Infrastructure Ontario January 2022 Update

Infrastructure Ontario has issued its quarterly update of projects that are in the planning and procurement stages. This affects several parts of the Ontario government, but my focus here is on transit projects.

The spreadsheet linked below tracks the past and current updates to show how the projects have evolved. There are two sections: one for active projects and one for projects with no currently reported info (typically for projects that are now in construction or completed, or that have been withdrawn).

Where a cell is coloured yellow, there is a change from the October 2021 report. Several cells are coloured light yellow. There is new text, but the only real change is to say “Jan-Mar” instead of “Winter”, and similarly for other seasons. This eliminates a point of confusion in past reports.

The substantial changes in this round are:

  • The Ontario Line North Civil, Tunnels and Stations contract dates have slipped by one quarter, and the contract type has changed from DBF (Design, Build, Finance) to TBD (To Be Determined). This covers the OL infrastructure work from East Harbour to Science Centre Station.
  • The Yonge North subway extension has been split into two projects: one for the tunnel and the other for the stations, rail and systems. The projected dates for the tunnel contract are unchanged, but for the stations project they are TBD.
  • A new line has been added for the Eglinton West LRT tunnel between Jane and Mount Dennis.
  • All of the GO expansion projects have slipped into 2022 for contract execution, but with dates early in the year. This implies an imminent flurry of announcements just in time for the coming election. These projects are running a few years behind their originally planned dates.
  • The contract type for the GO OnCorr project which includes future operation and maintenance of the system has changed from DBOM (Design, Build, Operate, Maintain) to “Progressive DBOM” which appears to provide earlier design input from prospective builders as well as a better (from the bidders’ point of view) allocation of risk between Metrolinx and the P3.
  • The Milton GO Station project has not been updated since October 2021. It is possible that this work is paused pending a resolution of issues between Metrolinx and CPR about all-day operation on this line.

12 thoughts on “Infrastructure Ontario January 2022 Update

  1. 1) If Go (Ghost) Stations have been promoted to justify MZO’s approval (e.g. Caledon Go on the non-existent Bolton Go Line, Orbit Barrie line in Inisfil or Concord Go Barrie Line in Vaughan) but are not listed under projects in planning have you considered if the MZO’s were required or were they just shells to get increased density and/or bring land into the urban boundary? Sorry the question is a bit leading and gives some insight into what I think.

    Steve: They only show up on the list if they (a) have entered the procurement stage and (b) will be built/operated under the P3 model. Otherwise, IO is not involved.

    2) Is the total price of the YNSE $2-4B or the sum of both line items so $4-8B? Also would the MZO that Metrolinx is saying Markham Council has to endorse for the TOC designations surrounding High-Tech & Bridge Stations have anything to do with this separation?

    Steve: Yes, it would appear that the range has widened. As for the split, this arrangement has been used on other projects like Scarborough, Eglinton West and the Ontario Line. Once a project gets to the point of being carved into specific contracts, two or more separate lines appear in the IO table. This is normal.

    3) Perhaps of interest. Metrolinx has these incredibly vague permit requests on the ERO site for Engendered Species benefit permits. The Auditor General found that the MECP gives these out like candy.

    Steve: This will sound crass, but the state of consultation processes and “environmental” legislation is that there are more protections for barn swallows than for neighbourhoods. Environmental Assessments now contain hundreds of pages about flora and fauna, but little on neighbourhood effects and especially alternatives analysis.

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  2. I am particularly worried about the OnCorr contract slipping. This one is so large that it is a juicy target for politicians wanting to save money, an urge that will be stronger as interest rates rise. Yet it is arguably one of the most important for public transit in the GTA. Given the number of contracts that are due to be signed after the next provincial election, which is supposed to be in early June, I wonder which party leader is more likely to follow through on these initiatives. With inflation rising and interest rates likely to follow, time is of the essence.

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  3. Irene, Thank you!

    She said:

    “If GO (Ghost) Stations have been promoted to justify MZO’s approval e.g. Caledon GO on the non-existent Bolton GO Line … were the MZO’s required or were they just shells to get increased density and/or bring land into the urban boundary? Sorry the question is a bit leading and gives some insight into what I think.”

