Scarborough subway cost estimate should come out before election, says ex-top planner

The city could have an updated cost for the controversial mega-project ready before October's election, but voters may not get that information.

Mayor John Tory says he's following the normal process, new council to get update

The Scarborough subway extension is set to replace the aging RT line. (John Rieti/CBC)

Will the cost of the Scarborough subway extension rise over $3.35 billion?

The TTC and city officials could have the answer by September, Mayor John Tory confirmed to reporters this week. However, that new price tag may not be made public until after the October municipal election when the newly-elected council meets.

Former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat told CBC Radio's Metro Morning the new price should "absolutely" be made public as soon as staff are confident the estimate is sound.

"That's a really critical question," she said.

The price to extend the Bloor-Danforth line by one stop to Scarborough Town Centre isn't guaranteed to climb, Keesmaat said, but the costs of major capital projects often do.

City spokesperson Wynna Brown said in an email statement that only the TTC's design work (the project will only hit the 30 per cent mark, at this point) for the subway will be done this fall, and that city staff are expected to report to council with a more complete estimate in the first quarter of 2019.

"Once TTC has designs (tunnels, systems, station), there is then need to analyze that work in order to develop cost estimates and schedules that go into the staff report," Brown said.

City needs a 'pencils down' point, Keesmaat says

Keesmaat says the city needs to have a "pencils down" point where councillors take a hard look at the project, but didn't suggest what that should be. She likened the project to a kitchen renovation, noting no homeowner would tell a contractor to do the work no matter the cost.

"There has to be a threshold," Keesmaat said.

Tory pointed out that city council, which meets for the final time before the next election in July, approved the timing of the release.

"The process has been set in place," he said.

"It was approved in a very transparent, open way in a public meeting and I will follow that process."

Tory added he expects to be busy campaigning for a second term at the time when the information is due on his desk.

About the Author

John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.


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