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Metrolinx wows city

$50-billion regional transit plan lists subways as priorities

THE FUTURE? The Metrolinx regional plan identifies 15 transit priorities for the next 15 years. Subway and Viva expansions in Vaughan are among them. (Courtesy TTC)

Vaughan has come out a big winner in Metrolinx’s massive $50-billion, 25-year transit vision for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, city councillors agree.

Last week, Metrolinx delivered its highly anticipated report — titled The Big Move: Transforming Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area — listing Spadina and Yonge St. subway extensions, and Viva expansion along both Hwy. 7 and Yonge St. as priorities.

“There’s no question that York Region was one of the biggest beneficiaries from this announcement,” Regional Councillor and transit committee chair Joyce Frustaglio said Monday. “We’re getting the Yonge St. subway, the new York Region rapid transit on Yonge St., the Spadina extension that will go right to the Corporate Centre.

“This is just major.”

The public transit expansion plan, which Metrolinx has called the largest in more than half a century, includes more than 1,100 kilometres of new rapid transit. When completed, 75 percent of Greater Golden Horseshoe residents will live within two klicks of rapid transit, up from 42 percent today.

“We functionally are a regional economy,” Metrolinx chair Rob MacIsaac said last week. “People lead their lives on the basis of that regional economy, so you see considerable travel across the municipal boundaries by people for the purposes of work shopping and play.

“I think if you’re going to take a customer- and traveller-oriented approach to providing transportation services, you have to do it on the basis of the broader region.”

The Big Move plan identifies 15 priorities for the first 15 years of its implementation. Along with the Viva and subway expansions, priorities include several projects connecting to Pearson International Airport, improved GO Rail service across the GTA, and other initiatives in Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, Bowmanville, Oshawa and beyond.

“It’s great,” Councillor Alan Shefman said last week. “I’m a real strong supporter of the Metrolinx approach and the need for regional transit: It can’t be Toronto-centric, it can’t be dominated or run by the TTC. It must be GTA-focused and GTA-oriented in every way.”

Looking past sexy transit projects like subways, Shefman said he’s happy with the smaller-scale initiatives included in the plan, including greatly expanded bike paths and walking trails.

Metrolinx is banking on the first $17.5 billion of the $50-billion plan to come from the provincial and federal governments. The province promised $11.5 billion in its Move Ontario 2020 announcement last year. Metrolinx is looking to the feds for the remaining $6 billion. The $17.5 billion is expected to last about a decade.

“Beyond that period, we’re saying that a further review is going to be necessary to identify funding sources to complete the plan,” MacIsaac said.

Frustaglio is proud of the role city representatives did in drawing attention to Vaughan’s transit needs, she said. It may be a Metrolinx plan, but Vaughan’s councillors can take some credit.

“It would not have happened if it wasn’t for our vision, for our strength of character and our determination to lobby the different levels of government that the time has come for Vaughan to get it’s fair share of funding in every area and the time is now,” she said.

—With files from Karolyn Coorsh

Vaughan Today
In print: October 3, 2008, page 1
Online: October 2, 2008 [link]