Toronto

Scarborough MPP Brad Duguid says subway stop worth it, despite $900M cost increase

The Ontario minister of economic growth affirmed the province's commitment to the Scarborough subway extension — despite a $900-million forecast spike — but would not say whether Queen's Park should boost its funding if the project's cost continues to balloon.

'It's been a project that's been on the books for close to 30 years'

Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Growth Brad Duguid reaffirmed his support for the Scarborough subway extension, despite its $900-million projected increase. (Michelle Siu/Canadian Press)

The Ontario minister of economic growth affirmed the province's commitment to the Scarborough subway extension — despite a $900-million forecast spike — but would not say whether Queen's Park should boost its funding if the project's cost continues to balloon.

Economic Development and Growth Minister Brad Duguid said that the overruns for the now $2.9-billion project are not unexpected, nor did they shake the faith of any of the three levels of government in the project. 

"Yes, it came in over the original budget estimate," the Scarborough Centre MPP told CBC's Metro Morning. "That shouldn't be a big surprise to anybody. That happens with infrastructure projects — and the original estimate was done a few years ago."

Mayor John Tory also remained a vocal supporter of the proposed extension even as he announced Friday that its cost had grown by roughly 30 per cent.

$200K per rider

Other city councillors, however, questioned whether the benefits of the project — which would add a subway stop at Scarborough Town Centre, north of Kennedy station — justified the cost.

Peak ridership is expected to max out at 7,300 per hour, according to information released last week. And if you do the math, that translates to a cost of about $200,000 per rider.

We cannot fulfil our full city potential without having that subway access.- Brad Duguid, Scarborough Centre MPP

But Duguid, who represents the provincial riding, said the naysayers are "downtown elitists" who can walk to their own subway stops within 10 minutes.

On the books for 30 years

"The time for debate and discussion is done," the Scarborough representative said. "It's been a project that's been on the books for close to 30 years. There's always been a plan to build the subway extension out to Scarborough.

When probed about whether he would still support the project at higher cost, Duguid said that he didn't want to speculate, saying instead that the latest budget is more fulsome than those that came before.

He also wouldn't say whether Queen's Park would increase its financial contribution if the cost continued to climb.

"This is something Scarborough residents really need," he said. "We cannot fulfil our full city potential without having that subway access."

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