Three local councillors from Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan have challenged Metrolinx and the Provincial Government to immediately fund the next stage of the Yonge Street subway extension project.
”This project does not need to wait for the Metrolinx funding report or the decision of the Provincial Government to proceed to the next step. We cannot allow this critical transit project to be stalled. A final transit funding decision could take years;” said Vaughan Councillor Alan Shefman.
Under the management of VivaNext, the rapid transit agency of the York Region Transit authority, the Yonge Street project has completed extensive public consultation and has a provincially approved environmental assessment. The project is ready to move to the next level of engineering phase. The cost of doing this work is approximately $100 million, substantially less than the $3 billion needed to build the extension.
Councillor Godwin Chan of Richmond Hill stated that; “We must approach transit building incrementally. The Yonge Street subway extension project has been progressing since 2008. Metrolinx has identified it as a priority. An experienced team is in place now. We must take advantage of the work that has gone on and move to the next phase.”
The three Councillors are challenging the current thinking on building transit in the GTA on a big project basis. “While we recognize that the funds are not available yet to build this important transit link, we cannot stand by doing nothing. By the time the engineering component of this project is completed, there may be funds available to actually start construction. We need action and we need it now;” said Councillor Valerie Burke from Markham.
The wards of the three municipal councillors all bound on Yonge Street. Even though they do not have authority on transit issues – it is a Regional responsibility – they have joined together on this issue because of its importance for the people and the economy of their communities. The Yonge Street extension goes through the heart of the GTA into one of the fastest growing areas in the entire region. It would link to rapid transit projects that are currently underway including the east-west bus Rapidway on Highway 7.