On October 29, Toronto City Council approved a transit deal with the Ontario government, whereby the province will cover the cost, planning, design, and construction of four new subway projects: the Ontario Line, the Yonge Street Subway Extension, the Line 2 East Extension, which will see three stops added to Line 2 deeper into Scarborough, and the Eglinton West light rail transit (LRT).
The deal has been met with student opposition, particularly at the UTSC campus. Not included in the provincial plan is the Eglinton East LRT which would extend the planned Eglinton West LRT eastward and include a stop at UTSC.
SCSU urges city to prioritize Scarborough transit users
At an executive meeting of City Council on October 23, Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) President Chemi Lhamo had asked city councillors to not “approve a plan that leaves the Eglinton East [LRT] out of the map. Unite with the students and transit users in Scarborough.”
Lhamo, as well as SCSU Vice-President, Campus Life, Sarah Mohamed, urged City Council to prioritize the needs of underserved Scarborough transit users, specifically those of UTSC students.
At the October 23 meeting, Lhamo and Mohamed proceeded to explain in greater detail some of the difficulties of using transit to commute to UTSC. Lhamo highlighted in particular her experience with delays of the 905 bus, which stops at UTSC. In addition, Lhamo pointed out that students who take the Durham bus from UTSC, which is not allowed to use TTC routes, are forced to wait on a lawn with no bus stop.
“It’s not safe, there’s no sidewalk,” explained Mohamed.
“We have been promised [the Eglinton East LRT] from year to year but have continuously been sidelined,” Lhamo wrote to The Varsity, adding that the line could cut down the commute of some students by more than 30 minutes.
The City of Toronto’s response
Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, who represents Scarborough–Rouge Park where UTSC is located, noted that Scarborough’s most recent rail-based transit update took place in 1985.
Mayor John Tory acknowledged that disagreement exists on the idea of the provincial government paying for additions to Toronto’s subway. However, Tory pointed out that this would free up funding for the city to implement proposals such as the Eglinton East LRT. “As much as you’re critical of some aspects of this deal, [this] would be a step forward to getting the Eglinton [East] LRT built,” said Tory.
Tory’s Executive Director of Communications, Don Peat, clarified in an email to The Varsity that this transit deal would free up $5 billion for the city to put toward keeping existing Toronto transit in good repair and investing in other transit expansion projects, including the Eglinton East LRT.