Mayoral candidate will fund Waterfront East LRT as part of robust transit plans
Toronto, June 12, 2023 – Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced today that, as Mayor, he will connect and revitalize one of the fastest-growing areas of our city by investing $1.25 billion in the City of Toronto priority transit project to build a new Waterfront East LRT. His robust transit platform also includes reversing TTC cuts to restore service to pre-pandemic levels, an inquiry into the Eglinton Crosstown delays and investing $1.2 billion in Scarborough Moves, which includes a connected network of public transit routes and cycling and walking trails that will shorten commute times and improve quality of life for residents in Scarborough.
“With more Torontonians living in high-rises without backyards, we have to improve access to our stunning waterfront,” said Matlow. “Plus, the new rapid transit route will serve businesses and residents in the Distillery District, Corktown and Queens Quay and the tens of thousands of new families moving into the area over the next few decades.”
Matlow’s funded Waterfront Line will:
- Run from Union Station along Queen’s Quay to Cherry Street, then south to Villier’s Island.
- Improve access to the Distillery District, Corktown, Queens Quay, George Brown College’s Waterfront Campus and future high-density neighbourhoods in the Lower Don Lands and the Port Lands.
The existing streetcar loop at Union Station is inadequate for current service levels, leaving areas across the eastern waterfront area underserved. The Waterfront BIA is pushing for the line to be opened by 2025, estimating a $1.2 billion loss of productivity and a $20 billion loss of federal, provincial and local tax revenue if delayed to 2045. The new line would stimulate commercial and residential development providing 135,000 new jobs and housing 67,000 residents.
As with all parts of his fully costed and funded platform, Matlow spells out exactly how he will pay for the Waterfront East LRT project. The $1.25 billion city investment will be financed over 30 years (the standard for municipal infrastructure projects) through his Climate-Action Levy, which amounts to 50 per cent of the $2.5 billion required to build the new light-rail transit route. Putting up half of the money will allow Matlow to negotiate from a position of strength with the federal and provincial governments to cover the remaining funds required.
The new LRT is part of Matlow’s broader plan to improve transit across Toronto:
Reverse TTC cuts
Toronto’s most recent budget forced cuts to TTC service from 96 per cent to 91 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, resulting in longer wait times for riders on buses, streetcars and subways and further disruption to the lives of commuters across Toronto. Matlow created an explainer video about the importance of funding the TTC for voters here.
In his first year, Matlow will invest $50 million from his recently announced City Works Fund to fully reverse the cuts made earlier this year. In subsequent years, a combination of funding from the City Works Fund and new climate-change levy will secure the remaining amount of the up to $180 million needed annually to restore full service. Improved service will also help attract back to the transit system riders who have been avoiding trips by TTC due to poor experiences and safety concerns.
Get Scarborough moving
Matlow’s Scarborough Moves network will finally provide world-class transit to historically underserved communities and increase access to amenities and services residents need, such as recreation, health care, healthy food, school and community programs. Matlow’s comprehensive plan includes eight commitments to the people of Scarborough with $1.2 billion in funding from his City Works Fund and Gardiner east rebuild savings to:
Connect to transit:
- Create a new Eglinton East LRT with 23 stops from Kennedy Station (Lines 2,5) to Malvern Town Centre, including University of Toronto Scarborough.
- Create a new Sheppard East LRT with 9 stops from McCowan subway station (Lines 2,4) to Neilson Road and connect it with the new Eglinton East LRT and the provincial subway extension.
- Create a new Scarborough Rapid Busway to run quick and efficient buses on dedicated, congestion-free bus lanes along the separated corridor used by the
RT from Kennedy (Lines 2,5) to Ellesmere Road, connecting to Scarborough Town Centre.
- Restore the frequency and reliability of TTC bus routes in Scarborough by reversing recent transit cuts as announced in Matlow’s transit plan. Ten of the 13 most drastic wait-time increases are on Scarborough bus routes.
Connect to trails:
- Transform the elevated portion of the rail line just north of Ellesmere Road into the Scarborough High Line, a destination that includes green walking and cycling trails modelled on the High Line in New York City.
- Transform the north-south portion of the new Rapid Busway into a multi-purpose Busway Trail, a transportation corridor with separated cycling and walking trails alongside the length of the bus lanes.
- Create a new West Scarborough Rail Path adjacent to the existing Bloor-Danforth subway line between Victoria Park and Kennedy Station. It will be similar in design and concept to the West Toronto Rail Path, which bills itself as a multi-modal human-powered trail that connects the west end.
- Connect this new network of cycling and walking corridors and trails to the proposed 16-kilometre Meadoway, which will transform a hydro corridor in Scarborough into a vibrant stretch of urban greenspace and meadowlands that will become one of Canada’s largest linear urban parks.
Eglinton Crosstown inquiry
Matlow is calling on the province to quickly launch an independent inquiry into the unacceptable delays on the Eglinton Crosstown that have unfairly burdened local businesses and residents. With construction on the Ontario Line already underway, we must ensure lessons are learned so that other Toronto residents and businesses don’t suffer the same fate as those along Eglinton.
Matlow committed to never use the public-private-partnerships (P3) model that caused the Eglinton boondoggle to build critical infrastructure such as the Eglinton East and Sheppard Extension LRTs in his Scarborough Moves plan and the Waterfront East LRT.
“The best cities in the world have excellent public transit because it’s good for people, for public health and for the planet,” said Matlow. “We need safe, reliable and affordable ways to get around that are accessible, environmentally friendly and reduce maddening congestion. It’s time to make taking transit the better way again.”
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.