By David Nickle, Toronto.com, April 10, 2019
Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plans to turn Toronto’s downtown relief line plans into a much longer Ontario Relief Line could put the whole project in jeopardy, say local east-end city councillors Paula Fletcher and Brad Bradford.
“I hope this doesn’t mean the relief line is being thrown overboard,” said Fletcher (Ward 14 Toronto Danforth). “There’s been four years of environmental assessment and we know that the cost of the existing line is $8 billion. This looks like a back-of-a-napkin plan.”
Ford described the Ontario Relief Line plan as a centrepiece of the province’s $28.5 billion transit expansion plan that was announced April 9.
The Ontario Relief Line would extend the original planned line – which would run between Pape Station and Yonge and Queen Streets – to a much longer route, running from the Ontario Science Centre at Eglinton Avenue West and Don Mills Road, to Ontario Place and Exhibition Place.
Although it would double the length of the line, Ford said the new line could be completed for $10.9 billion, and be completed by 2027 – two years earlier than the 2029 date that the TTC has projected for the current line.
Coun. Brad Bradford (Ward 19 Beaches-East York), who has been named by Mayor John Tory as council’s advocate for the downtown relief line, said the course change will likely mean delays rather than acceleration.
“I’d love to see projects accelerated, I’d love to see them built faster, but I just think that when you’re introducing these sorts of changes at this order of magnitude, history would suggest that there is a serious risk of delay.”
He called it “lines on a map” and “a very political exercise” while Toronto’s transit plan is the product of years of development, consultation and expert work.
“At the end of the day this stuff has to be based in evidence. It has to be based on consultation and the process is really important and I’m just not convinced that we’ve had a thorough process on what the province is bringing forward.”
Fletcher, meanwhile, noted that the plan will require extensive environmental assessments if it’s to extend to the north and the west of the current plan.
“Remember that you’re going over the Don River – twice,” she said. “This is not a casual running of a light rail line down the middle of a street. This is major infrastructure.”