Robert Benzie and Tess Kalinowski with the Star:
As first reported at thestar.com, Premier Dalton McGuinty is to announce Thursday that the province will spend $8.2 billion on the new 20-km Eglinton Crosstown Metro. It would run underground all the way from Black Creek to Kennedy station and continue above ground along the existing Scarborough Rapid Transit route, which would be converted to the same LRT technology.
But it will be up to Mayor Rob Ford and council to determine how to finance the $4.2 billion for the Sheppard subway extensions he wants to build west to Downsview station and east to Scarborough Town Centre.
I have two points.
First: This is disappointing but not disastrous news. I’d caution Transit City supporters (and I am one) against condemning the plan outright, as the last thing we want is for the city to get entangled in endless debates that delays rapid transit on Eglinton by another decade. Yes, the plan is flawed. All plans are flawed. But the greater good of getting something built on Eglinton tends to trump the many many misgivings I have about the route we took to get to this plan.
Second: I have a lot of issues with how this is being reported. The Star’s headline is okay: “Queen’s Park and city have a $12.4B TTC deal.” Aside from this not really being a $12.4B deal — it’s an $8.2B deal with $4.2Bish of P3 funding that will apparently fall from the sky — I can live with that interpretation of facts. The Globe, though, runs with “Ontario agrees to Rob Ford’s transit plan” which is incredibly misleading. Rob Ford’s transit plan looked like this. (Page Three.) What we’re getting is a compromise plan that sticks closer to Metrolinx’s vision than it does Ford’s. BlogTO nailed it with their headline: “Province to fund Eglinton LRT, but not Ford’s subway.”
Despite the weirdness of tunnelling sections that really don’t need to be tunnelled, the Eglinton project (and the associated Scarborough RT replacement with LRT) will stand as a legacy project for David Miller, Adam Giambrone and the Transit City plan. Ford can bury parts of Eglinton, but he can’t bury that.