Brother, Can You Spare $500-million?

The board of Toronto Transit Infrastructure Limited (a TTC subsidiary) met today to consider various matters, among them the need for more money.

A report by TTIL President and CEO, Gordon Chong ends with the statement

“the existing budget is woefully inadequate to complete the tasks of the Working Group.”

Paul Maloney of the Star covered the meeting (I was unable to attend due to a conflict elsewhere).  Although it’s early days, we now know that the projected cost of the subway has gone up from $4.2 to $4.7-billion.  Just to pay for that increase would take over 10 years’ worth of development charges levied in Toronto.

Chong lists six possible revenue sources to finance the Sheppard line:

  • Tax increment financing in the Sheppard and Eglinton-Crosstown corridors
  • A special city-wide transit development charge
  • Development rights on city-owned land in the Sheppard corridor
  • Federal funding original destined for the Sheppard LRT project
  • New federal funding from PPP Canada
  • Left-over Metrolinx funds from the Eglinton project

It is amusing to note that a subway touted as a “private sector” undertaking would be funded largely by new taxes and public sector money.

The Sheppard subway fantasy will, no doubt, become even more bizarre as details unfold.  Chong plans a report to Council in fall 2011.  Meanwhile, he estimates that the preliminary work needed to determine the cost and feasibility will set TTIL back up to $300-million.

Maybe they can start pre-selling sponsorships for the stations.  After all, condo developers understand the concept of selling vacant land.  Buy early!  Get ’em cheap!

[Elizabeth Church in The Globe also reported on this meeting.]