By AMANDA GIBB
Premier Doug Ford’s confidential plans for the Ontario Line show that it will deviate further than once expected from Toronto’s proposed downtown relief line subway.
The plans, which were revealed by the Toronto Star, show that the Ontario Line would run on just three kilometres of the city’s proposed 7.4 kilometres-long relief line.
Ford’s government has pitched the 15.5-kilometre line as a replacement for the City of Toronto’s plans for the relief line.
The government has said that the Ontario Line can be built by 2027, at least two years faster than the relief line.
Beaches-East-York Councillor Brad Bradford said that he thinks “it’s frustrating,” as a Torontonian, city planner, and councillor that the changes are being proposed to the relief line plan.
“Transit planning from the province continues to be a mess,” said Bradford in an interview with Beach Metro News.
“The fact that we’re learning from leaked documents, again, that they want to throw out all the time, energy and money we’ve spent on planning the relief line is very concerning for me.”
Bradford said that some elements like extending the line to the Ontario Science Centre make sense to provide relief to east enders, especially at the Bloor-Yonge interchange.
“However, the way that the province has been moving this forward, whether that’s through press conferences, or PowerPoints or leaked documents, it’s not a way to build transit in this city. It’s not a way to get people moving,” said Bradford.
The relief line was supposed be completely tunneled and start at Pape Station from which it would head south to Eastern Avenue, then veer west until connecting with Queen and Osgoode stations.
However, the proposed Ontario Line would start at the Ontario Science Centre above ground and head south, going underground starting at the DVP, and connect with Pape Station.
The Ontario Line would then continue sought and start to go above ground around Gerrard Street East and roughly follow the existing Lakeshore East GO train rails before returning underground, veering slightly north through Corktown to Sherbourne, then heading west towards Queen and Osgoode stations.
From there, it would extend further west to Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue, before heading south to Bathurst Street and King Street West, and finally stopping at Exhibition Place.
According to Bradford, the relief line is at 15 per cent design, and has gone through the transit project approval process, and environmental assessments. So far, the city has put almost $180 million into the 2019 capital budget to accelerate the work on the relief line.
The province’s plan last month was at about two per cent design.
“I think it’s very disingenuous for the province to come out and present this as something they’re going to get done by 2027 when they’re not even using half of the work that’s been done today by the city and our professionals to actually get the work done,” said Bradford.
Bradford said that residents of the Beach would benefit from the relief line.
“The design of the relief line is really intended to alleviate some of that congestion at Bloor-Yonge…And that’s why we have to move it forward,” he said.