Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the provincial government has begun construction on a new subway project in Toronto that will cut through the heart of the city.
Ford said the 15.6 kilometer Ontario Line, with 14 subway stops, is designed to provide relief from overcrowding on Toronto Transit Commission’s Line 1 and is an important part of his government’s plan to build roads, bridges, highways and transit.
“For decades, governments of every stripe have been talking about the need for new subways in the GTA. They’ve been studying it forever. There have been endless reports, endless committees, but finally, we’re the government that got it done ,” Ford said at the site of the future Exhibition station.
Ford said the government first announced the plan for Ontario Line in 2019. According to Ford, the Ontario Line will expand existing TTC subway system significantly.
“The Ontario Line will be an absolute game changer for the city and we’re moving forward without no delay,” he said.
Ford added that the government cannot afford to return to the “politics of no” and instead is saying yes to building public transit.
The new subway will begin near Ontario Place south of Exhibition Place, move through the downtown core and end at the Ontario Science Center in North York.
The line will connect with 40 other transit routes, including GO train lines, TTC subway and streetcar stops and a new east-west light rail line, the Eglinton Crosstown, that is currently being built.
Premier Doug Ford, at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ontario Line, says governments have talked about a new subway for Toronto for years. Then in an echo of his “Get It Done” re-election campaign slogan, says “We’re the government that got it done.” #onpoli pic.twitter.com/fGAcbYCSpe
Project expected to be up and running by 2030
Toronto Mayor John Tory, along with and Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, joined Ford at the official ground-breaking ceremony in Toronto.
“This is an exciting project,” Tory said. “Here we are today, actually breaking ground. The construction is happening. The sooner you build it, the sooner people will be able to ride it.”
Tory said the Ontario Line will reduce congestion at the Bloor-Yonge interchange subway station.
The subway line is expected to be up and running by 2030, but Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster could not say exactly when the project will be completed.
“It really is about what the market can deliver,” Verster said.
Verster said Metrolinx, the province’s regional transit agency, expects to receive the first few commercial bids for parts of construction by the end of April and will be in a better position then to talk about a completion date.
Verster said Metrolinx has a community benefits and support program to help areas where there is construction.
Through the program, the agency encourages contractors to recruit apprentices from local areas, it supports businesses directly through marketing campaigns and it returns amenities and benefits to the community in which it builds. If there are special requirements in certain neighborhoods, the agency invests in those neighborhoods in a big way, he said.
Minister says province has plan to deal with disruption
Mulroney, for her part, said the government is aware that construction will cause disruption to downtown businesses and communities in Toronto but it has a plan to support those businesses and communities.
“Obviously, major public transit projects, projects of this size, will have an impact on communities as we get through the construction. But I can tell you that our government is focused on working with Metrolinx to make sure that we do everything we can to minimize disruption in our communities,” Mulroney said.
“We will be working with local community groups to make sure that we are communicating well and also looking at how we can support businesses through construction.”
As for Tory, he said the intersection of Queen Street and Yonge Street will be closed for three or four years during Ontario Line construction and the city is aware it will have to work to support businesses in the area. He said he knows that businesses on Eglinton Avenue have suffered greatly during the construction of Eglinton Crosstown.
“It is a subject of acute concern for me and for the city council and I know for the province and Metrolinx and we’ll make sure we do better than we did on Eglinton,” he said.
Tory said the city has to work hard to ensure that businesses downtown survive the construction to enjoy the benefits of the new subway line.
A list of road closures expected by Ontario Line construction can be found in this appendix provided by the city.