• The Left Chapter

The "Ontario Line" will never be built: Update

A Toronto City Councillor and MPP are calling for Ford to "come clean" on timelines and costs for his fabled subway. It will almost certainly never happen.


Back on July 18, 2019, I predicted in The Left Chapter that the grandiose "Ontario Line" Toronto subway that Premier Doug Ford had unveiled with great fanfare -- having ripped up subway plans that were close to being shovel ready - would never be built.


This was after the government had missed a deadline that year to release its finalized initial plans.


Doug Ford was doing what his brother Rob had done before as Mayor of Toronto in that by "overriding plans that had been carefully developed through extensive planning, consultations and working with all the involved levels of government and offering instead dots drawn on a map at a press conference" he had successfully derailed "a serious transit program with a bunch of total bullshit."


Like Rob Ford's 2010 promise of two subway lines by 2015 -- lines that never even came close to being seriously planned let alone opened -- Doug was insisting that his line was better and would be built faster than the one his government was shelving. It would be done by 2027 Doug was telling us, and it would be huge, great, wonderful, etc.


Of course, when the actual initial plan for the Ontario Line was eventually released it diverged from the dots on the map one and it was already quite clear that it would not be running anytime soon.


Today, July 23, Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher and Toronto area NDP MPP Peter Tabuns released a letter in which they note that, a year after the initial business case for the line was finally made public, nothing is happening or clear at all. The letter states:


Ford announced this new transit would be up and running by 2027, but now he no longer provides a date for completion.
The current schedule for the Ontario Line calls for a contract signing in the fall of 2023 for the northern leg, with actual work to start at a still unspecified date. No subway can be built and running from Pape Station to Eglinton and Don Mills by 2027 with the contract only signed in 2023.

Tabuns goes on to say the "Ontario Line has pushed back critical transit and is running late before contracts have even been issued”, which, sadly, was probably the idea from the start.


Ford took a real plan for a Pape to Queen subway and with press conference unicorn dust managed to get out of constructing it with only minimal public blowback. As I said before:


It is a mildly clever way to fool people just enough that they fail to see the sleight of hand. After all a "better" option is being offered in a faster time frame so it almost makes sense that the original one gets shelved.
Of course -- with many detours, delays and fake routes still to come -- in the end likely nothing gets built

The nothing getting built part can then be blamed on "the federal government, Toronto City Council, aliens or whatever", though now it will likely be blamed on the economic and budgetary effects of the coronavirus as well as the immediate need to pony up hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the TTC's existing routes running at all.


It is remarkable what disruption can flow from such shenanigans, and Ford is a pro at them.


Fletcher says Ford "needs to come clean about the true costs, the real timeline and development deals" around the Ontario Line.


That would be terrific. It will almost certainly never happen. Anything that is released will be just as reliable as what has been in the past and any projections will be as ironclad as those two subway lines that Rob told us we would all be riding on for the last five years now.

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