Dear Ward 43 Neighbours,
I continue to serve my community in a very fiscally responsible manner. I have always been upfront with my residents, voting to improve services and ensure Ward 43 receives the respect, programs, and services we require to be a successful community. Last month in City Council I was faced with an important public transit vote, I will not vote for a project which is fiscally irresponsible, and does little to benefit our Scarborough community.
I am a big fan of subways. I always have, and I always will like subways. I cannot however, support a line just to say we put in a few stations without being financially responsible.
In July I voted for a subway to replace the Scarborough SRT. My decision was based on the fact the province had made financial commitments to fully fund a subway, up to $1.89 billion dollars. Council also requested the Federal government to support a subway. City Council’s vote outlined if we didn’t receive a proper commitment for the funding, from both levels of government, we would be building a Light Rapid Transit (LRT).
These commitments were not met. The province made a partial commitment, and the Federal government offered $660 million with a long list of conditions. In October City Council had a choice of two options for Scarborough:
1) LRT- (7 stops) – fully financially funded with no property tax increases.
LRT = NO Property Tax Increases
2) Subway – (3 stops) – to replace only the SRT with a never ending financial increase to all taxpayers through property taxes: SUBWAY=$1.8 Billion Tax Increases Every Year for 30 Years
– $910 million property taxes/development charges
– $450 million Automatic Train Control
– $250 – $300 million in construction cost over runs
– $30 – $40 million dollars annually for maintenance (for 60 years)
– A 1.6% dedicated transit property tax increase on top of the usual property tax requirements. (For the next 30 years)
I voted for the fully funded LRT. The subway received more votes; as a result, we will be paying property tax increases of 3 – 5% annually for a very long time to cover the costs of a subway which does not serve our Scarborough community in the manner we expected for the costs we will incur.
Voting for this subway line was not the fiscally responsible action for me to take. I was elected to make sure we get the best value for our tax dollars. I pay taxes too.
The LRT would not go on a street. It would have been in a hydro corridor. The subway will require McCowan Road to be dug up completely from Eglinton to Sheppard Ave.
The City of Toronto faces a huge backlog of repairs which have to be made right across the City. It is already difficult to fund the necessary repairs to our aging infrastructure. Our existing roads are badly in need of repair. We have community centres, libraries and playgrounds which desperately need to be updated. My concern is the added financial pressures will jeopardize our ability to pay for any of these improvements.
My priority is to serve the residents of Ward 43. Neither LRT nor subway route goes anywhere near our Ward. The reality is buses are the main public transit option available to families living in Ward 43. The 3 stop subway will negatively impact the quality of TTC bus service for our area. The City needs to be investing in proper rapid transit to meet today’s transit needs as well as the future needs of our growing community. We need to find better, faster ways to move more people to where they need to be. We need a reliable system which is safe, clean and affordable. We need a system which people from across Toronto can rely on to get to work, school, shop and travel to meet their needs.
In short, as a result of Council’s vote to move forward with subways, my constituents will pay higher taxes, the City will have an enormous debt to manage, fewer people will benefit from the investment, and the City will not be in a financial position to move forward with other desperately needed transit and infrastructure projects.
City Councillor, Scarborough East Ward 43
Chair, Toronto Public Library