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Toronto City Council to debate Scarborough subway and LRT plans tomorrow

Scarborough leaders, including UTSC vice president & principal Bruce Kidd, urge council to approve project

Toronto City Council to debate Scarborough subway and LRT plans tomorrow

Toronto City Council is expected to make the final decision tomorrow on the proposed Scarborough transit plans, which include an LRT to UTSC.

The plans, which were approved by the city’s Executive Committee, include a one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Scarborough Town Centre to replace the aging Scarborough RT and a 17-stop extension on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to UTSC.

However, critics of the one-stop subway to Scarborough Town Centre, such as city councillor Josh Matlow, argue that it is more economical to build a seven-stop LRT going through Scarborough Town Centre and terminating at Sheppard Avenue instead of a subway.

The seven-stop LRT was the original plan to replace the aging Scarborough RT and was fully funded by the provincial government at a cost of $1.5 billion. In 2013, under then-mayor Rob Ford, City Council voted to replace the project with a three-stop subway line. Mayor Tory further amended these plans in January 2016 with the introduction of the currently proposed one-stop subway and 17-stop LRT.

Matlow has indicated that he will make a motion to replace the $2.9 billion one-stop subway with the original seven-stop LRT.

Five business and community leaders from Scarborough have penned an open letter to Tory and members of council, urging them to approve the plans and move on from the debate between the type of transit. The leaders include UTSC vice-president & principal Bruce Kidd, Centennial College president Ann Buller, Scarborough Hospital CEO Robert F. Biron, Scarborough Business Association president Marg Middleton, and Rouge Valley Health System president Andrée G. Robichaud.

“The debate between subway or LRT or SmartTrack, and which solution is right for Scarborough has been needlessly time-consuming and divisive,” reads a portion of the letter.

The letter continues: “We understand that the financial requirements for comprehensive transit may exceed what we are able to afford today. But this should not stop the City from planning what’s right.”

Kidd told The Varsity that the he and the other four signatories to the letter did not discuss the possibility of a seven-stop LRT, but stressed the importance of a rapid transit connection between Scarborough Town Centre and the Bloor-Danforth line as well as extending the Crosstown LRT eastward.

“Scarborough’s an important part of the city. It needs to be properly served,” said Kidd. “Toronto fails as a city if it cannot adequately serve the people of one of its biggest parts — the most populous area of the city. We’ve got to approve of the plan and then do the necessary steps to implement it without continually reopening these debates and going back to the drawing board.”

Details for Scarborough transit plan revealed

Eglinton East LRT with station at UTSC projected to take 43,400 commuters in 2041

Details for Scarborough transit plan revealed

Details of the proposed Scarborough public transit revamp, which includes the extended Eglinton East Light Rail Transit (LRT) to UTSC and the single-stop subway extension to Scarborough Town Centre (STC), were made public after a Scarborough community meeting on May 31.

New ridership statistics indicated during the presentation illustrate that an estimated 43,400 people will use the Eglinton East LRT daily in 2041, including students commuting between UTSC and Centennial College.

In addition, the $1.48 billion project will provide rapid transit options within walking distance of about 41,500 people and facilitate access to over 7,800 jobs. 

The new LRT route would span an estimated 11 km along Eglinton Avenue and Kingston Road, elevating along Morningside Avenue and running at-grade through Military Trail, with one station at the the heart of UTSC and another at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

The LRT expansions is also set to be integrated with UTSC Master Plan, which is the campus’ plan for revitalization.

The community meeting revealed that the 6 km extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line to STC will have a projected ridership of 7,200 during peak hours in 2031.

Mayor John Tory originally announced the 17-stop extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the one-stop addition of the subway in January, which was a decision that was met with praise from the UTSC community.

Conflicting visions for rapid transit in Scarborough sparked heated debates between stakeholders and politicians as far back as 2006, with opinion split about using subways or LRT systems to extend service further into Scarborough.

Late Toronto mayor Rob Ford advocated against LRT to connect the city’s east end, repeating the line, “subways, subways, subways.” Ford discarded earlier plans for city-wide LRT and bus rapid transit routes that would have circled UTSC grounds.