Are York Region Tax Dollars funding a cash cow for the City of Toronto?

build on

The Ontario Government recently announced that $55 million has been set aside to study the feasibility of extending the Line 1 TTC subway line along Yonge Street to Highway 7 in Richmond Hill.

And as we see politicians in photo-ops brag about spending our money on transportation studies, the York Taxpayer Coalition is calling on all levels of government to reflect upon the lessons learned during the construction of the Toronto Yonge-Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) project to avoid committing the same costly mistakes.

Originally slated to cost $2.6 billion, the 8.6 km long TYSSE project has experienced more than a half a billion dollars in cost over runs that can only be described as ‘out of control.’ The most recent budget is now pegged at $3.18 billion, was originally announced in 2006, and supposed to be completed in the fall of 2015. We are now looking at the end of 2017 before any riders will be able to ride the new line.

While cost over runs and delays are sometimes unavoidable, it’s the agreement signed between the three levels of government that caused York Region taxpayers the most grief. Because the Federal and Provincial level governments “locked in” the sums they were contributing, it meant approximately $550 million in additional costs were shared exclusively between the City of Toronto and York Region alone. Being one of Canada’s most indebted municipalities, the extra costs are an unexpected burden that Regional Municipality of York could ill afford.

Before committing any more money to subway extensions, the York Region Taxpayers Coalition is calling on York Region Council to be completely transparent about the cost of a Line 1 Finch to Highway 7 extension. Before the shovels hit the ground, taxpayers have a right to know:

1. How are costs to be shared between the federal, provincial and municipal governments?

2. Will there be a balanced approach to cost over runs?

3. What are the environmental costs of this project including any flood mitigation concerns?

4. Does the cost sharing agreement offset the additional revenues that the TTC will receive once the extension is built? Should York Region tax dollars go towards funding a cash cow for the City of Toronto?

5. How will the funds for the subway extension be raised? Will it be through development charges, additional debts, or higher taxes?

Considering that any subway extension into Richmond Hill will cost York Region taxpayers several hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s best that we get answers to these questions as soon as possible.

The TYSSE cost each York Region household over $2,000 to build – on top of the debt homeowners already have. With that kind of money on the line, York Region residents are right to demand to know what the Richmond Hill extension will cost us too.

The York Region Taxpayers Coalition expects that the Municipality of York Region will provide answers before voters head to the polls in October 2018. Candidates and incumbents right across York Region’s nine municipalities should be prepared to speak about how much money and resources they are willing to commit to these additional subway stops in Richmond Hill.

About Maddie Di Muccio