    The Caledon situation has been very controversial. The developers (ie. speculator landowners) have close ties to the Doug Ford government, hence the MZO’s. The proposed location for the Bolton GO station under this plan is less than ideal.

    As part of restoring passenger rail service to Bolton, we should also look at restoring service from Bolton to Orangeville. Right now, GO feeds Orangeville commuters to Brampton, which ignores traditional commuting routes.

    We can hope for a new provincial government in the spring. Unfortunately for Bolton residents, the riding boundaries are jigged to ensure a Conservative victory.

    Steve: If nothing else, this suggests that better GO service is not a high priority for voters who have other reasons for liking the Ford government.

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  4. Many thanks Steve, and commenters for insights, and wrestling with the details, which some of us don’t do. With the ‘opportunities’ within the Toronto area, there’s a strong smell of some facts being ignored, and large mistakes being made, with benefits to some, but not to the broader public/systems.

    And are we still presuming that everything routes to the core? And what degree of balance/imbalance is there in analyzing options? (Am very pleased that Steve cut up the EA processes in terms of failing to look at options ie. any type of subway as long as it’s here; the processes also are missing the accountings for GHGs/carbon/etc in the infrastructure eg. concrete. Maybe the federal level could lead on requiring this prior to sending out the dump trucks full of $upports??)

    Steve: A big problem is that the feds claim that they don’t want to earmark grants, but leave the choice of projects up to the municipalities. Don’t look for any joy in Ottawa with a sudden desire to meddle in local planning. Of course what happens is that a cit like Toronto can blow a bundle on a few big projects because they don’t have to pay for most of it, while the transit system as a whole operates on whatever they can get from begging bowls.

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  5. “We can hope for a new provincial government in the spring. Unfortunately for Bolton residents, the riding boundaries are jigged to ensure a Conservative victory.”

    Do you mean the boundaries are deliberately gerrymandered, or do you just mean that the way they happen to be drawn makes it likely that Bolton will be represented by a Conservative? I’m asking because I thought that most of Ontario’s riding boundaries were simply defined to be the same as the Federal ridings, and those are determined by a process which is widely understood to be non-partisan.

    Here’s to a new provincial government, although I am pessimistic to expect Ford to slide up the middle thanks to FPTP.

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  6. Premier Ford in his 3.5 years has built more transit than the Liberals did in 15 years and Premier Ford accomplished so much in so little time in spite of a global pandemic. We were told (during the last election campaign) that Ford would cancel everything and build nothing, I guess that all of that fear-mongering was for nothing.

    Steve: You should check your history books:

    Eglinton Crosstown: Originally part of Transit City proposed by David Miller, taken over by the Liberals at Queen’s Park. Construction began in 2010. Ford was not Premier.

    Finch West: Originally part of Transit City proposed by David Miller, taken over by the Liberals at Queen’s Park. After considerable farting around in the procurement process, the contract was awarded in April 2018. Ford was not Premier.

    Scarborough Subway: This project has been delayed at least four years by Premier Ford’s interference. It was originally to open in 2026, but the date is now pushed back to 2030.

    Eglinton East LRT: Another Transit City project, one that the Province has not taken over as its own. Timing has stretched out and costs risen in part because the Doug Ford Scarborough Subway interferes with the LRT exit from Kennedy Station requiring an extended LRT tunnel to Midland. The proposed terminus has been moved north to Markham Centre (the original Transit City destination) because with the SSE going straight north to Sheppard and McCowan, and the Scarborough LRT cancelled, this will get rail service to Malvern, albeit years later than if the Scarborough LRT had been built. If Ford has any “contribution”, it was to delay projects.

    Eglinton West LRT: At considerable expense, this line, which could have been on the surface, is going underground so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of voters in Ford’s home turf.

    North Yonge Subway: This one has been on the books for ages, long before Ford became Premier, and it was always intended to open around 2030 following the construction of the Relief Line. Not a Ford project.

