Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney says it's clear that Toronto needs a better public transit system and she is confident that the province will be able to expand subways in the city through a new plan announced this week.
In an interview with CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Friday, Mulroney acknowledged that public transit has become a political football in Toronto in recent years.
"I didn't grow up in Toronto. Moving here and seeing how behind we are in transit infrastructure is shocking and disappointing. Unfortunately, transit has been politicized for a very long time," she said.
Mulroney said the province has reached an agreement with the city on transit expansion that allows the city to retain ownership of its existing subway network while the province assumes responsibility for "all new expansion projects." The agreement still has to be approved by city council.
"We believe that we can expand the subway network and we can improve and maintain the existing lines in partnership with the city," she said.
The agreement shows three levels of government working together on the same plan, she added.
Under the plan announced on Wednesday, the provincial government would expand the subway through four major projects: the Ontario Line designed to provide relief to downtown commuters; the three-stop Scarborough subway extension that extends the Bloor-Danforth line deeper into Scarborough; the Yonge North subway that extends Line 1 from Finch Station into York Region; and the Eglinton West Crosstown extension
The Scarborough subway extension is estimated to cost $5.5 billion and be completed by 2029-30, according to the Ontario transportation ministry.
The plan means Scarborough residents will have wait three more years for a subway extension than they would have waited for a one-stop subway extension that had already been approved by Toronto city council and that might have been completed by 2026.
According to the transportation ministry, the three-stop Scarborough subway extension is to be completed in 2029-30.
Asked what she would say to Scarborough residents who will have to wait longer for better transit, she said: "Our plan is the right plan for the residents of Scarborough. We are going to deliver a three-stop subway, which is more connections. It will allow more people to move around and provide those connections faster."
The provincial government wants to ensure that the three-stop subway extension provides Scarborough residents with similar service to that enjoyed by residents in other area of the city, she said.
"They deserve the same level of transit that the people in downtown Toronto get. They deserve more connections. A three-stop subway will give the residents of Scarborough the level of transit that they deserve."
Currently, Scarborough residents are served by the aging Scarborough Line, also known as the Scarborough RT or Line 3, with six stops from Kennedy to McCowan stations. It opened in 1985.