And just like that, Scarborough's public-transit future is once again in flux.
The federal government has promised to contribute $660 million towards replacing the Scarborough RT with subway stops. According to the Globe, during an announcement earlier this morning, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters that Ottawa is “committed to the mayor’s [funding] request, supported by council.” (Prime Minister Stephen Harper revealed some of this over the weekend, but now we know the exact amount of money involved.)
This means the already-knotty tale of Scarborough’s subway extension has taken another twist. Until today, all the discussion had centered on the province’s early-September announcement that it would use $1.4 billion of its money to fund a two-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line, more or less along the Scarborough RT’s route. With this new federal money on the table, though, it seems as though we’ve reverted to a plan similar to the one approved by city council in July—a more expensive option that would involve using a combination of federal and provincial cash to build a three-stop subway extension along a different route.
But the three-stop plan isn’t in the clear quite yet: when council approved the project in July, it was expecting an additional $400 million from the province. That money hasn’t materialized. The Star reports that Premier Kathleen Wynne has suggested that her government might be willing to compromise, but so far there haven’t been any giant novelty cheques from Queen’s Park. Also, when the project has its all-but-inevitable cost overruns, we don’t know which level of government will be paying to make up the difference.
Flaherty said that construction could start in a year or two and that the subway is expected to be a five-year project. Naturally, Mayor Rob Ford is already declaring victory.