Federal government to spend $12B on Toronto, Hamilton transit


The federal government announced Tuesday it will spend $12 billion on transit projects in Toronto and Hamilton. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the money will go toward four Toronto subway projects already underway, as well as a light rail transit line that's set to run through Hamilton's downtown core.

The federal government will spend $12 billion on transit projects in Toronto and Hamilton.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna said Tuesday $10.4 billion will go toward four subway projects already underway — the Ontario Line, Scarborough, the Eglinton West Crosstown extension and the Yonge North subway extension.

The federal government will also help fund a light rail transit line in Hamilton's downtown core and buy zero-emission streetcars for the TTC, made at Alstom's Thunder Bay automotive plant (Alstom finalized its purchase of Bombardier Transportation at the beginning of 2021).

Prime Minister Trudeau said the "historic" agreement will reduce traffic congestion and pollution and create tens of thousands of jobs, as part of Canada's economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

"Rapid transit shortens commutes, which gives parents more time with their kids and ensures kids will inherit a cleaner future," Trudeau said. "Public transit is at the heart of a strong recovery and a growing middle class."

The funding comes with conditions, said McKenna. The province and city will have to demonstrate how the investments will drive down emissions and require "substantive" environmental review, community benefit agreements, affordable housing along the line and community benefits agreements.

McKenna said the plan's negotiations took six months and were "not made easily."

"Public transit is at the heart of an inclusive recovery," McKenna said. "We pushed hard for better outcomes for residents in local communities."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's office said it has been urging the federal government to invest in transit for the past two years.

"We have been calling on the federal government to provide its fair share of at least 40 per cent of our four nationally significant subway projects for the GTA," said spokesperson Ivana Yelich in an email.

"In addition, we have been urging them to help fund a viable Hamilton LRT project."

Ontario's Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the federal funding is an "endorsement" of the province's transit plan for the GTA.

Projects plagued by delays, controversies

Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne had committed $1 billion to the Hamilton 14-kilometre LRT in 2015. It was cancelled by Ford's government four years later, claiming it was billions of dollars over budget. Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and private sector partner the Labourers' International Union of North America (LiUNA) both said the province's figures were overblown.

Earlier this year, the province revived a smaller, nine-kilometre line and renewed its $1 billion commitment. However, that funding was contingent on the federal government committing $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, the subway lines in Toronto have their own rocky history.

The Scarborough rapid transit line was originally supposed to be replaced with a light rail line, which would have been up and running by now. However, that project was scrapped by Ford's brother Rob Ford when he was elected mayor of Toronto in 2010. Council then approved a more-expensive underground extension to connect the northeast region to downtown.

It has gone through several revisions in the last decade and is now a three-stop extension expected to cost $6 billion — a price that Metrolinx determined outweighs its benefits. Recently, the TTC recommended shutting down the aging Scarborough line in 2023 and use buses until the project is completed in 2030.

Doug Ford championed the $10.9-billion, 15-stop Ontario Line, following his election as premier. It is slated to run 16 kilometres from Ontario Place through downtown beneath King Street and then north to the Ontario Science Centre.

Parts of the ambitious plan, with no target completion date, have faced opposition from Toronto city councillors and residents. A section of the line will run above ground, which residents say will add noise pollution and destroy trees and animal habitats.

Construction for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT began in 2011 and has been repeatedly delayed to late 2022. The $5.2-billion project was supposed to open this fall.

In the meantime, small businesses and residents have suffered. More than 100 businesses have closed on Eglinton Avenue because of the construction, CBC News previously reported.

With files from Lorenda Reddekopp

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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