Yonge Street rapid­ways fund­ing an­nounced

Coun­cil­lors fear new bus lanes spell end of sub­way ex­ten­sion

Richmond Hill Post - - Neighbourh­ood News - by Bree Rody-Man­tha

On April 22, the On­tario govern­ment an­nounced the award­ing of a $260.5 mil­lion con­tract to York RapidLink Con­struc­tors to build ded­i­cated bus lanes (rapid­ways) along Yonge Street through Richmond Hill and New­mar­ket.

“In­vest­ing in pub­lic tran­sit re­flects the On­tario govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to re­duc­ing con­ges­tion on our roads,” said Glen Mur­ray, min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion and in­fra­struc­ture.

But not ev­ery­one is singing the praises of this sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment. Thorn­hill coun­cil­lors Va­lerie Burke and Alan Shef­man, along with MP Peter Kent and Richmond Hill coun­cil­lor God­win Chan, have been ac­tive pro­po­nents of a Yonge Street sub­way ex­ten­sion up to High­way 7. Burke and Shef­man fear the rapid­ways ini­tia­tive would take fund­ing away from the ex­ten­sion.

“We’re try­ing to keep mo­men­tum on the ex­ten­sion,” said Burke. “There have been many meet­ings, and it ba­si­cally stalled out.… We’re at the next phase, the en­gi­neer­ing phase, which is $100 mil­lion. If the rapid­ways are go­ing to take $200 mil­lion plus, there’s not go­ing to be fund­ing for the en­gi­neer­ing.” The ex­ten­sion has al­ready met sev­eral road­blocks, with politi­cians say­ing that a down­town re­lief line in Toronto should be a greater pri­or­ity in or­der to ease con­ges­tion on the line.

For his part, Shef­man agrees that a re­lief line is help­ful. “The mo­ment there is some open­ness on other parts of the Yonge line, this Yonge Street north line could be in the ground ready to build,” said Shef­man. “We just can’t get that mes­sage through that the old style of do­ing tran­sit, to get bil­lions of dol­lars and dump it into one project, doesn’t work.”

Chan is tak­ing a slightly more op­ti­mistic tone. “While there has al­ways been com­pe­ti­tion for limited fund­ing re­sources, I am cau­tiously op­ti­mistic,” said Chan. He says the meet­ing of the two routes at High­way 7 would make the ex­ten­sion more ap­peal­ing to provin­cial back­ers.

“High­way 7 at Richmond Hill Cen­tre could truly be the Union Sta­tion of the north.”

“Dump­ing bil­lions of dol­lars into one project doesn’t work.”

Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion, Glen Mur­ray (far right), an­nounc­ing vi­tal tran­sit fund­ing

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