NEWS

Doug Ford says downtown relief line is his top transit priority

10/02/2014 03:42 EDT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 EST
Doug Ford says if elected mayor, he will make a downtown relief subway line the priority of his transit plan. He was also critical of John Tory's SmartTrack plan for failing to account for tunnelling costs.

Ford, who replaced his brother Rob as a mayoral candidate on Sept. 12, said he believes he can get council approval for a subway line that would alleviate congestion on the overcrowded Yonge-University-Spadina Line (Line 1).

"I can have a team together on the first day," said Ford. "I can build a team immediately."

By making the downtown relief line (DRL) his top priority, Doug Ford is deviating from Mayor Rob Ford's transit plan, which placed a higher priority on subway lines on Finch Avenue West and Shepard Avenue East.

There is currently no funding set aside for a DRL, which the TTC has said should be a priority of any transit expansion.

When asked how he would pay for a DRL, Ford listed assets from Build Toronto, development charges, public-private partnerships and the sale of "air rights" at subway stations.  

Ford said he's spoken with provincial Finance Minister Charles Sousa who he says told him "I can work with you."

When Rob Ford unveiled his transit plan earlier this month, he estimated it would cost $9 billion to build subways lines on Finch Avenue West and Shepard Avenue East and "phase one" of a DRL that would connect the Queen and Pape subway stations. The $9 billion cost would also include burying the eastern portion of the Eglinton Crosstown line which is currently under construction with plans to go above ground east of Laird Drive.

Doug Ford used similar numbers on Thursday and said the cost should be split between the city, federal and provincial governments.

CBC's Steven D'Souza spoke with transit experts who questioned those lines could be built for $9 billion.

Ford joins Chow in questioning Tory's SmartTrack numbers

Ford also targeted Tory's SmartTrack plan, which he said fails to account for tunnelling costs in its $8-billion price tag.

"Suddenly he is saying we'll need tunnelling," said Ford. "When asked how much will tunnelling on Eglinton add to the cost and time lines of the project, he just avoids the question.

"I think his plan is off-track but it's too late for him to admit it," said Ford.

Olivia Chow has raised similar concerns about SmartTrack. She has said the plan as draw up would require the demolition of various buildings in Toronto's Mount Dennis neighbourhood to allow trains to turn onto Eglinton Avenue.

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