Will Scarborough Get Its Subway? (Updated: Probably)

Updated October 9, 2013 at 1:20am:

Toronto Council, by a vote of 24-20, has approved proceeding with the Scarborough Subway project including a three-stage property tax increase totalling 1.6% to finance the City of Toronto’s share of the budget.

There is little new to add at this point on the technical issues all of which were covered on this site before.

My personal reaction is disappointment, but more strongly, disgust at the behaviour of some Councillors and a few City Officials.  The outright hatred and slander against “downtowners” and their motives in “pushing” LRT does not bode well for cordial relations on Council, not to mention sowing equivalent feelings among the electorate.  There are arguments to be made for the subway option (many of them have appeared here in the comment threads), but this should be done in a civil manner relatively free of distortion.

Instead, we got warped versions of the truth about both the subway and LRT options, and not a few outright lies.  TTC CEO Andy Byford, one who trotted out the “100 year subway” myth was forced to backtrack on two counts by questions at Council.  He admitted that the tunnels last for 100 years, but much of what is in them does not.  Meanwhile, he talked about LRT lasting 50 years, not the 30 year figure that has been bandied around of late.  The obvious issue is that a tunnel may very well last 100 years, but if you don’t have to build one in the first place, and can save the expense, what does it matter?

We will have to wait a decade to see whether the suddenly much rosier projections of demand for a rapid transit line in Scarborough come from the same well-cooked land-use and population assumptions that brought us the vastly overstated estimates for the Sheppard Subway (and for growth at Scarborough Town Centre).

In any event, the vote is taken, and barring a discovery of a major extra cost for the City appearing during detailed design, the decision is as final as we can expect to see from this Council and the provincial government.

How the rest of the LRT network will fare really depends on the 2014 municipal and provincial elections.  Mayor Ford has already declared that subways on Sheppard and Finch are goals for his next term.

The half-hearted advocacy for LRT from Metrolinx and Queen’s Park plays a big part in this situation, but I never thought their hearts were in it going right back to the early days of Metrolinx when I was persona non grata for asking their newly-minted Chair if they would consider this mode as an option in their grand plan.

How many more ridings will the Liberals feel the need to buy off with a subway promise?

The original article from October 4 follows the break.

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