NEWS

Ontario budget 2015: John Tory says province's plan good for SmartTrack

04/23/2015 06:54 EDT | Updated 07/21/2015 05:59 EDT
Mayor John Tory believes Toronto went two-for-two this week with the federal and provincial budgets both pledging money for the city's transit plans.

Tory praised the Conservatives' federal budget on Tuesday, saying its new transit fund delivered much-needed money for the city's transit infrastructure needs, including his SmartTrack plan.

Again on Thursday, he said the Ontario Liberals' budget also had provisions that could apply to his plan to use existing rail track to connect the city, including $2 and $3 billion worth of spending to electrify GO Transit rail lines.

"I'm absolutely delighted to have in print, in the budget of the province of Ontario, the fact that they're going to electrify those lines," Tory told reporters at city hall.

But while Tory is calling the provincial budget a win for the city, others interpret it differently.

The budget does not explicitly spell out funding for SmartTrack. When questioned about why there was no mention of SmartTrack funding, Tory read directly from a page in the budget that references the rail plan.

"If it's not happening," he said of the funding, "why is it in their budget?"

The Ontario government does mention SmartTrack in the budget when it lays out plans to electrify GO Transit.

But the Liberals promised to electrify GO lines before Tory pitched his SmartTrack plans. The electrification does mesh with SmartTrack, but that funding represents the majority of provincial money for Ontario transit — leaving a $5.2 billion gap to be filled by the city and the federal government.

When asked how the city would fill that gap, Tory responded he would reveal that "soon."

Councillor and former mayor Rob Ford said he is confused by Tory's reaction. "I haven't heard his plan attached to any funding," said Ford.

Other councillors, like Gord Perks, echoed that statement. "This is the province delivering what they promised for a long time. There is no money for Smart Track."

Watch reporter Jamie Strashin dissect what the provincial budget means for Toronto in the video above.

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