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TTC Chair, commissioner unveil $30B OneCity transit plan

Forget Transit City.

Don’t worry about Mayor Rob Ford’s transportation plan for Toronto or the compromise plan that City Council worked out last spring…

As for Network 2011? That’s so last year.

Watch out everyone. Here comes “OneCity”, a $30 billion plan that aims to bring rapid transit to all corners of Toronto. And, although the plan includes more subways like Mayor Ford’s scheme, it also proposes, unlike Ford’s ideas, ways that the City can actually pay for it all.

Councillor Karen Stintz, the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, and Councillor Glenn de Baeremaeker, the commission’s vice-chair, unveiled the ambitious network of transit lines during a media conference this morning.

The plan is, as blogger Steve Munro eloquently, and, perhaps, cynically, describes it, “little more than a compendium of every scheme for transit within the 416 that has been floated recently in various quarters…”

So, what exactly does it propose?

  1. building seven heavy rail or subway projects.
  2. building seven light rail projects; and
  3. building five bus and streetcar projects.


It proposes these heavy-rail / subway projects:

  • extending the 2 Bloor - Danforth subway from Kennedy Station to McCowan Road and Sheppard Avenue East, roughly below Eglinton Avenue East, Danforth and McCowan Roads. (According to the plan, the cost would only be $484 million, because Metrolinx has already committed funds to replacing the Scarborough RT with a light-rail transit line, which this plan would redirect to the new subway.)
  • scrapping the 3 Scarborough rapid transit line, once the new subway to Sheppard and McCowan is operating. (The new plan would not see Eglinton Crosstown LRT trains operating along the line.)
  • extending the 1 Yonge - University - Spadina northward from Finch Station to Steeles Avenue West. (Metrolinx and York Region propose extending this line even further north to Richmond Hill Centre Terminal.) (Cost: $1.3B)
  • extending the 4 Sheppard subway between Downsview and Sheppard - Yonge Stations. (Cost: $1.5B)
  • building the new Don Mills Express subway linking Queen Station on the 1 Yonge - University - Spadina line to Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East, where it would connect with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. This is the proposal we used to dub the “Downtown Relief Line” and would roughly run below Don Mills Road, Overlea Boulevard, Pape Avenue and Queen Street East. The plan doesn’t really identify how the line would cross the Don Valley, but it likely would use either an existing or new bridge. (Cost: $5.4B)
  • upgrading the Bloor - Yonge interchange to handle more passenger traffic resulting from the other proposals in this plan. (Cost: 900M)
  • operating local rapid transit trains from Markham and Scarborough to Union Station along GO Transit’s 71 Stouffville corridor. (Recently York Regional Councillor Jim Jones proposed such a line.) (Cost: $6.9B)
  • operating local rapid transit trains from Toronto Pearson International Airport and Etobicoke to Union Station along GO’s Air Rail Link and 31 Kitchener line. (Cost: $1.5B)

It proposes these light rail projects

  • extending the Sheppard East LRT first to Morningside Avenue, Malvern and the Toronto Zoo. (Total cost: $450M)
  • building the Scarborough - Malvern LRT from Kennedy Station to Morningside Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East, roughly along Eglinton Avenue East, Kingston Road and Morningside Avenue. (Cost: $1.8B)
  • extending the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Jane to Toronto Pearson International Airport. (Cost: $1.8B)
  • extending the Finch West LRT from Humber College to Toronto Pearson International Airport. (Cost: $851M)
  • building a Jane LRT from Steeles Avenue West to Jane Station. (Cost: $1.4B)
  • building a Don Mills LRT from Steeles Avenue East to the north end of the Don Mills Express subway line at Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East. (Cost: $1.4B)
  • building the Waterfront West LRT from Long Branch to Union Station. (Cost: $767M)
  • extending the Finch West LRT between Keele and Yonge Streets. (Cost: $762M)

It also proposes these bus and streetcar projects:

  • building a Waterfront East streetcar line between Union Station and Parliament Street. (Cost: $287M)
  • building an Ellesmere bus rapid transit line between the Scarborough City Centre and the eastern city limits. (Cost: $335M)
  • building a Kingston Road bus rapid transit line between Victoria Park Station and Kingston Road and Eglinton Avenue East. (Cost: $333M)
  • extending the St. Clair streetcar line from Keele to Jane Streets. (Cost: $102M)
  • building a Wilson bus rapid transit line from Keele Street to Wilson Station. (Cost: $1.27M)

Paying the piper

So, how do we pay for all this? The OneCity Transit Plan proposes to fund these new lines, by using the “CVA Uplift Model”, that City Council’s Report of the Expert Advisory Panel Regarding Transit on Sheppard Avenue East first proposed last March.

This funding model captures some of the increase in property values — or “uplift” - to build a transit legacy fund. Currently, as property values increase annually, the City should be able to collect more tax from each property. However, it can only collect the same amount of property taxes every year because the provincial requires the current value property-tax assessment plan to be revenue-neutral.

The OneCity plan proposes that the City ask the Province to let the City capture 40 per cent of the uplift, which is equivalent to a 1.9 per cent property tax increase per year for four years. This idea was first suggested in the March 15, 2012, Report of the Expert Advisory Panel Regarding Transit on Sheppard Avenue East.

While the plan contains many bold and interesting ideas, unfortunately, it may also reopen the contentious transit debate that took place last year. Although Mayor Ford will probably like this plan because it includes more subways, he may also oppose it rigorously since it also requires the City “disrespect the taxpayer”, since it would have to collect more money from them to fund the plan.

You can read more about the plan here.