Public transportation has long been a politicized issue in my neighbourhood in Scarborough.
As a resident it can be difficult to wrap your head around all the potential transit plans and related issues. I remember feeling this way at an all-candidates town hall at my local Scarborough Hub just off Eglinton East during the most recent provincial election. When the organizers asked for questions from the floor, I remember struggling to find my voice.
I had questions relating to Scarborough and transit planning and funding, but it can be very intimidating and difficult to wrap your head around the potential transit plans and related issues. But we need to speak up now more than ever in the face of Premier Doug Ford’s plan to take over our subways and the threat that poses to publicly funded infrastructure to better connect our neighbourhoods.
Two years ago, Mayor John Tory promised residents and city council a 15-kilometre, 21-stop LRT line along Eglinton East to connect with the Eglinton Crosstown at Kennedy and run all the way to Malvern.
The Eglinton East LRT has been consulted on broadly and would bring life to the otherwise car-dominated streets, as well as connect residents of Scarborough with other communities. But it’s now in doubt – it does not appear on the province’s list of transit priorities.
We now know that the single-stop subway extension to Scarborough Town Centre pushed by Ford when he was a councillor will be expanded to three stops, according to Ford’s revamped transit priorities. The price tag for the single-stop proposal is already nearing $4 billion, which means there will be nothing for the Eglinton East LRT.
This is a betrayal. The lack of investment in the Eglinton East LRT builds on a history of woeful neglect of racialized communities in Scarborough that are transit-starved and disconnected from the rest of the city. This won’t be resolved by a one-stop or three-stop subway.
We need a network that connects priority neighbourhoods. The Eglinton East LRT does that with stops at Centennial College’s Morningside campus and the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus.
In fact, the students at Scarborough campus are invested in the Eglinton East line. Between 2010 and 2014, they raised $30 million in a special student levy for the Pan Am Centre in hopes that it would spur transit expansion. The students who paid that levy graduated years ago. But still no transit.
Political pressure is mounting as the province’s subway takeover plans loom. The mayor and Scarborough councillors have a chance to do the right thing and take ownership of transit infrastructure in areas that need it.
Candice Leung is a member of Scarborough Transit Action and TTCriders.