Light-rail transit, not a subway, will be used to extend the Scarborough TTC line, the city confirmed on Thursday.
“This is about providing more transit, to more people, for approximately the same funding envelope,” Mayor John Tory said at a city hall news conference.
“It’s more opportunity, more investment, and more jobs for Scarborough, and thus Toronto.”
The proposed Scarborough subway extension is now down to one stop, at Scarborough Town Centre, with the remaining corridor to be serviced by a 17-stop LRT.
The new plan is considered a compromise between councillors who pushed for a subway for Scarborough, and the city’s financial concerns. The province had agreed to fully fund a seven-stop LRT, but that plan was squashed under then-mayor Rob Ford’s call for “subways, subways, subways.”
Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker, who previously supported a subway, said Thursday the new plan was better.
“I think when all is said and done, Scarborough and Toronto both come out as winners,” De Baeremaeker said at city hall.
“As one of the people who have championed the subway, when I look at the plan, I have to be honest, this is a better plan than my plan … it’s certainly a better plan than the people who wanted LRT only.”
Initially, three stations were proposed for the Scarborough subway extension. The new plan scraps Lawrence Avenue East and Sheppard Avenue stations.
The LRT, meanwhile, will run along Eglinton Avenue and Kingston Road. It will meet up with Eglinton and Guildwood GO stations, and end at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. The LRT will not only allow Scarborough residents to get to other parts of the city more easily, it will also increase transit within the region.
It is “shovel-ready,” Tory said, and the Ontario government is on board.
“We will continue to work closely with the city and we remain steadfast in our financial commitment of $1.48 billion towards the project,” Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said in a statement.
“In addition, Metrolinx continues to work with the city on the implementation of SmartTrack in relation to the GO Regional Express Rail program.”
The LRT line is part of a larger transit plan for Scarborough that also includes SmartTrack and GO Transit. There is a planned SmartTrack station for Lawrence Avenue East, and more GO stops.
There were two main priorities for Scarborough transit, city staff said Thursday: To support the development of Scarborough Centre as a “vibrant urban node” and to “improve local accessibility.”
The federal government is expected to kick in $660 million, with the city’s contribution estimated at $910 million. However, that money was promised for the three-stop subway plan. It’s not yet known if the federal government will change its funding because of the new transit network.
The city cautioned that a new funding strategy may be required.