Scarborough subway OK'd by city council
Motion passes 24-20 following polarizing debate
Toronto city council has voted to embrace a tax hike to fund a subway extension in Scarborough.
The motion passed 24 to 20 on Tuesday night.
The pro-subway side, led by Mayor Rob Ford, maintained its apparent edge throughout the at-times raucous debate.
Ford told the council he stayed up at night, concerned about raising taxes to pay for subways, but said he is "now comfortable" with his position.
Other councillors, including Scarborough's Paul Ainslie, favoured building light-rail transit.
Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, took aim at Ainslie as debate raged earlier today at Toronto City Hall.
"You're saying this with a straight face," the mayor said to Ainslie, a member of Ford's executive circle who once supported subways. "You're a Scarborough councillor who is voting to kill the subway when it's the number one issue there."
In order to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line from Kennedy Station to Sheppard Avenue, Toronto's city manager says property taxes would have to go up at least 1.6 per cent to cover a 30-year loan.
That’s because the subway will cost at least $1.5 billion more than building light rail along the route. Council had an agreement with the province to build a light-rail line but in July opted instead for the more expensive subway option.
To help cover the difference, council approved in principle a transit tax levy of 1.1 per cent to 2.4 per cent, though Ford reportedly wanted to hold the increase to .25 per cent a year.
Much of the debate focused on a city manager’s report that explores the costs of both options, but TTC Chair Karen Stintz says going back to light rail is not an option.
“I think there is some confusion because of the way the city manager's report is written that there is actually a choice between LRT and subway when in fact the province has been clear they are building a subway," said Stintz.