Toronto

Federal money for Scarborough subway may not come, Murray warns

A plan to expand the subway further into Scarborough is in limbo as Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray says he's not confident the federal government will cover a portion of the cost.

A plan to expand the subway further into Scarborough is in limbo as Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray says he's not confident the federal government will cover a portion of the cost.

"When you put a 416 area code in front of a transit project ... the cheques disappear," Murray told CBC News.

After a heated debate in July, council voted to build a subway in Scarborough to replace the aging Scarborough RT.

The city opted for the subway option over light rail, which was fully funded by the province. Going underground along the route will cost as much as $1 billion more than the $1.4 billion the province had earmarked for the LRT option.

To cover the difference, the city is counting on property tax increases, increased charges for developers and about $400 million to $700 million in federal money.

Murray plans to meet his federal counterpart this week and funding for the Scarborough subway will be on the agenda, though Murray is not hopeful Ottawa will come up with the cash.

Murray says he's in talks with Metrolinx, the province's region-wide planning body, about how to move ahead without federal help.

Mayor Rob Ford prefers the subway option for Scarborough but has said that without federal money, the project is dead.

On Thursday afternoon, the mayor told reporters that he would be bringing up the subway issue when he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper later in the day.

"We're going to talk about a number of issues and subways…will come up," Ford said.

TTC Chair Karen Stintz agrees it's crucial.

"We need federal funding if we're going to build the subway to Sheppard and I think the federal partnership is a legitimate request," she said.

Stintz says she hasn't had any direct conversations with the federal minister's office but said she's confident money from Ottawa will still materialize.

With files from the CBC's Genevieve Tomney