Finch LRT plan passed by Toronto council, now waiting on Provincial government approval
by David Ros
According to Toronto city council, a light rail transit (LRT) line will be coming to Finch Ave., W despite the Mayor's objections.
City council has voted three times in recent weeks to build LRT projects along Eglinton Ave., and Sheppard Ave., E as well as the aforementioned Finch line. Right now, the only thing standing in the way of work actually beginning on these projects is for Metrolinx – the provincial government organizing body which provides funding for transportation projects in the GTA – to give its stamp of approval, said Councillor Anthony Perruzza, (Ward 8- York West).
“Now it's really in the hands of Metrolinx, because ultimately, they are the ones who are going to pay for the transit expansion,” Perruzza said. “They're going to look at it and we're hoping and I'm hoping that they will take the city council position and the city council adopted plan and fund that, because that's the way our democracy works here, the majority of the council decided to proceed in this way.”
These votes came despite the objections of Mayor Rob Ford who campaigned on getting rid of Transit City which consisted of LRT projects that had been approved under the administration of the previous mayor David Miller, in favour of building more subways.
Following the vote, Ford and his allies have vowed to continue the fight to scrap the LRT projects along Finch Ave., W and Sheppard Ave., E and instead, extend the Sheppard subway line all the way to Scarborough Town Centre. Under Ford's plan, there still would be an LRT line built along Eglinton Ave., but the majority of the line would be buried underground all the way from Black Creek Dr., to the end of the line.
However Perruzza said that since coming into office, Ford has confused the process by putting forth his subway plan, and this has caused a delay in the city's transit expansion.
“I think the mayor's position throughout this whole process is to basically put everything on standstill in Toronto, because it has confused the heck out of everybody, because Metrolinx had taken a position, the provincial government had taken a position and the city of Toronto had taken a position and we all had understandings and engineering work done and everything about how we were going to evolve transit in the city of Toronto,” Perruzza said. “Along comes the mayor with his new plan which basically hadn't been looked at by anyone, anywhere and then first announced the plan and then tried to get the paperwork to give his plan a credible basis and that didn't happen, he couldn't generate it and he couldn't get the [financial] numbers to work.”
Perruzza said that while he does prefer subways to LRT as a mode of transit, the city just does not have the funds to be able to make this a reality.
While it costs roughly $300 million to build a kilometre of subway, a kilometre of LRT, at surface, could be built at one third of the cost. In addition, LRT costs less to maintain than subways, and while it still accommodates up to 25,000 passengers an hour, as opposed to the 40,000 passengers a subway line would accommodate.
Perruzza added that while rapid transit routes are required along Finch, Eglinton, and Sheppard, none of those routes would generate the heavy volume of traffic that a subway is designed to transport, and this is another reason why LRT would provide a more viable solution.
“I know the mayor keeps saying 'Subways, subways, subways,' but he also has to say 'Money, money, money' and the two have to go hand in hand,” Perruzza said. “I mean, I'd like to have a race horse, but if I don't have the money to buy a race horse and no one's going to buy me a race horse, I'm not going to have one.”
Perruzza took the time to explain the LRT plan to a group of concerned York West citizens at an Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) meeting held at Brookview Middle School on Mar. 28, arguing that despite the attacks of many of the opponents of LRT, an LRT line along Finch Ave., W would be a great thing for the community.
“I think it's a great opportunity for us to make Finch Avenue work for cars, trucks and transit,” Perruzza said. “It gives us a great opportunity to turn an otherwise suburban road into a wonderful urban avenue. It gives us an opportunity to beautify the street and really, what it will also provide is a quick, reliable, consistent comfortable transit for the transit users of Finch Ave., and connect this community to the rest of the city and the downtown in a way that we've never been connected before.”
The Finch Ave., LRT would begin at Humber College and go all the way to Keele St., connecting with the York-University-Spadina subway line at Finch West Station.
If the LRT is built, Finch Ave. W., would be widened in order to make room for the dedicated LRT lanes in the centre of the road. Perruzza also noted that Finch Ave would not have any lane reductions for cars.