On June 18th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Joe Oliver, and Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that the federal government would provide up to 1/3 of the construction cost of SmartTrack, up to $2.6 billion in 2015 dollars, should the city choose to build it and should the current party retain control of government in the federal election this fall. Other political parties have not yet confirmed their competing funding proposals.
CodeRedTO is an advocate for all forms of improved transit, and welcomes investment in public transit from the federal government, since all levels of government need to recognize the benefit of public transit to the entire GTHA and beyond. However, it’s important for governments to provide more than election promises and deliver on consistent, predictable funds for transit expansion and operation. Yesterday’s announcement is really just a campaign promise: elect us and we will give you these funds.
We also respect the expertise of our city planners and City Council’s authority to debate and decide what to build. SmartTrack and RER will be a useful part of the overall mix of public transit in Toronto, though the TTC’s first priority is a Relief Subway Line and it is a more developed plan than SmartTrack at the moment. We would hope that federal funding would be forthcoming to support whatever the City decides is best.