David Soknacki says Scarborough LRT is cheaper, faster

Toronto mayoral hopeful David Soknacki appeared on Metro Morning Wednesday and made his case for reverting to light rail instead of opting for a subway line into Scarborough.

Mayoralty challenger to Rob Ford appears on Metro Morning

David Soknacki, a former Scarborough councillor, says light rail will better serve the area and be cheaper and faster to build. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Toronto Mayoral hopeful David Soknacki appeared on Metro Morning Wednesday and made his case for reverting to light rail instead of opting for a subway line into Scarborough.

After months of fractious debate, council opted last fall to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line into Scarborough instead of a provincially funded plan to build light rail along the route.

The former Scarborough councillor told host Matt Galloway the area is better served by light rail for the following reasons: it's cheaper, will serve more people and is ready to build right away.

"The contracts are still there, the funding is still there, the environmental assessments, they're all done," he said. "Matt, we're ready to build, we're ready to go ahead with LRT far faster than we would be with the subway."

The position puts him in stark contrast to Mayor Rob Ford, an ardent advocate of subways over surface rail.

Subways, however, do come with a $3.5-billion price tag, while light rail would cost about $1.8 billion. To cover the difference, council will have to bring in a citywide property tax hike of about 1.6 per cent phased in over three years.

Ford, who is running for re-election, has said he's pushed for a subway extension because it's what Scarborough residents want.

Galloway asked Soknacki if his desire to revert to light rail isn't just another case of political interference of the kind that has already delayed transit expansion in the city.

"I'm choosing a route chosen by our professionals for the reasons of serving the most number of people," he said.

A common trend in Toronto mayoralty races is that candidates bow out to endorse other runners as the Oct. 27 draws near.

Soknacki, however, said he has no intention of dropping out before voters cast their ballots.

"I'm not here to play off and bargain, I'm here to say 'These are the issues we need to face,'" he said.

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