Scarborough councillors disagree over fate of Transit City

Scarborough councillors have opposing views when it comes to Rob Ford’s promise to cancel Transit City and turn the gravy train into a subway.

“Rob Ford plans to take away transit from a lot of people,” Ward 38 councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said last month. “Transit City was going to spread a wide net of services and lead to huge improvements in efficiency.”

On Dec. 1, Mayor Ford announced funding for former mayor David Miller’s transit plan would be discontinued, with funding diverted to extending the Sheppard subway line and putting the Scarborough LRT underground.

Ward 43 councillor Paul Ainslie supports Ford’s plan.

“Scarborough needs a subway from Kennedy Station into Durham Region,” Ainslie said. “The City of Toronto should look at a regional transit system. “

De Baeremaeker says he calculated Ford’s plan would cost $4 billion more than advertised, and he questions how a subway can be built without raising taxes.

But Ainslie argues the city can find more opportunities for public and private partnerships. “We need to be more creative with how we find the money,” he said.

Ford’s subway extension would connect the Sheppard and Scarborough LRT lines at the Scarborough Town Centre, but De Baeremaeker says this will leave many Scarborough residents without access to the system.

Mayor Rob Ford wants to connect the Scarborough LRT and the Sheppard Line in East Scarborough. (Graphic by Bradley Featherstone/Toronto Observer) (BRADLEY FEATHERSTONE/The Observer)

“Ford’s plans don’t help anyone living east of McCowan Road or north of Highway 401 whatsoever,” De Baeremaeker said.  “If you live in areas like Malvern or West Rouge, you’re getting absolutely nothing.”

Under existing Transit City terms, the LRT will extend across Sheppard to Morningside, connecting more of Scarborough to the rest of the city. This was designed with the 2015 Pan Am Games in mind, as some events will be hosted at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

“It looks to me like people are going to have to walk or bike to the Pan Am facilities from the Scarborough Town Centre,” said De Baeremaeker. “And that’s a long walk.”