POLITICS

Toronto light-rail plan gets green light from Metrolinx, province

04/25/2012 02:58 EDT | Updated 06/25/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The Ontario government is urging Toronto to move on a plan to build four new light-rail lines while rejecting any new road tolls to pay for expanding public transit.

Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli says he's focused on getting shovels in the ground now that Metrolinx has approved the plan for the new transit lines.

The provincial transportation agency gave the plan the green light Wednesday on recommendation from the city of Toronto.

However, Chiarelli says the province is not prepared to entertain any requests from the city to impose road tolls to fund the transit improvements.

He says there are no plans to change that policy any time soon, but admits tolls could be considered by Metrolinx in its long-term study on how to fund future public transit expansions.

Transit has sparked heated debates at Toronto's city council in recent months and the current light-rail plan was adopted against the wishes of Mayor Rob Ford.

Chiarelli says projects along Eglinton Avenue and the Scarborough RT will begin this year, and all four lines are scheduled to be completed by 2020.

But the first step is to bring the proposal to the Ontario cabinet.

The province has committed $8.4 billion to the Toronto transit projects.