NEWS

Council set for Scarborough subway showdown

07/16/2013 07:45 EDT | Updated 09/15/2013 05:12 EDT
The showdown over light rail versus subways in Scarborough goes to Toronto city council today with Mayor Rob Ford confident the city will back the more expensive underground option.

"I truly believe the majority of councillors have seen the light and they've listened to the taxpayers and they want subways," he said.

The province has already committed $1.8 billion for rapid transit in the city's east end. A subway could cost at least $1 billion more.

The city and province had a signed agreement in place to build light rail in Scarborough, but in May voted to pursue a subway option instead.

Transportation minister Glen Murray says the province is willing to build a Bloor-Danforth subway extension but Premier Kathleen Wynne says the extra money won’t come from provincial funds.

"If that is what the city wants to do, then there has to be a way of funding it," she said. "And I'm pleased the mayor has changed his tune in terms of finding tools to create a revenue stream in order to do that."

Even if council endorses light rail today, there remains lingering questions about the cost.

A city manager's report released last week laid out the following conditions that must be met to pay for a subway. They include:

- A 1.1% to 2.4% property tax increase over three years.

- The province supplying the full $1.8 billion it had originally committed to the LRT.

- Access to more money generated by changes paid by developers.

- Getting a significant contribution from the federal government, which has so far not committed any money to an east-end subway.

Ford is proposing a .25 per cent tax increase, which leaves funding for the project far from certain.

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