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David Soknacki Wants to Restore the Scarborough Light Rail Plan

Mayoral candidate wants to nix the controversial Scarborough subway—and the property tax increase needed to pay for it.

Scarborough RT departing from Midland station  Photo by Alex Resurgent from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Scarborough RT departing from Midland station. Photo by Alex Resurgent from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

We’ve got our first contender for a major election issue this year: the future of Scarborough transit. David Soknacki, a former Scarborough councillor who served as David Miller’s cross-the-aisle pick for a conservative budget chief, is now running for mayor, and in his first major policy announcement, he said that he wants to bring back the Scarborough LRT plan.

Scarborough’s current RT is nearing the end of its life, and needs to be replaced. The issue is, with what? City council and the province (which will pay for some or all of the next line, depending on what gets built) have each been wrestling internally, and wrestling with each other, about that question for…well, longer than anyone cares to remember. There’ve been decisions and reversals and counter-reversals and special council meetings, and signed agreements that got reopened and then reopened once more. A few months ago, council took another vote, billed by many as the final one, and opted for a subway. Though most experts recommended light rail based on ridership projections and the longer length of the line, and though the subway will cost about twice as much, many elected officials simply became convinced that the political cost of giving Scarborough an LRT instead of a subway would be too high.

View Scarborough Subway vs. LRT in a larger map

scarborough transit map legend

In a statement, Soknacki wrote, “By raising taxes to pay for the subway option, Ford went back on his 2010 campaign promise not to raise taxes. In reversing her long-time pro-LRT stance, Stintz defied the TTC’s priorities and ignored the advice of its professional planners, engineers and transit experts. A crucial part of the change Toronto needs is to make decisions based on evidence, built on facts.” (Soknacki also wrote about the issue before announcing his mayoral campaign.)

There’s some evidence that it was the politicians more than the public who found the notion of an LRT toxic. Whether that same public has the appetite to reopen the debate, however, isn’t yet clear. There’s certainly time to do so: there are about five years of assessments and design work, and a couple more council votes, that need to be completed before any subway construction could begin.

Interactive calculator! Here’s more on the two Scarborough transit options—

Subway vs LRT: You Do the Math


  • LockHughes

    Of course, most folks that ride the electric bicycle/tricycle laugh at pubic (sp?) transit. They at least no longer have a “last mile” to walk, or have to wonder when the last bus/subway/streetcar runs. Some might refuse to pay taxes, rather than support such a waste of money.(One may currently finance the purchase of an electric bicycle/trike for less than half the monthly cost of a TTC Metropass.)

    • wklis

      Swan boats, swan boats, swan boats!!

    • OgtheDim

      You forget to say where you sell them…….

      • LockHughes

        Ummm… I’m an accountant? (Please forgive me)

        • dsmithhfx

          I’ m guessing not. Are you?

          • LockHughes


          • dsmithhfx

            Interesting. Do you refuse to pay taxes, too?

          • LockHughes

            Hehe… Should have said MAY refuse… Taxes are built in to most everything we consume, and personally, I am currently on “ODSP” (unfortunate accident), so learning how to live waaaay below the “poverty line”. Lost my clients, everything. Basically trying to put my life back together.

          • dsmithhfx

            An ebike accident?

          • LockHughes

            Haha! I was found at the bottom of maybe 20 steps. Multiple brain injuries, broken shoulder. Spent a week in a coma, after which I opened my eyes. The hospital had no record of me (see “Dupuytren’s contracture”). So, no vehicles involved.

        • OgtheDim

          Sounded like a sales pitch for ebikes……

          • LockHughes

            Well, they’re not perfect, but maybe some folks still like getting around town faster, and for waaay less money.

        • vampchick21

          So they don’t teach spelling in accounting school?

          • LockHughes

            Hehe… Having suffered multiple brain injuries not so long ago, I find myself having to relearn most everything (computers, walking, etc, etc). So, does anyone here have anything intelligent to say? Just curious…

    • dsmithhfx

      Pubic transit is hilarious!

      • LockHughes

        Hehe… So, are “jobs” still referred to as the “salt mines”? Myself, gave up jobs decades ago, preferring self-employment. The trick? Being very good at whatever you do (and only work for the best at what they do).

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    I like Socks already. What we got from the other candidates( at least those that have said they’ll run) is that nonsense about delivering the Rob Ford agenda without the drama. There’s a lot of us who want no part of what Ford stood for and aren’t looking for a crackless Ford clone. Soknacki has carved himself a distinct identity very early on.and is worth watching.

    • dsmithhfx

      He just put considerable daylight between himself & Stintz.

    • Lee Zamparo

      Sok it to em!

  • Jacob

    It’s the best idea. It’s already planned, paid for, and can be restarted right away.

  • nevilleross

    Good, glad to see somebody with some sense about this. Will vote for him, and hoe that he gets enough support to become the next mayor.

    • jimro

      Likewise. A conservative with a modicum of sense rather than bland ideology.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Anything to pull votes from Ford’s corner.