Doug Ford last week cemented Mayor John Tory’s re-election for at least the next 10 years with the province conceding to the city over the uploading of the transit to the province.
Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that they have reached a tentative deal to proceed with both projects as envisioned by the provincial government. A three-stop $5.5 billion Scarborough subway extension and a $10.9 billion Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place downtown relief line.
The Ontario government is also backing away from its plan to take over Toronto’s existing subway lines. Mayor John Tory indicated all along that it was not a good idea to break up the TTC, and now finally the provincial government agrees with keeping the status quote with transit in Toronto.
It was only last year that Doug Ford and Toronto city council under Mayor John Tory were in court, having a battle over the premier’s attempt to cut council in half. And it was only a while ago that the mayor was going door to door in Toronto blasting the premier for his ill advised and retroactive cuts to municipal public-health services. These are just two issues that Tory and Ford were at odds with each other and yet on an issue of tremendous interest to both men – namely, the future of tens of billions of dollars in investment in public transit in Ontario’s capital city – quiet, steady progress has led to a deal with which both sides seem content.
For several years, under three different leaders, the Progressive Conservatives have made taking ownership of the Toronto Transit Commission one of their top priorities. The subways are considered the crown jewels of the province’s public-transit systems, and provincial Tories have wanted to get their hands on that system for years. That position was always a non-starter for city politicians, who feared that the province wouldn’t be nearly as responsive to the TTC’s needs as could the level of government closest to the people.
The province has also committed to reimbursing Toronto for sunk costs the city has already spent on the relief line and one-stop Scarborough extension. A previous report estimated the city had spent about $200 million on planning and design work for those two projects.
The Ontario government estimates the city’s share of the cost for its four transit projects would be $6 billion, but agreed to waive that funding on the condition Toronto use the money for state of good repair work on the existing transit system, or pay for additional new lines like the Waterfront LRT or Eglinton East LRT to Scarborough.
The city only has a funding source for about $1 billion of that money however and would have to find additional sources for the remainder. The full $6 billion would fall far short of addressing the TTC’s capital repair backlog, which the agency estimated earlier this year was about $33.5 billion, roughly two-thirds of which was unfunded.
The city has revealed, and the provincial government soon confirmed, the PC’s have abended what was perhaps the most controversial aspect of their transit plans – taking ownership of the TTC subway. Cooler heads finally prevailed and the province through Minister Caroline Mulroney said the goal of the upload plan was to be able to expedite the delivery of new transit lines, but the province has now determined that it can deliver these four projects quickly and efficiently by working with the city.
Under the deal, the city would retain ownership of the existing subway system and the TTC would operate the new line. The province has already passed legislation enabling it to own the four new projects it plans to build.
This deal seems to be a vindication for Mayor John Tory and has Doug Ford given in to the city or is this a greater plan on behalf of premier Doug Ford?
One theory is that Doug ford has softened his position and is trying to be seen as a more inclusive type figure and that may make him a possible candidate for the conservatives on the federal scene.
Either way, this move by Doug Ford has ensured John Tory will not only be re-elected but has maybe cemented Mr. Tory’s legacy with this transit move.