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Ottawa must commit new money for subway to proceed, Stintz says

Karen Stintz, TTC chair for the city of Toronto.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

TTC chair Karen Stintz insisted Wednesday that there would have to be new federal money committed to building the Scarborough subway if city council approves the mayor's plan to switch gears from the already funded light-rail line.

Ms. Stintz weighed in on a point of contention during Tuesday's heated and confusing debate, saying that $333-million in funding from the federal government was indeed earmarked for the Sheppard LRT line. The mayor had flip-flopped on this Tuesday, at first saying the money was offered by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for any Toronto transit project. Later he said it was to pay for Sheppard, despite a representative from Mr. Flaherty's office confirming the earlier assertion that the money was not dedicated.

Mr. Ford's motion recommends funding come from provincial and federal coffers, with a small increase in property taxes to make up the city's share of the bill for the subway plan, which will cost $1.1-billion more than the LRT.

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On Wednesday, TTC chair Karen Stintz said that if the proposal is approved and the federal government does not come to the table financially by January, 2014, council will revert to the LRT plan.

"If we don't have a federal partner and we don't have a provincial partner, then the LRT is still on the books. So at a minimum, Scarborough will still get a replaced LRT," Ms. Stintz said.

A spokeswoman for Metrolinx declined to confirm whether it would be possible for the city to revert to an LRT, should subway funding prove elusive. "We'd rather not speculate on the variety of potential outcomes," she said in an e-mail.

Also on Wednesday morning, the city manager also released a statement emphasizing that the $333-million was for Sheppard.

City councillor Josh Matlow spoke with media Wednesday morning about a heated exchange between himself and the mayor at the previous day's meeting. Mr. Ford had insisted the construction of the LRT would tear up roads. But because the LRT would be built on a separate, graded track, roads would not in fact be affected. Mr. Matlow had zealously pointed this out to the mayor.

"It wasn't that he disagreed with me, he just didn't seem to understand," Mr. Matlow said. "I don't know what's worse: if the mayor is misleading Scarborough residents or if he sincerely doesn't know what we're debating."

With files from Oliver Moore

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