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Toronto councillors look to revive Scarborough subway line

Apr 28, 2013 7:27:58 PM - thestar.com

Some Scarborough councillors want to put a subway back on the map as part of the province’s upcoming talks on taxes for transit.

Glenn De Baeremaeker, who represents Ward 38 Scarborough Centre, said if the province does adopt new taxes and fees to pay for transit infrastructure, the $500 million needed to extend the Bloor-Danforth line should come out of that money.

That would mean scrapping current plans to replace the Scarborough Rapid Transit line with light rail, a controversial agreement hammered out late last year.

De Baeremaeker said work on the line hasn’t yet begun.

“We still have a window now, where we can go to the province and say we want an upgrade,” he said. “If we can have a majority of Toronto councillors (in support), I think the province is going to listen to us.”

De Baeremaeker and fellow Scarborough councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who represents Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest, plan to put forward a motion calling on council to support the proposal at its May meeting.

Berardinetti said she’s reaching out to her colleagues in hopes that all Scarborough councillors will unite behind the issue.

“You’re not going to get Scarborough residents to support any revenue tools if there’s no offer of a subway,” said Berardinetti.

Weekend media reports said that TTC chair Karen Stintz had met with provincial officials to discuss the Scarborough subway.

But Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency, said Saturday that it was proceeding with a surface light rail in Scarborough.

“We have a plan. Shovels are in the ground. We are moving forward with a surface LRT to replace the Scarborough RT, which has been approved by Metrolinx, the City of Toronto and the TTC,” wrote spokesperson Malon Edwards in an email to the Star.

Edwards noted Metrolinx will issue its final report and recommendations on transit funding on May 27.

“In the meantime, we will continue to listen to feedback from residents, stakeholders, and heads of municipalities across the (Toronto region) to help fund The Big Move and the ‘next wave’ of projects.”

Councillors are working to sideline Mayor Rob Ford when it comes to debating the province’s proposed revenue tools after the mayor’s executive committee voted to defer discussing city manager Joe Pennachetti’s report on the matter until May 28. That would be one day too late for Toronto to submit its views to Metrolinx on transit levies.

Councillors are pushing for the two-thirds support needed to add the issue for debate at the May 7 council meeting.

Ford has been a vociferous supporter of subways, at the same time as vehemently opposing any new taxes to pay for transit.

“Guaranteed, hell will freeze over before I will support any of these new taxes,” he has said.

With files from Tess Kalinowski and David Rider

Canada, Ontario: (Latest Stories)