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Tory furious at ballooning costs of Spadina subway

Mar 6, 2015 1:32:59 PM - 748

Mayor John Tory is livid that the cost for the York-Spadina subway extension has ballooned — repeating what he called a disturbing pattern of large capital project cost overruns.

He was reacting to the revelations in the Star that the troubled line is $400 million over budget.

“We have lurched from one fiasco to another costing taxpayers ....tens of millions of dollars, and just as important, delaying the day we get desperately needed transit service to move people,” Tory said Friday at city hall.

“I am furious that this happens over and over and over again,” he said, adding he blames “an entrenched culture of non-accountability at city hall.”

Asked why no one ever gets fired when projects go over budget, Tory said:

I think that’s a darn good question.”

Toronto Transit Commission chair Josh Colle echoed Tory’s concern and disappointment that taxpayer dollars are being wasted on the problem-plagued York-Spadina subway extension.

The TTC expects to learn the “extent” of the problems on March 26 when it receives a report on the project.

“At that point there will be a decision both for the commission …and council to make on what steps we want to take and what investments we want to make to get that project on track …and get people on that system.”

Colle, who served on the TTC board under the Ford administration, said he is calling for an independent, third-party review of all the TTC’s capital projects, as well as insisting on updates at every TTC management meeting.

Earlier, at Queen’s Park, Premier Kathleen Wynne chided the TTC itself for not building the Spadina subway extension as a private-public partnership.

She suggested Friday that the Toronto Transit Commission could learn from the province on how to better build infrastructure.

“It’s interesting that this was not a project that was built . . . according to the AFP model,” said Wynne, referring to the Liberal government’s “alternative financing and procurement” way of funding big infrastructure, such as the under-construction Eglinton Crosstown line.

“There’s been a lot of talk about how to bring these projects in on time and on budget and certainly I know Infrastructure Ontario will be happy to talk with the city and the TTC about how that AFP model actually allows for bringing these projects in on time and on budget,” she said.

Wynne was careful not to close the door to bailing out the extension to the tune of $400 million — even though cost overruns are supposed to be covered by the TTC, the city of Toronto, and York Region.

“This is a project that’s very important obviously to the network of transit that’s being developed. It was our government that put $870 million in the hands of the TTC to build the project,” said Wynne.

“We haven’t seen any formal request or formal engagement on this, but obviously it’s important to us that the subway be built. I’m sure it will be. It will be completed and it will be a great service,” she said.

“I’m not going to pre-empt the conversation that will have to happen between the city (and province). But the fact is we put $870 million in.”

The 8.6-kilometre, six-stop addition from Downsview Station through York University and up into Vaughan was originally expected to cost $1.5 billion before ballooning to $2.5 billion and, now, at least $2.9 billion.

Announced in the March 2006, the subway was supposed to open by this fall, but is now unlikely to be up and running before 2017.

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