07/03/2013 08:17 EDT | Updated 09/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Ford asks for report on options for subway funding

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford remains committed to bringing a subway to Scarborough, announcing Wednesday that he has called on his city manager to report back to council on how such a project might be paid for.

Plans had been made to revamp the city's aging Scarborough RT and replace it with an extended light-rail line (LRT), but Ford has long preferred to see it converted into a subway.

The additional costs of moving from a light-rail system to a subway is estimated by the TTC to be at least $500 million —perhaps closer to a $1 billion, if estimates from Metrolinx are to be believed.

Yet the pressure to go with a subway plan has been building, despite the fact that city and province signed a contract to move ahead with the light-rail plan months ago.

In May, council voted 35-9 on a motion to support the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line from Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre, then north to Sheppard Avenue.

On Wednesday, Ford said that Metrolinx has asked the city for clarity on the master agreement, which the mayor said amounts to whether it wants to see a subway or a new LRT.

"We want subways, folks," Ford told reporters at a news conference. "They want a clear direction from the City of Toronto and that's exactly what I want to give them."

To that end, Ford has asked the city manager to issue a report to council later this month, which will explore the funding options Toronto could consider to build a subway.

The mayor said the report will give councillors the information they need to take "a clear and informed position."

"Folks, the time to act is now," Ford said. "The cost of further delays will cost a fortune."

The mayor said he was "fully confident that we can work with Metrolinx and Premier Wynne to deliver new subways to the residents of Toronto."

Coun. Michael Thompson said it’s time for Metrolinx to step away.

"I'm simply asking that they allow for those funds to be transferred to the TTC for us to work with Mr. Byford at the TTC and to ensure that we can build a subway system that takes you from Kennedy station to Sheppard," he told CBC News on Wednesday.

All of this assumes the $1.4 billion slated for the Scarborough LRT flows directly to a new subway plan.

Coun. Gord Perks warned Wednesday that "both the mayor and the head of the TTC are proposing transit solutions that we simply can't deliver and the people of Scarborough are going to get nothing."