Hundreds of letters sent to city over proposed transit deal

Council’s executive committee is meeting Wednesday to consider a deal between the city and the province that scraps plans for a TTC upload and moves ahead with an expanded subway line, an agreement that sparked “a high volume” of feedback from the public in the form of hundreds of letters and emails.

The deal, announced on Oct. 16, calls for the province to stand down on an earlier pledge to take over the running of the city’s subway system in exchange for the mayor’s support for the so-called Ontario Line. That subway line replaces the original plans for a downtown relief line and calls for 15 subway stops between Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre.

Announced earlier this year, the project remains in the early planning stages but has a preliminary price tag of nearly $11 billion.

“I know there are those who will oppose this initiative,” Mayor John Tory said when addressing the media Wednesday morning before the meeting. But, he said, the detailed report from city and TTC officials about the plan indicates it is a “good deal.”

In the calendar listing for Wednesday’s meeting, a note makes specific mention of “a high volume of communications” about the plan.

A letter from Janice Solomon, executive director of the Toronto Entertainment District BIA, expressed the agency’s “strong support” for prioritizing downtown transit via the Ontario Line. Another piece of correspondence quoted by city staff calls the plan “bad for our city.”

Some residents expressed concern about noise and air pollution, and the impact on green space in areas the line would travel through.

A consortium of residents and community groups also rallied outside city hall Wednesday morning to express their concerns about the deal. In a news release, the group called scrapping the planned subway upload “a positive step,” but said concerns remain about “dozens of unanswered questions” about the Ontario Line related to neighbourhood disruptions and funding, among other issues.

On Wednesday, Tory said he would move a motion during the meeting that specifically calls for feedback to the plan to be incorporated into the formal planning process.

The deal also covers other transit projects and sets out funding schemes for each.

If approved, the deal will re-allocate nearly $3.8 billion in federal infrastructure funding the city has already acquired to build transit.

City documents show $660 million will go toward building a three-stop subway extension of Line 2 to Scarborough — the Ford government’s preferred vision for the project.

The city will also provide $3.16 billion worth of federal dollars for the Ontario Line.

The province has also agreed to pay for the capital costs associated with building the Eglinton West LRT expansion and extending the Yonge subway extension north of Finch.

Expected completion dates for the various projects include 2027 for the Ontario Line, 2029-2030 for the Scarborough expansion, 2029-2030 for the Yonge subway extension and 2030-2031 for the Eglinton expansion.

Should the executive committee approve the deal at Wednesday’s meeting, it will go to full council for consideration.

You can watch the entire meeting via the city’s YouTube channel.

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