Downtown relief line gets green light from province after environmental assessment

The downtown relief line is one small step closer to be becoming reality after the province gave it the green light following its environmental assessment of the project.

Subway line would connect Osgoode Station on Line 1 to Pape Station on Line 2

A map of the Relief Line South route. (City of Toronto)

The downtown relief line is one small step closer to be becoming reality after the province gave it the green light following its environmental assessment of the project.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Ontario's Environment Minister Rod Phillips gave notice to Metrolinx and the City of Toronto to proceed with the project, following an environmental assessment.

The provincial transit agency and the city "are now permitted to issue a statement of completion of the transit project assessment process," the letter states. "A statement of completion is the final part of the transit project assessment process."

On Friday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the project has taken "a giant step forward."

"We're further ahead with the relief line now than ever before and we're moving as quickly as possible," Tory said in a statement. "We are getting on with building the relief line and the rest of our transit network plan to provide real transit relief for residents across Toronto."

The relief line (referred to in Phillips's letter as the Relief Line South) is the proposed TTC subway line that would include eight stations connecting Osgoode Station on Line 1 with Pape Station on Line 2.

City council has approved the line's route and station locations, and "multiple contracts" have been signed to design stations, plan tunnels and begin construction, Tory's statement said.

Former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat and incumbent mayor John Tory both endorse the downtown relief line, but have different timelines for the project.

According to current projections, the relief line would be completed by 2031. Tory's primary challenger for mayor in the upcoming municipal election, Jennifer Keesmaat, wants to see construction completed by 2028.