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Wynne says province needs to ‘get moving’ on Scarborough subway extension

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne visits Foodshare Toronto in Toronto Monday, September 16, 2013 to announce a $30-million dollar investment in local food projects over the next three years.

Mark Blinch/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The province will push ahead a subway extension to Scarborough Town Centre, despite TTC Chair Karen Stintz's objections.

In her first comments since meeting with Ms. Stintz last week, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday that the province needs to "get moving" and just build the line, rather than continuing to debate it with the city.

"With all due respect, there have been hundreds of conversations about this particular line. When I say that it has been a contentious line, that is not an overstatement. It's something that has gone back and forth," she said following an unrelated announcement at a Toronto school. "I became transportation minister in 2010 and the debate began then. So we need to move ahead. We're putting money on the table. We're the only level of government that's putting money on the table. So we need to get moving."

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The province and the city signed a deal last year to replace the aging Scarborough Rapid Transit line with a modern LRT. Then, council changed its mind and voted for an extension of the Bloor-Danforth line instead. The city wants a route up McCowan Road to Sheppard Avenue East.

Queen's Park, however, is pushing an alignment that follows the current SRT corridor to Scarborough Town Centre, which it says could be built for $1.4-billion.

Council's route would be more expensive, and it is not clear how it would be paid for. The federal government has not yet said if it will pony up any money for the project, and the small tax increase floated by Mayor Rob Ford would not be enough to make up the difference in its own.

Mr. Ford said Monday that he believes Ottawa will come to the table with money for the subway expansion. "We are working with the feds every single day, we'll see," he told reporters. "I think we're going to have a positive response from the federal government."

Asked if the federal funding commitment will come before the Sept. 30 deadline imposed by city council, he responded, "I don't know. Patience is a virtue."

A spokeswoman for federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel confirmed Monday that Ottawa had received Mr. Ford's request for funds and that the government would reply to it.

After her meeting with Ms. Wynne last week, Ms. Stintz slammed the province's proposed route, which would run on an elevated platform, similar to the Bloor line near High Park, as "not a subway" because it doesn't go underground.

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Ms. Wynne seemed perplexed by Ms. Stintz's line of reasoning.

"When this is built, I'm on the subway, I come to Kennedy station, I stay on the subway and go on the extension. The fact is: it is a subway," Ms. Wynne said. "I'm not sure exactly why she is taking that line of argument, because it is a subway, and we're going to continue. We've got that money on the table and we're going to move forward."

Ms. Stintz has warned that, if the province and city cannot agree on a route, a light-rail line will be built instead.

Transportation Minister Glen Murray said he was confident city council will agree to the province's subway plan.

"The city's continuing to discuss it, we continue to work with them and I continue to be optimistic," he said Monday at Queen's Park. "I think council will be on the same page."

With report from Elizabeth Church

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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