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Ontario premier unveils $21 billion Toronto transit plan

Ontario premier Doug Ford has unveiled a public transit plan for the Greater Toronto Area worth more than $21 billion.

Included in the ambitious scheme is a public transit relief line in Toronto that is twice as long as what the city is considering. There will also be three other transit lines, some of them underground.  

According to Ford, if the province takes over, it will be built faster and cheaper than the city’s plan. Ford says his government will contribute more than $8 billion. He wants the city of Toronto, the region of York and the federal government in Ottawa to pony up the rest.

“A transit network that will get people moving. A transit network with subways at its core—rapid, underground transit. Transit that will connect communities,” Ford said.

It will all be built by 2027, says Ford, and if necessary, his government will shoulder the entire cost.

But it was a huge leap of faith to include the federal government in Ottawa as well as the city. Toronto mayor John Tory was not present at Ford’s announcement and relations between him and Ford have been tense since the premier cut the size of the city council in half.  

Relations have also been strained with the government of prime minister Justin Trudeau. Ford is going to court over Trudeau’s carbon tax.

For his part, Tory says he is optimistic but is taking a wait-and-see approach. The federal finance minister would not make any commitment. 

One federal Toronto lawmaker called the plan bizarre, saying the proposal through the most complex part of the city comes with no costing, nor any idea of how it will work.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.