Toronto getting $9B as Ontario inks deal to match federal infrastructure cash

Toronto has the most transit riders in Ontario. Now it's getting an infrastructure cheque to match.

Infrastructure minister says entire province will benefit from deal

The infrastructure plan signed by the provincial and federal governments today will send some $9 billion to Toronto to build out its transit system. (John Rieti/CBC)

Toronto will get some $9 billion to build out its transit system over the next decade after the provincial and federal governments inked a new infrastructure deal in Mississauga on Wednesday. 

Queen's Park announced it will spend some $10 billion to match the federal government's plan, with Toronto getting the lion's share. Bob Chiarelli, Ontario's Infrastructure Minister, says it's the largest infrastructure commitment in the province's history.

"Today's announcement will unlock billions of dollars for priority infrastructure projects in every single region of this province," he said.

"These investments are necessary if we want to maintain a booming economy and a high standard of living," he said.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says Toronto is getting the most funding because it has the most transit riders. (Mary Webster/CBC)

While Mississauga and similar cities will benefit from the spending — "I know you're anxious to give us the money," Coun. Ron Starr joked as he welcomed federal infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi to the podium — the pool of money will help Toronto most.

The city's expecting some $9 billion to go toward building the Scarborough subway, SmartTrack and more. The funding will also help planning work on the downtown relief line.

Toronto is getting more because it has the highest ridership anywhere in Ontario, with a recent report estimating six-of-ten transit riders in this province are on the TTC.

"We thought that the best way to support our communities is focus our funding on the greatest needs," Sohi told reporters. 

Councillor says pressure on city to use money wisely

At city hall, Coun. Josh Matlow praised that approach and welcomed the new funding. However, he said, it puts pressure on city council to now push ahead with the transit projects that will help the most riders. 

After years of delays and divisive debates, we are finally getting on with expanding our transit system.- Mayor John Tory

"City council now has some choices," he said.

Matlow says the city can either push ahead with projects like the Scarborough subway, which he calls political, or advance work that will serve the largest number of riders. If the current plans hold, he said, "we're going to be getting a lot of money from the federal government, but shortchanging the people of Toronto."

Mayor John Tory, who wasn't at the announcement, issued a statement thanking the governments and again expressed a desire to start building the following list of projects: the relief line, SmartTrack, the Scarborough subway, waterfront transit and the Eglinton East LRT.

"After years of delays and divisive debates, we are finally getting on with expanding our transit system, we are getting on with working together to build up our cities," he said. 

Mississauga's MiWay system, meanwhile, is set to get some $620 million more in funding. Like Tory, Mayor Bonnie Crombie didn't attend the event. 

There are expected to be more announcements relating to the new money in the near future. 

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.