TORONTO – Ontario will pay $1.4-billion to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway to Scarborough City Centre, but the city will have to settle for a shorter route, Transportation Minister Glen Murray announced Wednesday.
The 6.4-kilometre route would extend from Kennedy subway station to Scarborough City Centre along the current rapid transit line, said Murray.
Murray says Queen’s Park is going solo on the project because despite all the subway talk, Ottawa and Mayor Rob Ford haven’t come up with any money.
“If the mayor or Mr. Flaherty have some change of heart, get hit by lightning, something happens, they can write a cheque and we can add another subway station. God knows we can name it after them.”
He offered no apologies for making the announcement without any representatives from the city or the TTC on hand, knowing it was a different, shorter route than Ford and the TTC had been hoping for.
“Graciously, we hope that the city will not obstruct this and that the city will not stand in the way of what the people of Scarborough want,” said Murray.
The minister went out of his way to criticize Ford for promising a subway to Scarborough but never saying how he would fund it, slapping a dime on the podium and saying that’s more money than the mayor ever put up for his promised project.
“Mr. Ford made two promises to us: ‘I won’t raise your taxes, I’ll cut them.’ He’s raised my taxes. ‘I’ll build subways.’ We haven’t got five cents out of the city for subways.”
However, Ford ignored Murray’s repeated barbs and decided to take the province’s money as a win for him and the city.
“I campaigned on extending the Bloor-Danforth subway line to the Scarborough Town Centre (and) I want to thank the province for helping me deliver on that promise,” Ford said in a statement.
“I said we were going to build subways to Scarborough and that is exactly what we are doing.”
Murray also criticized TTC chair Karen Stintz and lashed out at the federal government for refusing to fund the subway extension.
The city wanted a longer, three-stop subway extension line, but Murray said only the shorter route is affordable with the $1.4-billion the province has committed to the project. He later said the number of stops would be worked out with the TTC and the city.
Ford has said he’ll appeal to the federal government for additional money to build the subway.
Murray said the province has not received any commitment from Ottawa for the project, and complained he couldn’t even get a meeting with his federal counterpart.
“It’s very clear the federal government is not, again, being a partner in developing rapid transit,” he said.
A spokesman for the federal Minister of Infrastructure, Denis Lebel, said Wednesday the ministry has until Sept. 30 to respond to Ford’s subway funding request, and suggested Murray was mainly interested in publicity.
“We are surprised by Minister Murray’s repeated press conferences, which we believe are counterproductive,” said Lebel’s spokesman Michele-Jamali Paquette in an email.
Ontario’s opposition parties said Murray’s announcement differed from the promises the Liberals made to hold the Scarborough-Guildwood riding in an Aug. 1 byelection.
“After telling the people of Scarborough they would finally have world-class transit, Glen Murray has shown that this was nothing more than a tactic to buy votes during the byelections,” said MPP Doug Holyday, the former deputy Toronto mayor.
The New Democrats also wondered why Murray’s subway plan keeps changing.
“Every time Minister Murray holds a press conference, people in Scarborough get a different promise,” said NDP transportation critic Rosario Marchese.
“I think people in Scarborough and across Ontario are wondering if the Liberals are more interested in getting people moving or trying to score political points.”
The governing Liberals had planned to build a light-rail line in east-end Toronto, but changed their mind when city council voted in favour of a subway extension.
Council has approved a small tax increase over the next three years to help pay for the project.