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|LRT vs Subway heads to council vote Wednesday||| Print ||
|Written by Marlee Greig|
|Tuesday, 20 March 2012 12:08|
Toronto city council votes on the contentious Sheppard rapid transit line Wednesday.
It will vote on whether to use a $1 billion budget for light rail transit on Sheppard Avenue East or for Mayor Rob Ford's subway plan.
The subway plan would continue the Sheppard line from Don Mills Station to Scarborough Town Centre, building seven stations along eight kilometres of track. It would likely only be built two stops, to Victoria Park Avenue, for the time being, Ford said. The entire line is projected to cost $3.7 billion.
The light rail plan, meanwhile, would run from Don Mills station to Morningside Drive. It would cost $1 billion, run 13 km and have 25 mini above ground stations.
Council voted in favour of allocating provincial money towards above ground LRT plans in February. This would be a return to the plans approved by the city, TCC and province in 2009 that called for street-level rail lines on Finch West and on Eglinton, east of Laird Drive (it would run underground between Black Creek Drive and Laird).
At the same time in February, council deferred the vote on the Sheppard line for study.
Last Friday, an advisory council released its report declaring light rail the better option for rapid transit on Sheppard. The only panelist to not agree was Gordon Chong, Ford’s transit advisor.
“The advisory panel is a biased panel. We all know that,” said Ford at a pro-subway rally in the hours before the results of the panel were announced.
Eric Miller, director of the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto, who headed the panel, said the report is not biased and is based on factual evidence.
“This is not a downtown-versus-suburbs debate. The reason you have subways downtown is because you have the density and the ridership needs to support the capacity. It’s not some conspiracy against the suburbs,” Miller told the Globe and Mail.
There have been many suggestions on how to fund the Sheppard subway extension, including road tolls and new taxes but nothing has been confirmed.
“The argument has always been we can’t afford it. Well, let’s figure out a way to afford it because not only is it what people want, it’s what I think the entire GTA needs,” said Chong.
Some councilors are considering the lack of explanation on how the subway would be funded.
“A pie graph would be nice. Just something that would show where the sources of funding would come from,” Eglinton-Lawrence councilor Josh Colle, a swing vote on the transit debate, told reporters.
“If we don’t get the subway ... we’re not going to waste people’s money and build an LRT,” Ford said Sunday on his Newstalk 1010 radio show.
The province will commit to whichever option council votes for, Municipal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne said in February.
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