The downtown relief line could be delayed for a year if council doesn’t approve spending this summer

The downtown relief line could be delayed for a year if council doesn’t approve spending this summer

One of several proposed shapes for the downtown relief line. (Image: Courtesy of the TTC) One of several proposed shapes for the downtown relief line. (Image: Courtesy of the TTC)
 

Here’s a funny thing about the downtown relief line: even though every mayoral candidate acknowledges it, with varying degrees of rabidity, as a priority (although Rob Ford says he’ll build it only after bringing subways to Sheppard and Finch, which will probably never happen) nobody has advanced a clear plan for paying the eight-or-so billion dollars it would take to complete the thing. And now the Globe reports that the much-dreamed-of new subway line has an even more immediate hurdle to clear: if city council doesn’t approve funding for an environmental assessment in June, the whole project could be delayed by another year.

The downtown relief line, a proposed U-shaped subway line that would, in theory, relieve crowding on the Yonge-University-Spadina line, has been talked about since at least 1985, when it was proposed as part of the TTC’s Network 2011 plan. Delay is nothing new for this project, but now, with so many candidates staking their mayoral bids on the notion of getting it done soon, the idea of shelving it for a year seems especially ludicrous.

This summer will be the first of many times over the next few years when our municipal politicians will be forced to put their (or really, our) money where their mouths are. If all this subway talk isn’t just a cynical vote-getting exercise, then eventually Toronto will have to pay up.