Ford government and city lay out terms for subway upload discussion

Doug Ford's government and the City of Toronto have agreed on the terms of a discussion about the province's plan to take over the TTC subway system.

Nothing's certain yet, but province still says it wants to take control of the TTC subway

The Ontario government and City of Toronto have signed a document outlining the terms of reference of the province's plan to upload the TTC subway system. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

Doug Ford's government and the City of Toronto have agreed on the basics of how they'll discuss the province's plan to take over the TTC subway system.

The newly-signed terms of reference say the two sides will identify a set number of options when it comes to the province taking over the subway. Those include:

  • An "upload" model where the province would assume ownership of all subway infrastructure, including maintenance of new and existing lines, but leave operations in the hands of the city.
  • A full transfer of the subway to the province.
  • An option where the city maintains ownership of the subway, but the province takes responsibility for any expansion of the system.

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said in a news release that Toronto's lacking transit infrastructure and traffic congestion are costing "money, jobs and time," and vowed his government's plan will speed up new subway projects.

Ford also issued a statement, saying new subway construction has been "stuck in red tape, for years."

Toronto's top subway priority is a relief line to ease congestion on Line 1, set to open in 2029 at the earliest, although municipalities like Markham, have been pushing for a Line 1 extension to be completed at the same time.

Toronto councillors, meanwhile, have expressed concern about the province's plans, with many calling for more facts before the upload goes forward.

Agreement 'step in the wrong direction,' transit union says

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents public transit workers in Toronto, released a statement opposing the agreement. 

Carlos Santos, the local president, says the agreement "is a step backwards." 

"Having an efficient and reliable public transit can only come by properly funding the system, not breaking it apart and privatizing it," his statement reads. 

Santos adds that city council had twice before voted to continue to own, operate and maintain transit service. 

"It's the TTC and its 11,000 public transit workers who are best positioned to deliver public transit in an efficient and effective manner ... We've been doing it 'the better way' since the early days of the TTC," he wrote. 

He says it will be riders who will pay the price. 

Deal is 'best way to protect our TTC system,' Tory says

Mayor John Tory issued a statement saying it's important for the city to be part of the upload talks.

"The City's participation in this exercise is the best way to protect our TTC system," Tory said.

Tory said a full report on the plans should go to council "at the appropriate time."

Ontario government officials, meanwhile, describe the new terms of reference as a necessary step that shows the two sides have a good working relationship when it comes to the subway plans.

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