Plans don’t always pan out as expected, and although less sometimes means more, disputes can arise. This is the case with Mayor John Tory’s initial SmartTrack proposal and the plan which has passed by city council on Wednesday.
A recent announcement was made by the council confirming an agreement to spend up to $1.46 billion on SmartTrack. The plan put forth is an improved version of the one Mayor Tory proposed during his 2014 election campaign.
Federal and municipal governments are collaborating to fund this project. The city will raise $878 million of the total and the remaining $585 million will come from the federal transit fund. There was opposition to funding as some councilors believe that the province should pay instead of the city, forgetting that the funds all come from the same source-tax dollars residents from across the region pay.
Despite worries of high costs and financing the plan, the decision was made to go forward with SmartTrack in a 37 to 6 vote.
Mayor Tory’s initial plan proposed 22 new stations and a link to Pearson Airport. The new plan will see 6 new stations to be operated by Metrolinx – the provincial transit body that operated regional transit service. The plan fuses SmartTrack’s use of existing GO stations and Metrolinx’s Regional Express Rail, and proposes integrated fares.
Mayor John Tory spoke about the much needed transit:
“This is the stage at which we are moving forward to start to build transit stations within the city of Toronto…Other municipalities are not proposing to build stations that the province would not otherwise have built to suit their local needs.”
Mayor Tory has consistently defended the plan noting the 33 million trips estimated on SmartTrack by 2041. The “cheapest transit we’re ever going to get inside the city,” he said.
There is a need for these stations to be built and Toronto municipal leaders are right to move forward with the revised plan put forth by Mayor Tory. Action means results, and as TTC Chair and councillor Josh Colle points out “Toronto has taken too many years off dwelling on the best way to improve the transit system.”