TORONTO – The Ontario government is welcoming a commitment by federal Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne to put Ontario’s priorities first and ensure 54 key projects – including five historic transit projects in the GTA – are expedited for approvals.
There has been an ongoing political word-fencing battle going between the Trudeau and Ford governments over a number of issues, including climate, budgets, and personalities. Recently the complaint has been Ontario has not put forward any of the infrastructures project fund requests. Today, the Ontario Minister is stating that 54 projects have been put forward.
Today’s announcement could signal that moving forward is starting.
The government’s call for action comes on the day Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, formally requested funding for the Yonge North Subway Extension.
“For months, we’ve heard the federal government ask us to be quicker sending them projects for approval,” said Minister McNaughton. “Today we have nominated our 54th project to the federal government. The ball is now in their court. We are looking to them to say yes so we can get shovels in the ground and get people moving.”
In a release May 10, 2019, Minister Champagne made a “commitment to the people of Ontario that I will continue to put your priorities first and will ensure the projects that matter most to your communities … are expedited for approvals.”
Minister McNaughton said Wednesday he was “encouraged” by his colleague’s commitment.
“I have enjoyed a positive and productive relationship with Minister Champagne. He is someone I hold in high regard,” said Minister McNaughton. “Our governments need to focus on picking up shovels rather than picking fights.”
The Yonge North Subway Extension, an estimated $5.6 billion project in the Greater Toronto Area, would stretch the Yonge subway line from Finch station all the way to Richmond Hill Centre. The project would create a truly regional subway transit system that connects people and communities to one of the fastest growing regions in the area.
Wednesday’s request follows a list of four projects sent for approval May 6, including the Ontario Line, the Bloor-Yonge Capacity Improvement Project, the three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension and the SmartTrack Stations Program.
The five nation-building projects will help reduce gridlock in the GTA region, deliver real transit relief to commuters, and boost the local economy by connecting more people to new jobs and opportunities.
“People have waited long enough for an integrated regional transit system that extends outside of Toronto’s city limits,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation. “We’re building a 21st century transit network that better serves transit riders’ needs and extends into the growing communities and new employment centres across the region.”
Earlier this month the province introduced legislation to give it authority over transit expansion.
“Transit in the GTHA is a generation behind where it should be due to years of inaction by government,” said McNaughton. “We are taking action because the province has the power to get these projects done. We have a world-class procurement agency to lead development. We have the power to cut red tape that has bogged down the city in the past. And most importantly we are putting up the money to fund these projects. It’s time the federal government joined us.”
In March, Ontario opened the first stream of a 10-year infrastructure program that will unlock up to $30 billion in combined federal, provincial and local investments. A second stream was opened in April. The two streams cover rural and northern transportation projects and non-GTA public transit projects.