    Ontario Line: This replaced the original Relief Line which had reached 30% design for the south section (Pape to Osgoode). The north section was supposed to be under Metrolinx, but they ran much later than the City who did the south portion, and never even finished a route selection from Danforth to Eglinton. In any event, it is wrongly stated that service north of Danforth was a Ford brainwave as part of the Ontario line when in fact the idea of going to at least Eglinton, if not beyond, had already been studied before Ford became Premier.

    Hamilton LRT: The Ford government originally killed this project by withdrawing funding on the premise of huge cost overruns. In fact, they were mixing future operating costs with current-day capital costs thereby vastly increasing the projected cost. They have now restored some funding for this project. However, it predates the Ford era.

    Hurontario LRT: Procurement for this project began in 2016 before Ford became Premier.

    GO Expansion and Electrification: This collection of projects dates back well into the McGuinty era and was simply inherited by Ford. It appears that contracts will finally be signed for major works and the future operating contract in the next few months. Ford might be Premier while this happens, but he did not originate the project.

    Please don’t prattle on about how much Ford has “built”. He inherited almost every project now underway from the Liberals, and if anything, Ford contributed delay, not progress. He has also created a big overhang in future debt costs for building tunnels where they are not needed. This will compete with funding of additional projects in future budgets.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In reply to Isaac: no, thankfully, the riding boundaries have not been gerrymandered. The odd-shaped riding of Dufferin-Caledon, both provincial and federal, places Caledon with neighbours that are quite dissimilar. Dufferin is predominantly rural farming, while Caledon is mostly Bolton and country estates. The local MPP Sylvia Jones’ (Cons.) office is in Orangeville. Likewise, Caledon is a poor fit with the large cities of Brampton and Mississauga as part of Peel Region. Caledon, if it needed to be coupled to neighbours, the best choice would be King Township. As indicated by Steve’s comment, Dufferin voters are not much interested in GO Transit.

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  8. Jonathan: Premier Ford in his 3.5 years has built more transit than the Liberals did in 15 years and Premier Ford accomplished so much in so little time in spite of a global pandemic.

    I fully agree with Jonathan. The Liberals had 15 years to build the Downtown Relief Line (DRL). Where is it? It is only due to Premier Ford that the Ontario Line is now almost shovel ready. The Liberals promised hydrail, Mississauga-Brampton LRT, Scarborough Subway, Yonge Subway Extension, Hamilton LRT, high speed rail between Toronto and London, and so much more but where is it? Where is any of it? There is a reason that the Liberals lost official party status. If the Liberals really are as good as Steve claims, then how come they performed so shamefully in the election that they lost official party status? It is now only under Premier Ford that we are finally constructing the Scarborough Subway, Yonge Subway Extension, Eglinton West LRT, Ontario Line, and so much more.

    Steve: Well, no, the DRL was not a provincial project when the Liberals were in power, and the City for its part only “discovered” that capacity on the Yonge subway was an issue comparatively recently when it became obvious that a Richmond Hill extension would be a disaster without more capacity into downtown.

    Everybody .. City Council, the province and even the feds .. were kissing ass all over the suburbs with funding promises for subway extensions, and the DRL was on a very back burner. Even the province only got interested when Council said “no relief line, no Richmond Hill extension”. Proposals for the Yonge extension go back three decades at least, and studies were already sitting on the shelf when Ford came to power. I didn’t say that the Liberals were good, but that Doug Ford and his boosters like you cannot lay claim to all of these projects, especially the Hamilton LRT which he tried to kill. The Scarborough Subway will be delayed at least four years thanks to Ford.

    High speed rail? Yes, that was a stupid Liberal idea that has been around for ages. And what do we get from Ford? A train that leaves London so early in the morning that it might as well have a sleeping car. Ditto for the Niagara Falls service, and likely for any restoration of service to North Bay. It’s all hype to say “look, we run a train” without doing something really useful.

    As I said before, the projects now under construction were already in the pipeline, and whoever the Premier might have been for the past four years would have inherited them.

