Metrolinx ap­proved GO sta­tions un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure: au­di­tor gen­eral

On­tario watch­dog finds city, for­mer trans­porta­tion min­is­ter used in­flu­ence to push pro­jects

StarMetro Toronto - - COVER STORY - Ben Spurr TRANS­PORTA­TION RE­PORTER

On­tario’s au­di­tor gen­eral has rec­om­mended the prov­ince con­duct an in­de­pen­dent re­view of two con­tro­ver­sial GO Tran­sit sta­tions, af­ter con­clud­ing Metrolinx in­ap­pro­pri­ately rec­om­mended the prov­ince build them un­der pres­sure from the for­mer trans­porta­tion min­is­ter and the city of Toronto.

In her an­nual re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day, Au­di­tor Gen­eral Bon­nie Lysyk con­cluded Metrolinx “un­der­mined its own de­ci­sion-mak­ing process and in­ap­pro­pri­ately changed its rec­om­men­da­tions on the Kirby and Lawrence sta­tions” in June 2016.

She also de­ter­mined that over the past decade Metro- linx, the provin­cial Crown cor­po­ra­tion, in­curred about $ 436 mil­lion in ad­di­tional costs as a re­sult of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated changes in trans­porta­tion plans and short­com­ings in how the agency man­ages light rail pro­jects.

A provin­cial com­mit­tee asked Lysyk in Septem­ber 2017 to re­view the Kirby and Lawrence East sta­tions fol­low­ing a Star in­ves­ti­ga­tion that found the min­istry of trans­porta­tion in­ter­fered to se­cure the ap­proval of the stops, which were be­ing ad­vanced along with 10 other sta­tions as part of a ma­jor GO ex­pan­sion.

The pro­posed Kirby sta­tion is in Vaughan, in the rid­ing formerly rep­re­sented by Steven Del Duca, who was Lib­eral trans­porta­tion min­is­ter when the stop was ap­proved. Lawrence East in Scar­bor­ough is a key part of Mayor John Tory’s Smarttrack plan.

TORONTO STAR

The site of the pro­posed Kirby GO sta­tion. On­tario’s au­di­tor gen­eral found Metrolinx was un­der pres­sure to ap­prove the site by for­mer trans­porta­tion min­is­ter Steven Del Duca.

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