John Tory spoke of opponents of the Scarborough subway extension going “to war to get it cancelled,” and looked ready for war himself.
Toronto’s mayor on Monday, March 13 surrounded himself at Centennial Recreation Centre with allies he might need to stop a rising at City Council against the $3.35-billion project.
He sat with five Scarborough councillors, two MPPs and three MPs. The meeting, hosted by ConnectScarborough, a campaign paid for by owners of Scarborough Town Centre, included Renew Scarborough, the Rotary-inspired grassroots group now partnered with it.
Also there to support the mayor were officials from Centennial College and the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Tory asked everyone there to email Toronto councillors ahead of the latest review of the extension by the TTC board on March 22 and council on March 28.
The lack of a subway to Scarborough Town Centre “keeps us from feeling like a family,” said Tory, acknowledging the project is costly, but predicting, 25 years from now, Torontonians will praise the “courage” and “steadfastness” behind it.
He suggested, after multiple votes and debates since council decided in 2013 to scrap a light-rail line to the mall and beyond with a Bloor-Danforth extension, the coming subway debate should be the last.
“I’m saying we just have to do it one more time,” said Tory.
The mayor continued to sell the six-kilometre subway as part of a “network plan” he announced last January, which includes SmartTrack GO Rail stations in Scarborough and also a 17-stop light-rail-transit line, the Eglinton East.
Rising subway costs have left that LRT, running from Kennedy Station to UTSC past two Centennial campuses and some of Scarborough’s poorest neighbourhoods, with almost no funds.
Tory told the audience that won’t stop the line, an extension of the Crosstown LRT, from being built “as soon as possible,” and possibly extended further north.
Scarborough councillors Glenn De Baeremaeker and Neethan Shan, elected last month, said they hope federal and provincial money will take the Eglinton East to Malvern.
How this could be done as the subway is being built wasn’t clear: Tory spoke of “future envelopes for transit” but also promised the city will “find a way” to pay for the LRT if other governments contribute.
Brad Duguid, Ontario’s minister of economic development and growth, hasn’t promised more provincial money for the LRT. In an interview, Scarborough-Guildwood MP John McKay said Scarborough’s six Liberal MPs all want it built, and will push for that project if council makes it a priority for federal infrastructure funds.
The city, however, also wants such funds for a relief subway line downtown, and for a Waterfront LRT.
Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie, meanwhile, continues to stand by his decision to support the Eglinton East but not the subway.
“I understand why Scarborough Centre wants the Scarborough Subway, but the cost of this one-stop subway into their community far exceeds the benefits to the entire community of Scarborough which is starved for public transit,” he said in a message to constituents last week.