The Scarborough RT, first opened in 1985, is at the end of its lifecyle. Metrolinx's Big Move will upgrade and extend the existing SRT.

Future of Scarborough RT remains unclear

De Baeremaeker says Scarborough desperately needs better transit

The question of how to improve public transit in Scarborough still needs an answer.

Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) says he is hoping to see an upgrade in the Scarborough RT system as soon as possible.

“We haven’t seen new infrastructure built in our community for about 30 years since they extended the SRT line up from Kennedy station to the Scarborough Town Centre shopping mall,” he said.

De Baeremaeker finds both quality and quantity are problems of the current SRT system.

“At one level, the biggest problem with the SRT is there are not enough of them. We only have one [line] that goes from Kennedy to the Town Centre,” he said. “Two, the big problem with the SRT is it’s very, very old. It’s almost 30 years old; it’s at the end of its lifecycle. It should have been replaced 10 years ago.”

On April 2, Metrolinx released a list of investment tools to raise $2 billion a year for the Big Move, a $50 billion transportation plan that will take about 25 years to complete.

On the list of the Big Move’s major projects is the SRT upgrade and extension. The province committed to $8.4 billion in funding towards all transit projects; the SRT project cost is estimated at $1.8 billion.

The new Scarborough RT will be extended from McCowan and connect to the planned Sheppard East LRT line. (Click to enlarge) (Courtesy Metrolinx)

The transit agency released the list to gather feedback before it makes a final recommendation to the Ontario government and the municipalities by June 1. Mayor Rob Ford responded to it by making vomiting sounds during a city hall news conference.

“You can’t tax people, implement these new taxes to pay for transit,” Ford said. “You want to pay for transit, I’ve got a good idea — it’s called a casino. You get a lot of money to pay for a good amount of the transit, you get the private sector involved — people aren’t ready for new taxes yet.”

De Baeremaeker said everything comes with a price, and no one is getting a subway line for free.

“There will be new taxes for everybody,” he said. “The mayor is saying, ‘I want to build you a $5-billion subway. But I’m not going to raise your taxes to pay for it.’ Well, we all know that you can’t do that. If you have no money, you get no subway.”

We have to make a decision [as a community].

—Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker

The Scarborough Centre councillor also disagreed with the mayor on the Sheppard subway.

“I do not support the extension of the Sheppard subway, which our mayor is very famously supporting and proposing,” he said. “He promised us all that the private sector would pay for it and that taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for it, and … he hasn’t raised a single penny to build it. And even if you were able to get the money to build it … there simply aren’t enough people to make it economically viable.”

De Baeremaeker said nobody wants to pay new taxes, but people would feel better if they knew they were paying a tax dedicated just to transit.

“We have to make a decision [as a community],” he said. “Do you want a subway, yes or no? If the answer’s yes, then we have to pay for it.”