Oct 09, 2013

By Jane Brown

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It’s a major victory for Mayor Rob Ford.  In a close 24-20 vote, Toronto city councillors have confirmed approval of a Scarborough subway extension that could cost Toronto taxpayers $1-billion over the next 30 years.  “It’s an investment, it creates jobs, stimulates the economy” boasted Ford after the win, “and it benefits the people of Scarborough who’ve been waiting a lifetime for this.”

Last night’s decision means a fully funded seven stop light rapid transit is no longer up for discussion as a possible replacement for the aging Scarborough Rapid Transit.  It also means the SRT will probably continue to operate while the three stop subway is built.

As part of the decision, a 1.6 percent property tax levy will be phased in over three years to pay Toronto’s share of the subway, estimated between $2.5 billion and $3-billion.  Mayor Ford has repeatedly said he could never support a tax increase higher than one percent.  The transit levy will come on top of a general tax hike to be decided by council.  Councillors who voted against the subway say it will mean higher debt, taxes and reduced transit services elsewhere.

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