and it commits the Liberals to building nothing before the upcoming provincial election.
An additional $1.2 billion has been set aside to meet the immediate needs of public transit and road infrastructure in the Greater Toronto Area, and this money is welcome. $160 million has been earmarked towards building express bus lanes in Mississauga and Brampton. New highway construction also featured prominently. Further details can be found in the Star’s report here.