Toronto

Mayor John Tory says $4.8B of federal transit funding is on the way

TTC Chair says announcement comes with demand for province to share costs

TTC repairs

Toronto's mayor says he expects the federal government will announce more funding for future transit projects in the coming days. (Giordano Ciampini/Canadian Press)

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Mayor John Tory says he's "thrilled" with a letter from the federal infrastructure minister that shows Toronto will get billions for future public transit projects and the province will be forced to match one-third of the costs.

Based on funding formulas, the city is expecting to get nearly $5 billion to spend on the Downtown Relief Line (DRL), SmartTrack, the Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront transit.

"This is a huge victory for Toronto and will lead to better transit for the entire region," Tory said in a news release.

Tory has been calling on the federal government to take that step while blasting the province for not committing to build projects like the DRL.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi sent a letter to Bob Chiarelli, his counterpart at Queen's Park, outlining the federal government's plans and stating clearly the province will have to cost-share "at a minimum of 33.3 per cent."

Some $8.34 billion of federal money is available for public transit in the province, Sohi's letter stated.

Based on the government's formula of ridership (70 per cent) and population (30 per cent), Toronto is expecting to get about $4.8 billion.

Sohi's letter stated the federal government will invest up to 40 per cent of what's needed to build new public transit. 

TTC Chair Josh Colle said Ottawa's move will be "massive" for the city, and could mean that governments "stop talking" about transit and actually start advancing future plans.

"We've said all along, for any of these mega-transit projects to actually be funded … we need municipal, provincial and federal support," he told reporters.

Government spending billions on infrastructure, with conditions

The federal government plans to spend some $33 billion over the next 11 years.

The Trudeau government is telling the provinces and territories they won't be eligible for billions of dollars in new infrastructure money unless they can show that the funding will boost the national economy.

The projects will also need to show a benefit to the environment — particularly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Colle said he believes the projects that Toronto wants to push ahead with meet that criteria.

Sohi's letters state the government wants to have its funding agreements in place no later than next March. 

Queen's Park has provided some $150 million to help study the relief line, but has said repeatedly that it's too soon to commit money to the project. 

Colle said this also means city council will have to figure out how it will pay its portion.

Tory is set to hold a news conference at 12:45 p.m. ET today.

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