    The Liberals deserved to lose, but we did not deserve to get Doug Ford, at least not without the comparative discipline of a minority government. Now it is the Tories who deserve to lose, and I am delighted that the polls are finally turning against Ford.

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  9. The Liberals had 15 years to build the Downtown Relief Line (DRL). Where is it? It is only due to Premier Ford that the Ontario Line is now almost shovel ready.

    I hate to break it to you, your royal troll-ness, but Ford isn’t building the DRL. He’s trying to build the Ontario RT line which is a pet project of Metrolinx’s favourite child. It’s a scaled down miniature version of the DRL and Ford only had to delay the whole process by 4 years while the donkeys at MX redesigned it.

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  10. In Ed Levy’s good book Transit in Toronto, there’s a repro of a 1957 plan that had Relief South, Relief North, Relief West out to Islington and Relief NE beyond Eglinton to the NE, to reflect that squeezing of Scarborough on the diagonal from the shift in Lake Ontario’s shore. So while I’m glad Steve let some of the Con-types do their boosterism, that gladness is only to the extent that it’s so readily proveable how false claims are, not that reason has much to do with anything, yes, including the Liberals, obviously, eg. Sorbara subway. (NDP, with some respect, do tend to like large projects primarily for the work, not value for users and tax dollars), and like all major parties are also ‘carservative’ in continuing supports, often not so obvious, for car mobilities. Hence climate emergency/descent; oops.

    For some of us, it’s pretty difficult to be atop of all of the transit proposals and relative merits, so perhaps Steve could opine about the relative worth of all the projects now underway – ie. is the percentage of actually good projects at 20%, or 15%, or 35%? And how to assess that percentage – is it by dollar terms or by a more complex set of measurements, like the needed network resiliency of a Relief function? And how stupid will we be if we over-spend on some heavy transit (vs. operating) with the pandemic decline in transit usages? Alas, it may be not just Moronto, but Morontario, especially if Frod the People types get re-elected, sigh, with some real worries that other parties won’t be smart/principled enough to do well either.

    (Yes, we need large transit spendings, and we likely need triage relief up to/from Eglinton via Thorncliffe to the core, parallel to Yonge, with a better process for another robust transit.plan ie. shelve the Ontario Line, or morph it further, including further west to the pinch point at High Park base, (noted in 1949) so we can clearly state to motorists on the QEW/Gardiner etc., here’s your transit option and now we’re tolling. We need to be thinking of a car-free core, and a key aspect is having improved transit).

    Steve: A few points here.

    First, one cannot rank individual projects because they are part of a network. The “value” depends on what else does or does not exist. For example, if we had really good GO service into York Region as well as fares that did not drive riders preferentially to the much cheaper TTC, the “need” for the Richmond Hill subway might evaporate. But that plan has spawned a collection of development schemes that are now as much a “reason” for the subway as the core-bound traffic that was already a issue 30 years ago. If I were to rank projects based on some hypothetical context in, say, 2010, it would be an intellectual exercise, but would not address the political realities of today. That said, I still believe that GO could be doing much more for the long-haul trips into the core rather than leaving this work to the overloaded subway system that we are expanding at great cost.

    Second, I do not agree with your point about the “pinch point” south of High Park. The demand from the west is coming from territory where riders should be on GO trains, not on a local transit service. I don’t really agree with extending the Ontario Line westward, but of the two options – west to southern Etobicoke or northwest into Weston – the latter is preferable.

    The OL itself has problems, some of which it inherited from the Relief Line (the Queen Street alignment), but bad decisions have been made there going back years, and we’re stuck with them. If we are going to extend it, the top priority would be to the north, not to the west where there are many alternatives. Metrolinx projected a large drop in peak point demand on the Yonge line if the RL went to Sheppard, to the extent that much more frequent service would not be required to handle demand from the 905.

    Meanwhile, the OL itself has been hijacked to act as a relief valve for GO Transit and Union Station, a scheme I think is not going to work anywhere near as well as Metrolinx claims.

