Monday, September 23, 2013
Feds commit $660 million to Scarborough subway expansion
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the cash - the full amount the city had asked for - at a press conference in Scarborough Monday with Mayor Rob Ford.
"You have our money now let's get this subway built," Flaherty said to the city and province.
The province has yet to weigh in yet on whether it will join the feds in supporting the city-approved subway plan rather than the plan Transportation Minister Glen Murray rolled out earlier this month.
Flaherty stressed the long awaited subway is "a done deal" and hoped the provincial government would get on board.
"Our money is for real, it is within our fiscal framework, we have budgeted this money and it will flow," he said. "We keep our commitments, as you know we're a majority government - we will be there."
"People don't have to worry about the government of Canada."
Flaherty also reaffirmed the federal government's commitment to spending $333 million on the Sheppard LRT.
A jubilant Ford thanked the feds repeatedly.
"I also want to thank the many thousands and thousands of residents in the City of Toronto who have spoken loud and clear on this subject," Ford said. "They have said from day one, and they have not budged, 'we want subways, subways and more subways.' And this victory belongs to the people of this great city."
Ford argued his subway fight was exactly what the taxpayers asked him to do.
"Another promise made and another promise kept," he said.
"Residents of Scarborough have waited long enough for quality rapid transit and, folks, that wait is almost over."
Both Ford and Flaherty joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday where he came out with the surprise pledge to fund the Scarborough transit project.
TTC officials are expected to release a report later in the day on the Scarborough subway.
City council agreed in principle to a property tax hike to help fund the subway.
TTC chair Karen Stintz admitted the tax hike may have to be higher than planned if the province doesn't provide the $1.8 billion council had relied on.
"If that's what it takes to get the subway built, then that is what it takes," she said.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the federal government's participation in the Scarborough subway is a good development, but it's too soon to say what it impact that might have on the planned project.
Transportation Minister Glenn Murray has said that he is committed to the provincial plan which would not follow the route laid out by the TTC, and supported by city council and the federal government.
"I think we just need to all breathe here," Wynne said Monday, when asked if the province would change its mind on the route. "What I've said is if the federal government comes to the table then we'll have a conversation about what that means."
The Harper government would not have put its money into this project without the $1.4 billion in provincial funds already committed, she said.
"The disconcerting part is just that it's not systematic... we need that on-going partnership," the Premier said, calling for a sustained federal investment in infrastructure across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and Canada rather than an "ad hoc" funding announcement.
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