Conservatives promise funding for 2 major transit projects in GTA

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would fund two major public transit projects to ease congestion and cut commute times in the Greater Toronto Area.

Liberals call Andrew Scheer's campaign announcement a 'stunt'

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would fund two major transit projects in the GTA if he's elected. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would fund two major public transit projects to ease congestion and cut commuting times in the Greater Toronto Area.

During a campaign event this morning in Thornhill, Ont., Scheer said a Conservative government would prioritize funding for the Ontario Line and Yonge Subway Extension projects.

The 7.4-kilometre Yonge Subway Extension is meant to link Toronto to Markham, Vaughan and Richmond Hill, while the 15-kilometre Ontario Line is projected to boost capacity by 30 per cent on an east-west and north-south route, according to the Conservatives.

"These are the types of projects that will deliver real relief to everyone who drives, takes transit in the GTA," Scheer said.

He was joined by Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Richmond Hill Mayor David Barrow.

Scheer said that, despite having made a $187 billion infrastructure spending commitment, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has not delivered on critical infrastructure projects. He warned of more delays if the Liberals are re-elected.

Scheer said Trudeau has not committed to funding the GTA projects, citing the lack of a business plan.

"Not only is that comical coming from the highest spending prime minister in Canadian history, but there happens to be a business case. They just won't look at it," he said.

Scheer said a Conservative government would work with the provincial government to get shovels in the ground. The province and the City of Toronto had been at odds over the best course of action for public transit expansion.

Infrastructure 'game changer'

When Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the projects as part of a $28.5 billion package in April, he called the proposed Ontario Line a "game changer" that would double the length of what the City of Toronto had envisioned.

Critics raised concerns about the province changing course on several projects already underway, and warned of potential cost overruns, construction delays and the waste of some of the $224 million in public money that already had been spent on the planning and design of transit infrastructure in Toronto.

"This isn't costing, this is a bunch of scribbles on a map," Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, who represents a downtown Toronto riding, told reporters at the time.

The Ontario Line is estimated to cost $10.9 billion and is scheduled to be complete by 2027, while the Yonge Subway Extension is estimated to cost $5.6 billion and should be operational right after the Ontario Line opens.

Liberals call out Scheer 'stunt'

Toronto area Liberal candidate Marco Mendicino issued a statement calling Scheer's infrastructure announcement a "stunt" and questioning how the Conservatives would pay for it.

"Liberals have a costed platform and we are ready to support infrastructure projects; we're just waiting for the Ford government to show up," he said.

"While Conservative politicians play political games, Liberals put people first by investing in transit at historic levels, including the Bloor/Yonge station. Andrew Scheer should call up his friend Doug Ford and ask why he didn't submit a business case for these projects until August, on the eve of the election."

Toronto Mayor John Tory's spokesman said that, earlier this year, City of Toronto and TTC staff were directed by council to establish a province-city working group to discuss transit and transit expansion.

A report by city staff on their assessment of the province's transit plans is expected to be delivered later this month.

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