The Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) is home to half of the province’s economic activity. For years, engineers have outlined that transit projects face enormous challenges due to the confusing and shared responsibility of planning and funding among municipal, provincial and federal governments. OSPE has advocated that government:
- Reform the process for prioritizing investments in major transit infrastructure
- Ensure transit planning is integrated with land use planning and regional economic strategies
- Improve region-wide integration of transit modes
- Adequately support transit system operation and maintenance of existing and future transit infrastructure through stable, predictable long-term funding
A region with more than 6.5 million people requires a system of transit with a governance structure able to deliver regional projects consistently and transparently.
On May 11, OSPE was pleased to see the federal government announce $12 billion in funding for five rapid transit projects in the GTHA, including:
- The Ontario Line Subway with 15 stations: The 15.5 km Ontario Line will run from Exhibition/Ontario Place through downtown Toronto to the Ontario Science Centre, bringing rapid transit to neighbourhoods such as Liberty Village and Flemingdon Park. It will help address dangerous overcrowding and provide needed relief on the TTC’s Line 1 and Bloor-Yonge station.
- The Scarborough Subway Extension with three stations: The nearly 8 km extension of TTC’s Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth), from Kennedy Station going northeast to McCowan Road/Sheppard Avenue, will improve transit access to the residents of Scarborough.
- The Yonge North Subway Extension with approximately five stations: The 7.4 km extension of TTC’s Line 1 (Yonge-University) will connect north from Finch Station to Highway 7, connecting Toronto and Richmond Hill.
- The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension: The western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (future Line 5) will increase connectivity along Eglinton Avenue from the future Mount Dennis station to Renforth Drive. Ultimately, through future phases of this project, the Province is committed to establishing connectivity with Pearson International Airport.
- NEW Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) that will go from McMaster University to Eastgate Centennial Park in Stoney Creek.
The federal government will cover 40% of the first four projects’ costs. For the Hamilton LRT, the provincial and federal governments are each contributing 50% of eligible project costs, up to $1.7 billion. The federal contribution has been designated for LRT investment only, and is subject to approval by the Treasury Board of Canada. The project’s life cycle costs will be covered by the Government of Ontario.
The federal government has also announced zero-emission streetcars for the TTC, made at Thunder Bay’s Alstom automotive plant. More details about those projects will be announced in the near future.
Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna reiterated that this funding comes with certain conditions. The province and cities will have to demonstrate how the investments will drive down emissions and require “substantive” environmental reviews, community benefit agreements and affordable housing along the lines.
“The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) welcomes commitments to invest in much needed transit in the GTHA,” said Sandro Perruzza, OSPE CEO. “Ontario’s engineers know new transit options that help relieve the existing overcapacity of the Yonge-University-Spadina Line and create economic opportunities and development potential are crucial.”
OSPE’s Infrastructure Task Force is pleased that the government is recognizing that manufacturing is a key driver of the Ontario economy by investing in the development of zero-emissions street cars in Thunder Bay. Supporting sustainable, made-in-Ontario infrastructure projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will help alleviate the economic burden the province is facing due to the pandemic, while employing engineers and decreasing unemployment rates in several other critical sectors of the economy.
“Engineers generate wealth for the province, through the development and commercialization of new technologies and by designing innovative and sustainable solutions for the benefit of all Ontarians,” said Perruzza. “Engineers also ensure safety and stability, by designing resilient infrastructure. Through these investments, the government is recognizing that engineering knowledge and talent is beyond capable of leading Ontario’s industries into the future and will play an important role in the economic recovery of our province.”
OSPE believes promoting public safety and the environment, while advancing a diverse and inclusive society must also be reflected in government plans moving forward. We urge all orders of government to continue consulting engineers when it comes to transit development and the creation of other technical plans for Ontario.