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Province announces $150M in funding for downtown relief line

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jun 2nd, 2016

The downtown relief line is closer to reality with a $150-million injection from the province for an engineering study.

Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca joined Mayor John Tory and TTC chair Josh Cole, on Wednesday to announce that the money will go to Metrolinx to ensure that the project “is well-designed.”

“We’re doing what people want us to do,” Tory said. “Actually get things done. Actually proceed with transit projects. Actually build transit. And this day today, and the contribution being made by the government of Ontario, is a very, very important step forward for the people of Toronto and I very much appreciate the government and the ministers and Metrolinx’s great partnership in making that happen.”

The route, which will run from Pape Station to the downtown core via Queen Street, will work to alleviate some of the overcrowding on Line 1, as well as two of the city’s highest-traffic subway station – Bloor/Yonge and Union.

Map of proposed downtown relief line in relation to the possible SmartTrack line. GRAPHIC: CityNews
Map of proposed downtown relief line in relation to the possible SmartTrack line. GRAPHIC: CityNews

Tory said this funding assures the downtown relief line will go ahead on time.

“It will certainly help us to keep on a schedule that will have this important addition to our transit system in operation soon,” Tory said. “But not as soon as SmartTrack and not as soon as the LRT projects that are under constriction now. They started earlier.”

It’s estimated that the timeline for the downtown relief line is about 12 years.

Tory added that the funding also helps the city’s plan for transit expansion push forward as a whole, not just one project at a time.

“Now we have a plan that goes out for years … 15 to 20 years we’re talking about here and beyond, where we’re going to have various (transit projects) and they will end up being done in a logical, sequential order simply because of the length of time it will take for them to be done,” Tory said.

“Finch and Eglinton are underway. Scarborough will soon be underway. SmartTrack is underway and the relief line is still in its planning stages but will be underway as well,” he continued.


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Tory isn’t the only one who believes the city is in desperate need of a downtown relief line.

According to a survey conducted earlier this year, more than half of Torontonians (52.6 per cent) cited the downtown relief line as their number one transit priority – well above Tory’s SmartTrack plan (17 per cent) and the Scarborough subway extension (30 per cent).

“The downtown relief line is not a speculative transit project, it’s not that we will build and say let’s hope people will use it,” transit expert and Ryerson University associate professor Murtaza Haider explained. “It’s something we know will be used because the demand already exists.

“We see the congestion at Yonge and Bloor, we see how people are packed like sardines on subways and we know the only way to fix that is to provide a viable alternative.”

https://twitter.com/CityCynthia/status/738070715748995074

In April, TTC CEO Andy Byford said that an estimated $850 million of the transit money allocated in the Trudeau government’s inaugural budget would go towards the TTC.

Byford said the TTC is the least-funded transit system in North America, with 70 per cent funded through the fare box and 30 per cent funded through subsidy, which comes from the city.

“For the subsidy we’re given, the TTC performs miracles everyday,” he said.

Byford said once the money rolls in from Ottawa, he has a “shopping list” of things that need to be done including:

  • New vehicles will need to be procured
  • Modernizing Line 2 will need new trains and signalling system
  • Potential new TTC yard
  • Upgrades to the tracks, much of which is around 40 years old
  • Pump and drainage improvements

Assisted dying bill easily approved by MPs, now heads to Senate

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 1st, 2016

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OTTAWA – The federal government’s controversial bill on assisted dying has sailed through the House of Commons, approved by a vote of 186-137.

It now heads into choppier waters in the Senate, where many senators are pushing for amendments.

It is all but certain the bill will not be passed by Monday, the day the ban on assisted dying is formally lifted.

Senators are expediting the bill, taking the usual step of inviting Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott to testify before the entire Senate on Wednesday.

However, senators must still debate the bill at second reading, send the bill to committee to hear from some half a dozen witnesses, consider possible amendments and debate and vote on the bill a final time.

Given all that, Conservative Senate leader Claude Carignan said the bill will not be put to a final vote until the end of next week at the earliest.

Ontario Place to host arts and world music festival this September

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 1st, 2016

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For the first time since 2012, Toronto’s Ontario Place will be fully open to the public later this year for the staging of an arts and world music festival.

Ontario Place will play host to more than 100 art and music experiences with in/future, presented by Art Spin in partnership with Small World Music, for the event slated for Sept. 15 to 25.

The event will have collaboration and support from 25 art organizations and more than 60 Ontario-based artists.

There will be presentations of original film and video series within the famed Cinesphere, as well as screenings of IMAX films from the Ontario Place archives, and dance and theatre performances staged in the silos and pavilions.

Early bird festival passes are $80 and will available until June 15 at www.infuture.ca. Single-day tickets will be available at a later date.

Ontario Place opened in May 1971 but closed in 2012 as the number of visitors dwindled.
The Ontario government was struggling to rein in a $150-billion deficit and said it could no longer afford to keep the space open.

In July 2014, the province announced its vision to revitalize the site into a year-round waterfront destination.

The first phase of the transformation is underway with the completed design of an urban park, as well as a waterfront trail named in honour of Bill Davis, who was premier when Ontario Place first opened.

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