The government of Canada committed to provide approximately CA$2.6 billion (US$2.1 billion) toward Toronto's SmartTrack regional express rail surface line. The funds would come from the government's new Public Transit Fund (PTF).
Canada says the new PTF, which was announced as part of the country’s Economic Action Plan 2015, will support the construction and rehabilitation of large public transit projects that address congestion and reduce travel time. Additionally, the PTF will free funds under the New Building Canada Plan and the P3 Canada Fund that might have been used up by large-scale transit projects.
As currently proposed, the line will provide relief for the overcrowded Yonge-University-Spadina Subway Line and connect Toronto to major employment centers in Mississauga and Markham. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government will contribute up to one-third of the costs for the SmartTrack public transit system proposal once a formal application has been received and approved.
Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca and Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Brad Duguid said in a joint statement that expressed pleasure with the decision to help with SmartTrack funding, but said the larger issue of federal support for provincial priority infrastructure projects has yet to be addressed.
“We are pleased the federal government has joined us at the table with their share of support to the city’s SmartTrack proposal, which will be delivered by Metrolinx, through the province’s GO Regional Express Rail (RER) Plan,” said the ministers.
“Our government has already committed to electrify the existing GO corridors, which are segments of Toronto’s Smart Track proposal and CA$13.5 billion (US$10.9 billion) to implement Regional Express Rail across Ontario’s GO Transit network. Ontario’s investments in RER make Smart Track possible.
“While this federal investment is positive news for the people of Ontario, our government remains concerned that the federal government is not investing nearly enough in Ontario’s public infrastructure. By comparison, the Ontario government is investing over CA$130 billion (US$105 billion) in the province over the next ten years – three times more per capita than the federal government. We will continue to strongly urge the federal government to provide stable, long-term infrastructure funding.
“Provinces and municipalities across Canada cannot shoulder infrastructure investments alone; we need a federal partner to invest in our future.
“Announcements such as [the SmartTrack funding commitment) leave questions around other Ontario priority projects that we have continually brought to the attention of the federal government. Ontario has submitted over 100 priority projects to the federal government for infrastructure funding under the Building Canada Fund.”
The Canadian government says decisions on support for a given project, including a determination of project eligibility under the PTF, will be contingent on the assessment of an application and detailed project business case.