    On the subject of the core, I do not believe that demand to the core is doomed. The space might be used differently, and the market for net new space might be more limited than before, but there will still be demand. From an environmental point of view, the vastly bigger problem is the demand that is not going downtown, and for which there is no reasonable alternative. This is not going to be solved with a few radial subway lines, or with the “North York Relief Line” which does not even get out of North York, let alone Toronto. Regional transportation will depend both on trunk routes and excellent feeder/distributor services. That said, I am not entirely sure we could actually build such a network given the physical layout of the suburbs with very dispersed collections of origins and destinations and sites that are poorly designed for transit access.

    The disjunction between Finch West and Sheppard East as rapid transit corridors plagued map drawers in years past, but it was a direct result of Mel Lastman’s desire for “downtown North York” at Sheppard, and his desire to protect Finch Avenue East from redevelopment a subway would bring.

    Something that never gets any discussion is the whole VIVA network which was a big construction project not matched by frequent service, let alone conversion of these lanes to LRT when there is enough service and demand to justify this.

    When I read the City’s NZ2040 idea of shifting most trips under 5km, including transit trips, to cycling and walking, I despair for the environmental movement, and that’s just one part of a much larger collection of proposals. The holes in the transit portion undermine, for me, the credibility of the whole.

    Those who look to make a bundle from eBus sales will laugh all the way to the bank, but we won’t see any net new transit service, only newer buses in the same style over substance that has infested transit hereabouts for some time. Remember the Express Bus Network with the green logos on buses (that sometimes were even assigned to express routes)? Even without covid, the lion’s share of that network already existed as “E” branches. So we had a big “product launch”, and new route numbers, but service? Come back next year. Red lanes and eBuses are headed in the same direction.

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  11. @Peter:

    “As part of restoring passenger rail service to Bolton, we should also look at restoring service from Bolton to Orangeville. Right now, GO feeds Orangeville commuters to Brampton, which ignores traditional commuting routes.”

    How do you plan to restore passenger Rail Service from Bolton to Orangeville? The line has not existed for about 100 years and was so twisty it would not be suitable for fast transit. What “traditional commuting route” goes from Orangeville to Bolton?

    The reason GO feeds commuters from Orangeville to Brampton is because historically Gray Coach bus lines and CP rail served that route and not one through Bolton that I remember. GO bus replaced the Gray Coach routes and CP abandoned the rail service as no one rode because it took too long.

    Any thought to run GO Trains from Barrie to Orangeville would be a non-starter as the curve at Brampton would be awfully tight and the curves are too tight on the line to run 85 foot long cars at any speed. Also, the line has a very low-speed limit because the road bed has deteriorated. It would work better with high-speed LRT as it could handle the existing curves. This is quite common in Europe. Perhaps that magical equipment that will serve the OL.

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  12. Thanks very much Steve for a depth of response to relative ‘value’. And yes, we need far more of a ‘network’, and not over-extension of brittle and already too-long subway spines, and hope we can manage to do some triage of a relief function, perhaps not a full subway, but something for both Yonge and east-end to Scarborough which your deep resource had a plan from Davis-era, sigh.

    And yes, if you think the east-west transit at base of High Park in to core is almost OK, tho I think GO has needed a back-up perhaps. Maybe a Queen St. RoW like King west of Bathurst perhaps?)

    And if we need to use the NW Weston corridor more, I’ve been a bit of a pariah in some biking circles for saying the highest and best use of the Rail Trail space is likely transit, though it sure is a nice bike facility, and we’d really need to have something Very Good to offset any taking of it for transit. (Tolls on highways; a car-free or congestion-charge zone; a trail built atop any transit ie. elevated bikeway perhaps, and a good east-west route from end of Richmond/Adelaide over to High Park, currently Not Existing. Quite pleased that the RMRA group has started to push City about the Queensway project and bike safety lack).

    It does seem broadly that we remain fluxed up with Covid, and demand on transit is still on the weak side, and we need to squeeze those billions a bit more, and that should definitely be within the transit file, as there are some clunkers that could yield some easy billions.

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