Business owners make case for Scarborough subway

Florists Gary and Lena Do concerned downtown line may trump extension

Gary and Lena Do say they’re worried renewed talk of a new subway line downtown will derail any proposal for a Scarborough subway extension.

The couple, who own James White and Sons Flowers, say they and other Scarborough residents and business owners have been waiting a long time for a Scarborough subway.

“People from Victoria Park or Warden, if they want to go to Scarborough Town Centre, have to transfer,” Gary Do said. “If they get on at Warden station, they take one stop to Kennedy and they have to transfer to the (SRT) to Scarborough Town. That’s ridiculous right?

“If we have a connection, all one subway, it will be a lot easier for those people who live west of Kennedy. They can take just one train and go straight to Scarborough Town Centre.”

According to Metrolinx’s The Big Move report, the downtown relief subway line would operate in a corridor along King or Queen Streets and would take pressure off the Bloor-Danforth subway line.

Gary Do said he’s concerned it may come down to a choice that will leave Scarborough commuters and businesses stranded.

“If they do both (the Scarborough and downtown relief lines) I will be happy,” he said. “But if they have to do one before the other, I would say the Scarborough one first because we have been waiting for too long.”

Ontario Minister of Transportation Glen Murray expects Scarborough business owners will see positive results once the province’s subway plan is completed, he said.

Minister Glen Murray
Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray (Courtesy of Ministry of Transportation)

“Having a continuous subway, without any transfer, going all the way to the Scarborough Town Centre should really boost ridership,” Murray said. “And if the experience is the same as we’ve had everywhere else we’ve extended the subway, we would expect to see much greater business activity and many more businesses and faster growing businesses in the area.”

The province’s plan includes working to minimize the impacts of construction on Scarborough businesses, which, Murray said, can be difficult to deal with.

“There is a committee being set up right now to look at helping business benefit from the subway line,” he said. “I think (business owners) should have confidence that there will be business leaders on the working group looking at the future of the Scarborough transit system, the Sheppard LRT, as well as the Bloor subway extension.”

Though the downtown relief line may ease pressure on the Bloor-Danforth line, Lena Do said the Scarborough subway extension would likewise relieve pressure on another major transportation artery.

“Scarborough is very big and you can tell we don’t have very good public transportation,” she said. Taking the Scarborough subway extension “will be very convenient instead of me driving all the way (west) along the 401. There’s so much traffic along the 401 every day. It’s horrible.”

The provincial government is taking the Scarborough extension seriously and is going ahead with its plan, Murray said.

Ontario Minister of Transportation Glen Murray states the provincial government’s promise to complete the Scarborough subway extension.

“This is a promise and a plan that’s been in place for decades through many ministers of transportation, through many mayors and it’s just never been built,” he said. “We don’t need another plan or another motion. What we need is a government committed to funding and building it.

“We said that we would build this one, we would put $1.4 billion into it, we will build it to the Scarborough Town Centre and we are doing that right now as I speak.”