The province and City of Toronto have signed a terms of reference document as they move forward with their discussions over handing control of parts of the TTC to the provincial government.
“Necessary maintenance and investment in the subway system has been put off for too long,” said Premier Doug Ford in a release on Tuesday. “We’ve also been waiting far too long for subway expansions. New subway construction has been stuck in red tape, for years. It’s time to take action and speed things up.”
The nine-page document released this morning narrows down options for debate.
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The province wants to take over the ownership, infrastructure and maintenance of the TTC, but other options are on the table.
In a statement released to the media, Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said, “The signing of the terms of reference between the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto signals a shared interest to improve subway service, build more transit projects, to expand, and integrate the regional network and get people moving.”
Yurek also said swift action is needed to spur economic growth.
“We know that a lack of transit infrastructure and traffic congestion are costing money, jobs and time.”
Other realignment proposals include the province assuming ownership of the TTC, responsibility for expansion projects, but not maintenance and day-to-day operations.
Also up for debate is an option that would see the city maintain ownership but the province assume responsibility for projects that would expand the system.
The terms of reference document also includes a “rules of engagement” section agreed upon by both parties.
“These terms of reference will help guide our next steps and steer the consultation process with the City and the TTC on uploading the subway infrastructure from the City of Toronto, including the building and maintenance of new and existing subway lines,” Ford said.
Details about transparency, communications and the exchange of information are outlined, with the city agreeing to hand over information about operations by the end of the month.
“Discussions between city staff and the province will continue now guided by the approved terms of reference and I expect a full report to council at the appropriate time,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement on Tuesday.
“I continue to firmly believe that any actions taken with regard to our subway system need to be in the best interests of the people of Toronto, including transit riders and employees, and that Toronto must be completely involved and fully consulted as Premier Ford previously indicated would be the case.”
The document also revealed that the Ministry of Transportation will hire an independent third-party to audit the TTC’s books, look at the state of repair and also possible liabilities.
The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents TTC workers, responded to news of the terms of reference agreement Tuesday in a statement.
“This PC government’s agenda is an aggressive approach and a scheme to take over the subway system – literally stealing it from the City of Toronto,” a spokesperson said.
“Uploading is the first step to privatization which will break apart public transit in Toronto. The cost to the public will be out of control – and service will not improve. ”
READ THE TERMS OF REFERENCE BELOW:
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