Subway upload talks should include 'public consultation,' city report says

Just days before an expected council debate on the issue Thursday, staff have released a report laying out the terms under which the city should share information with the Ford government on a possible upload of TTC subway infrastructure.

Staff report released in time for council debate on upload Thursday

Any talks between the province and the city about uploading subway infrastructure should include a 'public consultation process,' a city staff report says. (Mike Wise/CBC)

Toronto city staff have laid out the terms under which council should share information with the Ford government on the possible upload of the TTC's subway infrastructure to the province — including consultations with the public and a new funding model for the transit system.

In a report released Monday for debate at a meeting of city council this Thursday, signed by city manager Chris Murray and city solicitor Wendy Walberg, staff have put forward recommendations they believe should inform discussions with Queen's Park.

They include a "jointly agreed upon set of objectives" between the city and the province, "the inclusion of a public consultation process," and a new way of funding the TTC that would ease the city's financial burden. 

The report recommends that council authorize Murray to hold talks with the Ford government on the terms of reference for upload negotiations.

Thursday is also the deadline Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek had given Mayor John Tory for a written undertaking from the city that it will share information about subway infrastructure to facilitate a discussion about a possible upload to the province.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford campaigned on uploading Toronto's subway infrastructure as a way of speeding up the building of new lines and expanding the network farther into the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Premier Doug Ford touted the upload as one of his major campaign promises, saying a provincial takeover would help get new subway lines built more quickly and facilitate the expansion of the network farther into the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

The province appointed a special adviser in August for a one-year term to lead the cabinet review of the plan.

Although the previous city council took the position last May that the city "should continue to own, operate and maintain the Toronto subway system and that transit ... should not be uploaded or otherwise transferred," Mayor Tory has come out in support of at least sharing information on the subject with the Ford government.

Tory has said the province has the authority to carry out the plan and that negotiating with the PCs would protect Toronto's interests. 

Murray is recommending the two sides agree to a framework for discussions that would "give consideration to the city's objectives," but that could be sticking point between the two governments.

For example, while the city has identified building the relief line as its top priority, it's still unclear whether the transportation ministry shares that position, having pushed for an extension of Line 1 into Richmond Hill as a major objective.


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