July 8, 2016
Dear Mayor Tory and City Councillors,
We write today with urgent concern about City transit planning for Scarborough. We do so as leaders of the largest public institutions in the east end of Toronto, representing more than 15,000 staff that work in Scarborough, 35,000 students that study in Scarborough and 500,000 patients that receive services at our doors.
It has been extremely frustrating for us to deliver the opportunities and services we provide without adequate public transit. Scarborough is geographically the largest part of the city and home to 625,000 Torontonians. It has been repeatedly over looked in transit investment. When the SRT closes in 2020, we will have only two higher order transit stops east of Victoria Park.
The debate between subway or LRT or SmartTrack, and which solution is right for Scarborough has been needlessly time-consuming and divisive. In the last decade alone, we have gone through three different transit plans, each of which has merit. Connecting Scarborough Town Centre to the existing subway as an express line to help people move to and from the downtown core makes sense and enhances the multi-regional transit hub at the Scarborough Town Centre. At the same time, it makes sense to extend the Eglinton LRT much further east. Planning staff confirm that most transit trips originating in Scarborough terminate either in Scarborough or in parts of the city outside of downtown.
What does not make sense is the ongoing debate as to which of the two options should be approved. Both are urgently needed and both need to be fully planned. Over the last decade the consistent shifting as to what should be done “to” Scarborough has scared off developers, halted development projects, impaired our institutional planning and left citizens in Scarborough frustrated and divided.
We understand that the financial requirements for comprehensive transit may exceed what we are able to afford today. But this should not stop the City from planning what’s right. If you look to successful transit systems around the world they have planned out what their systems will look like and are building out their systems one stop at a time. Though this approach is not the fastest, it does bring a reasonableness and predictability, which allows for better certainty in the planning and development communities.
We ask that you move forward to approve and allocate dollars for a fulsome approach to transit planning for this part of the City that includes completion of the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) for both the Scarborough Subway and LRT networks. These plans will finally allow both the public and private sectors to have some comfort and assurances about how Scarborough will develop and grow.
Toronto fails if we do not connect this amazing City in its entirety.
Robert F. Biron
Andrée G. Robichaud